I Object

One of the joys of being a teenager in the 1970s was the plethora of magazines. No, not those sort of magazines, though I did have ‘friends’ who read a few of the ‘top shelf’ variety. One magazine I did read and the only one that to my knowledge continues (well apart from Cricket Monthly, natch) in much the same style as back then is Private Eye.

If you are not British you may not have come across this satirical rag, an all-sorts mix of the sublime and the squirmingly superficial. The covers are often the best bit. The editor, Ian Hislop looks like a rodent and has a rodent’s eye for scavenging interesting snippets of information that will undermine the pretensions of the great and the good. Sometimes this attacks work; sometimes they fall well short.

His latest project however is a cracker. Teaming up with the British Museum’s extensive archive of world treasures (or looted objects d’art, depending on your viewpoint) he’s curated a new exhibition

I Object

which styles itself as the show that searches for dissent in the museum’s collection.

It is brilliant.

There are coins that have been deface-stamped by the Suffragettes, Euro notes on which Greeks, protesting at the Commission imposed bailout have inked their frustrations.

T-shirts with a range of buttons and slogans.

There are cartoons from the 17th and 18th centuries for which the artists risked prison.

The objects even go back to the Pharaohs, one small plaster fragment having a very rude drawing on it.

 

My favourite, and one I couldn’t photograph, was a tea pot from the the 1760 with a little ’45’ under the spout. Such a curios thing but it was, in it’s way, a fantastic example of dissent. John Wilkes was a forthright commentator who often ruffled establishment’s feathers. He attacked George III in issue 45 of his magazine the North Briton which was also an attack on the Prime Minister of the time. He was arrested and charged but was released as the courts held an MP couldn’t be held liable for libel. It was a cause célèbre and resonates down the years of people who stand up to power.

If you get the chance to view this, do go.

And whatever you do, don’t miss the final piece, a piss take of the museum itself from arch iconoclast Banksy. This small fragment, so like the Egyptian one above.

It was installed in the museum, without permission, for several days in 2005 and pokes fun at those who would treat street art with contempt. At it’s heart it seeks to stop creeping pretension.

Now where have I heard that one before?

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published two anthologies of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand and Life in a Flash. More will appear soon, including a memoir of my mother's last years. I will try and continue to blog regularly at geofflepard.com about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
This entry was posted in miscellany, museums, review and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to I Object

  1. Ritu says:

    Sounds like quite an exhibition!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Cool! I couldn’t help but notice the bull once again taking it badly from Shop Ping Man in the last piece. But that’s another story. I loved this curation of art. Brilliant.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Rowena says:

    This exhibition was put together for the likes of us and thanks for sharing. I particularly liked the Banksy piece. We went on a Banksy hunt in Melbourne last year. Unfortunately, we barely even had one night in Melbourne before sailing out to Tasmania and Banksy had an exhibition at the time, which ironically was behind a huge fence but we had fun chasing references to it.
    I thought you’d be interested to read this article I came across about the racing industry forcing the Sydney Opera House to promote it’s interests: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2018/oct/05/alan-jones-demands-sacking-opera-house-chief-executive-racing-ads?CMP=soc_567
    Alan Jones was also behind the removal of our last Prime Minister and is sounding like a very scary despot type.
    I don’t think you checked out the post I wrote about the shock result of the Australian Bachelor series. He ended up dumping both of the girls at the end. Anyway, I wrote a bit of an analysis: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2018/10/06/whats-become-of-the-honey-badger/
    Hope you’re having a great weekend. The weather’s been dreadful here so I’m lying low.
    Best wishes,
    Rowena

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I confess I often read the Private Eye cover while shopping but never actually buy it! It does look like a good exhibition and, although IH can be insufferable sometimes, I do rather like him.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sue Vincent says:

    The label on the Banksy piece is fabulous.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Mary Smith says:

    Sounds like a brilliant exhibition.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Museums, being very often places where one finds creeping pretension, must have suddenly caught on and decided to try and debunk their heritage. Love the Banksy piece, that is one very clever urban guerrilla!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love it! I went to the British Museum in the late 90’s, and wish I could pop over to see this exhibit. It’s about time I came back for a visit.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. What was on the top shelf?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Elizabeth says:

    Banksy is a hoot. Hope you have a chance to see the video of his self shredding piece that the woman above mentioned.

    Liked by 1 person

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