For as long as we have thought that it is a good idea for some humans to have authority over others, there has been dissent. Throughout history opposition has manifested itself publicly in many forms, whether that is protests, leadership coups or even wars. But a subtler undercurrent of subversion has also existed alongside these open acts of opposition, remaining hidden often out of necessity and sometimes simply for someone’s personal amusement.
In its upcoming exhibition, the British Museum has teamed up with Private Eye editor and one of Britain’s best-known satirists Ian Hislop to reveal the messages hidden in everyday objects of dissent spanning three millennia, from ancient Mesopotamia in 1300 BC to the 2016 Presidential election. While the turbulent state of our current political climate has given more relevance to the spate of politics-themed exhibitions from the past few years, including the V&A’s 2014 show Disobedient Objects and the Design Museum’s recent exhibition Hope to Nope, British Museum curator Tom Hockenhull insists that “it’s always the right time for an exhibition about subversion”.
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