Socialist Worker

Hope to Nope at the Design Museum—graphics overload without context

by Ben Windsor
Issue No. 2599

An inflatable duck used in protests against the Brazillian president last year

An inflatable duck used in protests against the Brazillian president last year (Pic: Design Museum)

Hope to Nope looks at political graphics in the tumultuous decade since the crisis hit.

It is a wide-ranging and fairly international survey, taking in everything from alt-right memes and Trump’s baseball cap to the Isis flag and the Grenfell Tower wall of truth.

But for readers of this paper both the curatorial arguments and the exhibits may all seem a bit too familiar.

There’s very little new here, and neither is there a great deal of insight. Seeing everything gathered together in one big room merely leads to sensory overload.

To be fair to the museum, I think it is a very hard subject to do justice to.

Most of these objects were intended to be functional and ephemeral. And once abstracted from their immediate context, they lose a lot of their power.

However, the Design Museum’s interest in this aspect of our lives is a welcome one.

It is in stark contrast to their other current exhibition, which explores the “glamour” and “passion” of Ferrari cars.

It’ll be intriguing to see if their new enthusiasm for protest stretches to the car workers themselves.

Whether that’s the strike in Italy last August against 55 job losses, or in Chelsea last October, where two cleaners struck for the living wage–and were suspended.

Despite their laudable intentions, I would feel hard done by if I’d coughed up the full entrance fee for this one.

You’ll probably find just as much graphic agitation to appreciate at your next big demonstration.

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Tue 10 Apr 2018, 14:22 BST
Issue No. 2599
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