Today I visited this through-provoking exhibition at the V&A with first-year students from the BA (Hons) Design Cultures course at London College of Communication. Barnbrook‘s exhibition and catalogue design mimics the vernacular visual language of the exhibits. Objects are transformed into weapons of protest and rhetoric, re-imagined and re-invented for political, social and to help cultivate grassroots activism. There are many fascinating objects in this small exhibition,that resonate with my feminist and queer position, below I have selected one movement that has become iconic:
This caption at the bottom of the Silence+Death poster states: “Why is Regan silent about AIDS? What is really going on at the Centre for Disease Control, the Federal Drug Administration, and the Vatican? Gays and Lesbians are not expendable …Use your power …Vote …Boycott …Defend yourselves …Turn anger, fear, grief into action.”
It’s fascinating to see some of these objects first-hand, which could otherwise have been lost over time.
These artifacts are a reminder of the persecution and prejudice that gay men were subjected to. This exhibition is small in size, but large in ambition, reflecting the aspirations and goals for those seeking change and/or revolution.