The social insurgents

Nadine Jarvis, David Cameron, Sarah Pennington, Andy Boucher, William Gaver

Research output: Non-textual formExhibition


How can one be insurgent when overt protest is stifled or ignored? How does one rebel against a culture dominated by a totalising market logic without looking quaint or unwordly? This exhibition suggests the possibility of quietly disengaging from the large systems of media, commerce and government that overhang our lives. The collection may be small, but the work makes big statements: One media mogul shouldn?t control our news. One Internet company shouldn?t supply all our maps. There can?t be just one version of the Iraq war. But these social insurgents are neither heroic individuals nor isolated cranks. We call the exhibition the ?Social Insurgents?, but we?re not just referring to the individuals exhibiting here - many of the pieces shown here enhance and distill work done by larger publics. i.e. Bridle?s books are publishing ?our? views on the iraq war. Muruganantham?s low cost sanitary napkin machines not only provide hygienic female sanitary products at an affordable price to those below the poverty line but it also provides jobs for women. The Balloon Toolkit forms part of a larger network of grassroots mapping available online, Prayer Companion re-presents social news as potential resource for prayer. We like to think that this exhibition echos some of the themes and tactics of our exhibitors. In occupying the Deptford Town Hall, the baroque headquarters of a former council, it follows a number of high profile protests that took place here in the recent past. Moreover, in choosing a site that is off the well-established design trail (for the London Design Festival these days, that means the affluent West Brompton quarter) we want to emphasise the disparity in these recessionary times between design for the elite and the more grassroots efforts shown here, and to suggest that real change is as likely to come from below as above. Finally, in gathering work that, in some cases, is years old, we mean to question the tendency for LDF to value novelty, and suggest instead that what is new here is the way that these pieces come together to suggest a new landscape for design. This exhibition is not a polemic, however. In fact, it is a methodological experiment, an exploration in our ongoing research on the sociocultural possibilities of new technologies. We are trying to open a space and ask questions, not create a definitive manifesto. Our catalogue reflects this: inspired by the Society of Independent Artists, we are allowing visitors to collect individual pages and collect them together as they see fit, thus allowing each of us to curate our own version of the exhibition. We hope your version will be thought-provoking, inspiring and optimistic.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2012
Externally publishedYes

Research Group keywords

  • Interaction Research Studio


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