The newest blockbuster exhibition at the British Museum follows the history and heritage of protest and public dissent. What struck me most about I Object was the self reflective tone of the exhibition, facing inwards at British Museum’s undeniable elitist authority in often displaying the ‘victors’ of history. I Object, however, does quite the opposite – displaying the stories of those in direct opposition to the elite.
Curated by Private Eye editor and Have I got News For You favourite Ian Hisslop, the exhibition maintains humour throughout. While the exhibition is of course political and at times difficult in its content, this element of humour makes I Object accessible and enjoyable. I Object displays many noteworthy objects, as well as art, satire, documents, graffiti. The commentary is both humorous (as to be expected with the Have I got News For You links) and intrigue. Visitors are encouraged to spot the hidden dissent amongst the objects.
It’s a brave exhibition for British Museum to curate. British Museum is an authority in itself, an acknowledges this: “the British Museum doesn’t escape ridicule either – the joke has been on us on more than one occasion”. A standout artwork on display is by “Banksyus Maximus”, and was on the walls for three days before it was noticed. Showing the dissenters, rather than the elite, is an unusual but wholly necessary move for British Museum in publicly recognising its privileged temple status. I object: Ian Hislop’s Search for Dissent is humorous, honest, and human.
British Museum: open 6 September 2018 – 20 January 2019