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19

Jan
2015

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Artists
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Entering Through The Gift Shop: Carrie Reichardt’s “Tiki Love Truck” in the V&A’s “Disobedient Objects”

Photo:  Catherine Flood V&A

Photo: Catherine Flood, Victoria and Albert Museum

In October of 2012, we were part of a lively debate at the British Association for Modern Mosaic’s annual symposium about what it would take to get contemporary mosaic art into the hallowed halls of the Art Establishment – meaning institutions very much like the venue for that meeting – the venerable Victoria and Albert Museum.

Tiki Love Truck Carrie Reichardt

Photo: Catherine Flood, Victoria and Albert Museum

Photo: Catherine Flood V&A

Photo: Catherine Flood, Victoria and Albert

Almost  two years later, “renegade potter” and craftivist Carrie Reichardt’s two-ton mosaic protest against the death penalty, The Tiki Love Truck, literally went right through the front door AND the gift shop and then over the opus criminale mosaic floors of the V&A to become a highlight of the museum’s groundbreaking exhibit Disobedient Objects (July 20, 2014-February 1, 2015).

Carrie Reichardt "Tiki Love Truck" (2007) Designed by Carrie Reichardt and Thayen Rich. Death mask by ick Reyolds. Made by Carrie Reichardt and the Treatment Rooms Collective.

Carrie Reichardt “Tiki Love Truck” (2007) Designed by Carrie Reichardt and Thayen Rich. Death mask by Nick Reyolds. Made by Carrie Reichardt and the Treatment Rooms Collective.  Photo:  © Victoria and Albert Museum

"Disobedient Objects"  Photo courtesy V&A

“Disobedient Objects”   Photo © Victoria and Albert Museum

Disobedient Objects is “the first exhibition to explore objects of art and design from around the world that have been created by grassroots social movements as tools of social change.” Curated by Catherine Flood and Gavin Grindon, the collection of 99 objects includes Suffragette teapots, hand-sewn Chilean wall hangings commemorating missing loved ones, and life-size puppets by the radical Vermont Bread and Puppets Theater.

Photo courtesy of the artist.

Tiki Love Truck’s appearance in Manchester Art Car Parade, 2007. Photo courtesy of the artist.

In 2007, Reichardt was commissioned by Walk the Plank to create mosaic The Tiki Love Truck for an art car parade in Manchester. The work’s purpose changed radically when Reichardt received word that John Joe ‘Ash’ Amador, an inmate in a Texas prison Reichardt with whom Reichardt had been corresponding with for years, was scheduled to be executed. Amador asked Reichardt to witness the event and Reichardt subsequently travelled to Texas from London bringing with her sculptor Nick Reynolds. With the approval and assistance of the family, Reynolds made a death mask of Amador.

Death mask of John Joe "Ash" Amador made by Nick Reynolds.  Photo:  Wanranya Jangwangkorn

Death mask of John Joe “Ash” Amador made by Nick Reynolds. Photo: Wanranya Jangwangkorn

Upon returning to the UK, Reichardt dedicated the Love Truck to Amador, giving the mask pride of place on the front of the work. The artist continues to advocate strongly against the death penalty and solitary confinement of prisoners in the US.

Photo:  Pete Riches

Photo: Pete Riches

Between October 31 and November 2nd, Reichardt turned the Tiki Love Truck into a Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Shrine dedicated to the memory of her mother, Jill Richards, Luis Ramirez, Herman Wallace, John “Ash” Amador, and Khristian Oliver. With the disappearance of the 43 students in September in Iguala, Mexico, the shrine was given a second, more urgent focus.

Carrie Reichardt (front)  Photo: Pete Riches

Carrie Reichardt (front) Photo: Pete Riches

Photo: Pete Riches

Photo: Pete Riches

Photo courtesy of the artist

Photo courtesy of the artist

Carrie_Reichard_truck_Dayofthedead_4_Pete_Riches

Photo: Pete Riches

As we write this article, it is Martin Luther King Day here in the US, and we are reminded of this quote:

The saving of our world from pending doom will come, not through the complacent adjustment of the conforming majority, but through the creative maladjustment of a nonconforming minority.

Disobedient Objects has proven to be a great success for the V&A – blasting away at its image of being “England’s Attic” by showcasing works of great heart, creativity and ingenuity that are potent demands for change and, in the process, garnering strong critical acclaim for the effort (below).  It is not surprising that Disobedient Objects is already slated for at least one additional international showing at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum October 30 2015 through February 14, 2016.

And Reichardt? Well, after getting through the front door of the V&A, she was asked by the curators to mosaic it. We’ll be back later this week with Reichardt’s award-winning Intervention.

Until then,

Nancie

UPDATE: According to Curator Catherine Flood, the final visitor figures for Disobedient Objects was 417,000 making it the most visited exhibition at the V&A since “Britain Can Make It” in 1946.

Resources:

  •  February 2016 interview by Rosie Osborne on Free Spirit Home here

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