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31

Jan
2015

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“Power To The People”: Carrie Reichardt’s Mosaic Intervention on the Facade of the V&A

Carrie Reichardt & The Treatment Rooms "Power to the People" (2014)

Carrie Reichardt & The Treatment Rooms Collective “Power to the People” (2014)  Quote by Berthldt Brecht   Photo courtesy of the artist

Having broken through the modern mosaic barrier at the Victoria and Albert Museum with a four-wheeled, two-ton protest against the death penalty, (Entering Through the Gift Shop: Carrie Reichardt’s “Tiki Love Truck” at the V&A” ), craftivist Carrie Reichardt was given the extraordinary opportunity to expand her role in the museum’s ground-breaking Disobedient Objects exhibit (July 25, 2014 – February 1, 2015) with a project that would transform the front of that venerable institution.

Carrie Reichardt & The Treatment Rooms Collective "Disobedient Mosaic Intervention" (2014)

Carrie Reichardt & The Treatment Rooms Collective “The Disobedient Mosaic Intervention” (2014)  Photo courtesy of the artist

Asked by the V&A’s Director and Curators to create something “playful, provocative and sincere”, Reichardt designed a full-frontal installation comprising two panels and the risers of the steps leading up to the front doors of the museum.

It was a brilliant stroke by the V&A, really.  Some exhibits are promoted with banners. Others with posters. With Reichardt’s mosaics, the Disobedient Objects exhibit literally spilled out of the galleries and onto the museum’s front steps. According to Curator Catherine Flood, the final visitor figures were 417,000 making Disobedient Objects the most visited exhibition at the V&A since “Britain Can Make It” in 1946.

While many of objects inside the exhibit were artifacts, The Disobedient Mosaic Intervention was artful political activism live.

Carrie Reichardt and The Treatment Rooms Collective “History Is A Weapon” (2014)

The design of the two panels was a collaborative process that included the curators for Disobedient Objects, Gavin Grindon and Catherine Flood, each of whom selected a quote for one of the panels.

Carrie Reichardt & The Treatment Rooms "Power to the People" (2014)

Carrie Reichardt & The Treatment Rooms “Power to the People” (2014)

Reichardt’s use of digital transfers to create custom tiles for each of her mosaics is at the core of her activist aesthetic. She blends the profane and prosaic to enormous effect in these two panels. The British pound note with the visage of the Queen fills the visor of a baton-wielding riot policeman, surveillance cameras loom and England’s ubiquitous poppies bloom.  At the bottom of each panel, a “groundswell” of protest from the people; at the top energy based on the conflict below radiates outward.

Disobedient Objects

Photo courtesy of the artist

Photo: Melanie Watts

Photo: Melanie Watts

Carrie_Reichard_Power_To_The_People_Detail2We love Reichardt’s idea to use the risers on the steps of the museum to display some of her favorite quotes. The format immediately calls to mind how ticker tapes and thin strips of paper attached to carrier pigeons were once used to transmit urgent news about disasters, conflicts and possibilities.

Photo courtesy of the artist

Photo courtesy of the artist

Photo courtesy of the artist

Photo courtesy of the artist

Photo courtesy of the artist

Photo courtesy of the artist

Photo courtesy of the artist

Photo courtesy of the artist

“Think for yourself – act for others” is what has driven Carrie Reichardt to take her message of art as empowerment to disenfranchised communities in Mexico, Chile, Romania and into the marginal neighborhoods of the UK. Kudos to the V&A for giving this artist and the Treatment Rooms Collective the opportunity to turn the facade of the museum into a modern day “Speakers Corner” as part of their Disobedient Objects exhibit.

Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 7.26.16 AM

Mosaic Intervention at the V&A (2014)  Made by the Treatment Rooms Collective: Luke Allen, Gary Drostle, Mark Drostle, Eoghan Ebrill, Linda Griffiths, Gabrielle Harvey-Smith, Liam Heyhow, Peter Henham, Kevin O’Donohue, Carrie Reichardt, Thayen Rich, Sian Wonnish Smith, Cerdic Thomas, Liam Thomas, Karen Wydler, Mark Wydler.

Video of Reichard’s presentation on the Intervention at The British Association for Modern Mosaic’s 2015 Forum

RESOURCES:

Video walk-through of the Disobedient Objects Exhibit with Curator Gavin Grindon

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

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