Designing for change at the Powerhouse Museum

MAAS Disobedient Objects Nearly 200 objects exploring how art and design can act as tools and evidence of social change are featured in two new exhibitions on display at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum.

Exclusive to the Powerhouse and direct from London’s V&A Museum, Disobedient Objects demonstrates how political activism drives a wealth of design ingenuity. With objects borrowed from activists and activist groups, the exhibition takes visitors on a global journey of social change from Russia, Poland, Turkey, Italy, Japan and the UK, to Chile, Argentina, Egypt, Syria and Burma.

On show concurrently, Evidence: Brook Andrew is a major commissioned art work by significant Australian artist, Brook Andrew. His new work, incorporating the rich collection of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS), brings an Australian perspective to how objects can act as evidence of social change.

“These two exhibitions provide the rare opportunity to see compelling and significant objects from the MAAS collection and the V&A Disobedient Objects project on show, side by side,” said MAAS Director, Rose Hiscock. “These objects invite us to consider how everyday items such as clocks, plates and coins can be seized as a mechanism for creating and substantiating change in our world.”

Spanning over 30 years and reflecting the impact of communities engaged in international grassroots social movements, Disobedient Objects displays ‘how to protest intelligently’ instruction cards from demonstrations in Tahrir Square, Cairo; protest banners and defaced currency from the Occupy movement; improvised gas masks made by protestors to protect themselves against tear gas during anti-government demonstrations in Gezi Park, Istanbul; and jewellery designed by members of the Black Panther Party in US prisons.

Through Evidence, artist Brook Andrew creates an immersive installation which showcases how objects and images reflect and impact significant social issues such as Indigenous rights, colonial history, women’s and LGBT rights and national identity.

“The complex meaning and history of each object is not just about shock value but about how these objects represent an Australian story,” said Mr Andrew. “Everyone has their own experience with an object and a history and this is loaded, with interconnection and juxtaposed opening stories of conflict, compatibility and neutrality.”

Disobedient Objects and Evidence: Brook Andrew is currently on display at the Powerhouse Museum, 500 Harris Street, Ultimo. Free entry after general admission. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Disobedient Objects – courtesy of MAAS