News Column

Katy Perry false eyelashes and Primark jeans join V&A collection for new space

May 24, 2014

Maev Kennedy, theguardian.com



The vast collections of the V&A have just been expanded by buying some Katy Perry Cool Kitty false eyelashes, a pair of jeans, a soft toy which became an improbable political protest symbol and a plastic gun. All will go on display this summer in a new gallery at the museum in London dedicated to rapid response to developments or debate in politics, design or pop culture.

The space is intended to house changing displays of objects from the cheap and cheerful, such as the eyelashes, to the technically advanced and expensive, such asa length of Kone UltraRope lightweight lift cable that allows lifts to travel 1,000 metres in a single run, facilitating ever taller towers spiking through city skylines.

The jeans were bought from Primark shortly after the collapse last year of the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh that claimed the lives of least 1,130 garment workers. One of the many workshops crammed inside the building made clothes for a number of western brands, including Primark: the firm has donated $7m (4.2m) to a fund for the workers.

Corinna Gardner, curator of contemporary product design who is also leading the development of the new gallery opening in July, said the jeans, bought for a few pounds in the UK, made what might seem an abstract debate tangible.

"Much of the commentary in the media around the Rana Plaza disaster was about international labour laws, building control in Bangladesh and the responsibilities of global corporations and of consumers. But at its heart was a material thing: a pair of jeans that you can buy on any British high street," she said

The gun is the world's first 3D printed plastic handgun, chillingly named The Liberator after a second world war weapon originally intended to be air dropped into occupied regions for resistance fighters. Designed by a Texan law student, Cody Wilson, the plans for the plastic gun were published on the internet and downloaded more than 100,000 times before the US department of state demanded they be taken down. A copy of the gun is also on display at the Science Museum in London.

Kieran Long, curator of contemporary architecture, design and digital at the V&A, said: "The V&A has always strived to understand social history through objects of design, art and architecture, and with this new strategy we are bringing that social commitment to bear on the contemporary world."

The wolf toy had the strangest route to international controversy. Sold by Ikea, kings of the flat pack furniture market, it has a red-check shirt, a wolfish grin, and a grandmother tucked under its arm. Its Swedish name is Lufsig which when translated into Cantonese sounds close to an unprintable insult involving mothers. It sold out in Hong Kong, and became a symbol of protest against the territory's chief executive, CY Leung, nicknamed "the wolf", with toys being hurled at him at public meetings. An appalled Ikea renamed the toy Lo Fook Sai for the Chinese market, incorporating a Chinese character meaning good fortune.

Although now most famous for its historic collections, the V&A was founded in 1851 in the wake of the Crystal Palace Great Exhibition of 1851, to champion and showcase contemporary design and innovation. Kieran Long, senior curator of architecture and design, said: "The V&A has always strived to understand social history through objects of design, art and architecture, and with this new strategy we are bringing that social commitment to bear on the contemporary world."

Rapid Response Collecting will open, free, from 5 July 2014


For more stories covering arts and entertainment, please see HispanicBusiness' Arts & Entertainment Channel



Source: Guardian Web


Story Tools






HispanicBusiness.com Facebook Linkedin Twitter RSS Feed Email Alerts & Newsletters