Occupation and Protest: Documenting Social Unrest

Guy Atkins from the 'Save our Placards' project joins Jeremy Deller in a panel discussion at the Museum of London on Monday evening

Image from Museum of London

At a protest it’s easy to feel as if the event is just a passing moment in time, especially when the governments ignore your demands, and memories are quickly lost in the depths of the news archives. However, Guy Atkins, a Goldsmiths graduate from the MA in Arts & Politics, has found a way to tackle the transience of protest with his 'Save our Placards' projects. Almost exactly a year ago, March 26th 2011, the 'March for the Alternative' took place in London and saw the largest demonstration in the country since the Iraq War. Atkins and his team were there to collect donated placards, banners and costumes, as covered by Dazed Digital at the time. In their hands the momentary significance of these pieces was extended and they were transformed into important remnants of a major demonstration: they then became symbols of the individual’s voice, allowed to flourish at the hands of British wit and creativity.

The project has managed to get a selection of the most unique placards off the streets and into the permanent collection at The Museum of London. Here, they will also be holding a discussion on the topic of Occupation and Protest and the documentation of Social Unrest on Monday evening. The panel speaking on the issue will include Turner Prize winner, Jeremy Deller; Kurt Barling of BBC London; Morning Star Journalist Rory Mackinnon and Dr Cathy Ross, The Museum of London’s Director of Collection’s. Held on the anniversary of the anti-cuts protest, the event will document the duty of the museum to document social unrest whilst also drawing attention to the fact that more demonstrations are to be expected as issues present this time last year have not yet been resolved.

“The Museum has a long history of collecting protest material, from the Suffragettes in the early 20th century to the anti-road ‘No M11’ protests in the 1990s. It’s a collecting area that raises interesting theoretical and practical issues for us as a city museum, and is particularly topical at the moment, given the debate around Occupy”, says Cathy Ross, Museum of London Director of Collection.

'Occupation and Protest: Documenting Social Unrest' takes place on the 26 March from 19.00 - 20.45 and costs £6

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