A Trojan Horse? An icon of the anti-establishment at the Victoria & Albert Museum

Amy Jane Barnes

Abstract


This article explores the independently curated exhibition, Che Guevara: Revolutionary and Icon, which was on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, in 2006. It analyses the exhibition’s interpretive approach, as well as the tensions between the exhibition’s curator and institution. I focus, in the final instance, on the particular issues associated with the display of revolutionary material culture, as well as the phenomenon of communist kitsch. The article concludes by arguing that art and politics are inextricably linked in revolutionary material, and in derivatives thereof, including those pertaining to Che Guevara. Without interpretation of both aspects, the impact of the whole is diminished. For a satisfactory outcome, I contend, museums must be prepared to take a clear interpretive stance, and accept any criticism or controversy that follows by tackling the issues this type of art and material culture raises, or not at all.


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Copyright (c) 2015 Amy Jane Barnes

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Museum and Society

ISSN 1479-8360