Museum curator compares Extinction Rebellion sign to peace symbol

V&A curator claims the Extinction Rebellion logo is as powerful as Nike or Mercedes because it’s given ‘identity’ to climate protests – and says it may become as recognisable as the peace symbol

  • Rapid Response Curator Corinna opened up about Extinction Rebellion exhibit
  • London’s prestigious V&A museum in Knightsbridge launched exhibit last year 
  • Compared group’s symbol to that of Nike or Mercedes due to ‘simple elements’
  • She said the activist group’s symbol is a ‘visual identity that we can all recognize’ 

A V&A curator claims that the Extinction Rebellion symbol has a ‘visual identity’ that’s as become as powerful as Nike or Mercedes logo, and said it could be as recognisable as the Peace Symbol. 

The museum in South Kensington, London, last year acquired several Extinction Rebellion objects for its Rapid Response Collection of design objects that address questions of social, political, technological and economic change.

Speaking on the BBC2 series Secrets of the Museum, which airs tonight, Rapid Response curator Corinna said she was eager to include flags carried during mass protests last spring because they display a symbol that gave ‘identity’ to climate protest groups for the first time. 

The movement’s logo is an hourglass within a circle, to indicate that time is running out to solve the climate crisis.  

She said that the symbol is rather like the Nike and Mercedes logos, in that it’s simple but has a ‘visual identity’ that we can ‘all recognise’.

The curator of the Extinction Rebellion exhibition at the V&A Museum says she was interested in their symbol as it has given an ‘identity’ to climate protest groups for the first time. Pictured, curators Clair and Corinna (right) inspecting new acquisitions from Extinction Rebellion 

The prestigious design museum in Knightsbridge, London, last year launched a showcase of the activist group’s symbol, including flags carried during mass protests last spring, in their Rapid Response Collection Gallery 

‘I’m interested in the Extinction symbol, because it has given an identity to a climate protest in a way that we have not known in the recent past’, said Corinna. 

‘It’s a bit like you might say Nike or Mercedes, these are simple elements that now represent so much more.

‘The Extinction Rebellion symbol, it’s become something like the peace symbol. It’s a visual identity that we can all recognise.’ 

Corrina added said: ‘How does this symbol relate to other designs of the past? Is it going to be important? I can’t answer that question, but I know it’s important in the here and now. 

She told how the sign’s simple design is similar to that of Nike. Pictured, activists from international climate action group Extinction Rebellion gathering at the site of French concrete maker Lafarge Granulat, in Paris

She compared impact and design of the symbol to that of Nike and Mercedes, and told how much like the peace sign, it has become a ‘visual identity’ that we can ‘all recognize’. Pictured, the groups wooden printing block and paper deceleration if rebellion 

‘It’s about the question of design, how that has galvanized public concern, but also about the history of graphic design, within the history of protest design. That is important.’ 

Corinna was seen seeking out the perfect items for the display, and insisted that the Rapid Response Collection Gallery is all about capturing what is relevant at the time. 

She told: ‘We need to move fast, the fizz the buzz of the object may not be there if we can’t get it in as quickly as possible. 

Clair and Corinna told the objects would bring their owns set of challenges, as they are not meant to be preserved 

‘Rapid Response is about being curious. Lots of my friends would call me nosy, I always say it’d curiosity.’ 

Later, Corinna was seen in the museum inspecting the group’s flag and a wooden  printing block used to mass reproduce the group’s logo, attempting to find the best way to preserve the items. 

She said: ‘Often the objects are very varied in what they are made from, plastic is delicate, paper is delicate and so the challenges are there. 

Later, Corinna was seen in the museum inspecting the group’s flag and a wooden printing block. Pictured, a museum curator’s gloved hands hold a printing block used by XR protesters to make signs

The V&A said the bright coloured signs used by XR protestors bore comparison to the suffragettes green and purple trademark branding

Corinna told that while she doesn’t know how the sign will relate to other iconic designs in the past, the symbol represents ‘the here and now’

‘Inks that may fade quite quickly or ink that is transferable,  they might pose quite surprising challenges about how we look after them in the museum.’ 

Observing the exhibit, which opened in July last year, Corinna told how it was ‘critical’ that the flags be placed in the right way to tell the ‘design story’. 

‘It’s been critical to get the design story at the forefront, that’s my interest in the object. 

‘That’s the reason for bringing it into the museum and that’s what i’m seeking to communicate through the display

‘I think particularly with the flags,  it was quite hard to imagine how they might take shape but they have and actually they look wonderful. 

The have a presence here in the gallery and there’s a really strong feeling- it’ll be interesting to see what the reaction will be.’ 

‘Secrets of the Museum’ will air on BBC2 Thursday at 8pm. 

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