we wrote about the Unfiltered History Tour
Ay so listen: back in June we got an email from D&AD about contributing to their annual. The D&AD annual showcases work from across the creative industries and unpacks some of the context behind the main ideas at play. They wanted us to have a look at Dentsu Webchutney and VICE’s Unfiltered History Tour. It’s a ‘guerrilla tour of the British Museum’s stolen artefacts’, that uses Instagram’s Augmented Reality filters to tell a different story to the one told in the silly little museum blurbs. ‘Visitors can scan the museum’s disputed artefacts and see them being teleported back in time to their countries of origin’ - it won a D&AD Yellow Pencil, which makes sense because that kind of vicarious fiction, the kind you secretly yearn for, made manifest??? ugh, yes.
So here’s a little excerpt from the text we wrote for the D&AD Annual! If you want to read the full text, you can find it here.
I’m reading the news on my phone on the way to the British Museum. Two climate protesters wearing ‘Just Stop Oil’ t-shirts have just glued themselves to a John Constable painting not too far away in the National Gallery. Apparently, staff had to rush schoolchildren and tourists out of the way; god forbid these people might use the precious space of the gallery to think. In an amazing feat, the protestors managed to stick a print over The Hay Wain
that cast an apocalyptic vision of the future on top, with planes and roads and trees with no leaves left on them. I exit the tube thinking about how easily, and also how cruelly, protests can be policed. Then, I walk into the British Museum to witness another protest that nobody seems to know is happening.
I hate this building and I hate that I am here in the middle of a heatwave, trapped under its glass ceiling like I’m a part of its collection. I march through the central hall straight past the overpriced cafe and into a darkened room. A thick crowd of tourists is gathered around a glass case. Every single one of them has their phone out, trying to take a picture of the famous Rosetta Stone. I know these images, the holiday snaps you never look at a second time, and yet I have my phone out waiting for my turn to do exactly the same thing.
In 2021 VICE Media World News collaborated with Dentsu to create The Unfiltered History Tour
. The project takes 10 of the most contested artefacts in the British Museum’s collection (you know, where the objects on display aren’t British at all) and offers visitors a free guerrilla tour told directly from the voices of native experts who want the pieces repatriated. The tour spotlights the Parthenon Marbles from Greece, India’s Amaravati Marbles too, and pieces like the 15th Century Boinayel figures from Jamaica. I am standing in front of the Rosetta Stone and when the coast is finally clear, I use the tour’s Instagram filter to unfilter what I am seeing.
My screen snaps to black…