How To Be Suited For Subversion

Suited for Subversion

Suited for Subversion – 2002
Nylon-reinforced PVC, padding, speaker, and pulse reader
Ralph Borland
South African, born 1974

Exhibited at the New York Museum of Modern Art, this civil-disobedience suit, to be worn by street protesters for protection against police batons, draws attention to the risks demonstrators face in order to defend their convictions. A wireless video camera mounted over the head acts as a witness, recording police action. A speaker in the center of the chest amplifies and projects the wearer’s heartbeat. In a group action, when many people are wearing these suits, the increasing heartbeats become audible as tension and excitement mount, like a natural soundtrack arousing the crowd. At the same time, the heartbeat exposes the vulnerability of the individual and the fragility of the human body exploited as a shield – almost as a weapon – against police munitions. – MoMA Caption

Suited for Subversion was part of the exhibition SAFE: Design Takes on Risk at the New York Museum of Modern Art in 2005/2006. The exhibition featured several objects designed to protect body and mind from dangerous or stressful circumstances; respond to situations of emergency; ensure clarity and information; and provide a sense of comfort and security.

This article is part of a series of posts about my visit to the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Click here to read the complete series.

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