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Posts Tagged ‘Confiscation Cabinets

“If I see that again, I’ll take it away from you…”*

 

Artist and veteran teacher Guy Tarrant has assembled a collection of “Confiscation Cabinets” an archive of toys taken over the last 30 years from London schoolchildren in 150 different schools.

Tarrant became interested in the toys as tokens of resistance to school routines and teacherly discipline. He enlisted other teachers to donate their own confiscated items to his project. In all, he made eight such cabinets, which are currently on display at the Victoria & Albert Museum of Childhood in London.

Besides showcasing the creativity of some rebellious children—improvised pea shooters, World Cup finger puppets, and mix CDs feature in the collection—the grouping lets us see some differences between American and British toys.

One of Tarrant’s Boys’ Cabinets

One of Tarrant’s Girls’ Cabinets

A “Scooby doo” appears in the girls’ cabinet, and seems to be some kind of a friendship bracelet. In the boys’ cabinet, there’s a Sikh kirpan, or ceremonial sword, reflecting the large Sikh immigrant population in the UK. (Recently, Sikh advocacy groups have fought the confiscation of such items as a restriction of religious freedom.) And  there’s a “39’er,” which appears to be a “conker” (or horse chestnut) used in the traditional British kids’ game.

Technological change and fads also affect the makeup of the confiscated items, with Gameboys, Star Wars toys, and a grungy troll doll showing the march of time.

When viewed from afar, the girls’ cabinet is significantly pinker than the boys’, showing how gendered marketing reaches right into the smallest of items made for kids.

Read the whole story (and click through to larger images of the cabinets) at ‘s “A British Teacher’s Archive of Confiscated Toys.”

*  countless teachers, to their students over the years

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As we put away our playthings, we might send forcefully-metered birthday greetings to Kenneth Patchen; he was born on this date in 1911.  A poet and novelist who experimented with form (most notably, with incorporating jazz into his readings), Patchen was widely ignored by the cultural establishment in his lifetime; but (with his close friend Kenneth Rexroth) became an inspiration for the young poets–  Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gary Snyder, Michael McClure, and others– who became known as the Beat Generation.  In 1968, near the end of his life, The Collected Poems of Kenneth Patchen was published– and Patchen was embraced by the Establishment. The New York TImes called the book “a remarkable volume,” comparing Patchen’s work to that of Blake, Whitman, Crane, Lawrence, and even to the Bible.  In another review, the poet David Meltzer called Patchen “one of America’s great poet-prophets” and called his body of work “visionary art for our time and for Eternity.”

The lions of fire
Shall have their hunting in this black land

Their teeth shall tear at your soft throats
Their claws kill

O the lions of fire shall awake
And the valleys steam with their fury

Because you have turned your faces from God
Because you have spread your filth everywhere.

– from “The Lions of Fire Shall Have Their Hunting”  The Teeth of the Lion (1942)

Allen Ginsberg (left) and Kenneth Patchen (right) backstage at the Living Theatre where Patchen was performing with Charlie Mingus, New York City 1959. Photo copyright © Harry Redl 1959, 2000.

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Written by LW

December 13, 2013 at 1:01 am

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