Philip Attwood and Felicity Powell, Medals of Dishonour. The British Museum Press, London 2009. 144 pages with 120 colour illustrations. Paperback. Adhesive binding. 23 x 27.5 cm. ISBN 978-0-7141-1816-1. £ 16.99.
November 11, 2009 – He who thinks only of the objects his bank displays in a red jewellery box when the subject “modern medals” comes up tends to overlook the fact that the modern medal has become a genre many young artists experiment with. To state but one example: the British Museum contrasted pieces of its own collections with the works of the artist group Chora. Subject-matter was satirical medals or – as the catalogue labels them – “Medals of Dishonour”. 36 exhibits are presented in the catalogue with 23 coming from between 1588 and 1963 plus 13 from between 2008 and 2009. The comparison clearly shows how much our conception of the world has changed. Whereas past times rather focussed on a single “enemy” – England was very ‘fond’ of the Frenchmen in this regard –, today’s medals rather depict the anonymous perpetrator.
Each object is represented on several pages including magnificent illustrations. Hence, the booklet is an abundant work which is very enjoyable to flip through and read.