Ethics and Art UK. Artists remove their work for Arms Dealer funded exhibition

03.08.2018 - London, UK - Silvia Swinden

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Ethics and Art UK. Artists remove their work for Arms Dealer funded exhibition
Created with GIMP (Image by Campaign against the Arms Trade

According to an article written by Javier Pes, for Artnet 

“Artists Dramatically Remove Their Work From London’s Design Museum to Protest Its Decision to Host an Arms Dealer

“Artist are harshly criticizing the London museum’s response to the uproar over its decision to host an event for a defense company.”

“The artists’ move comes just over a week after around 40 artists signed an open letter criticizing the museum’s decision to host the company, Leonardo, and asking that their works be removed by the end of the month. The corporate event was held on July 17 and coincided with the exhibition “Hope to Nope: Graphics and Politics, 2008–2018,” which explores the ways in which graphic design has influenced politics over the last decade.

“The Design Museum did not immediately respond to a request for confirmation about the number of works withdrawn from the show. A-n News estimates that around a third of the exhibition has been removed.

“It is deeply hypocritical for the museum to display and celebrate the work of radical anti-corporate artists and activists, while quietly supporting and profiting from one of the most destructive and deadly industries in the world,” the artists stated in their letter.

“So far, the museum’s directors Deyan Sudjic and Alice Black have been critical of the demonstrations. They suggest they were spearheaded by “professional activists” who do not have close ties to the museum.”

Not just Arms Dealers…

The action of the artists that withdrew their work from the Design Museum are to be lauded and their Active Nonviolence stance promoted as an example of coherence and integrity. We know full well that “culture” is seldom prioritised in national budgets and the obscene prices of painting seen as “investments” contrast with the pitiful support given to struggling artists. Here is where Big Unethical Corporations take advantage of the situation and present themselves as “saviours”.

Here we should mention another problem created by this situation: that of Contradiction. This happens when we think something, feel the opposite and act in a way that gives a register of self-betrayal. This type of conundrum like the posed by accepting money from unsavoury sources, but nothing else being available (Universal Basic Income anyone?),  undermines the mental health and the spiritual coherence of people’s psyche. It’s poison for the soul and for social interactions. We may not see it because mostly we have become accustomed to it, it is “normal” but it is at the roots of many ills, personal and social.

The importance of this action by the artists of the Design Museum is that it may put us in touch again with the register of coherence, and see in this way, by comparison, the register of contradiction. And to seek change.

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