A few weeks ago Matt Kiem wrote ‘An art educator’s open letter to colleagues about detention profits and the Sydney Biennale’ (Crossborder Operational Matters, February 4, 2014). It outlines the case for artists and the public to boycott the event on the basis of its sponsorship by Transfield, an Australian-based corporation which profits from the asylum seeker industry.
The xborderoperationalmatters blog is an excellent resource for matters relating to the policing of Australian borders; RISE is a grassroots initiative “and the first refugee and asylum seeker welfare and advocacy organisation in Australia to be run by refugees, asylum seekers, and ex-detainees; as such, we view those who seek assistance from RISE as members and participants, not “clients”.”
Otherwise, #19BOS is a tumblr which compiles a contact list for artists appearing at the Biennale. In Sydney on Monday, February 17 at 6.30pm at Elwyn Lynn Conference Room, College of Fine Art, Oxford Street, there’ll be an “open discussion on how artists and activists can protest against Transfield’s sponsorship of the 2014 Sydney Biennale”.
The following video has been created in support of the boycott:
The following articles discuss the boycott:
• Sydney Biennale faces Transfield boycott threat, Ben Eltham, ArtsHub, February 7, 2014
• The 19th Biennale of Sydney & their partner Transfield, Excerpt Magazine, February 7, 2014
• Supporting the call to Boycott the 19th Biennale of Sydney (2014), Van Thanh Rudd, February 8, 2014
• Why I Will Be Boycotting the 2014 Sydney Biennale- Protest Refugee Detention Centre Profiteering in Corporate Sponsorship, Ruth Skilbeck, February 8, 2014
• Should artists boycott the Sydney Biennale over Transfield links?, Matt Kiem, The Conversation, February 12, 2014
• Sydney Biennale and a question of corporate sponsorship, Antony Lowenstein, The Guardian, February 12, 2014
• Beyond Borders Report – Why to boycott Transfield & the Biennale, beyond borders collective melbourne, February 13, 2014
• Boycott The Sydney Biennale, Kevin Loo, literatico, February 14, 2014
See also : ‘The Work of Art and the Problem of Politics in Dada Berlin’, Brigid Doherty, October, No.105, Summer 2003.
After the Kapp Putsch of 1920 (an attempt by the radical right to violently overthrow the new Weimar Republic) clashes occurred between the army and workers in Dresden. A bullet went through the window of the Zwinger Gallery and damaged a Rubens painting. Incensed by the incident, Kokoschka – then art professor at the Dresden Academy – financed an appeal which appeared in local newspapers and as wallposters, urging the two sides to settle their scores well away from cultural treasures. Kokoschka’s elevation of art above political struggle outraged Grosz and Heartfield (political art activists) who replied with a furious polemic ‘Der Kunstlump’ (The Artist As Scab) ridiculing the idea that art could be considered more important than lives of workers. They welcomed the fact that bullets had penetrated galleries, palaces and a Rubens, rather than the homes of the poor.”
~ Photomontage: A Political Weapon, David Evans & Sylvia Gohl, Gordon Fraser, 1986