Brexit Makes the Artist Communities Speak Up
Finding a base in Berlin for the past 15 years, the UK artist Tacita Dean dreads the prospect of UK voting in the highly awaited referendum on 23 June to exit the European Union. Brexit or the British Exit could actually make London as the art center and end up making it all so very provincial yet again.
Dean, deeply affected and fearing the prospect of a Brexit, is in the process of creating an inspired work of art that is said to have a Shakespearean dimension. This work of art is projected to be the biggest blackboard drawing that she has ever undertaken. Inspired from Shakespeare’s The Tempest this piece is going to be 32 feet long. It has been Dean’s artistic characteristic to write on the boards thoughts, musings or any other things that occur to her as she works at her drawings and Brexit has been on her mind for some time now. When we talk about The Tempest, it is essentially a manufactured storm that Dean equates it to the EU referendum. Referring to the British prime minister’s decision to call a referendum, Dean says that unlike Prospero, David Cameron would not be able to control this one and this would mean Caliban being loose on the island.
Dean is one of the 282 cultural figures of repute who came together to sign an open letter cautioning the nation that if Britain were to leave the European Union it would effectively become an “outsider shouting from the wings.” This open letter also argued that Britain, as a part of the union has not just been stronger but a lot more inspired and creative and that if Britain were to walk away from it, it would definitely weaken the global creative success for the nation.
Prominent artists of repute like Richard Wentworth, Anish Kapoor, Shirazeh Houshiary, Elizabeth Price, Cornelia Parker, and Wolfgang Tillmans have chosen to sign this open letter with great commitment to the cause. The German photographer Tillmans has gone on to demonstrate his feelings and reasons for his opinion through a poster series of 26 different works. This unique photo series was put up for a showcase at the Somerset House as a part of the Photo-London art fair and advised people to put their votes to good use. The poster that claimed “What is lost is lost forever.” made a strong impact on the viewers stimulating the argumentative side of the intelligentsia.
Tomma Abts, a Turner Prize awardee who also had moved from Germany to London expresses her fears of Britain’s art world going back to become provincial in the long run as the influx of international artists dries up. She advocates and urges people to think of “the opposite of Brexit” to build a more open, more fluid, and better connected and beneficial exchange programs. Michael Craig-Martin, has designed a poster that shows a light bulb on a hot pink background which says “Britain in the EU”.
Houshiary, an Iranian born UK artist who moved here in 1974 advocates opening up and melting borders down, rather than putting the walls back up and calls this thought a regressive measure to essentially go back in time instead of growing and progressing. She deems this decision bad for creativity, science, progress, growth, and even bad for each individual who is affected by it. The right thing to do for the benefit of the people today would be develop stronger connections among people not sever them.
In contrast to this, Boris Johnson and Munira Mirza the former Deputy Mayor of London for culture and education support Brexit. She claims that the UK culture sector will benefit from increased funding, she wrote for the website of a-n The Artists Information Company while accepting that the country would definitely lose out on some crucial EU grants.
Even as there are some strong arguments that favor the Brexit, the findings of a survey conducted by the Creative Industries Federation indicate that 96% of the CIF members mentioned access to EU funds as the core reason to vote in favor of staying in Europe. The other sectors however have mentioned that the loss of mobility and influence of UK in Europe was the major harm they saw when it comes to Brexit.
David Cameron the UK prime minister, made a key speech on the 10th of May, choosing the British Museum’s Great Court as the venue as he listed out the reasons for UK to stay in the EU and stated that “Britain is stronger and safer in the EU, as well as better off.”