Private Event For an Arms Dealer? A Show of Protest Art? The Design Museum Needs to Pick a Side – 军火商的私人事件?抗议艺术的展示?设计博物馆需要挑一个侧面

Opinion - 01 Aug 2018

Private Event For an Arms Dealer? A Show of Protest Art? The Design Museum Needs to Pick a Side

The disconnect between public museum programming and private hire couldn’t be starker – it’s time for the arts to rethink who it accepts money from

By Mel Evans

On the evening of Tuesday 17 July, London’s Design Museum found itself split between two unlikely dinner dates. On one side of a wall, the museum was hosting a panel discussion titled ‘Corbynmania: Social Media and Jeremy Corbyn’ – part of a series of events to coincide with their ‘Hope to Nope’ show, which tracks the intersection between graphic design and socio-political explosions over the past decade. On the other side, the museum had given permission for a reception to be hosted by one of the world’s biggest weapons manufacturers, Leonardo – a private event linked to the Farnborough International Airshow, an arms fair.

Now more than 40 artists – including Shepard Fairey, designer of the iconic Obama ‘Hope’ poster – have demanded that their work be pulled from the exhibition ‘Hope to Nope’, in protest against the Italian arms dealer’s private event. With artists due to arrive this Thursday to remove their pieces, the Design Museum has been given real cause and urgency to review its fundraising policy.

Leonardo’s products include weaponized aircraft, drones, missiles and armoured vehicles. It produces the Eurofighter Typhoon, in conjunction with BAE Systems and France’s Airbus. The combat plane has been used by the Saudi regime in its military campaign in Yemen. In a war that has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people, human rights groups have drawn attention to the bombing of Yemeni markets, hospitals and schools – public places frequented by civilians, just like museum visitors.

Eurofighter Typhoon, Farnborough, 2010. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Private Event For an Arms Dealer? A Show of Protest Art? The Design Museum Needs to Pick a Side - 军火商的私人事件?抗议艺术的展示?设计博物馆需要挑一个侧面

Eurofighter Typhoon, Farnborough International Airshow, 2010. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Leonardo is no stranger to claims of artwashing either. In its previous incarnation as Finmeccanica, it was forced to pull its sponsorship of London’s National Gallery in 2012. Campaigners including artist Peter Kennard and writer Will Self protested a public arts institution playing advocate to the arms trade: ‘the gallery not only provides a gloss of legitimacy for a reprehensible trade; it is also providing very practical support for the arms industry,’ they wrote.

Now Leonardo is back. Chair of the Design Museum’s ‘Corbynmania: Social Media and Jeremy Corbyn’ panel, activist Ash Sarkar, declared ‘I’m furious’ on discovering the museum’s parallel event. ‘This is Britain’s arts establishment in a nutshell: co-opting radical image makers to stay relevant, and facilitating the social calendar of slaughterers to stay wealthy,’ Sarkar tweeted.

I’m furious, too. Especially as I hosted another ‘Hope to Nope’ panel at the Design Museum, discussing the ‘visual language of protest’, the month before. There we had discussed the relationship between the arts and social change, the ethical role of museums and galleries, and my work with Liberate Tate – an artist collective whose six-year campaign against BP sponsorship of Tate resulted in the ending of its decades-long deal.

‘Hope to Nope’, Design Museum, London, 2018, installation view. Courtesy: BP or not BP?

Private Event For an Arms Dealer? A Show of Protest Art? The Design Museum Needs to Pick a Side - 军火商的私人事件?抗议艺术的展示?设计博物馆需要挑一个侧面

‘Hope to Nope’, Design Museum, London, 2018, installation view. Courtesy: BP or not BP?

I strongly believe museums and galleries have a fundamental ethical function. Public spaces where we consider past, present and future cultural shifts embody moral and ethical lines – wherever the governing bodies choose to draw them. The Design Museum has said in its latest statement that the Leonardo event was a ‘private party’ which ‘formed no part of the museum’s programme or had any endorsement from the museum.’ In the meantime, the museum will not accept any private hires from arms, fossil fuel or tobacco companies while it reviews its fundraising policies and commercial activities. Do we really need to wait for its findings? These sectors clearly fall outside our collective moral compass – all of our museums should resist funds of any kind from these sources.

In an attempted riposte to the artists who have threatened to remove their work, the Design Museum has called on those artists to think of the visitors’ experience – they would miss out on seeing their work in ‘Hope to Nope’. ‘The museum puts the visitor at the heart of everything it does,’ the museum said in its statement, ‘so we have urged exhibitors who have asked to have their work removed from display to reconsider their decision.’ But thinking about the interests of the visitor is precisely what the artists are doing. How is the visitor experience impacted by the presence or knowledge that the museum has shared space with an arms manufacturer which profits from conflicts across the world? How does that dissonance sit with an audience – does it tell them that an egregious practice is to be considered normal and acceptable?

The museum’s framing of the Leonardo reception as an unendorsed, private event fails to address the full picture. Why would Leonardo want to hold a party at the Design Museum? Because it bestows the museum’s social and cultural prestige upon the company. It’s an age-old public relations tactic of acquiring a veneer of social acceptability – and one that any ethical public institution would refuse to grant.

‘Hope to Nope’, Design Museum, London, 2018, installation view. Courtesy: Design Museum; photograph: Andy McArthur

Private Event For an Arms Dealer? A Show of Protest Art? The Design Museum Needs to Pick a Side - 军火商的私人事件?抗议艺术的展示?设计博物馆需要挑一个侧面

‘Hope to Nope’, Design Museum, London, 2018, installation view. Courtesy: Design Museum; photograph: Andy McArthur

Now that the museum is reconsidering its policies, these will presumably be put to its board of trustees. And here’s where we stumble upon another issue. The chairman of the Design Museum’s trustees is none other than Lord Peter Mandelson, the former architect of New Labour, who has a concerning record when it comes to the defence industry. Mandelson once held a lucrative directorship at the Russian conglomerate Sistema (and is reported to still own shares), which is a majority shareholder in the defence technology firm RTI. It’s an obvious conflict of interest: Mandelson must step aside from all board-level discussions around due diligence and ethical fundraising.

The Design Museum faces a critical moment. Recently named European Museum of the Year 2018, the institution’s leadership simply has to step up and set an ethical standard for the sector. It’s down to directors Alice Black and Deyan Sudjic – who once wrote eloquently about the relationship between repressive regimes and the power of architects – to safeguard the museum’s moral responsibility. Programming an exhibition about protest, design and social change isn’t enough. It’s time to speak up.

Main image: ‘Hope to Nope’, Design Museum, 2018, installation view. Courtesy: Gavin Grindon

Mel Evans

Mel Evans is an artist and campaigner with Liberate Tate – an art collective that has organized unsanctioned live-art interventions in Tate galleries. She is the author of Artwash: Big Oil and the Arts (Pluto, 2015).

Opinion
Art and Politics
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Mel Evans
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意见- 01 AG 2018军火商私人事件?抗议艺术的展示?设计博物馆需要选择一个方面,公共博物馆的规划与私人租用之间的脱节是不可能的。现在是艺术重新思考伊万斯在晚上的时候接受谁的钱的时候了。7月17日,伦敦设计博物馆发现自己在两次不太可能的晚餐约会中分道扬张。在一堵墙的一侧,博物馆举办了一个小组讨论,题目是“Calbynania:社交媒体和Jeremy Corbyn”,这是一系列事件的一部分,以配合他们的“希望Noop'”节目,它追踪了过去的平面设计和社会政治爆炸之间的交叉点。十年。另一方面,博物馆允许了由世界最大的武器制造商之一列奥纳多举办的招待会,这是一场与法恩堡国际航展(武器展)有关的私人活动。现在,超过40名艺术家,包括Shepard Fairey,标志性奥巴马“希望”海报的设计师,要求他们的作品从展览“希望”取消,以抗议意大利军火商的私人事件。由于艺术家将于本星期四抵达,以消除他们的作品,设计博物馆已被给予真正的原因和紧迫性,以审查其筹资政策。列奥纳多的产品包括武器化的飞机、无人机、导弹和装甲车。它产生了欧洲战斗机台风,连同BAE系统和法国的空中客车。这架战斗机曾被沙特政权在也门的军事行动中使用过。在一场夺走了10000多人生命的战争中,人权组织引起了人们对也门市场、医院和学校的轰炸。Eurofighter Typhoon,Farnborough,2010岁。礼貌:WikimediaCon Private Event For an Arms Dealer? A Show of Protest Art? The Design Museum Needs to Pick a Side - 军火商的私人事件?抗议艺术的展示?设计博物馆需要挑一个侧面台风,法恩堡国际航展,2010。礼貌:维基百科公爵列奥纳多也不陌生的主张ARTWASH。在其前身为芬美卡尼卡,它被迫拉赞助伦敦国家美术馆在2012。包括艺术家Peter Kennard和作家在内的活动家将自我抗议一个公共艺术机构扮演武器贸易的倡导者:“画廊不仅提供了一个应受谴责的贸易合法性的光泽,而且它也为武器工业提供了非常实际的支持。”他们写道。现在列奥纳多回来了。设计博物馆的Cordbnimana:社会媒体和Jeremy Corbyn的小组,活动家Ash Sarkar,宣称“我对发现博物馆的平行事件感到愤怒”。“这是英国的艺术机构:简而言之:选择激进的形象制造者保持相关,并促进屠宰者的社会日历保持富有。”萨卡尔说。我也很愤怒。特别是我在设计博物馆举办了另一个“不希望”的小组讨论前一个月的“抗议语言”。在那里,我们讨论了艺术与社会变革之间的关系,博物馆和画廊的伦理角色,以及我与解放者泰特的作品——一个艺术家团体,其六年反对BP赞助泰特的运动导致了其长达数十年的交易的结束。“希望不”,设计博物馆,伦敦,2018,安装视图。礼貌:英国石油公司还是英国石油公司?WPA6022602IMG“希望不”,设计博物馆,伦敦,2018,安装视图。礼貌:英国石油公司还是英国石油公司?我坚信博物馆和画廊有一个基本的伦理功能。我们考虑过去、现在和将来的文化变迁的公共空间体现了道德和伦理的界限——无论管理机构选择什么样的地方。设计博物馆在其最新声明中说,列奥纳多事件是一个“私人聚会”,它没有形成博物馆的计划,也没有博物馆的任何认可。同时,博物馆也不会接受任何来自武器、矿物燃料或烟草公司的私人雇佣。在审查其筹资政策和商业活动的同时。我们真的需要等待它的发现吗?这些部门显然不属于我们的集体道德准则——我们所有的博物馆都应该抵制来自这些来源的任何种类的资金。在试图威胁艺术家们的作品中,设计博物馆呼吁那些艺术家去考虑访客的体验——他们会错过看到他们的作品“希望不”的作品。博物馆在访客的声明中说:“博物馆把访问者放在它所做的一切的中心,所以我们敦促参展商们要求他们的作品从展品中移去,重新考虑他们的决定。”但考虑到访问者的兴趣恰恰是艺术家的兴趣所在。S正在做。访问者体验是如何受到博物馆存在与知识共享的影响的?这种不和谐如何与观众坐在一起——是否告诉他们一个惊人的实践被认为是正常的和可接受的?博物馆将列奥纳多招待会作为一个未被认可的私人事件的框架未能解决全部问题。列奥纳多为什么要在设计博物馆举办晚会?因为它赋予了博物馆的社会和文化声望。这是一种古老的公共关系策略,它可以获得社会认可的外表,而任何一个道德的公共机构都不会同意。“希望不”,设计博物馆,伦敦,2018,安装视图。礼貌:设计博物馆;照片:安迪McthurWPAP6023 602IMG“希望不”,设计博物馆,伦敦,2018,安装视图。礼貌:设计博物馆;照片:Andy McArthur现在博物馆正在重新考虑它的政策,这些将被推入理事会。这就是我们偶然发现另一个问题的地方。设计博物馆的董事会主席正是新工党的前建筑师Peter Mandelson勋爵,他在国防工业方面有着重要的记录。曼德尔森曾在俄罗斯企业集团SistMa(在报告中仍持有股份)持有利润丰厚的董事,后者是国防科技公司RTI的多数股东。这是一个明显的利益冲突:曼德尔森必须在尽职调查和道德募捐的基础上,远离所有董事会讨论。设计博物馆面临着一个关键时刻。最近被命名为2018欧洲博物馆,该机构的领导层必须加强和制定一个道德标准的部门。归咎于导演Alice Black和Deyan Sudjic,他们曾经雄辩地讲述了压迫性政权和建筑师的权力之间的关系,以保护博物馆的道德责任。策划一个抗议、设计和社会变革的展览是不够的。是时候大声说话了。主要图片:“希望不”,设计博物馆,2018,安装视图。礼貌:加文格林顿梅尔伊万斯梅尔伊万斯是一个艺术家和活动家与解放泰特-一个艺术团体,组织了未经批准的现场艺术干预在塔特画廊。她是ARTWASH的作者:大石油和艺术(冥王星,2015)。意见艺术与政治设计梅尔伊万斯设计博物馆武器贸易


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