European Elections: Anti-Brexit Artists Unite as UK Voters Head to Polls

In further news: Chinese filmmaker Huang Huang arrested; Germany to return 15th-century stone cross to Namibia

Juergen Teller, Kristin Scott Thomas No.1, London, 2017. Courtesy: © Juergen Teller

Juergen Teller, Kristin Scott Thomas No.1, London, 2017. Courtesy: © Juergen Teller

With UK voters heading to the polling booths today for the European Parliament elections, several artists have assembled an anti-Brexit exhibition at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac in London. Titled ‘United Artists for Europe’ – the brainchild of the French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy – artists such as Marina Abramović, Antony Gormley, and Grayson Perry are among those who have together contributed more than 30 works to the exhibition (until 23 May). Artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset have contributed a punch-bag marked with the stars of the European flag, while Juergen Teller will show a photograph of Kristin Scott Thomas in an EU hoodie. The show will be followed by a benefit auction which is intended to raise funds for cultural projects across Europe. Co-curators Tancrède Hertzog and Léopold Legros described the project as ‘much more than a charity sale’. They told frieze: ‘It is not a question of defending Brussels and the European Commission, but of pointing out that from seperatism to opposition and confrontation, there is only one step. That Europe has never been stronger in history than when it was united by a common ideal: in the Renaissance, all dreamed of humanism, in the 18th century all Europeans spoke of Enlightenment. Through the image, works of art allow us to clearly realize things that we do not understand well.’

Chinese authorities have arrested the documentarian and activist Deng Chuanbin, also known as Huang Huang. He was detained in his hometown of Yibin, Sichuan, after he posted a photograph on social media referencing the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre. Deng uploaded an image of a bottle of local baijiu liquor with a label marked ‘64’ – a politically-charged meme which has been in circulation on Chinese social medai since 2016. The number is a reference to the date, 4 June, when the pro-democracy student protests were crushed, while baijiu can be read as a pun in Mandarin on ’89’.

Germany will return a giant 15th-century stone cross taken from Namibia – a gesture that Germany is ‘committed to reappraising the colonial past,’ its culture minister Monica Gruetters announced at a press conference in Berlin. The 3.5-metres-tall monument was first installed on Namibia’s coast in 1498 as a navigation landmark by the Portuguese explorer Diogo Cão. It was transported to Germany in 1893 following the region’s conversion to a German imperial protectorate and currently resides in Berlin’s German Historical Museum. Namibia’s ambassador to Germany, Andreas Guibeb, said that the decision was crucial ‘as a step for us to reconcile with our colonial past and the trail of humiliation and systematic injustice that it left behind.’ The artefact is due to be returned in August.

In further announcements: LA’s François Ghebaly gallery now represents Christine Sun Kim; Blum & Poe have added Yukinori Yanagi to their gallery roster with a solo exhibition in Tokyo planned for this autumn; and Samson Young has won the 2019 Prix Ars Electronica Award of Distinction.

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