Artists set up global coalition to confront extremist politics - Museums Association

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Artists set up global coalition to confront extremist politics

Group to use art to counter rightwing rhetoric
Profile image for Geraldine Kendall Adams
Geraldine Kendall Adams
Artists and cultural practitioners have launched a global art coalition to confront the rise of right-wing populism and intolerance in the US, Europe and elsewhere.

More than 250 artists worldwide have signed up to the Hands Off Our Revolution project, including UK artists such as Anish Kapoor, Steve McQueen and Marina Warner.

The coalition is planning a series of contemporary art exhibitions and activities spanning everything from small-scale events and installations to exhibitions at major art and cultural institutions, the first of which will be announced in March.

The coalition, which has chapters in several US and European cities, will also create a toolkit for community groups and activists to run their own workshops and art-based campaigns, as well as taking practical action to support those facing intolerance and discrimination.

The coalition’s mission statement says: “We are a global coalition affirming the radical nature of art. We believe that art can help counter the rising rhetoric of right-wing populism, fascism and the increasingly stark expressions of xenophobia, racism, sexism, homophobia and unapologetic intolerance.”

Adam Broomberg, a Hamburg-based professor of photography and member of the coalition’s core team, told Museums Journal that the response to the project’s launch had been “absolutely overwhelming”.

“We’ve had thousands of emails since we launched,” he said. “A lot of them heartwarming or heartbreaking. They range from generous offers of space to requests for help.”

The project was set up in response to Donald Trump’s election victory in the US last November on the back of a campaign based on fear and intolerance.

“The sense of urgency in the US is very palpable right now, but it is going to hit Europe soon with the elections coming up this year,” said Broomberg. “The transatlantic nature of [the project] is very unique.” 

“Two days after [the US elections] Miami Basel went ahead,” he added. “The fact that it could be business as usual for culture was very upsetting. There’s a lot of anger, political awareness and willingness to act in the art world that is not being represented in the big institutions. This is about getting back in touch with the radical possibilities of art – it’s not just a product of consumption.”

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