Biennale of Sydney: artists send protest letter over detention centre links

In the open letter, the artists acknowledge that “this issue places the Biennale team in a difficult situation”.


“However, we want to emphasise that this issue has presented us with an opportunity to become aware of, and to acknowledge, responsibility for our own participation in a chain of connections that links to human suffering; in this case, that is caused by Australia’s policy of mandatory detention,” the artists wrote to the Biennale board.

“We appeal to you to work alongside us to send a message to Transfield, and in turn the Australian Government and the public: that we will not accept the mandatory detention of asylumseekers, because it is ethically indefensible and in breach of human rights; and that, as a network of artists, arts workers and a leading cultural organisation, we do not want to be associated with these practices.

“We regard our role in the Biennale, under the current sponsorship arrangements, as adding value to the Transfield brand.

“Participation is an active endorsement, providing cultural capital for Transfield.”

Transfield has been responsible since August 2012 for catering, cleaning, security and transport at Nauru detention centre, according to background documents accompanying the open letter.


The artists who signed the open letter:

The artists are Gabrielle de Vietri, Bianca Hester, Charlie Sofo, Nathan Gray, Deborah Kelly, Matt Hinkley, Benjamin Armstrong, Libia Castro, Olafur Olafsson, Sasha Huber, Sonia Leber, David Chesworth, Daniel McKewen, Angelica Mesiti, Ahmet Ogut, Meric Algun Ringborg, Joseph Griffiths, Sol Archer, Tamas Kaszas, Krisztina Erdei, Nathan Coley, Corin Sworn, Ross Manning, Martin Boyce, Callum Morton, Emily Roysdon, Soren Thilo Funder and Mikhail Karikis. 

Here you can find the full letter:


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