We reclaim our art from the arms dealers

When we first lent our BP ruff to the Design Museum for its ‘Hope to Nope’ exhibition, we had no idea of the extraordinary events that were to follow.

We got an inkling of what might happen at the exhibition launch back in April, when we challenged the museum’s Chair of Trustees, Peter Mandelson, about the lack of a firm ethical funding policy at the Design Museum. But we didn’t expect the museum to do something as shameless as hosting an arms company event while this exhibition of protest art – including our ruff – was running in the building.

When we realised we needed to remove our object from the exhibition, we didn’t imagine that 40 other artists and groups would also want to take that step – and thus create the #NopeToArms collective. We gave the museum a chance – if they were willing to commit to never again taking money from the arms, fossil fuel or tobacco industries then many of us would probably be willing to leave our work in the gallery. But the Design Museum didn’t just fail to make that commitment – they refused to accept that they’d done anything wrong, and tried to demean and discredit the artists instead. So last week, we went together to the Design Museum and reclaimed our work – check out this short film of what happened:

This unprecented action has made serious waves in the design and museum sectors. Campaign Against Arms Trade has compiled a list of media coverage (see below). We wait to see what the Design Museum comes up with in its ‘policy review’ – we’d love it if the museum defied our expectations and came up with a strong ethical funding policy that ruled our arms, fossil fuel and tobacco funding in the future (although we’re not holding our breath).

Meanwhile other museums and arts institutions, having seen these events unfold, will now be very aware of the reputational risks of doing deals with these destructive industries. We hope they’re putting in place ethical policies of their own.

NopeToArms
We gather with other artists at the Design Museum to take back our work. Photo by Kristian Buus.

Media coverage, as compiled by CAAT

Broadcast

Print press

Art press

Online media

 


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