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Artists rename NGV Triennial works to protest gallery’s Wilson Security contract

From The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 December 2017
by Hannah Francis

As the National Gallery of Victoria unveiled its first Triennial of contemporary art to the world this week, it spared no expense on celebratory parties and VIP events.

But last-minute changes by international artists to some of the key works commissioned for the exhibition left the gallery with egg on its face – or as one artwork infers, “bloody” hands – over its continued employ of Wilson Security, which guarded detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island.

Candice Breitz’s large video installation was supposed to be called Love Story. Instead, the title plate in the gallery bears the words “Wilson Must Go”, above the names of Hollywood actors Alec Baldwin and Julianne Moore, who recount the moving stories of six refugees.

The Berlin-based South African artist said the work’s new title would remain until the NGV severed its contract with Wilson Security.

“While I am grateful for the immense support I have received from the NGV, it would be morally remiss … for me to remain silent in the context of the current conversation that is taking place around the Australian government’s ongoing and systematic abuse of refugees,” Ms Breitz said.

At the other end of the gallery, on the same floor, Ireland’s Richard Mosse updated his work Incoming – a multi-video installation containing footage from a refugee camp in Greece – to include commentary from Iranian refugee and former Manus Island detainee Behrouz Boochani.

“It is not acceptable that an art organisation like NGV has signed a contract with a company whose hands are so bloody,” reads large text on a screen, dated December 14, the day before the Triennial opened.

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