This Is Why There Has Been Controversy At Liverpool Biennial

BY Katrina Kufer / Sep 19 2018 / 19:57 PM

The List, a work featuring the names of over 34,000 deceased migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, has been attacked again following an initial desecration at the end of July

This Is Why There Has Been Controversy At Liverpool Biennial
Banu Cennetoglu
Banu Cennetoğlu’s 'The List' on Great George Street, Liverpool, on 12 July 2018 after it sustained damage, and 5 May below

The names of 34,361 deceased refugees, migrants and asylum seekers attempting to find refuge in Europe since 2013 constitute a large-scale installation entitled The List by Turkish artist Banu Cennetoğlu. The artist has been working on publicising this project since 2007, when it was printed and handed out to passersby or placed on billboards, and is currently located on Great George Street as a huge installation for the latest edition of the Liverpool Biennial. Following its placement for the citywide arts event, it has now endured two separate occasions of anonymous desecration.

The List of 34,361 documented deaths of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants who have lost their lives within or on the borders of Europe since 1993. Documentation as of 5 May 2018 by UNITED for Intercultural Action. Facilitated by Banu Cennetoğlu.

The first attempt to destroy the work occurred at the end of July, but was shortly restored by exhibition organisers. Following this second attack, the artist has opted to not reinstall the piece, stating that the remaining 920-foot-long list will serve as a “reminder of the systematic violence exercised against people”, reported Artforum. “We are saddened by this mindless act of vandalism,” a spokesperson for the Liverpool City Council said in a statement. The representative added that, moving forward, the city will work with the biennial to “shine a light on how we need to do more to promote a tolerant and compassionate society.”

ourtesy: Chisenhale Gallery, London and Liverpool Biennial; printed and distributed by The Guardian on World Refugee Day, 20 June 2018

The work has been installed in other cities including Berlin, Basel, Athens and Istanbul, but this is the only time it has been targeted by vandals. While the attackers’ identities remain unknown, social media outlets have raised suspicions on whether these acts of violence are motivated by rising tensions over immigration and Brexit.