SATURDAY 14 OCTOBER 2017
The moats of the National Gallery of Victoria run red as artists protest the gallery’s commercial relationship with Wilson Security, which provides security services to both the gallery and Australia’s offshore detention facilities on Manus Island and Nauru. The action highlights the extensive, violent human rights abuses carried out by Wilson Security during their contract with the immigration detention industry.
The unsettling intervention, which saw red dye seep into the water of the gallery’s famous moat and water wall, comes just a week after a previous unsanctioned intervention by artists at the gallery. On Friday last week, artists shrouded Picasso’s Weeping Woman, one of the museum’s most prized artworks, with a black veil, in solidarity with those detained and abused by Wilson Security.
“Wilson is notorious for overseeing, perpetrating and attempting to cover up years of abuse against refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru,” said artist, Nina Ross. “Why would the NGV, a trusted cultural institution, continue to work with them?”
“This is a national crisis. This is an extraordinary situation. People are dying and suffering at the hands of Wilson and the Australian Government - in the name of all Australians. We won’t stand for it,” said artist and protester Lachlan Anthony.
“We urgently need the National Gallery of Victoria to show moral leadership here.”
The artists - who were keen to reassure the public, gallery staff and visitors that the dye was perfectly safe and impermanent - are determined to continue such interventions in order to pressure the state Gallery into ending their commercial relationship with companies connected to Australia’s mandatory offshore detention policy.