** For immediate release**
Award-winning exhibition against London arms fair back for third run, featuring Nobel Peace Prize Nominees, Campaign Against Arms Trade
- Art produced from all over the world including Afghanistan and Iraq will be available in a week-long selling exhibition in Mayfair, London starting 11 September
- The Art the Arms Fair exhibition is in opposition to the Defense and Security Exhibition International (DSEI) arms fair, which returns to London this September (14-17 September)
- Nobel Peace Prize Nominees, Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) have partnered with acclaimed photographer, Cindy Sasha to produce 12 portraits celebrating CAAT’s campaigners and honouring victims of ongoing war in Yemen
- Exhibition also features works created by artists from conflict-affected countries working with non-profit organisation, Art Represent
On 11 September 2021 the award-winning Art the Arms Fair will return to London. Running until 17 September, the exhibition will coincide with the Defense and Security International (DSEI) arms fair being held at the ExCel Centre.
This year, the exhibition will feature a special collaboration between CAAT and acclaimed photographer and campaigner, Cindy Sasha. The 12 portraits feature campaigners and activists, including those of Yemeni heritage, photographed in places of significance to their work, whether it be outside BAE systems – the UK’s biggest arms company and hoarders of approximately £17.5 billion in revenue from services and sales to Saudi Arabia since 2015 – or inside their own homes, spaces that, during a global pandemic, have also become our offices as well as places of respite and safety. The works also feature memorialisation of victims of the ongoing war in Yemen, by name.
Cindy Sasha, photographer, said:
‘As an observer I see many portraits of neoliberal figures displayed as icons trying to save the planet. I feel as a photographer it is my duty to take portraits of the real heroes, who are never seen or spoken about, who campaign tireless for humanity. I am so honoured to have photographed these incredible activists for CAAT who have been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. These portraits will hopefully highlight their work and the Yemen community within the UK who are affected by the UK and oversea actions of arms trade.’
As well as the 12 portraits, the project also features a short film produced by writer, producer and community organiser, Siana Bangura of Campaign Against Arms Trade and edited by Midlands-based artist, Chloe Deakin. The short film, ‘A Portrait of Resistance’: Campaigning Against the Arms Trade, premiers on YouTube on Saturday 11th September at 7pm, after CAAT’s Digital Conference at the Gates. The film is narrated by Yemeni-Scouser poet Amina Atiq.
Siana Bangura, producer and curator of the project and spokesperson from CAAT, said:
‘It’s not every day you are nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. And we couldn’t quite believe it when we got the surprise call from The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) to let us know that our organisation had been nominated alongside our partner Mwatana for Human Rights.
‘We know the struggle against the arms trade must be anti-racist, anti-capitalist, anti-patriarchal, pro-environmental justice and actively centring those most directly affected by its devastating consequences. This is why we are honoured to be nominated alongside our comrades on the ground in Yemen, Mwatana, who understand first-hand what the realities of war are and the true cost of the UK’s ongoing exportation of violence, despite the devastation to the lives of Yemeni people at home and abroad. With this in mind, and working with acclaimed photographer and campaigner in her own right, Cindy Sasha, we have captured a series of portraits of resistance, featuring activists in the UK, including those of Yemeni heritage. We have photographed our campaigners in places of significance to their work, whether it be outside BAE systems – the UK’s biggest arms company and hoarders of approximately £17.5 billion in revenue from services and sales to Saudi Arabia since 2015 – or inside their own homes, spaces that, during a global pandemic, have also become our offices as well as places of respite and safety. In a time of great instability and uncertainty for the global community, this nomination and our work feels especially important. So much so, we thought it was important to mark the occasion and we are thrilled to partner up with Art the Arms Fair once again, as well as Art Represent.’
Art the Arms Fair intends to expose the DSEI arms fair, which is held with the support of the UK Government in London every two years. One of the world’s largest arms fairs, DSEI opens its doors for one reason only – to push for as many arms sales as possible, including to official delegations from countries with poor human rights records and those involved in conflict. Hosting DSEI in London comes as a particular blow after Sadiq Khan’s recent statement opposing it, and in the wake of London’s pledge to house up to 5,000 Afghan refugees.
Ksenya Blokhina, organiser of this year’s Art the Arms Fair, said:
‘Most Londoners don’t know that their city plays host to arms dealers or facilitates weapon deals with very real consequences. As the UK welcomes refugees fleeing Afghanistan, Art the Arms Fair aims to harness the power of art to tell the story of the arms trade and its effects on people around the world.’
Baiqu Gonkar of Art Represent said:
‘The glamourisation of weapons makes it feel as if these tools of destruction have nothing to do with the consequences of conflict. The refugees we dehumanise, the extinguished soul of an innocent child, and the lasting legacy of war are costs not taken into account by the financial projections of the arms trade. We here in the West do not have the luxury of not caring, because we were once in the pit of a bomb, and we can be just as easily again.’
Notes for Journalists
- Art the Arms Fair boutique will be opening its doors at 50 Brook Street, W1K 5DR from September 11th – 17th, from 12-8pm [opening times are 12-5.30pm on Wednesday 15th & Friday 17th September]
- Download full Stop the Arms Fair DSEI resistance schedule here: DSEI-Programme2021
- CAAT is jointly nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize alongside Yemen-based organisation, Mwatana. Mwatana is an independent Yemeni organisation established in 2007 and advocates for human rights. In 2018, the Baldwin Award recognized Mwatana’s work. Human Rights First announced awarding the 2018 Roger N. Baldwin Medal of Liberty to Mwatana. In the same year, the 10th International Hrant Dink Award was granted to Mwatana for depicting to the world the status of human rights in Yemen and for fighting against human rights violations in the country. In 2019, the American magazine “Time” listed Radhya Almutawakel (Chairperson of the organization) among its 100 most influential people in the world. In February 2021, Mwatana for Human Rights and Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) were nominated for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize. More information can be found here: mwatana.org/en
- In June 2019, following a case brought by CAAT, the Court of Appeal ruled that the UK government had acted unlawfully when it licensed the sale of UK-made arms for use in Yemen. New arms export licences, representing hundreds of millions of pounds of arms sales, were put on hold, while the government reviewed its previous licensing decisions.
- The UK government resumed issuing arms export licences for use in the conflict in July 2020. CAAT has filed a new legal challenge against this decision.
- More information about Art the Arms Fair can be found here: artthearmsfair.com, and on social media @ArtTheArmsFair
- Art Represent is a non-profit enterprise dedicated to empowering displaced artists around the world. We believe that by connecting these artists to a wider audience, we can bring to light the complex human experience that connects and divides. Art Represent was founded in 2015 with the launch for Malina Suliman’s first solo exhibition in London. Since then, Art Represent has staged exhibitions and talks across the UK, as well as in Turin (Italy), New York (USA), Lhasa (Tibet), and Kiev (Ukraine). More information can be found here: https://www.artrepresent.com/