As the UK’s new, combative prime minister, Boris Johnson, makes preparing for a no-deal Brexit his government’s “top priority,” arts and culture workers across the country are increasingly worried about the risk of Britain crashing out of the European Union on October 31. Others fear that a messy divorce, and a blame game about who is responsible, could result in a “Brexit cold war” between Britain and Europe.
“A no-deal Brexit could bring a disruptive situation that should be avoided by all means,” Aeneas Bastian, the director of the London- and Berlin-based Bastian Gallery, tells artnet News. “We need a mutually agreed exit treaty to ensure a smooth transition.”
If, as many fear, such a transition does not come, at least one artist, Bob and Roberta Smith (real name: Patrick Brill), is prepared to take to the streets. The artist says that if Johnson bypasses Parliament in order to push through a no-deal Brexit, he will join demonstrators outside Westminster, singing a protest song with his guitar and marching “with my banner and my paintbrush.”
Amid all this uncertainty and anxiety, the art world is working to prepare for a Johnson-led UK as best it can. Below, we explore four issues the art world must contend with under the new prime minister.
1. The Impact of a No-Deal Brexit
Frieze London and Frieze Masters take place in early October, and so will narrowly avoid clashing with an abrupt departure from Europe without a deal in place. The fair’s director, Victoria Siddall, says that over the past two years, Frieze has held roundtables for galleries and collectors in London to discuss Brexit. The major auction houses have similar task forces.
“We will continue to advocate on key issues on their behalf, such as the free circulation of art works in Europe, and the temporary exemption from import duty,” Siddall says. She stresses that the 2019 edition will be the “most global” edition ever staged, with galleries…
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