Candice Breitz

The Medium is the Message

For the acclaimed South African artist Candice Breitz, truth lives in the places where politics and pop culture intersect.

By Lucie Reeves-Smith MAY 2018

Candice Breitz is sending ripples of discomfort through the art world.

Partly, this is the subject matter of her artwork in the National Gallery of Victoria’s inaugural NGV Triennial, a major commission that includes six interviews with refugees. Mostly, though, it’s her refusal to let her political convictions remain safely hidden in the gallery.

Previously exhibited at the 2017 Venice Biennale, the NGV work is titled Love Story but for the first six weeks of the exhibition, it was retitled Wilson Must Go.

Days before the Triennial opened, Breitz was informed that the NGV’s security provider, Wilson Security, is also contracted to enforce the imprisonment of refugees in Australia’s offshore detention centres. Breitz released a statement to the effect that the title of her work had been altered to Wilson Must Go, and would remain so until the NGV severed its tie with the global contractor.

News of Breitz’s protest was swiftly picked up by European and American press, and two other international artists in the Triennial – Rafael Lozano-Hemmer and Richard Mosse – immediately followed with edits to their own work. In Australia, however, both Triennial participants and press were more reluctant to engage.

“Speaking out against a powerful institution like the NGV is extremely uncomfortable and extremely inconvenient,” Breitz says to me the day after her title change goes public. “I suspect, though, that being detained on Manus and Nauru is considerably less comfortable and ... Subscribe to read this article in full

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QAGOMA Metro Bendigo Art Gallery ACCA MelbourneArt Gallery of New South WalesMuseum of Brisbane