Artists call for Iraq troop withdrawal

So you’re itching to see the next issue of the magazine, I know. Me too. It’s not fair to keep you waiting for so long, even though that special day is now only a week away…

In the meantime, how about a couple of Peace and Love-themed hors d’oeuvres to whet the whistle? To oil the mental cogs and keep them a-whirring and a-whinnying? Well, here’s one for starters then!

The article below, from The Guardian last week, neatly answers one of the most significant questions asked during the production of the next issue of Latest Art: – why are there so few prominent artists making work about the War on Terror and taking a stand on the politics of today? I’m not sure that pedestrian petitioning in the form of a peace rally really qualifies as ‘making work’ so much perhaps as making light work of heavy issues, but that’s one for the soapbox probably, innit?

In the face of a failure of positive means to communicate dissent or get one’s voice heard, what is to be done? What to do when rallying cries dissolve into thin air and Brian Haw’s installation of flags, banners and peace paraphernalia formerly outside Westminster is confiscated under the ‘Serious Organised Crime and Police Act’ recently instated by Parliament? Hah! Go and see it re-installed as art by Mark Wallinger in Tate Britain, I suppose…

Duncan Campbell
Friday February 16, 2007
The Guardian

A battalion of writers, actors, artists and comedians went into action yesterday to call for British troops to be withdrawn from Iraq and to urge MPs to vote against the replacement of Trident.
Publicising next week’s anti-war marches in London and Glasgow, the group also warned of the increasing dangers of a potential US-led war on Iran.Jessica Lange, the actor who is currently performing in London’s West End in The Glass Menagerie, called for all coalition troops to leave Iraq. “George Bush’s plan to deploy more troops in Iraq was as immoral and criminal as the initial invasion and occupation,” she said in a statement. “The majority of the American people are held hostage by an administration which not only does not represent but arrogantly denies the will of the people.”Mark Thomas, the comedian, said that it was bizarre that the government appeared to take more notice of a million motorists opposing road pricing in an online petition than of the million who had marched against the Iraq war in February 2003.

The novelist China Miéville attacked the “craven set of backbenchers” who failed to oppose the war. “This is a disgrace, they have forgotten who works for whom. This is a march to reclaim democracy.”

Among those attending the gathering or sending messages of support yesterday were the actors Richard Wilson and Timothy West, the designers Katherine Hamnett and Vivienne Westwood, the musician Dave Randall from Faithless, artists David Gentleman and Peter Kennard, the cartoonist Leon Kuhn and the playwright Caryl Churchill.

MPs are due to vote next month on the future of Trident, Kate Hudson, chair of the CND, reminded the gathering. She said that more than 120 MPs had already indicated that they would oppose it and she said that opposition to Trident among the general public was increasing daily.

The marches will be on February 24 and assemble at noon at Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park, London, and in George Square in Glasgow.

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