Peter Nelson: Open letter from an arts worker and an artist

Dear friends,

Many of you might know that I work as an art installer and technician for a number of organisations in Sydney. A couple of weeks ago I was excited and humbled to be offered a position as an AV technician at the MCA. I have worked there for five days now, and it’s the sort of job and workplace where I actually look forward to going to work, both for the great people and the challenging tasks thrown at us (yes, that IS a projector pun).

All of the institutions I work for unanimously agree that they like to employ artists as technicians and installers — we are well-suited for the technical challenges and understand the nature and context of the artworks themselves.

It is as an artist that I have made this decision. The Arts are charged with reflecting and criticising society, but it is so rare that an issue of such political poignancy falls directly at the feet of the arts community. In my heart, I know that it would be impossible to return to the studio, knowing that when faced with a decision of direct relevance, I did nothing.

This morning, I resigned from Biennale of Sydney installation work at both the MCA and ArtSpace. The relationship between the Biennale and the punitive practice of Mandatory Detention is a context that I feel I am unable to work within.

It upsets me that the people directly affected by this will be those who were good enough to offer me the work, and those with whom I work alongside. This is a not a choice I had ever imagined myself making, but I thought this through from as many angles as I could, and kept returning to the same outcome. An arts community has to be credible, it has to be about something. For me to equivocate and delay on a situation that I knew in my heart to be wrong would make life as an artist feel empty and meaningless.

Yours truly,

Peter Nelson

Originally published on Peter Neslon’s Facebook page. Go like, share, and give your support to Peter.

Peter Nelson: Open letter from an arts worker and an artist


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s