Wolfgang Tillmans speaks up about the British referrendum and actively supports the pro-EU campaign.
Wolfgang Tillmans, one of the most important artistic photographers of his generation, was born in Germany in 1968. Since 1995 he is based in London (actually, in London and Berlin). He is the first non British artist to recieve the Turner Prize and a member of the Royal Academy of Arts.
Φωτογραφία: Axel Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images
A few days ago he launched a plea for a positive vote for the United Kingdom to stay in the European Union in the June 23 referendum. He mostly addresses students and young voters, asking them to register for vote in time, before the June 7 deadline. He and his associates prepared posters with texts such as «No man is an island, no country by itself», «We are the european family», «What is lost, is lost forever», «Democracy, peace and human rights have many enemies; brexit will make them stronger» etc. The posters can be downloaded from his website and shared on the social media and distributed in any way.
I’m sure you are also following with horror the rightwards drift and anti-EU sentiment brewing across Europe. The Dutch referendum should be the final wake-up call, alerting people to the real risk of the UK’s EU referendum resulting in a victory for Leave.
The official ‘Remain’ campaign feels lame and is lacking in passion. It also lacks an active drive to get voters registered – and with the deadline already falling two weeks before the referendum, this should be an urgent priority.
I want to get involved and actively campaign. In particular, I want to work towards maximizing turnout among younger voters by focusing on the first, crucial step: voter registration – the deadline for which is June 7! So anyone who hasn’t registered before this date has no chance of having a say, no matter how strongly they feel about the issue. So the really crucial date is June 7. Everyone’s grannies registered their vote long ago, but students no longer get automatically registered by their unis. This is because of a new law brought in by the Conservatives that makes it possible for them to disenfranchise up to 800,000 students, who as a group tend to move around a lot more and so drop off the voter register easily.
I feel that we have reached a critical moment that could prove to be a turning point for Europe as we know and enjoy it – one that might result in a cascade of problematic consequences and political fall-out. Firstly, the weakening of the EU is a goal being actively pursued by strongmen like Vladimir Putin and European parties on the far-right. Brexit could effectively spell the end of the EU. It’s a flawed and problematic institution, but on the whole it stands for a democratic worldview, human rights and favours cooperation over confrontation.
It could prove to be a one-in-a-generation moment. Can you imagine the years of renegotiations for undoing treaties, and all the negativity that would surround that.
In the past weeks myself and assistants at my London and Berlin studios and Between Bridges worked on these texts and designs. Please feel free to share these posters, they work as print your own PDFs, or on social media, or in any other way you can think of. I consider them open-source, you can take my name tag off if more appropriate.
Let’s hope for the best – but hope may not be enough
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