'+44Leaveamessage4europe' Joe Sweeney Responds to Brexit
+44 Leave A Message 4 Europe
Ambitious and witty project by Joe Sweeney, ‘+44 Leave A Message 4 Europe’ includes a sculptural piece of the well known British Telecom phone-booth, and a digital artwork. Via the website leaveamessage4europe.com everyone can leave a personal message, 24/7 for 28 days until Brexit. The ‘phone-booth’ sculpture currently resides in the middle of the ‘British desert’ in Dungeness, Kent.
Calling is free and YOU WILL BE HEARD
Cassie Beadle Curator at Cob Gallery says: “The sculpture stands and evocative symbol of the near past, a feature that everyone can recognise from quite literally a mile off and in that vain the project aims at attracting the most diverse participation as possible to paint as true and authentic portrait of the UK as possible at this pivotal time.”
Interview with Curator Cassie Beadle
AF: How has it been to work on this project and how did it come about?
Cassie Beadle: It’s been an incredible honour to watch Joe develop as an artist. We have worked closely with him since his debut solo exhibition. This particular project has been in development since the referendum. Joe was excited to build a concept around Brexit, as this political landscape seemed to make a nation scrutinise its identity. Joe had just completed his second solo exhibition, which looked at the British Coast as a - ‘last outpost of regeneration’ and the peculiarities associated with a coastal British identity. Simultaneously Joe began looking at the BT phone box as an increasingly redundant, but present urban motif - almost like a modern relic- and we began to think of it as an almost daily overlooked, yet potent symbol. Joe’s work involves elevating the everyday or the overlooked into the symbolic gesture, so with these key 'ingredients’ and a collision of these various concepts, the project seemed to come about very naturally as his first public sculpture.
AF: Did you face any obstacles or difficulties with curating this project?
Cassie Beadle: The most obvious obstacle was placing a sculpture in a protected area of England. Dungeness as the site was always what we envisioned. It has so many extraordinary qualities that resonate with the artist personally, and relate to the concept, both culturally and geographically. It’s a part of the UK that is so unique in its appearance and the expansive shingle beach, considered ‘Britain’s only desert' is overlooked by a huge power station creating wonderful dystopian clash of nature and industry. Secondly, the area of Kent, is predominately ‘leave’ and at one point, we were concerned that some would feel choosing this county for the site had a provocative agenda. However, this project has been conceived as non-partisan, and if anything - evocative rather than provocative- we want everyone to take part- after all it’s reflective of an overarching feeling of ‘voicelessness’ that has swept through the country. This being said, the project on the whole has been embraced by the local community, and we have worked hard to make sure that the digital aspect of the project (the website being a 24hour forum) means that we extend the projects reach beyond its locale.
AF: Will Cob Gallery hold a recorded piece of this project once it’s finished?
Cassie Beadle: We hope that the footage captured from the live feed and the audio archive will go on to form Joe’s first time based media work. We are excited to develop this with Joe and the video medium does feel a good direction for his work. We will of course be leaving a message for Europe!
AF: Finally who can participate/what audience are you hoping to attract?
Cassie Beadle: The digital aspects of this project hopefully means we are really able to share as far and wide as possible. This was discussed at length in the project development stage. Digitally, the sculpture transcends time zones, countries, continents (and unpredictable British weather that could restrict people from visiting the site!). The sculpture can be viewed via the website www.leaveamessage4europe.com and contacted online 24/7 for the 28 days of its installation. Should Article 50 be extended, we will look at extending the message leaving facility and the online platform, even if the physical sculpture has been removed.I hope that anyone and everyone who has anything to say about Brexit or about our relationship to Europe will contact the project. I would also LOVE for reciprocal participation from European countries. I hope the sculpture makes a range of audiences think about the way we communicate with each other.
Joe Sweeney: It’s for everyone!