BY Frieze News Desk in News | 29 OCT 19

500 Musicians Pledge to Boycott Amazon Festivals Over Ties with ICE

In further news: National Gallery facing Brexit shipping difficulties; beetle named in honour of Greta Thunberg

BY Frieze News Desk in News | 29 OCT 19

Jeff Bezos at Amazon Spheres Grand Opening in Seattle, 2018. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Over 500 prominent musicians have signed an open letter stating that they will boycott Amazon festivals and events until the company cuts ties with the US Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE), Pitchfork has reported. The letter, which is available to read online, was published following the announcement of Intersect Music Festival, which is backed by Amazon Web Services. The signatories state that they are ‘outraged that Amazon continues to provide the technical backbone for ICE’s human rights abuses’ and goes on to link to a number of news stories supporting claims that Amazon assists in ICE deportation practices. ICE has come under increased criticism since the Trump administration came into power, and the law enforcement agency began separating migrant children from their families. The open letter pledges to boycott Amazon festivals and partnerships until the company: ‘Terminate[s] existing contracts with military, law enforcement, and government agencies (ICE, CBP, ORR) that commit human rights abuses’; Stop[s] providing Cloud services & tools to organizations (such as Palantir) that power the US government’s deportation machine’; ‘End[s] projects that encourage racial profiling and discrimination, such as Amazon’s facial recognition product’ and ‘Reject[s] future engagements w[ith] aforementioned bad actors.’ The signatories of the letter include Deerhoof, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Speedy Ortiz, Girlpool, Downtown Boys, Priests, Immortal Technique, Xiu Xiu, Devon Welsh, Xenia Rubinos, amongst others.

The National Gallery in London may face difficulties shipping loaned artworks back to Europe, after the EU agreed to an extension to Brexit until 31 January 2020. The National Gallery had timed its exhibition schedule to avoid any shipping difficulties as a result of Brexit ­– its Gauguin exhibition, which opened on 7 October, was timed to open well before the previous Brexit deadline of 31 October so as to avoid any difficulties with moving loaned artworks across Europe and into the UK. However, with the Brexit deadline now extended until the end of January, the gallery is facing potential difficulties as their exhibition closes just days before the new deadline. Speaking to The Art Newspaper, the director of the National Gallery said: ‘I suspect there will be more costs for exhibitions and loans, with more paperwork.’

A species of beetle which measures less than 1mm long is to be named in honour of the teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg. The beetle, which has no eyes or wings, was discovered more than 50 years ago and belongs to the Ptiliidae family. To honour Thunberg’s contribution to raising awareness of climate change, scientists at London’s Natural History Museum have decided to name the beetle ‘Nelloptodes gretae’. Dr Michael Darby, a scientific associate at the Natural History Museum, said: ‘I chose this name as I am immensely impressed with the work of this young campaigner and wanted to acknowledge her outstanding contribution in raising awareness of environmental issues,’ The Guardian reported.

In further news: Shane Campbell Gallery in Chicago has closed after 18 years; the Baltimore Museum of Art has hired Jessica Bell Brown and Leila Grothe as associate curators for contemporary art; and Madana Younis has stepped down from their role as creative director of London’s Southbank Centre.