Vandals Attack the Liverpool Biennial’s Project Recording the Names of Thousands of Dead Refugees—Again

The artist Banu Cennetoğlu is leaving the work on show in its ruined state to highlight the violence suffered by vulnerable migrants and asylum seekers.

The List of 34,361 documented deaths of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants who have lost their lives within or on the borders of Europe since 1993. Documentation as of 5 May 2018 by UNITED for Intercultural Action. Facilitated by Banu Cennetoğlu. Presented at Great George Street, Liverpool Biennial 2018. Photo taken 14 August 2018.

Vandals have attacked a work in the Liverpool Biennial again but the artist, who has shown it across Europe, refuses to be silenced. Called The List, it records the names of thousands of refugees and migrants who have died trying to reach Europe. Following the latest attack on Sunday, the artist has vowed to leave the piece in its ruined state on a street hoarding in the port city in the North West of England. 

The 920-foot-long list, which the Turkish artist Banu Cennetoğlu says is a project rather than an artwork, was first ripped down earlier in the summer on July 28. Cennetoğlu says that this time she will not replace the posters that form the large-scale piece.We have decided to leave it in this current ‘state’ as a manifestation and reminder of this systematic violence exercised against people,” Cennetoğlu says in a statement.

The List of 34,361 documented deaths of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants who have lost their lives within or on the borders of Europe since 1993. Documentation as of 5 May 2018 by UNITED for Intercultural Action. Facilitated by Banu Cennetoğlu. Presented at Great George Street, Liverpool Biennial 2018. Photo taken 14 August 2018.

The List is compiled by the international anti-discrimination network UNITED for Intercultural Action. It is updated annually, and currently features the names and information about the deaths of 34,361 refugees who have been reported to have lost their lives inside or on the borders of Europe since 1993. Including unreported deaths, the true number of fatalities is likely higher.

Since 2007, Cennetoğlu has been displaying versions of The List in public spaces around Europe, including on billboards and in stations as well as publishing extracts in newspapers. Earlier in the summer on World Refugee Day, The Guardian newspaper printed a versionDespite tensions surrounding the refugee crisis in other cities where she has displayed it, including Berlin, Istanbul, Basel, and Athens, Cennetoğlu says it has never before been attacked.

“We are saddened by this mindless act of vandalism,” a spokesperson for the Liverpool City Council, which supports the Liverpool Biennial, says, also expressing “surprise and disgust” at the act, which is apparently a rare occurrence in the city. “We will be working with [the Biennial] to try and turn this action into a positive and shine a light on how we need to do more to promote a tolerant and compassionate society.”


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