• News
  • Feb 28, 2018

National Gallery Of Victoria Drops Security Firm Linked To Human Rights Abuses

To protest the National Gallery of Victoria’s (NGV) use of services by Wilson Security, whose employees have inflicted violence upon detainees in Australia’s offshore detention facilities, members of Melbourne-based Artists’ Committee dyed NGVs waterwall red in October 2017. Photo by Tatjana Plitt. Courtesy Artists’ Committee.

The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) announced on February 28 that Wilson Security will no longer provide security services at the institution.

NGV came under fire for its contract with Wilson Security last August after details of human rights abuses committed by the firm’s employees were released. Leaked documents described physical and sexual violence inflicted on detainees, including women and children, in Australian offshore immigration detention centers on Nauru and Manus Island.

The Artists’ Committee, an association of Melbourne-based artists, wrote an open letter addressed to the director of the National Gallery of Victoria, Tony Ellwood, urging the gallery to end its contract with the security firm. The letter was signed by more than 1,500 artists, arts industry professionals, NGV members and members of the public.

Several protests were staged, including a blockade of the NGV Triennial’s main entrance at the VIP preview on December 14, 2017. NGV Triennial participating artist Candice Breitz renamed her 2016 video work Love Story to Wilson Must Go. Other artists who were part of the exhibition followed suit: Irish photographer Richard Mosse adjusted his 16-channel video installation to include a statement by Kurdish filmmaker and former Manus Island detainee Behrouz Boochani, while Mexican-Canadian electronic artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer renamed his Recorded Assembly as Wilson Must Go / The Sequel.

The contract with Wilson Security was decided by a state panel, not by the museum.

Artists’ Committee member Kylie Wilkinson stated, “We hope that these discussions have resonated in the state offices and will have an impact on other contracts that the Victorian government is involved in.”

According to a statement sent to the Artists’ Committee from the National Gallery of Victoria, Wilson Security will be replaced by SecureCorp, a company within the Guardforce Group.

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