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Open Letter from Copenhagen Art Workers Coalition

November 30, 2012

via Copenhagen Art Workers Coalition 

 

We are a group of artists practicing and living in Denmark. We share a deep sympathy for the views and concerns of the Occupy movement. We therefore feel compelled to inform you of a hypocritical situation unfolding here in Denmark right now. We know that the NYC General Assembly, Arts and Culture working group share our concern. There are a number of international artists who are directly affiliated with a Gallery V1, Copenhagen, who would probably also like to know what’s going on. Gallery V1 in Copenhagen, presents works by artists such as: Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, Shepard Fairey, Faile, Banksy, Steve Powers, Kenny Scharf… the list is long. We know and respect your work and therefore feel it is fair to bring these matters of concern to your attention.

The gallery V1 celebrates its 10 year anniversary this weekend in Copenhagen. (link to the party and the names of artists) Peter Funch, co-owner of the gallery, has worked on commission for the advertising agency Mensch and for Danske Bank (the biggest bank in Denmark) on a major advertisement campaign. He is also showing his works at an exhibition at V1, which opens today. Peter Funch is house curator at Gallery V1. He lives and works in New York City. As a film maker, Peter Funch has worked in the interest of the Bank, aiding in the glossing over of the bank’s image. The campaign portrays the Occupy movement – the United States’ most publicly recognized non-electoral political movement – as a mute bandit that only knows how to throw rocks – spinning images of ubiquitous unrest into a new marketing campaign. These are the images by Peter Funch.

case

 

link to the campaign TV commercial:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-pZj_cPBvw
link to Peter Funch’s porfolio:
http://peterfunch.com/index.php?/ongoing/commisions/

The slogan for the campaign goes: A new normal demands New Standards. The images made for this campaign are to be seen everywhere in Denmark these days. The images show activists in Greece protesting, an activist throwing a stone at policemen, icebergs melting away, a lesbian couple kissing, Chinese workers slaving away in a huge factory and a paraolympic athlete running. It is obvious that this bank wants to communicate to the public that it takes the global challenge seriously, and that it is making an active effort to ease the frustration of those who might question multi-billion dollar bail-outs and subsequent austerity measures.

That Danske Bank needs artists to greenwash their image comes as no surprise – what is new about this campaign is its boldness. It is a display of arrogance against, not only citizens of Denmark, but all progressive social movements today, anywhere, in any country. It is an attempt to absorb the frustration and critique against the way banks operate – a reasonable critique rooted in a fair and common frustration over social injustice, and the bailouts that heighten inequality and oppression.It is clear to us that the purpose of the campaign – New normal – in effect, tries to appease frustration over a sudden cancellation and breach of an agreement between the bank and the state of Denmark. Citizens of Denmark are becoming increasingly disgruntled that Danske Bank has gone back on its promise and strong- armed the Danish former secretary of business and minister of justice, Lene Espersen, to legitimize a deal breaker, also called bank package 2. The explanation put forth is asstupid as it would be to emphasize that the number 2 comes after the number 1. The public is told that this requires no further explanation, that no one has gone back on their promise, that it was the only way to move forward – 2 comes after 1, an explanation that follows the Thatcherian logic; There is no alternative.

What is true, on the other hand, is that in order for austerity agreements to be upheld, and receive the necessary political support, Danske Bank pledged some of it’s financial gains to the state in years to come, figured to 4 billion dollars over the next ten years. This was a false promise to the state and it’s citizens. It has become clear that the purpose of the campaign – A new normal demands New Standards – is meant to appease frustration over this sudden breach of agreement. In lieu of this, Danske Bank new that an advertising campaign had to be launched in order to greenwash the scandal, and so they called on the ad-agency Mensch and the artist Peter Funch from Gallery V1. Danske bank has very openly made it their mission to run the campaign abroad as well. We ask for your help to notify the artists who have been exhibiting at V1 in the past to take this into consideration if they were to be contacted by the gallery again. We need your help in reaching out to the artists who are currently exhibiting at Gallery V1 in Copenhagen. There will be an opening tonight celebrating a 10 year anniversary of V1. We would encourage the artists currently showing to demand their works be taken down. We will also kindly ask people who have been invited to make other plans for the night and go to an opening somewhere else, with this message:

If Peter Funch has invited you to his gallery then please do the right thing and decline – say no! By declining you would actively be showing your disdain for business a usual. We hope that you will act on this knowledge and signal to the world that you will have no affiliation with gallery V1 in the future as long as Peter Funch is co-owner and acting curator at the gallery, as long as he earns his living by making vulgar corporate propaganda for Danske Bank at the cost of social movements. We ask you to support us in our on- and offline outburst against Danske Bank and the advertisement companies that work for them.

Thank you for your cooperation. Yours sincerely,

COPENHAGEN ART WORKERS COALITION

COPENHAGEN ART WORKERS HAS BEEN FORMED AS AN OPEN COALITION THAT WONT KISS ASS OR COMPLY TO PRESSURE FROM ANY CORPORATE ENTITY OR INSTITUTION. AS OF YET, WE CAN AND CANNOT SPEAK ON THE BEHALF OF OTHERS NOR DO WE REPRESENT ANY OF THE ARTISTS AFFILIATED WITH V1 GALLERY. WE FEEL IT IS NECESSARY TO BRING THIS MESSAGE TO OTHER ARTISTS, BECAUSE IT IS A MATTER OF CONCERN TO ALL ARTISTS EVERYWHERE.

 

UPDATE

Recent statement by V1 Gallery and Peter Funch

 

Peter Funch has shot the stills for the new Danske Bank add campaign.

Peter Funch had no creative influence on the subject matter of the campaign.

Mensch created the campaign and the videos was shot by Martin Werner.

Peter Funch works as a commercial photographer and as an artist.

Peter Funch owns 25% of V1 Gallery.

Peter Funch is an artist working with V1 gallery.

V1 Gallery is an independent platform for contemporary art.

V1 Gallery does not like or endorse the new add campaign for Danske Bank.

V1 Gallery is a client at Danske Bank.

V1 Gallery would like Danske Bank to rethink and act in a responsible way.

We hope to see you tonight.

Jesper Elg, Peter Funch , Mikkel Grønnebæk

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