On 10th September one of the world’s largest arms fairs returns to London. The Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) will feature hundreds of exhibitors, including many of the world’s biggest arms manufacturers – BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and many more besides. Also attending, at the invitation of the UK government, will be countless national delegations, including those from authoritarian regimes, countries in conflict and countries identified as having major human rights concerns.
This is no ordinary industry event, and the arms fair has faced increasing censure and resistance every time it comes to town. In 2017, this resistance took many forms. One of the most exciting was Art the Arms Fair (ATAF) – a volunteer-run gallery, comprised of donated artworks from a diverse array of artists. With an original work by Banksy among the pieces auctioned off, ATAF raised over £200,000 for Campaign Against Arms Trade.
This year, as the arms fair returns to London’s docklands, so too does the gallery. Alongside artists from Yemen, the Iraqi diaspora and local community groups, the gallery will also feature donated artwork from Anish Kapoor, Guerilla Girls, Darren Cullen, Shepard Fairey and Peter Kennard.
Joining us to discuss the arms trade, ‘artwash’ and the power of political art, are:
Rhianna Louise, an organiser at Art the Arms Fair,
Peter Kennard, one of Britain’s foremost political artists, and author of the new book Peter Kennard: Visual Dissent (Pluto, 2019).