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Press Release

Anish Kapoor and David Miliband launch global campaign for World Refugee Day with Tate Modern and the International Rescue Committee

Turner Prize-winning artist Sir Anish Kapoor joined David Miliband and Maria Balshaw this morning at Tate Modern in London to mark World Refugee Day with the International Rescue Committee, as the gallery highlights the work of artists who fled conflict or persecution.

The IRC has collaborated with all four Tate galleries across the UK to physically spotlight the work of artists, including Piet Mondrian, Ibrahim El-Salahi, Marie-Louise von Motesiczky and Max Ernst, who were forced to flee their homes. Each spotlighted work is accompanied by the artist’s personal story.

The activation celebrates the contributions refugees have made to the arts -- and our everyday lives -- and to show what we stand to lose if refugees lose our support. The IRC has a personal connection to some of the artists highlighted: the precursor of the IRC helped artists Marc Chagall and Max Ernst escape from the Nazis and their collaborators in 1940-41.

Sir Anish Kapoor said:

"It is one of the tragedies of our time that there are over 70 million displaced people today.  Refugees have made a huge difference to the countries that have taken them in. In the arts we see a wide range of contribution, energy and inventiveness from these displaced peoples. Mondrian and von Motesiczky were refugee artists who continue to inspire. This is why I stand with the IRC and Tate today to shine a light on the immense contributions of these artists and refugee communities the world over. Common humanity demands that we put pressure on governments around the world to act for refugees.”

Maria Balshaw, Director of Tate, said:

“Many of the world’s great artists have been refugees, and without them our gallery walls would lack some of the most profound artworks ever made. Tate is proud to join with the International Rescue Committee in standing with refugees and celebrating their work.”

David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, said:

“We need only look at the walls of galleries like Tate to see what we stand to lose if refugees lose our support. In a world without welcome, we might not have the masterpieces of Marc Chagall, Piet Mondrian, and Marie-Louise von Motesiczky – all of whom fled conflict and persecution. I am proud to stand alongside Tate and artist Anish Kapoor as we celebrate what refugees have given to the world, and hope that others will sign our open letter to say ‘thank you’ and continue the legacy of welcome.”

Today’s event comes as the IRC launches a global call for welcome to mark World Refugee Day, which features a similar collaboration with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, where The Lovers by Marc Chagall has been concealed from view; a display in collaboration with Refugee Week and the V&A highlighting refugee tenacity and entrepreneurship; and a global open letter to refugees.

The campaign also includes a video featuring A-list celebrities and every day individuals thanking famous refugees – Freddie Mercury, Albert Einstein, Elie Wiesel, Gloria Estefan, Marc Chagall, Luka Modric, M.I.A. and the authors of Curious George – for the contributions they have made to our lives and society.

Photographs of the launch can be found here.

To learn more about the IRC and the World Refugee Day campaign, and to view the video and sign the open letter, visit here.  

About Tate

Tate’s mission is to increase the public understanding and enjoyment of British art and international modern and contemporary art. Its four galleries – Tate Britain, Tate Modern, Tate Liverpool and Tate St Ives – welcome around 8 million visitors a year. These are part of a wider network of partner institutions, the Plus Tate network, which champion the visual arts in the UK. Tate also manages a growing national collection of over 70,000 works of art, acquired and cared for on behalf of the public and shown in venues throughout the UK and across the world.

About the IRC

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 29 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue-uk.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.