Michael Petry is an American born curator and author living and working in London. He is a director at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Peckham, London and the author of several books. His most recent is The Word is Art which looks at the use of text in contemporary art.
I caught up with Michael to talk about his new book, published by Thames and Hudson and our conversation turned to Brexit and how it affects the cultural and arts sector.
Michael plans exhibitions along with his books and is currently facing issues due to the Brexit negotiations. European Institutions are telling him that with a hard Brexit, and an outcome where the UK is not in the EU, it means that the museums cannot bring the work over to their country. If the exhibition commences before Brexit negotiations are finalised there will be issues around returning the work to the UK.
It seems that nobody in government has listened to the voices in the creative sector that will be hugely impacted by any negotiations around Brexit. He feels that ministers are dismissive of the creative sector even through it is three times larger than the car manufacturing industry in the UK.
Performing arts are equally impacted through these discussions as each member of an orchestra or theatre company will require work permits. The sector is a huge part of the economy and yet ministers decline the invitation to discuss the issues facing the arts sector.
Going back to the book which features 200 artists working across 60 languages, we discussed how the book came about and issues with translation. We talked about reading art works visually, through language, the words and through context.