For months, the United Kingdom has been roiled by student protests standing up to the coalition government’s attempt to sharply raise annual tuition at universities to up to 9,000 ($14,600). Now, a coalition of more than 90 artists, musicians, and creative figures have come together to make a statement of solidarity with the young protesters. The list includes some big names: visual artists Damien Hirst, Marc Quinn, and Rachel Whiteread; Clash rocker Mick Jones, Primal Scream frontman Bobby Gillespie, and Duran Duran keyboardist Nick Rhodes; and fashion designer Stella McCartney. And the form of solidarity offered is not just abstract — it comes in the form of cash to pay the fines of persecuted and jailed students, thus encouraging further civil disobedience against the education fee hikes.
Artist Jake Chapman’s “Can’t pay your fees? We’ll pay your fines!” campaign looks to fund payment of the fines incurred by student protestors in the UK. / Courtesy Flickr
The campaign, taking the name “Can’t pay your fees? We’ll pay your fines!”, has been spearheaded by Jake Chapman, who announced it in a cover story for Dazed and Confused magazine last week. Known for his nightmarish installations with his brother Dinos, Chapman’s work — tableaux of mutant children, and defaced works by Francisco Goya — has always expressed a grim view of the world, edged with punk-ish nihilism. With his fund, he has a very concrete target for his rage: The right-wing Tories led by David Cameron, and their Liberal-Democrat coalition partners, whom he describes as craven sell-outs, having courted support from the art community, which it then sold down the river by collaborating in a savage program of austerity.
A must-read feature on Chapman in the Evening Standard describes him as brimming over with rage at the tuition hikes. “I really don’t believe it’s an austerity measure,” he says.
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