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Underground Art Auction Raises Over $6000 For Urewera 18

“Underground Art Auction Raises Over Six Thousand Dollars For Urewera 18”

An art auction organised by a Wellington artists’ collective closed last night after raising almost seven thousand dollars to support the defendants in the ongoing trial against the Urewera 18 following the “terror raids” in 2007.

The auction, hosted by the Concerned Citizens Collective, a group of more than 60 artists and musicians, was fronted by veteran activist John Minto and alleged New Zealand “terrorist” Valerie Morse. In a tongue-in-cheek twist, the total funds raised by the auction were indicated by a pillow “bus” being raised by Morse toward a George W Bush impersonator sitting at the top of a ladder, while Minto launched other “buses” with a model catapult designed to portray the assassination plot the arrestees supposedly devised.

“After seeing Operation 8:Deep in the Forest, we were inspired to test whether this kind of assassination device would actually work.” says Ben Knight, contributing artist and co-organiser of the art auction. “And we felt compelled to put on an event to help the defendants as soon as possible”.

To close the auction, John Minto gave an impassioned speech about the “attack on civil liberties” he feels has occurred in New Zealand since September 11th. The event also marked the 30th anniversary of the Springbok Tour anti-apartheid movement in 1981.

To enable global participation in the auction, bidding was opened to interested art buyers worldwide at www.concernedcitizens.co.nz

Robert Guthrie, a web developer at the Enspiral tech collective and member of Concerned Citizens, said “I was watching Operation 8 at the opening on Friday night, and I thought “Why on earth haven’t we got this auction online so people overseas who support human rights in New Zealand can participate? I started writing some software to enable online bidding, and we had the auction opened globally by the following afternoon”.

According to Ben Knight, “Even though we were only able to promote the online bidding in the last day of the auction, we had a remarkable number of internet buyers, competing in an all-out bidding war with the buyers physically present at the exhibition.”

The spectacle at the gallery could be viewed by buyers at home via a live video feed on the Concerned Citizens website.

“Right now we’re organising other interested artists in New Zealand and internationally to contribute work to an online-only auction we’ll be hosting in the next few weeks, again to raise funds to support the Urewera 18 arrestees and their families in the drawn out trial” says Knight. "With a global human rights focus, I think it's likely that the scale of the second auction will step things up even further".

A number of prominent figures have also spoken out against the handling of the case, including civil rights lawyer Moana Jackson and Professor Jane Kelsey.

The Concerned Citizens exhibition featured work more than 60 artists and musicians, featuring work from up and coming as well as more established artists, including Peter Madden, Roger Morris, Richard Meros, Bryce Galloway, Arlo Edwards, Kerry Ann Lee, and Tao Wells, creator of the controversial Beneficiary’s Office installation in 2010. Exhibited works ranged from paintings, sculptures, photography, and animation.

ENDS

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