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The List after it was attacked by vandals for a second time while it was view as part of the Liverpool Biennial. Photo: Banu Cennetoglu

Liverpool Biennial Artwork Documenting the Refugee Crisis Is Destroyed Again

The List, a massive installation featuring the names of 34,361 refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers who have died while trying to reach Europe since 2013, has been destroyed for the second time. Currently on view as part of the Liverpool Biennial, the work was first attacked at the end of July and was restored by the exhibition’s organizers only last week.

After The List, which was erected on hoardings on Great George Street, was torn down again, Banu Cennetoğlu, the Turkish artist behind the project, decided not to reinstall the piece. Instead, she believes that leaving the remnants of the 920-foot-long list will serve as a “reminder of the systematic violence exercised against people.”

Since 2007, Cennetoğlu has worked to make The List visible to the world. She has printed it out, handed it out to passersby, and displayed it on billboards. The most recent version of the project was published as a special section in The Guardian for World Refugee Day.

Although The List, which is compiled and updated each year by United for Intercultural Action, a European network of 550 antiracist organizations in forty-eight countries, has been installed in several other cities, including Berlin, Istanbul, Basel, and Athens, it has never been targeted by vandals before.

While the organizers of the biennial do not know the identity of the perpetrators, and their motives remain unclear, people on social media have raised concerns about whether the act reflects rising tensions over immigration, which are being fueled by Brexit.

“We are saddened by this mindless act of vandalism,” a spokesperson for the Liverpool City Council said in a statement. The representative added that, moving forward, the city will work with the biennial to “shine a light on how we need to do more to promote a tolerant and compassionate society.”

Since some of the names of the dead are still legible, the biennial plans to put up text explaining the significance of the work and what happened to it. It will also direct visitors to a website where The List can be viewed in its entirety

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