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'Allo 'Allo? Artist to install Brexit phone booth on English beach

In the run-up to leaving the EU, callers will be able to leave messages “for Europe”

BT phone home: The public will be able to leave messages about Brexit in Joe Sweeney's 1990s photo booth on the Kent coast © Joe Sweeney; courtesy of Cob Gallery

Feeling voiceless about the impending Brexit deadline? Fear not, the artist Joe Sweeney wants you to leave a message for Europe in his recreated 1990s BT phone booth on the Kent coast facing France.

From 1 March, the booth will be installed on the pebble beach at Dungeness the UK’s most south-easterly point and will record messages left by members of the public. The messages will be uploaded to the internet in the hope of making a record of people’s views and sentiments over the 28 days remaining from the start of the project to the 29 March Brexit deadline.

“The human voice is the most powerful form of communication, in which tonality is key,” Sweeney says. “By recording participants’ messages for Europe, I want to capture the humanity of the general public, and the voices that I feel have been lost to the debate surrounding Brexit.”

+44… Leave a Message For Europe will be installed at The Pilot Inn pub in Dungeness. Those who can’t make it to Kent can leave a message, free of charge, via the project’s website. The site will also live stream footage of the booth.

“We want it to be as non-partisan as possible,” says Cassie Beadle, the director of Cob Gallery, which represents Sweeney. “We don’t want hate speech but we want people to be angry, we want everybody to connect with it.”

The messages and video footage will be added to a permanent digital archive and later incorporated into a video work by the artist.

“I think it is essential we archive as many personal ‘testimonials’ as possible, at this pivotal time for Britain and Europe,” Sweeney says. “I believe this archive has an important role to play in our understanding of this moment as we experience it now, and when looking back in the future.”