Q&A: Dalston’s under-fire LD50 director Lucia Diego denies art gallery’s alt-right exhibition and talks were racist

A logo created by the Shutdown LD50 campaign.

A logo created by the Shutdown LD50 campaign. - Credit: Archant

Dalston art gallery LD50 came under fire this week after it emerged it had hosted a conference and exhibition featuring speakers and works from the far-right. As anti-fascists gear up to protest in Tottenham Road on Saturday morning, the Gazette put some questions to director Lucia Diego.

LD50 in Tottenham Road, Dalston. Picture: Dieter Perry

LD50 in Tottenham Road, Dalston. Picture: Dieter Perry - Credit: Archant

Read this first: Protesters to march on Dalston art gallery that hosted alt-right exhibition

HG: How long have you been at the gallery?

LD: I started here in 2015. I’m the director and own the gallery. I’m also an architect.

HG: Who owns the building? We’ve heard other artists are involved in that side of things.

LD: It’s not relevant to this story. He’s just a regular landlord [not an artist].

HG: What’s happening with the gallery?

LD: Between the exhibitions we close. We were planning to have a new show in March but at the moment given the circumstances we are still closed. It’s not a political show – only one out of 12 has had this content. I will reset the website soon [to show the list of exhibitions].

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HG: Do you understand why the exhibition and conference have angered people?

LD: Of course I understand. But people haven’t bothered to investigate about us until it all blew up. These shows have been available since the summer online and no one said anything. Then this blog post was published last week. The Peter Brimelow show is still available and it mainly discusses immigration and economics. These people haven’t even been to the gallery once.

HG: People are annoyed that these people have been given a platform to speak full stop, given their views.

LD: Who else am I going to ask to talk about it [the alt-right]? I’m not interested in their background – I’m interested in what they have to say about the topic.

HG: Hackney obviously has a rich multicultural history. People have grown up being abused, suffering racism. They don’t want to people with these views speaking here.

LD: I live in Hackney, I’m part of this community and I engage with it. I’m not English myself – I’m another immigrant. That’s why I live in Hackney, because I love how rich the different communities are. The talks didn’t promote racism. Nothing had anything racist in it. The speakers do talk in other places and platforms and what they speak about does seem to be racist or fascist. But as an art gallery we need to be able to open discourse.

HG: What about the swastika that was painted on your gallery last week?

LD: I called the police and they are filing a report. I am frightened I might be attacked. The landlord cleaned it off. He was shocked to discover this had happened. A couple of weeks ago nobody found it outrageous. I had to stay outside my house for four days. My life is in danger from certain extreme factions on the left who are violent and like to jump to any farce going on. This is not a joke.

HG: How do you feel about the protest?

LD: They are welcome to protest, I don’t know what to think. People are allowed to protest but if you are going to protest try to think about what you are protesting against. Inform yourself. People don’t think for themselves. The first way to understand it is to engage with it. I have moved on from this, I’m not interested any more. The talks were seven months ago but I have to deal with it now because I have no choice.

Note: This story was amended at Lucia Diego’s request to insert the word “immigration and” in her fourth answer. The passage previously read: “...it mainly discusses economics”.