Mr Democracy

A written constitution for the UK (made in China)


  • Welcome to Mr Democracy, the story of a British artist who set off to get a written constitution for the UK made.
    Understanding the changing balance of power in the world, and with a nod to Britain’s ‘democratic’ ventures across the world, he chose to get it written in China, and ship it back to the UK.
    Read more under 'about' and in the many blog entries.

Her Majesty’s Funny Customs and Regular Exercise

Posted by mrdemocracy on 16,10,2008

If you’ve checked the ship tracking system link on the website over the course of the exhibition, you will have seen the progress of the AKINADA BRIDGE, the ship carrying the container carrying the 1000 dolls, The New Constitution. It just reached Felixstowe, its point of arrival in the UK, and the company doing the customs clearance have got in touch to reming me of their arrival, and that we need to clear customs. The problem is that they had said they would apply for Binding Tariff Information, a ruling on classification that you can apply for before the goods arrive to speed up their customs clearance. They didn’t, and now we’re doing it in a rush, and regardless of how many times I try to persuade them that the goods are an artwork, they want to classify them as dolls of some sort (most recently as ornamental dolls).

I called the customs advice line, where you can discuss your goods and how you should classify them. The problem is that HMCE have archaic definitions of art, which don’t cover much of the art produced today. From here

‘original sculptures and statuary, in any material, provided
that they are executed entirely by the artist; sculpture
casts the production of which is limited to eight copies
and supervised by the artist or his successors in title
(Tariff code 9703 00 00)’

Classic! Literally. I guess they think all art should look like Constable, such romantics. Unfortunately they are romantics who decide what is and isn’t art, for tax purposes.

Anyway, I was in luck. Haunch of Venison is a large commercial gallery, and they are currently importing a video work into the country, for which they also have no suitable classification. They have taken their case to court, and the HMCE said that as that decision seemed a similarly unclear classification, they would classify it as the above until this case is cleared. I think we should win, I don’t know how you can deny this is an artwork. Great success for the moment, anyway.

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