Joe Sweeney’s +44 Leave a Message for Europe gets the film treatment

TJ Sidhu, The Face , January 30, 2020

Last year the London-based artist planted a phonebox in Dungeness, Kent for Brexiteers, Remainers and those in the foggy middle to leave anonymous messages for Europe. They’ve been collected and compiled into a film. Watch it here.


For 28 days last March, London-born and based Joe Sweeney planted a phone box titled +44 Leave a Message for Europe on Dungeness Beach in Kent. 

Inviting the public to anonymously call and – you guessed it! – leave a message for Europe, it was born of a feeling he had of being stuck in the liberal ​London bubble”.

I became exasperated by the same point of view being churned over,” the 28-year-old says. ​Everyone has their own opinion and reason, and that’s why it was so important for me to do this project, if anything, just for my own understanding.”

Sweeney envisioned the piece before thinking up the concept – an urban fixture (a phonebox) in a remote location (Dungeness), just 30 miles from the French coast. Soon after, he questioned what purpose it could have. ​I thought: why can’t this have a function? Why can’t people call this phone box and talk about Europe?” he says. This led him to apply for an Arts Council grant, taking four months or, as Sweeney put it, ​the longest part of the process, to be honest”