Thousands of Artists Sign Petition Imploring Venice Biennale to Drop Israeli Pavilion

“The Biennale is platforming a genocidal apartheid state.”

Art
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Thousands of artists have signed an open letter by Art Not Genocide Alliance (ANGA) imploring organizers of the upcoming Venice Biennale to drop Israel’s pavilion because it claims the art festival is “platforming a genocidal apartheid state.” Since the writing of this article, the petition has amassed nearly 9,000 signees including past Biennale artists, exhibitors, along with students, engineers, designers and professors.

The art market is one of the many industries engulfed in criticism since the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas commenced on October 7, 2023 with a number of acclaimed artists, including acclaimed Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei, going public about being censored from programming for his support of Palestine during the conflict.

Biennale organizers have been criticized in the letter for showing a “double standard” to Israel, who has a permanent pavilion in the Giardini exhibition space, as opposed to the ongoing condemnation of the Russian pavilion which has been barred from participating in the festival since its 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

“While the Israeli pavilion presses ahead,” the letter states, “the genocidal death toll in Gaza and the West Bank increases daily. While Israel’s curatorial team plans their “Fertility Pavilion” reflecting on contemporary motherhood, Israel has murdered more than 12,000 children and destroyed access to reproductive care and medical facilities. As a result, Palestinian women have C-sections without anesthetic and give birth in the street.”

A project titled Foreigners in Their Homeland by the Palestine Museum US was notably rejected by the Biennale, raising “suspicions,” according to the institution’s founder and director Faisal Saleh in an interview with Hyperallergic, “of a lack of curator familiarity with and appreciation for emerging Palestinian art and artists.”

“Any official representation of Israel on the international cultural stage is an endorsement of its policies and of the genocide in Gaza,” the letter concludes. The 60th Venice Biennale will commence from April 20 to November 24, 2024.

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