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Cumartesi, Nisan 20, 2024

VENICE BIENNALE: ISRAEL PAVILION SPARKS CONTROVERSY

Mutlaka Oku

By Janet Ekstract ISTANBUL- The upcoming 60th Venice Biennale is awash in controversy from a plethora of artists, curators and cultural workers worldwide after more than 4,000 artists called for Israel to be excluded from the world’s top art exhibition this year. On Monday, two major organizations penned letters to Venice Biennale officials – The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott (PACBI) and the Art Not Genocide Alliance (ANGA). Both organizations are calling for Israel not to be represented at the biennale, as PACBI stated: “Any official representation of Israel on the international cultural stage is an endorsement of the policies and of the genocide in Gaza. Meanwhile, ANGA started a petition to keep Israel out of the Venice Biennale as well with its petition entitled ‘No Genocide Pavilion at the Venice Biennale’states: “We, the undersigned, call for the exclusion of Israel from the Venice Biennale. As the art world readies itself to visit the Giardini’s nation-state diorama, we say platforming art representing a state engaged in ongoing atrocities against Palestinians in Gaza is unacceptable. No Genocide Pavilion at the Venice Biennale.” As signatories to the PACBI letter said: “There is no free expression for the Palestinian poets, artists, and writers murdered, silenced, imprisoned, tortured, and prevented from travelling abroad or internally by Israel. There is no free expression in the war crime of cultural genocide.” 

Arguments were made by PACBI that the biennale banned South Africa from 1968 onwards for its apartheid stance then in 2022, it banned Russian artists connected to the government. ANGA, a newly established art organization has sparked a debate about art begins and politics and human rights end. Their petition has so far, garnered 6,000 signatures. ANGA stated that any representation of Israel at the biennale is aiding and abetting genocide as the following section of their petition states:

“The Biennale has been silent about Israel’s atrocities against Palestinians. We are appalled by this double-standard. Israel’s assault on Gaza constitutes one of the most intense bombardments in history. By the end of October 2023, Israel had already fired tons of explosives on Gaza, equal in force to the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan in 1945. In January 2024, it was reported that the daily death rate in Gaza exceeds that of any other major conflict in the 21st century.

The Israeli pavilion curators and artist have issued a simplistic statement about the necessity of art in dark times, insisting on a “pocket for free expression and creation amidst everything that’s happening.”  Another double-standard. 

Art does not happen in a vacuum (let alone a “pocket”), and cannot transcend reality. Euphemisms cannot erase violent truths. Any work that officially represents the state of Israel is an endorsement of its genocidal policies. There is no free expression for the Palestinian poets, artists, and writers murdered, silenced, imprisoned, tortured, and prevented from travelling abroad or internally by Israel. There is no free expression in the Palestinian theaters and literary festivals shut down by Israel. There is no free expression in the museums, archives, publications, libraries, universities, schools, and homes of Gaza, bombed to rubble by Israel. There is no free expression in the war crime of cultural genocide. 

While the Israeli pavilion presses ahead, 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.

Any official representation of Israel on the international cultural stage is an endorsement of its policies and of the genocide in Gaza. 

The Biennale is platforming a genocidal apartheid state. 

No death in Venice. 

No business as usual. 

NO GENOCIDE PAVILION AT THE VENICE BIENNALE.

Signed,

ANGA – Art Not Genocide Alliance”

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