Since the escalation of the conflict with Hamas, Israeli artists have struggled to exhibit

Italian soldiers standing guard in front of a closed door. A video projected inside an empty pavilion. On the opening day of the Venice Biennale, Tuesday April 16, Israeli artist Ruth Patir announced in a press release her decision to give up presenting the “Motherhood” exhibition. Visitors could therefore read, on a poster written in English: “The artist and the curators of the Israeli pavilion will open the exhibition when there is a ceasefire and the release of the hostages. »

Read the survey (2023): Article reserved for our subscribers The Israel-Hamas war is tearing the art world apart

The day before, however, interviewed by the Israeli left-wing daily Haaretzone of the two commissioners of the pavilion, Mira Lapidot, responded by evoking the “artistic freedom” to the group Art Not Genocide Alliance, which in February called on the organizers of the Biennale to disqualify Israel because of “ongoing atrocities against Palestinians in Gaza”. “Any official representation of Israel on the international cultural scene is an endorsement of its policies”, said the signatories, including personalities like Nan Goldin and artists who this year represent Albania, Finland, Nigeria and Zimbabwe. Without mentioning the massacre perpetrated on October 7, 2023 by Hamas, the latter criticized the very subject of the Israeli pavilion, motherhood, while “Israel killed more than 12,000 children and destroyed access to medical care ». “I am not a government spokesperson, Mira Lapidot defended herself, and we were not chosen to do public relations. We have our artistic freedom here. »

Without justifying the cancellation in extremis, the artist Ruth Patir limited herself to a brief comment, confiding in New York Times : ” I hate [avoir eu à le faire], but I think it’s important. » During the last edition of the Biennale, in 2022, the artist and the curator chosen to represent Russia also renounced presenting their works, but, in this case, in order to demonstrate their disagreement with the invasion of Ukraine , a few months earlier.

Disqualified a priori

The feeling of being torn apart torments Israeli artists more than ever. Denounced as being in solidarity with the government of Benyamin Netanyahu which they are fighting politically, they are also disqualified a priori from sympathizing with the distress of the Gazans, while most appear to support the Palestinians demanding a state. Before the Biennale, the Eurovision Song Contest served as a platform for supporters of the boycott of the Jewish state.

You have 58.41% of this article left to read. The rest is reserved for subscribers.

source site-29