May 22nd, 2024

Israel artist refuses to open Israel pavilion at Venice Biennale pending cease-fire, hostage release

By Colleen Barry, The Associated Press on April 16, 2024.

VENICE, Italy (AP) – The artist and curators representing Israel at this year’s Venice Biennale announced they won’t open the Israeli pavilion exhibition until there is a cease-fire in Gaza and an agreement to release hostages.

Their decision was posted on a sign on the Israeli national pavilion Tuesday, the first day of media previews, just days before the Biennale contemporary art fair opens Saturday.

Israel is among 88 national participants in the 60th Venice Biennale, which runs from April 20-Nov. 24. The exhibition in the Israeli Pavilion had been titled “Motherland” by artist Ruth Patir.

The sign read: “The artist and curators of the Israeli pavilion will open the exhibition when a ceasefire and hostage release agreement is reached.”

There was no immediate comment from the Biennale organizers.

Already, thousands of artists, curators and critics had signed an open letter calling on the Biennale to exclude the Israeli national pavilion from this year’s show to protest Israel’s war in Gaza. Italy’s culture minister had firmly backed Israel’s participation.

Palestinian artists are participating in collateral events and will appear in the main show, titled “Foreigners Everywhere” curated by Adriano Pedrosa, the artistic director of Brazil’s Sao Paulo Museum of Art.

The war erupted after Hamas and Islamic Jihad carried out a cross-border attack on Oct. 7 that killed 1,200 people in Israel and kidnapped 250 others.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive in Gaza has so far killed over 33,700 Palestinians, according to local health officials, causing widespread devastation. The United Nations has warned of imminent famine in northern Gaza.

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