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Global artists call Venice Biennale ‘platforming genocidal apartheid’ Israel

Global artists call Venice Biennale ‘platforming genocidal apartheid’ Israel

The Art Not Genocide Alliance (ANGA), an umbrella group of thousands of artists, curators, and museum directors accused the Venice Biennale of ‘platforming a genocidal apartheid state’, calling for the exclusion of Israel from the biggest art exhibition in the world.

ANGA has garnered support from over 12,500 people who argue that Israel should face consequences similar to those imposed on individuals linked to the Russian government two years ago.

The controversy stems from Israel's military offensive in the besieged Gaza Strip, criticized internationally, including within the art world. The Biennale, known for its international standing, is being accused of maintaining a double standard by not taking action against Israel while having banned anyone connected to the Russian government after the invasion of Ukraine.

The ANGA, an international collective of artists and cultural workers, expressed its dismay in an online letter, emphasizing the Biennale's previous actions against South Africa during the era of apartheid and white minority rule. They highlight that leading human rights groups today consider Israel's occupation of Palestinian lands as "a cruel system of apartheid and a crime against humanity."

The ANGA labels the presentation of art representing a state involved in ongoing atrocities against Palestinians in Gaza as "unacceptable." They assert that any official representation of Israel on the international cultural stage, as well as any work officially representing the state, is deemed an "endorsement of its genocidal policies."

Israel, however, rejects the accusation of genocide, maintaining that its actions are not tantamount to such a severe charge. The International Court of Justice has acknowledged that it is "plausible" that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza, ordering the country to take all possible measures to prevent it.

Italy's Culture Minister, Gennaro Sangiuliano, condemned the ANGA's letter as "unacceptable" and "shameful," asserting that it "threatens freedom of thought and creative expression." Sangiuliano defends Israel's right to express its art, stating that it has a duty to bear witness to its people amid attacks by terrorists.

Sangiuliano declares that the Biennale, scheduled to commence on April 20, will remain a space of freedom, meetings, and dialogue, not one of censorship and intolerance. The theme for this year's edition is "Foreigners Everywhere," expected to host pavilions from 90 countries between April 20 and November 24.

The ANGA counters Sangiuliano's argument, asserting that art cannot transcend reality and pointing to the lack of free expression for Palestinian poets, artists, and writers under Israeli actions. They claim that the war crimes, including cultural genocide, committed by Israel limit free expression in Gaza's museums, archives, publications, and more.

Notable signatories of the appeal include Faisal Saleh, the Director of the Palestine Museum US, renowned US photographer Nan Goldin, and British visual artist Jesse Darling, winner of last year's Turner Prize.

The Venice Biennale, often dubbed the "Olympics of the art world," finds itself entangled in a geopolitical controversy that adds a layer of complexity to an event meant to celebrate global artistic expression.

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TAGS:HamasFree PalestineIsrael Palestine ConflictVenice Biennale
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