Pro-Palestinian activists call for Israel's exclusion from the Venice Biennale

29 february, 2024

The International Court of Justice suspects the country of genocide against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Israel Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, 1952. Source: instagram.com
The Art Not Genocide Alliance (ANGA) has published an open letter demanding the non-opening of the Israeli pavilion at this year's and subsequent Venice Biennales. The reason is the state's war against Palestine and Hamas. Earlier, the International Court of Justice recognized the possible genocide of Palestinians in Gaza.

The signatories of the letter emphasize that Israel's occupation of Palestine, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip is recognized as illegal under UN Resolution No. 242 of November 1967. They call Israel's strikes on Palestine in 2023 one of the most extensive bombardments in history. The tons of explosives used are equivalent in force to a nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima (Japan) in 1945.

“Art does not happen in a vacuum 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,” as stated in the letter.

In response, the curators and artists of the Israeli pavilion made a brief statement about the “necessity of art in dark times,” insisting on “a pocket for free expression and creativity amidst everything that is happening.” Such a position in the letter was called a double standard. ANGA accused the organizers of the Venice Biennale of the same thing.  Previously, after the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, they closed the pavilion of the aggressor country.

The boycott of Israel is not the first call for the country's exclusion from the Venice Biennale. In the 1950s-1960s, the organizers of the art event periodically did not recommend or sidelined the participation of the Republic of South Africa, which then pursued apartheid policies. An official ban was put into effect in 1968 based on UN Resolution No. 2396 on the suspension of “exchanges with the racist regime.” The country was admitted to the Biennale only after the discriminatory policy was abolished in 1993.

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