Artists call for Israel to be excluded from Venice Biennale


A newly formed activist group known as the Art Not Genocide Alliance (ANGA) has published a petition calling for Israel to be excluded from participating in this year’s 60th Venice Biennale. “No Genocide Pavilion at the Venice Biennale,” the online open letter demands. So far, it has over 6,500 signatories. ANGA describes itself as an international group of artists, curators, writers, and cultural workers.
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott (PACBI), which endorsed the letter, said: “Any official representation of Israel on the international cultural stage is an endorsement of its policies and of the genocide in Gaza.”
PACBI argued that there were precedents for such a move: The Biennale banned apartheid South Africa from 1968 onwards, and in 2022 it banned Russian artists connected to the country’s government,
The letter outlines the politics surrounding the Israel-Hamas conflict as well as the huge loss of human life in Gaza, with the number of deaths recently estimated to be as high as 250 Palestinians per day. It also notes that apartheid South Africa was banned from exhibiting at the Biennale from 1968 until 1993, when apartheid rule was abolished.
“Art does not happen in a vacuum and cannot transcend reality,” the letter reads. “While Israel’s curatorial team plans their so-called ‘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 work that officially represents the state of Israel is an endorsement of its genocidal policies,” the letter concludes.
Among the letter’s signatories are Adam Broomberg, a Berlin-based South African photographer who is representing the Palestinian organization Artists and Allies of Hebron in an official collateral event. Others include American artist Nan Goldin, Moroccan artist Yto Barrada, British artist and writer Hannah Black, Basel-based performance artist Sophie Jung, the Italian curatorial platform LOCALES Project, and Karachi Biennale CEO Niilofur Farrukh.
The letter has also been signed by the Palestine Museum U.S., which had its proposal for “Foreigners in their Homeland,” an exhibition showcasing work by 24 Palestinian artists, rejected by the Biennale as an official collateral event. The show will go ahead at Venice’s Palazzo Mora as an unofficial collateral event, opening on April 20.
“We think that they should allow “Foreigners in their Homeland” into the exhibit because it meets all the qualifications they were looking for,” said the museum’s director Faisal Saleh. He also noted that Palestine does not have a national pavilion because Italy does not recognize Palestine as a sovereign state.
Of Israel’s planned exhibition for the biennial, Saleh said: “This is not just an exhibition by Israeli individuals. It’s the State of Israel that’s making the exhibition. That is unacceptable when Israel is perpetrating a fully-fledged genocide against the people of Gaza.”
The Biennale did not immediately respond to a request for comment on ANGA’s petition.

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