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Israeli artist, curators refuse to open exhibit until cease-fire, hostage deal is reached

Artists and their curators representing Israel at this year’s Venice Biennale in Italy will not open their Israeli pavilion on Tuesday until a ceasefire and hostage agreement is reached in the months-long war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. announced.

A sign posted in the window of the Israel Pavilion on Tuesday said in English: “If a ceasefire and an agreement to release the hostages is reached, the artists and curators of the Israel Pavilion will open an exhibition.”

Artist Ruth Patia said in a statement that she and the curators wanted to show solidarity with the families of the hostages and “the larger Israeli community demanding change.”

“As an artist and educator, I am adamantly opposed to cultural boycotts, but it is extremely difficult to present a project that speaks to the fragility of life at a time when life is being ignored to such an extent. ” Patil said in a statement.

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Italian soldiers tour the Israeli National Pavilion at the Biennale Contemporary Art Fair on Tuesday, April 16, 2024 in Venice, Italy. (AP Photo/Colleen Barry)

Israel is one of 88 countries participating in the 60th Venice Biennale, which will be held from April 20th to November 20th. 24. The Israel Pavilion is the original venue for the world’s oldest contemporary art show and was built in 1952 as a permanent exhibition of Israel within the Giardini, the site of 29 national pavilions. Performances from other countries take place at the nearby Arsenale and other venues around the city.

But even before this statement was released, curators and critics signed an open letter calling on the Biennale to exclude the Israeli National Pavilion from this year’s exhibition to protest Israel’s war in Gaza. was. Those opposed to Israel’s presence in the area also announced that they would hold protests there.

Italy’s culture minister has firmly supported Israel’s participation, and the fair opened amid unusually heightened security.

The national pavilions in Venice are independent from the main show, and each country decides its own show, which may or may not influence the curator’s vision. The title of Patil’s exhibition in Israel is “(M)otherland”.

People walking in front of the Israeli National Pavilion at the Biennale

People stand in front of the closed Israeli National Pavilion during the Biennale Contemporary Art Fair on Tuesday, April 16, 2024 in Venice, Italy. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

Israel pavilion curators Mila Lapidot and Tamar Margalit have delayed the exhibition’s opening due to “the terrible war going on in Gaza,” but they hope the situation will change and the exhibition can resume. He said there was. public view.

“There is no end in sight and we can only expect more pain, loss and devastation. The exhibition has closed and the pavilion is waiting to open,” they said. For now, a video piece produced by Patil can be seen through the pavilion’s windows.

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The (M)otherland exhibition was scheduled to run from Saturday, April 20th to Sunday, November 24th.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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