Venice Biennale roiled by petition to exclude Israel

Thousands of artists and cultural workers are demanding that Israel be excluded from the Venice Biennale, the prestigious international art exhibition, over its actions in the Gaza Strip, per Citing the recent bombardment and its aftermath, the Art Not Genocide Alliance (ANGA) accuses Israel of “genocide” and “apartheid.” 

They argue that Israel’s participation signifies an endorsement of its policies and point to the Biennale’s past exclusion of South Africa during apartheid and Russia following the Ukraine invasion. Israel, with its national pavilion, will be represented by artist Ruth Patir, who emphasises the importance of artistic expression even during conflict.

ANGA, however, calls Patir’s statement “simplistic” and argues that art cannot ignore ongoing violence, including the reported deaths and restricted access to healthcare in Gaza. 

View of the Israeli pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia in 2017         Image: Getty Images

This year’s Biennale theme, “Foreigners Everywhere,” focuses on global issues related to migration and the experiences of diverse communities. While Palestinians lack a national pavilion, they will be represented in official collateral events and an unofficial exhibit at the Palazzo Mora. The Biennale’s response to the petition remains unknown. 

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