International Committee of Museums and Collections of Contemporary Art (CIMAM) issued a statement opposing the “censorship and cancellation” of exhibitions by artists and curators who speak out in support of the Palestinian people.
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The text of the statement was published on the organization’s website.
“In times of conflict and crisis, CIMAM would like to emphasize the importance of preserving the museum as a space for free artistic expression. Now more than ever, it is important that the diversity of artistic voices is guaranteed and that artistic positions from crisis situations receive more space, not less“, the committee emphasized.
Earlier, on January 11, hundreds of artists went on strike against German cultural institutions over policies that stifle freedom of expression, including expressions of solidarity with Palestine.
Protesters called it “McCarthy politics”, thus making a reference to the times of the “Cold War” and US Senator Joseph McCarthy. His speech in 1950 marked the beginning not only of the detection of spies infiltrated into the American authorities, but also of a great wave of struggle against American communists and the persecution of left-wing intellectuals.
The reason for the artists’ strike was also a new provision to Berlin’s funding plan, which would not allow those who criticize Israel to receive financial support from the city.
|Members of the International Committee of Museums and Collections of Contemporary Art. Photo: SIMAM
According to CIMAM, after the start of Israel’s war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, there was “unprecedented international censorship of artists and curators” not only in Germany, but throughout the world.
For example, in November 2023, the Folkwang Museum in Essen (Germany) canceled the exhibition “Afrofuturism”which she is the curator of Anais Duplan. The reason was her pro-Palestinian posts on social networks – they were called “unacceptable”. A few weeks later, the Modern Gallery of the Saarland Museum in Saarbrücken canceled the exhibition Candice Breitz for 2024 due to the artist’s statements about the violence in Gaza.
In the US, the Wexner Center for the Arts, affiliated with Ohio State University, left an exhibition of a Palestinian artist Jumani Manna “Break, take, erase, count”but postponed a planned panel discussion to introduce it.
The Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University has canceled the exhibit Samia Halabi – Palestinian-American abstract artist. The reason was called “security problems”.
Artists and pro-Palestinian views
It is not the first time that artists from various cultural fields have spoken out against the hostilities in the Gaza Strip.
On November 16, 2023, 20 of the 25 nominees for the National Book Award in the US called for a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza. At the time, they said the authors were equally opposed to anti-Semitism, anti-Palestinian sentiment and Islamophobia. They understand that bloodshed will not contribute to peace in the region.
|Writers of the National Book Award in the USA gathered for a speech. Photo: Beowulf Sheehan
Earlier, the exhibition of a Chinese artist was canceled in London Ai Weiwei over a social media post about Israel and Hamas that he later deleted. As the artist noted, his exhibition was canceled, “to avoid further arguments and for my own well-being“.
At the opening ceremony of the Frankfurt Book Fair, the representative of Slovenia, the author Slavoj Žižek condemned the terrorist attack of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas on Israel, but also called “to listen to the Palestinians and take into account their past to understand the causes of the conflict”. The Fair was also criticized for postponing an event in honor of Palestinian writer Adania Shibli. Before the start of the fair, she was to be awarded the LiBeraturpreis of the Litprom association, which is awarded to authors from the countries of the Global South.
Read also: Scandal at the US Book Award: the finalists called for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas