Indian artists boycott show in Israel
Author / Source / Date:
Jyotsna Singh, Newsclick, August 2, 2011
Artists call for a boycott of a show in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Keeping in solidarity with the International Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, five out of 20-odd Indian artists have already refused to participate in Deconstructing India, a show to be held in 2012 in Tel Aviv Museum of Art in Israel. A press statement, issued by the artists, says that “By declining to participate in this show, we refuse to legitimise the illegal racist and apartheid policies of the Israeli Government against the people of Palestine and to become a part of “Brand Israel.””
The campaign, initiated by Bangalore-based photo and video performance artist Pushpamala N, garnered support from painter Nalini Malani, painter and sculptor Anita Dube, documentary filmmaker Amar Kanwar and artist Sakshi Gupta. Other than the signatories, the press statement also contains names of artists, art scholars, and art galleries and publishers who stand in solidarity with the protesting artists.
The show will be the first major show in the newly built Amir wing of the museum which is planned to be used to gain some prestige for the otherwise discredited government of Israel for its brutal oppression of the people of Palestine, including young children.
The artists note that similar boycott played a crucial role in fighting against apartheid regime in South Africa. In 1965, 496 academics from 34 British Universities pledged in a declaration that they “shall not apply for or accept academic posts in South African universities which practice racial discrimination." The boycott was removed only in 1990 after the fall of apartheid in SA.
Now, the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) is gaining ground in South Africa against the Israeli state. In a 2010 article, Ronnie Kasrils, a leader of the African National Congress, brought to notice the importance of BDS against Israel in the light of South African experience.
Indian artists have joined the international efforts of solidarity for justice to Palestinians. One chief source of confidence for the State of Israel is economic and diplomatic support of the United States. Thus, a people’s movement is even more essential to build a counter pressure for humane treatment of the people of Palestine.
Indian Artists Boycott Tel Aviv Museum Show
The first major show of Indian art “Deconstructing India” is planned for Spring 2012 in the new wing of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art in Israel.
We, the undersigned artists, who have been invited by the curators to participate in this show, have declined to exhibit our work, in solidarity with the International Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel called by Palestinian intellectuals and artists, and the India Campaign. The Boycott, inspired by the earlier successful international boycott against Apartheid South Africa, is a peaceful, non-violent Gandhian campaign, which is directed at mainstream institutions and not at individuals, to pressurize Israel to recognize the rights of the Palestine people.
The newly built Amir Wing of the Tel Aviv Museum designed by American architect Preston Scott Cohen is planned to be a showpiece for the discredited Israeli Government to increase its status and prestige internationally at a time when the country’s image is at its lowest ebb.
By declining to participate in this show, we refuse to legitimize the illegal racist and apartheid policies of the Israeli Government against the people of Palestine and to become a part of “Brand Israel”.
In solidarity with the Boycott:
Gallerists and Publishers
Bina Sarkar Ellias