Goldsmiths CCA Announces Closure Following Pro-Palestinian Activist Occupation

Student protesters are demanding the university cut ties with the Gertler family, donors that have been linked to Netanyahu.

Students and educators march from Camberwell College of Art to Goldsmiths University on February 7, 2024 in London, England. Led by Stop the War Coalition (StWC) and Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), UK workers in health, media, RMT staff, and various sectors, alongside students from schools and universities, participated in walkouts and peaceful protests to Stand With Gaza, advocating for a lasting ceasefire. (Photo by Guy Smallman/Getty Images)

Correction: This article was updated to clarify Yana Peel’s relationship to the Outset Contemporary Art Fund. She is no longer affiliated with the organization. 

The Goldsmiths Center for Contemporary Art (CCA), a well-respected gallery on the campus of Goldsmiths university in London, announced yesterday that it will close its doors until October. This decision was taken after students occupied the building for two weeks, shutting down its usual exhibition program.

The activist group Goldsmiths for Palestine, which organized the protest, is calling for Goldsmiths to “cut all ties” with Candida and Zak Gertler. The married couple are allegedly close friends with Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and reportedly hosted his 70th birthday at their home.

Goldsmiths CCA announced the news on Instagram, explaining that the occupation made it impossible to “fulfill the terms required by our insurers for keeping artworks safe” and “to maintain health and safety standards for visitors and staff.”

“We want to express our extreme sadness and sorrow to stakeholders (artists, educators and audiences) and our staff for this temporary closure, which is a decision we have taken with a heavy heart,” the post concluded. “We hope for an end to the occupation, so Goldsmiths CCA can return to supporting artists, making exhibitions, and hosting our Residents.”

In an open letter explaining their reasons for occupying Goldsmiths CCA, Goldsmiths for Palestine acknowledged that some of the demands made during an earlier protest in the spring had been met by the university. It said that, since May, however, “communications and negotiations with senior management have deteriorated.” The group noted that the university had not followed through on calling for an immediate and permanent ceasefire. It added that it had “little faith” that the university would “follow through with addressing financial institutional complicity.”

These concerns and the news of extreme suffering in Rafah caused the group to plan its latest occupation of the CCA building. In a new Instagram post celebrating the news that Goldsmith CCA will close until October, the group said it is still occupying the building. It listed three demands: that Goldsmiths CCA remove the Gertler name from one of its galleries; that it revoke Candida Gertler’s honorary fellowship from Goldsmiths, which was awarded last year; and that Goldsmiths cut all ties with the Gertlers.

The Gertlers have been the subject of multiple protests this year by Strike Outset, a group protesting Candida’s involvement with the charity Outset Contemporary Art Fund, which she co-founded in 2003 with Yana Peel. Gertler continues to serve as a trustee and co-director of the organization while Peel resigned in 2012.

Goldsmiths CCA’s next exhibition “Galli: So, So, So,” dedicated to the octogenarian German artist Galli, was scheduled to open to the public next week. It has been postponed to early 2025.



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