Open Letter Calls on Artists to Withdraw From Creative Time Show Touring Israel

Living as Form: Socially Engaged Art from 1991-2011, edited by Nato Thompson.
Living as Form: Socially Engaged Art from 1991-2011, edited by Nato Thompson.

Earlier this week, over 100 artists and intellectuals, including Lucy Lippard, Walid Raad, the Gulf Ultra Luxury Faction, and Martha Rosler addressed an open letter encouraging artists to withdraw their work from Creative Time‘s traveling exhibition “Living as Form: Socially Engaged Art 1991-2011,” on view at Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology since May 28.

According to the letter, sent to artnet News on June 11, “Technion has, for decades, been a crucial research center for the development of technologies used by the Israeli Defense Forces against Palestinians in regular and widespread acts of surveillance, land theft, unwarranted eviction, restriction on movement, and violent repression.”

Addressed to the exhibition’s participating artists, the letter warns that the cosigned “are concerned about the disconnect between the artists’ orientation toward social justice and the exhibiting institution’s central role in maintaining the unjust and illegal occupation of Palestine.”

As such, exhibiting at Technion is in violation of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, the global campaign to pressure Israel to end its occupation of Palestine, offer equal rights to its Arab-Palestinian citizens, and to honor the right of return of Palestinian refugees and their descendants displaced by wars in 1948 and 1967.

The letter was precipitated by the decision of artists Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla, Celine Condorelli and Gavin
Wade, Chto Delat?, Women on Waves, and Decolonizing Architecture Art Residency, among others, to pull their work from the show when they belatedly learned, through Hyperallegic, that the exhibition had been touring in Israel for six months. “Living as Form” was curated by Nato Thompson and its international tour has been organized by Independent Curators International. The exhibition first opened in 2011 in New York City.

In response to the calls for Creative Time to withdraw the exhibition, the organization has pointed to its mission statement, saying “the commitment to the free exchange of ideas has always been central to Creative Time’s mission, and thus we do not participate in cultural boycotts… We believe the activist practices as demonstrated in the ‘Living as Form’ show can contribute to society by raising awareness, help correct injustices done around the globe, honor international standards of human rights, and lead to a more just world.”


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