São Paulo Bienal Moves to “Clearly Disassociate Israeli Funding”

Visual identity for the 31st Bienal de São Paulo

The Bienal de Sao Paolo has taken a move to “disassociate” Israeli funding from the main sponsorship of the event following protests by the overwhelming majority of the artists in the exhibition (see “Artists Call on Bienal de São Paulo to Reject Israeli Funds“). Last week, an open letter issued by artists suggested that accepting Israeli funding and displaying the Israeli consulate’s logo amounted to tacit support for the recent destruction in Gaza, calling on the Bienal to return the $40,000 in funds from Israel and remove the logo from press materials.

Late last week, the curatorial team of the Bienal, which opens to the public on September 6, sent a public statement to Hyperallergic’s Mostafa Heddaya saying that in light of the protest, the foundation that organizes the event should “revise their current rules of sponsorship and ensure that artists and curators agree to any support that is forthcoming for their work and that may have an impact on its content and reception.” What exactly this might mean was left open.

Finally, after negotiations over the weekend, a compromise was reached, Heddaya reports. The Bienal has not agreed to return the money. Instead, it will no longer display the Israeli consulate’s logo as a general sponsor of the event, and the logo “will now only be related to those Israeli artists who received that specific financial support,” according to a statement the protesting artists sent to the press on Monday. The same protocol will for followed with other state funders as well. The complete text is below:


We, the majority of artists and participants of the 31st São Paulo Bienal who have opposed any association of our work with Israeli State funding, today had our appeal heard by the Fundação Bienal São Paulo.

Just one week ago we were confronted by the fact that the Israeli state is contributing to the funding of the exhibition as a whole, which for a majority of us is unacceptable. Following collective negotiations the Fundação Bienal de São Paulo has committed to clearly disassociate Israeli funding from the general funding of the exhibition. The logo of the Israeli Consulate, which was presented as a general sponsor of the event, will now only be related to those Israeli artists who received that specific financial support. This transparency will be applied to all state funding for artists in the Bienal.

We the artists and participants of the 31st São Paulo Bienal refuse to support the normalization of Israel’s ongoing occupation of the Palestinian people. We believe Israeli state cultural funding directly contributes to maintaining, defending and whitewashing their violation of international law and human rights.

The artists in this event have shown that they have agency in demanding transparency concerning the sponsorship of cultural events and they have raised the fundamental issue of how funding can compromise and undermine their work.

the struggle for self-determination of the Palestinian people is reflected in the work of many artists and participants in this Bienal that are involved with human rights and people’s struggles worldwide including Brazil. The oppression of one concerns that of all.

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