25 Artists Have ‘Deauthored’ Their Works in the Zabludowicz Collection Because of Its Ties to the Israeli Military
The artists are acting with the BDZ collective.
A group of 25 artists and cultural workers have announced they are disaffiliating themselves from their past work with the Zabludowicz Collection as an act of protest. The individuals, who had either collaborated with or exhibited at the institution, cite the private foundation’s ongoing ties to the Israeli state as the motive.
BDZ, which stands for Boycott/Divest Zabludowicz, released a statement announcing the official act of “deauthoring” yesterday, July 26, after 25 artists and culture workers individually sent copies of BDZ’s template letter to the collection in London. The letter was addressed to the Zabludowicz Collection and its affiliates Daata Editions, Daata Fair, and Times Square Space, asserting that the signatories withdraw “all conceptual content” from the work they had made for the collection.
In the letter, “work” is defined broadly and includes an artwork, commission, curatorial programming, exhibition, or event. (The gesture echoes a 2017 protest by artist Richard Prince, who symbolically declared a commissioned work in the collection of Ivanka Trump to be “fake,” returning the $36,000 he had been paid for it.)
According to BDZ, the 25 artists and cultural workers are Sam Cottington, Benedict Drew, Olivia Erlanger, Cécile B. Evans, Jacob Farrell, Gery Georgieva, Michelle Williams Gamaker, Anton Haugen, Stewart Home, Item Idem, Jasmine Johnson, Kelly Large, Scott Mason, Harold Offeh, Uriel Orlow, Hardeep Pandhal, Amalia Pica, Rachel Pimm, Aura Satz, Jack Strange, Abri de Swardt, Ellen Mara de Wachter, Richard Whitby, Laura Yuile, and Gary Zhexi Zhang.
The BDZ statement explains:
The Zabludowicz Art Trust is directly connected to Tamares, a holding company initially established with money historically made from arms dealing and contracts with the Israeli Air Force, but which still currently has ties to property in illegally occupied Ma’ale Adumim, BICOM (Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre) and significant financial contributions to Conservative Friends of Israel, and is thus complicit in and reproduces the Israeli-state-led apartheid, which normalises the oppression of Palestinians. This complicity must end, whether through the Zabludowicz Art Trust permanently divesting from, and fully severing, its ongoing complicit relations with the Israeli state’s policies of apartheid and military occupation, or through the self-emancipation of Palestinians.
BDZ first became active in calling for a boycott of the Zabludowicz Foundation in 2014. The Zabludowicz Trust came under heightened criticism this spring during the recent surge of violence between Hamas and Israel, which saw 12 Israeli civilians killed in the main conflict, and 256 killed in Gaza, including at least 65 children.
The contemporary art foundation, which is principally owned by Zabludowicz Art Trust, is based in London, New York, and Sarvisalo, Finland. It has a holding of more than 3,000 works of contemporary art and runs an active public program of exhibition and events.
In a response to a request from Artnet News, a spokesperson from the Zabludowicz Collection referred back to a May 21 statement shared online by Anita and Poju Zabludowicz. “The war between Israel and Hamas has broken our hearts once again. We passionately support a Two-State Solution that guarantees the rights of Palestinians and Israelis to live and work side-by-side in peace,” the two stated. “We welcome the ceasefire as it is only through respectful and diplomatic dialogue that a permanent peace can be achieved. We know that violence and aggression are not the answer and mourn the lives lost on both sides.”
In an email to Artnet News, BDZ emphasized that “the call to divest is directed at the institution and its complicit activity, but not the individual,” specifically mentioning that it is not targeting the Zabludowicz family, in line with the framework of the international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
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