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Artists for Palestine UK Respond to CDS (Challenging Double Standards)

February 26, 2015

On 13th February, Artists for Palestine UK launched the Artists’ Pledge for Palestine (http://artistsforpalestine.org.uk), which now has more than 1,000 signatories. In its first week, the website received over 160,000 hits; it seems fair to say that its launch has opened another phase in the debate about the response that cultural workers can make to the struggle of Palestinians against oppression.

Another contribution to these arguments – strongly opposed to ours – has been made by a group of cultural workers based mainly in Germany. Published in ArtLeaks a few days before we launched the Artists’ Pledge for Palestine, it comprises a call against boycott, made under the heading ‘Challenging Double Standards.’ In the interests of debate, we offer a summary of what we take to be the authors’ main propositions, followed by a defence of our own approach and a critique of theirs.

The authors begin with a warning: the situation in Palestine/Israel is ‘complex’. Artists should be wary, therefore, of thinking about it in ‘binary, reductive’ terms, which make ‘dialogue’ between Israelis and Palestinians ‘impossible’. Boycott campaigns, they continue, are definitely an obstacle to dialogue because they ‘simplify’ history, by presenting Israel as a ‘paradigmatic colonial power;’ they ‘single out’ Israel from other states with an equally blemished record and thus fuel a revival of antisemitism.

The boycott movement, moreover, is in their view an ‘outside’ movement that lacks ‘on-site knowledge’ of Israeli society and the situation of Palestinians. Because of this, we are told, it is inclined to see conflicts between Israel and Palestinians in simplified moralistic terms, as ‘part of an eternal non-specific battle’ between ‘good’ and ‘evil’. It wishes to end ‘evil’ by ‘destroying Israel as a Jewish and democratic state’. [We note, in passing and with some surprise, that the authors apparently endorse the idea that a state can be ‘democratic’ while also being defined by ethnicity – an idea criticised by many Israelis, most recently by Shlomo Sand.] In place of these ‘simplifying narratives’, and ‘biased demands’, their Call seeks to promote ‘nuanced dialogue’. It asks ‘spaces of art and cultural production’ to make room for work that ‘deals actively with contradictions’ and rejects ‘demonising’ and ‘simplifying’ narratives.

We don’t find the Call convincing. It is odd that a text which insists on the need to reject generalisation and respect ‘specificity’, is itself so unspecific. There are some quite basic ‘specifics’ that don’t get mentioned at all: occupation, ethnic cleansing, settlements. Others are presented only in the form of euphemisms – the Israeli attacks on Gaza become ‘the Gaza War’. The document accepts without any doubt or questioning a very familiar story: not just that there are two sides, but that these sides are equivalent in the suffering they endure and the violence they inflict. It does not test this assumption against experience, least of all the experience of Palestinians. In fact it demonstrates a shocking lack of interest in what is happening to them, and in the multiple ways in which they have resisted it.

Misrepresenting the boycott movement

Unengaged with Palestinians – their debates, their politics – it is not surprising that the document misrepresents the boycott movement. It sees it as something that has developed outside Palestinian society, among the universities and the cultural spaces of the West – hence the comment about a lack of ‘on-site knowledge.’ In fact the movement exists because Palestinian organisations – like the South African ANC before them – have made a call for it: it is one of the forms of their resistance, for which they have won a global hearing.

Challenging Double Standards doesn’t attempt to understand what the movement is calling for. The BDS campaign is quite specific in its objectives: end the occupation; achieve equality for Palestinians within Israel; abide by United Nations resolutions. Again, such ‘real specificity’ is too much for the writers of the Call. They don’t mention these objectives, still less debate them. They prefer another kind of narrative, depicting the movement, for all its limited objectives, as a force working for the destruction of Israel.

Building on this assumption, the document suggests that boycott campaigns are targeting ‘an entire country and its citizens.’ This is not the truth – as the authors would quickly find if they looked in any detail at an initiative like the Artists’ Pledge for Palestine. Those who have put their names to the pledge have collectively refused ‘professional invitations to Israel, and funding, from any institutions linked to its government.’ No more, no less. Other kinds of invitation, other ways of working, outside the frame of the Israeli government’s cultural policy, are not at issue. In addition to their collective statement, many artists have written statements of their own. We invite the authors of Challenging Double Standards to read these statements (http://artistsforpalestine.org.uk/a-pledge/signatories-statements/). They are as nuanced and multi-voiced as any cultural theorist would want – yet at the same time they come together in protest against a singular injustice.

We don’t think the authors of Challenging Double Standards have been attentive enough to the situation they offer to analyse, or the movement they want to critique. There’s a long and undistinguished history of texts that invoke grand humanist principles as they go about their business of making injustice invisible. The Call belongs in this tradition; its talk is of peace and dialogue. But the other stuff, the enduring intolerable misery, is something it doesn’t want to see.

Artists for Palestine UK

Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from within (Israeli citizens for BDS)

Challenging Double Standards: A Call Against the Boycott of Israeli Art and Society

February 7, 2015

via Challenging Double Standards

 

To The Signees of Current Boycott Initiatives Regarding Israel

We are writing to you about a political issue, which increasingly causes us anxiety: how artists, and individuals affiliated with the arts address conflict in the Middle East. Over the past months topics including the occupation of the West Bank, Israel’s existence as a Jewish state, Palestinian resistance and its struggles, international solidarity and boycott movements, and criticism of Israeli policies, have been taken up in the arts arena with heightened intensity. We are deeply concerned by several aspects of how such issues are approached.

With this letter we are advocating against reductive, binary views of conflict in the Middle East. We believe in the role of art to question and resist dichotomous views. We see dialogue as a critical part of any conceivable peace resolution between Palestine and Israel, and are troubled by the tendency among international boycott movements—particularly cultural boycott movements supported by individuals in the arts—which make dialogue impossible. Such dialogue inside Palestine and Israel is difficult, and is only made more precarious by unilateral international boycott. Underlying these movements, we fear there is an upswing of anti-Semitic attitudes and attacks, which seem to convey varying degrees of intentionality. Neglecting or simplifying significant historical legacies, Israel is treated as a paradigmatic colonial power, and is boycotted in a way that no other country is. Such discrimination and double standards, whether explicitly stated or implied, demand to be addressed.

The Upswing of International Protest

This letter intends to draw attention to the upswing of protest targeting Israel, Israeli institutions, as well as Jewish organizations and individual artists, during the last months and increasingly following the Gaza war. To name just a few examples: the Tricycle Theatre in London refused to host the UK Jewish Film Festival; the organizers of the São Paulo Biennial were requested to return sponsorship funds accepted from the Israeli state; at the Edinburgh Fringe Theatre Festival an Israeli co-production was disrupted by protesters; and the Greek Kakogiannis Foundation was put under pressure for collaborating with the University of Jerusalem. At the same time, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) established a dedicated Arts Coalition. The BDS Arts Coalition (http://bdsartscoalition.org/) was founded prior to the Gaza war in June 2014 and advocates the boycott of Israeli institutions, in line with the BDS principles, which proclaim a comprehensive boycott of Israel on economic, academic and cultural levels. In its initial statement the BDS Arts Coalition requested artists to withdraw from the travelling art exhibition Living as Form (The Nomadic Version), presented at two Israeli institutions, a foundation-run art gallery and artist-in-residence program (Artport Tel Aviv) and the technical University of Haifa (Technion).

All calls and open letters were signed by a large number of individuals and groups affiliated with the arts fields; respected friends and colleagues among them. All these events took place in a climate where the Gaza war alongside its many atrocities provoked numerous anti-Semitic incidents, including physical attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions—none of which was reflected or even mentioned by the groups and contexts appealing for boycott. None of these groups condemned Hamas, an organization with an openly anti-Semitic agenda, which seeks the destruction of Israel. We are worried by this silence, which could either imply that the BDS Arts Coalition and similar initiatives are not equipped to discern anti-Semitic discrimination, or that such discrimination is ignored for tactical reasons. So we decided to share some critical reflections, mostly related to the BDS agenda.

Boycott as a Political Strategy

Boycott is a powerful instrument of political dissent and protest. In civil rights and anti-colonial liberation struggles boycotting has been used in the fight for de-colonization and justice, developed as a strategy to reach out to the world from within the affected country. Without internal perspective, boycotting can seriously harm unintended targets. To avoid collateral damages and judgments based on simplistic conclusions it is essential to have on-site knowledge. In the case of boycotting Israel however, the BDS movement is mainly active in academic and cultural contexts outside the country. It thus often lacks on-site knowledge and aggravates the tense situation, rather than contributing to peace building. On the contrary: rather than opposing “normalization”, as BDS frequently states, its actions indicate a leaning towards maximalist positions.

Boycott is not necessarily an emancipatory act of solidarity with the oppressed and in opposition to the oppressor. The Jewish experience especially in Europe reflects a contrasting effect: anti-Jewish boycotts were once organized against the Jews to exclude them from social, economic, and political life. In these cases, boycott had no anti-colonial implication. Instead, it functioned as a means of oppression by the dominant societies toward Jewish minorities. We are concerned that the language used and political strategies advocated by international boycott movements—among other Left-identified political groups—take the conflict between Israel and Palestine to epitomize neo-colonial evil as such. This view frames the conflict as part of a non-specific eternal battle between good and evil, between “oppressed” and “oppressors.” We ask for a critical approach to dichotomous narratives: Within the tendency to reduce the conflict between Israel and Palestine to that between good and evil, boycott is often romanticized as a political strategy and there is a great danger that the nature of colonial oppression, or of evil, is simplified. Particularly in the case of internationally-staged cultural or academic boycott movements, we fear the tendency to support polarized views. Since its formation in 2005 the BDS movement has been both supported and criticized for framing the conflict in a binary perspective, and for its punitive agenda and actions.

To be clear, we are advocating for a just peace for both conflict parties in Israel and Palestine, and our frustrations arise from this perspective. We insist on the importance of condemning both: injustice against Palestinians and the singling out of Israel as the perpetrator country, discrimination against Palestinians and forms of anti-Zionism fueled by anti-Semitism.

Who to Boycott?

Boycott as a political strategy requires careful consideration and an accurate evaluation of each context in which it is applied. Turning boycott into a doctrine and declaring it on an entire country and its citizens is generalizing and reductive. In the case of Israel, it is problematic and hardly justifiable. No one, for example, would boycott Pussy Riot for being in possession of Russian passports, not even if they were to throw their political agenda out the window. No one would threaten independent institutions, whether critical or silent regarding the policy of the country they are in, except in the case of Israel.

If boycott, divestment, and sanctions are considered as appropriate strategies to contest injustice through international solidarity movements, why are they not applied to the other uncountable countries committing injustices? Why didn’t anybody boycott cultural workers from Serbia and Croatia because of the genocidal war crimes committed by their respective countries? Why not boycott Spain for occupying the Basque country, Great Britain for oppressing Northern-Ireland, India for occupying Kashmir or Angola for occupying Cabinda? Shouldn’t we divest from Germany for waging war on Afghanistan, from Russia for invading Chechnya and Crimea or from Turkey for occupying Kurdistan? Why not lobbying for sanctions against China and Myanmar for suppressing freedom of speech, against Brazil and Canada for denying the First Nations’ rights, and against the US for maintaining and deploying the world’s largest military complex? Is it because “someone” decided that Israel ranks as the most unjust country in the world? And if yes: why is that the case?

Could it be that we feel too comfortable in our privileged lives, our civic rights, or our consumerist culture enabled by some of the above-mentioned states and their institutions—but still want to oppose oppression on ideological grounds? We believe that the collective desire for a “signifier of oppression” is exactly what makes Israel the only target of current international boycott movements.

It is important to not ignore the history of anti-Jewish discourse. Anti-Jewish boycott has often accompanied anti-Semitism as one of its dangerous manifestations. Contacts with Jews have been historically avoided; Jews were not accepted in merchants’ guilds, trade associations, and similar organizations. In many European countries toward the end of the nineteenth century, the anti-Jewish boycott became one of the basic weapons used for victimizing the Jewish population. After the Nazi rise to power in Germany the government publicly announced a general anti-Jewish boycott.

Double Standards and the De-legitimation of Israel as a State

The BDS movement has been criticized by various actors across the political spectrum for applying the double standards we hereby mention. The conflict is emotionally highly charged, especially for most Palestinians and Israelis and for a lot of other Jews, Arabs, and others related to it. It is also understandable that activists are attracted to the subject. But when the emotional and political engagement in this conflict grows out of proportion to the extent that it becomes virtually and publicly a mass phenomenon, it may be time to ask: why Israel?

Again, we believe this is due to the role of Israel as “signifier of oppression” and we argue that this rhetoric simplifies questions related to Israel’s very existence. One of the most discussed issues regarding BDS-politics and its double standards is its denial of the Jewish people’s right to self-determination and its de-legitimization of Israel as a state. This point has been stressed not only by pro-Israel activists, but also by leftist public intellectuals like Noam Chomsky or Norman Finkelstein who can hardly be accused of being Israel apologists. Both criticize the BDS movement’s demand of a one-state-solution and of the right of return for Palestinian refugees, which includes their descendants, and would ultimately lead to the destruction of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. To this effect they criticize the BDS movement for being hypocritical in calling for peace and human rights on the one hand, while fuelling the conflict with demands that would result in the end of the Israeli state on the other.

In our view, BDS’s simplifying narratives, together with its biased demands, foster an atmosphere that enables and even provokes attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions. We are concerned by the under-representation of positions in support of both the Palestinian cause and Israel’s right to exist—and by the tendency to dismiss any questioning of the international Palestinian solidarity movement as right wing pro-Israeli propaganda. We propose to think about this carefully.

Against Simplification

The purpose of this letter is not to silence criticism; rather, we aim to challenge the dichotomized discursive battlefield. We don’t believe that all of us have to agree on each and every argument—that’s impossible!—but we insist on nuanced dialogue. Taking boycott as a doctrine rather than a case-specific political strategy makes such dialogue impossible. If we believe in the ability of art to tackle complex situations and political questions in a progressive manner, the task of art lies in insisting on specificity and subjectivity rather than simplifying context; insisting on reflection rather than reflex. We ask spaces of art and cultural production to deal actively with contradictions rather than ignoring them, and to question political propaganda rather than being subsumed by it.

Therefore, we call on all individuals affiliated to the arts that come across demonizing attempts such as the BDS, to be critical and express this by contesting the underlying simplification. We ask you to seriously consider what triggers ongoing debates about the right of Israel to exist, what consequences the BDS-led support of the Palestinian struggle entails for both peoples as well as the peace process, and what binary frames and narratives are being used. We believe that both nations have the right to their states within the land known alternately as historic Palestine and historic Judea, and that both should strive for peace and just solutions together through mutual dialogue and neighborly cooperation. However, the guiding principles of that dialogue should be determined by the people that will actually be living together, side by side in peace with their neighbors. We call all friends and colleagues who signed the BDS Arts Coalition letter and similar resolutions to look into the history and presence of the BDS movement, to analyze its aims and strategies, to take into account these criticisms and to reconsider whether you want to support such a position.

***
This letter reflects the collective efforts of—and ongoing discussion among—individuals involved in the spheres of arts and culture in varying capacities; we consider ourselves as part of the left and have varying relationships to Israel and Palestine. As a collective we have benefited from and been challenged by the variety of opinions, perspectives, and experiences of the individuals among us. We hope that this letter models an alternative approach to the dismissive and problematic positions we criticize.

Please forward this letter widely.

Sincerely,

Sheri Avraham
Markus Brunner
Julia Edthofer
Benjy Fox-Rosen
Eduard Freudmann
Ella Fuksbrauner
Till Gathmann
Sophie Goltz
Michael Klein
Oliver Marchart
Sarah Mendelsohn
Suzana Milevska
Katharina Morawek
Ruth Novaczek
Nina Prader
Doron Rabinovici
Nikola Radić Lucati
Anja Salomonowitz
Ruth Sonderegger
Luisa Ziaja

You can sign the call or contact us here.

 

References about cultural boycott groups, actions, and critical responses to boycott movements can be consulted here. 

AL Gazette No. 3 Open Call // Artists Against Precarity and Violence – Resistance Strategies, Unionizing, and Coalition Building in a Time of Global Conflict and Contradiction

January 28, 2015

artleaks

                                                                                                                                                                                                         The ArtLeaks Gazette aims to shed critical light on both the challenges and obstacles inherent in the contemporary art world, in order to work towards constructive and meaningful transformations. Beyond breaking the silenceand exposing bad practices, we are exploring the ways in which art workers around the world are pushing towards changing their factories of art, embedded in larger socio-economic-political flows. We realize this is a difficult task, as the global condition since ArtLeaks was established in 2011 is quite different. The (art)world has changed and it seems that violence and hostility rule around the globe. The years to come seem like they will be even more full of conflict and contradiction. Due to the increase of global wars, the threat of climate breakdown, and other devastating realities, new media and technology are being used in a negative way, encouraging deeper precarity, austerity, and inequality. This is happening in the sector of arts and culture increasing the debt of artists and cultural workers. We believe that art workers need to formulate an answer to these challenges, to build global coalitions, and to unionize in order to counter precarity and violence in a countervailing way.

The third issue of the ArtLeaks Gazette will bring together theoreticians and practitioners dealing with these urgent questions about models of organizations, unionizing, and strategies of resistance. This helps to illuminate new ways of production and coalition building in international and local environments that are increasingly hostile.

Specifically, social institutions of the welfare state are in poor shape thanks to the neoliberal offensive now underway for several decades. This process affects art workers. For example, in so-called “creative” European cities, significant numbers of registered artists function as a reserve armyfor cheap or even voluntary work. Conditions of artistic labor are summarily dismissed as unimportant, frequently among the upper echelons of the art management class, and sometimes even among artists that have either achieved economic hegemony or aspire to it. In some cases, when members of the art community do decide to speak out, they face the danger of being excluded from an exhibition or a project, or blacklisted from working in certain institutions.

One of the problems lies in the fact that artists usually do not understand themselves as workers, but see themselves working against each other and feel that art production differs from the capitalist working relations of the greater economy. The challenge is to continue to question the autonomy of artistic production, to confront those who benefit with this mode of cultural profiteering, and to demythologize the production process of art itself.

Several present-day activist art worker groups are beginning to look back to the late 1960s and early 1970s, and even further to the mid 19th century, particularly in the 1930s, as moments of inspiration during social movements and political struggles, for the fight for art workers’ rights, reclaiming cultural institutions, art and/as labor in a global context. Indeed, we would emphasize todays art workers need more of that do-it-together spirit, a greater common interest and a more developed strategy and plan for transformation.

Therefore, the key issue the third installment of the ArtLeaks Gazette wants to tackle is the question:“Is it possible to make an international coalition of artists on the basis of art workers’ solidarity and to struggle for better material conditions?” And if so, then what could be the mechanisms to build and spread the network and to make stronger demands? Are there modes of production that can support coalition building?

We welcome contributions in a variety of narrative forms, from articles, commentaries, and glossary entries, to posters, drawings and films. The deadline for entries is the 5th of April, 2015. Contributions should be delivered in English, or as an exemption in other languages after negotiations with the editorial council. The editorial council of ArtLeaks takes responsibility for communicating with all authors during the editorial process.

Please contact us with any questions, comments, and submit materials to: artsleaks@gmail.com.

The on-line gazette will be published in English under the Creative Commons attribution noncommercial-share alike and its materials will be offered for translation in any languages to any interested parts.

Limited printed copies will be available. We are calling on those of you who regularly print as a part of your work to help us get the ALG by committing to small print runs of 50-100 copies. We will make several PDF formats of the ALG to meet various digital needs, as well as an epub edition. We encourage contributors to be an active part of spreading the ALG by hosting it on their site and forwarding it on to their networks.

The editorial council for the third issue is: Corina L. Apostol, Brett A. Bloom and Vladan Jeremić.

Previous issues of the ArtLeaks Gazette can be read here and here.

The Romanian Artists Union launches an open call for exhibition spaces. Transparency or just a front? (Bucharest, Romania)

January 12, 2015

 

//Please scroll down for English 

 

//RO

Text de Xandra Popescu și Larisa Crunțeanu

Revenim cu informații în privința situației Atelier 35. În urma dezbaterii publice vis a vis de evacuarea Atelier 35, Uniunea Artiștilor Plastici din România a decis transparentizarea procesului de colaborare cu colective artistice auto-organizate.

Astfel, UAPR lansează un concurs de proiecte prin care pune la dispoziție 6 spații în București: Centrul Artelor Vizuale – Multimedia Center, Galeria Şelari 13, Galeria Orizont [subsol], Galeria CFP – Tipografia, Galeria CFP – Arthale, Galeria Galla [subsol]. Data limită pentru depunerea dosarelor este 20 ianuarie, anunțarea rezultatelor având loc pe 23.01.2015.

http://uap.ro/concurs-de-proiecte-2015/Echipa Atelier 35 a primit numeroase asigurări pe cale verbală din partea conducerii UAP că își va putea realiza proiectele deja programate în spațiul din Șelari 13.Salutăm decizia de a transparentiza procesul de colaborare cu colective artistice auto-gestionate. Considerăm însă că decizia conducerii UAPR de a include pe listă spații care au deja o programare viitoare nu este una corectă.De asemenea, luând în considerare procesul complex de programare în cadrul unui spațiu de proiecte recomandăm ca perioada de depunere a dosarelor să fie extinsă până la finalul lunii februarie 2015 iar perioada de derulare a proiectelor câștigătoare să înceapă la cel puțin 2 luni după anunțarea rezultatelor (mai 2015).Recomandăm de asemenea trasparență și o formulare cît mai clară încă din textul apelului în privința condițiilor de lucru: care vor fi drepturile și obligațiile părților.
Având în vedere faptul că UAPR dorește să colaboreze cu lucrători independenți din sectorul artistic și colective artistice auto-gestionate – ai căror membri nu fac neapărat parte din structurile sale – considerăm că ar fi important ca juriul să includă persoane care au experiență în domeniul autogestionării și fac parte din scena de artă independentă.Având în vedere faptul că UAPR are rolul de a proteja condiția din ce în ce mai precară a lucrătorilor din domeniul artei ar fi indicat ca procesul de jurizare ar trebui să țină cont de conduita etică a aplicanților- în special în raport cu munca voluntarilor. În acest sens recomandăm ghidul conceput de organizația Carrot Workers: Surviving Internships – A Counter Guide to Surviving Internships in the Art Word, paginile 44-49
Recapitulând, credem că printre principiile de jurizare ar trebui să se numere următoarele criterii:- capacitatea demonstrată de a gestiona și compensa munca voluntarilor
– o etică a muncii bazată pe echitate, transparență și responsabilitate colectivă
– proiecte care reflectă asupra condițiilor sociale și politice ale societății actuale
– proiecte ce produc lucrări noi, cu o atenție pentru condițiile de producere a acestora
– proiecte care adresează contextul local – românesc – și cel specific – București

 

//EN

Xandra Popescu and Larisa Crunțeanu. English translation, editing by Corina L. Apostol

We have more information on the situation of Atelier 35. After a public debate on the possible evacuation of Atelier 35, the Romanian Union of Visual Artists has decided to make the process of collaboration with self-organized artistic collectives more transparent. Consequently, the Union has launched a competition for projects for the following six spaces in Bucharest: The Center for Visual Arts – Multimedia Center, the Gallery Şelari 13, the Gallery Orizont (basement), the Gallery CFP – Tipography, the Gallery CFP – Arthale, the Gallery Galla (basement). The deadline for project proposals is January 20th. The results will be announced on January 23rd, 2015.

http://uap.ro/concurs-de-proiecte-2015/

The team of Atelier 35 has received numerous verbal assurances from the Union’s management that they will be allowed to complete their already planned projects in the space at Șelari 13. We support the Union’s decision to make transparent its collaborations with artistic collectives. At the same time, we believe it is not fair that the management has included on its list spaces that already have programming planned for the near future. Also, given the fact that programming for a project space is a complex process, we recommend that the deadline be extended until the end of February and that the selected projects should begin at least 2 months after the results will be announced (May 2015).

We also recommend that the Union should further clarify the call for projects by specifying the working conditions, the rights and obligations of each party involved.

Taking into account that the Union desires to collaborate with independent art workers and self-organized artistic collectives – who are not necessarily part of this organization – we consider it important that the selection committee should include representatives from the independent art scene in Romania.  Also given the fact that the Union has a mission to protect the increasingly precarious situation of art workers, the judging of the applications should take into consideration the ethical conduit of the applications – especially in what concerns volunteer work. Related to this we recommend the guide conceived by the CarrotWorkers Collective:  Surviving Internships – A Counter Guide to Surviving Internships in the Art Word, pages 44-49.

To summarize, we believe that the following criteria should guide the jury process for the open call:

  • the ability to manage and fairly compensate the work of volunteers in art spaces
  • a work ethic based on equality, transparency and collective responsibility
  • projects should reflect on social and political issues in contemporary society
  • projects should produce new works;  special attention should be paid and support given for producing these works
  • projects should engage with the local context in Romania and the specific context of Bucharest

 

 

Atelier 35 takes its name after an institutional network founded by the Romanian Union of Artists in 1969 with art spaces in major cities, dedicated to experimental art and to artists at the beginning of their career; the number 35 suggests the conventional age limit of youth. Currently Atelier 35 in Bucharest is powered by Larisa Crunțeanu and Xandra Popescu.

In November 2014, Atelier 35 was threatened to be evacuated from its location on Șelari 13. Read more: Atelier 35 Evacuated by the Romanian Artists’ Union to Make Room for Pavilion and The Case of Atelier 35

Libertad a Tania Bruguera / Free Tania Bruguera (Havana, Cuba)

January 2, 2015

UPDATES

//Please scroll down for English

 

URGENTE // ‪#‎Cuba‬ ‪#‎Tania‬ Bruguera liberada por Seguridad del Estado.

Tania no quiso salir hasta que todos los detenidos por causa de la performance artística fueran liberados. Estuvo detenida en la Estación Policial de Acosta y Diez de Octubre. “No puedo permitir que personas por mi causa queden presas, no puedo aceptar que el público de una obra de arte político sea reprimido, censurado y sufra por mi causa”, declaró la artista después de su liberación.

Bruguera ya está en el apartamento de su familia en El Vedado, va a descansar inmediatamente y compartir con su madre. Por el momento no hará declaraciones adicionales, y agradece el inmenso apoyo y cariño recibido. Según fuentes de la familia, está agotada psicológicamente.

Los propios agentes de Seguridad han reconocido en conversaciones con Tania el eco y apoyo obtenido. Aún no le ha sido devuelto el pasaporte; su caso será visto por un fiscal en los próximos días.

***
URGENT // #Cuba ‪#‎TaniaBruguera‬ released by State Security.

Tania would not leave until all detainees because of the artistic performance were released. She was held at the Police Station Acosta y Diez de Octubre. “I can not allow people remain prisoners on my account. I can not accept that the public of a work of political art be repressed, censored and suffering for my sake,” said the artist.

Bruguera is already at the apartment of her family in El Vedado. She will take a rest immediately and to share some time with her mother. By the time she will do no additional statements, and appreciates the immense support and affection she received. According to sources in the family, she is psychologically exhausted.

Security agents themselves have acknowledged in talks with Tania the echo and support obtained. Not yet she has been returned her passport. Her case will be heard by a prosecutor in the days to come.

***

 

//Please scroll down for English

 

General Raúl Castro Ruz
Presidente de la República de Cuba
La Habana, Cuba.

El día 30 de diciembre de 2014 la artista Tania Bruguera convocó a una nueva escenificación del performance El Susurro de Tatlin (Versión para la Habana) (2009) a ser presentado en la Plaza de la Revolución de la Habana, Cuba. La intención de la artista, que fue ampliamente comunicada por los medios, era propiciar un momento de reflexión y debate civilizado sobre los cambios que la sociedad y gobierno cubanos habrán de experimentar a partir del restablecimiento de las relaciones diplomáticas con Estados Unidos anunciado el pasado 17 de diciembre.

Vemos con honda preocupación que esa iniciativa no sólo no encontró eco de parte de las autoridades, sino que motivó la detención de la artista y una diversidad de ciudadanos cubanos. Con todo respeto, solicitamos a usted el descargo de Tania Bruguera y los demás detenidos. Bruguera es una de las artistas latinoamericanas más reconocidas alrededor del mundo, con una obra enfocada en la intervención social y política que es resultado, como ella misma lo ha manifestado repetidamente, de la formación que produjo la Revolución cubana. Estamos convencidos que su detención y la retención de su pasaporte son reacciones inadecuadas ante una obra artística que sólo buscaba crear un espacio público de discusión.

Respetuosamente,

Cuauhtémoc Medina, Curador y crítico de arte, México
Andrea Giunta, Historiadora del arte, Argentina
Miguel López, Curador y crítico de arte, Perú
Octavio Zaya, Curador y crítico de arte, España y Estados Unidos

Lista de firmantes completa: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1lvieH8mIJ1hHcnDAKTCp5LAthiFa9Y5o0YtK4D1nKjQ/edit#gid=913517279

 

ENGLISH VERSION

General Raúl Castro Ruz
President of the Republic of Cuba
Havana, Cuba

On the 30th of December 2014, the artist Tania Bruguera called for a public recreation of her performance artwork Tatlin’s Whisper (Havana Version) (2009) at the Plaza de La Revolución in La Havana, Cuba. The intention of the artist—extensively communicated by the media—was to generate a moment of reflection and debate about the changes that Cuba’s society and government should undergo as a result of the restoration of normal diplomatic relations with the United States, announced on December 17.

We are profoundly troubled by the fact that this initiative did not find a positive echo with the authorities and has led to the disturbing detention of the artist and more Cuban citizens. By this means, we respectfully ask for the release of Tania Bruguera and all other citizens detained. Recognized internationally as one of the most important Latin American artists, Bruguera’s work focuses on social intervention and politics; as she has noted on repeated occasions, her form of artistic engagement is a result of the education provided by the Cuban Revolution. We firmly believe her detention, and the withdrawal of her Cuban passport, are inappropriate responses to a work of art that simply sought to open space for public discussion.

Respectfully,

Cuauhtémoc Medina, Art curator and critic, Mexico
Andrea Giunta, Art historian, Argentina
Miguel López, Art curator and critic, Peru
Octavio Zaya, Art curator and critic, Spain and USA

See full list of signatories: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1lvieH8mIJ1hHcnDAKTCp5LAthiFa9Y5o0YtK4D1nKjQ/edit#gid=913517279

 

Please sign and share this petition!

 

More background on this story:

Cuba Again Arrests Artist Seeking Dissidents’ Release

The Cuban artist Tania Bruguera, who splits her time between the United States and Havana, traveled to Cuba in recent days seeking to pull off a bold experiment. She called on Cubans from all walks of life to meet at Havana’s iconic Revolution Square on Tuesday at 3 p.m., where they would take turns at a microphone to outline their vision for the new era in the country. Word of the event, which was billed as both a performance and a street protest, was shared on social media using the hashtag #YoTambiénExijo, which means “I also demand.”

Ms. Bruguera’s plan was the first test of whether the Obama administration’s decision to normalize relations with Cuba earlier this month would prod the Castro regime to be more tolerant of critical voices. Disappointingly, but not surprisingly, the government barred prominent critics, including Ms. Bruguera, from reaching the square. Some were detained and others were reportedly prevented from leaving their homes. In the end, the performance wasn’t held. […]

Human rights monitors said that up to 50 government opponents were arrested around the time that Ms. Bruguera was detained Tuesday before she could carry out an open mike performance in Havana’s Revolution Square in which she planned to ask citizens to speak about their visions for the country.

Most of the activists were eventually released. But the independent news site14ymedio.com, whose editor was briefly detained, said about 15 dissidents remained in custody into Thursday, though some were released as the day wore on.

Ms. Bruguera, after a second arrest and release on Wednesday, went to a municipal jail on Thursday along with several dissidents, pressing for the release of the other detainees. It was unclear why she and the others were taken into custody, and the government made no statement. […]

Source: The New York Times

 

Tania Bruguera, prevented from leaving Cuba in the coming months

01/01/2015. Bruguera may not leave Cuba in the next 2-3 months. They have pressed charges against her for resistance and disruption of public order.

The Cuban artist Tania Bruguera is already back to her house, at Havana’s neighborhood El Vedado. She has been released for a second time, after having a lengthy conversation with Seguridad del Estado, because she convened a meeting (also thwarted by security forces) after being discharged earlier today, with journalists and citizens at the Monument to the Victims of Maine, in Havana’s Malecón.

The next effort of #YoTambienExijo will be to achieve that these charges be dismissed, because the artist has not incurred in nothing that is not within her universally recognized rights as a citizen and artist.

#YoTambienExijo Will also focus on ensuring that those who are still deprived of their freedom in Cuba are released immediately, and around 9 am, on 01/01/2015, Tania Bruguera will be informed of developments on this matter. If they had not been released before that time, she will take steps to achieve their liberation.

“Now I will take a rest, I will sleep today. Today I am a proud sister. Today I am more the sister of all Cubans. Today I met the true solidarity.” Said Deborah Bruguera and continues: “To you all and everyone, today I am a happy person because we are all more united, our rights begin to be listened and to take voice. An hour and a half ago a new year has started, a year that brings more hope and rights for all. #Exíjelos!

#DescansoFinalmente #MañanaEnPieConTodo #FuerzaCubanos #YoTambienExijo Hope”

Source: YoTambienExijo

Artist Threatened with Censorship for Critiquing Contemporary Art Organization’s Practices

December 1, 2014

via Daniel Djamo

Daniel Djamo // Dear Mr. Luca Curci, 2014

Daniel Djamo // Dear Mr. Luca Curci, 2014

 

Dear Mr. Luca Curci / 2013

This work was sent to the call for artists BorderBody – Mixing Cities, an exhibition that was supposed to take place at Palazzo Barone Ferrara, from Bari (Italy), organized by International ArtExpo and Mr. Luca Turci, after they had mailed me, informing me of the deadline (November 7th, 2013). The exhibition was supposed to take place between November 28th and December 6th, 2013 (for one whole week). I never thought that they would invite me to participate yet again in an exhibition organized by them, after the following:

From: International ArtExpo
To: dndjamo@yahoo.com 
Sent: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 11:27 AM
Subject: Border Cities & New Identities | Romania 2013 – Confirmation

Dear Daniel, 

we are glad to confirm your participation in Border Cities & New Identities | Romania 2013.

Border Cities & New Identities | Romania 2013 – International Art Exhibition of Photography, Video Art, Computer Graphics, Painting, Architecture and Performing Art will be held in Suceava (Romania), at The Water Plant “Uzina de Apa”from July 26, to August 02 2013. 

In attachment you will find the submission form with all details to take part in the event with the works “And I loved only you” and “Le noir subit”. The entry fee for each artwork selected is:

photography / video art / computer graphics / painting / architecture categories
- 100 euro per selected work
performing art category
- FREE per selected performance

Since the deadline for applications was yesterday, we need your confirmation as soon as possible.
  
Thanks for all your time,
Luca Curci
Director

International ArtExpo
Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, 33
70122 Bari (Italy) 
+39.0805234018
+39.3387574098
www.lucacurci.com/artexpo
 

From: dndjamo@yahoo.com
To: International ArtExpo
Sent: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 12:13 PM
Subject: Re: Border Cities & New Identities | Romania 2013 – Confirmation

Dear Mr. Luca Curci, first of all hello to you as well.

I will enlist some of the reasons why I am stunned to hear that you are asking 100 euros\work:

1. never, under no circumstances have I heard someone pay 100 euros\work to exhibit in Suceava for almost a week (I am Romanian and I know things around my country)
2. you never ever said anything about an exhibition fee in the call that I found through the artist call website that presented the exhibition
3. I just wanted to present some works in Suceava because I wanted people from the Romanian region of Moldavia to see what it is that I do
4. I do not need this sort of publicity. I did this only to share something with the artistic community
5. If we are talking about money, I never payed for any exhibitions that I was in – I was actually the one being payed to exhibit in some cases (a few until now, it’s true). I am a young artist – 26.

It would had been correct to put in all of your calls the sum of money that you are asking. This is how it would be fair. And 100 euros to exhibit in Romania is totally crazy. And where? In Suceava?! 

Yours, poorly,
Daniel Djamo

http://djamo.weebly.com/

P.S.

On November 30th, 2014, at 3:59 PM I received a message from Mr. Curci in which he threatened me with a lawsuit if I would not take down the page from this free website made on weebly.com in 7 days (a website that does not belong to any specific company).
Also, he insisted that he would inform ALL OF THE INSTITUTIONS and my GOVERNMENT (written like this, with capital letters) of my misbehavior.

This happened 1 year and 24 days after I have sent my work to him, in a demand to include it 
in one of his exhibitions, at Palazzo Barone Ferrara, after he continued spamming my mailbox with news regarding his projects (message sent on November 6th, 2013, at 1:15 AM). I have also provided him with the online link.

From: dndjamo@yahoo.com
To: Luca Curci
Sent: Tuesday, November 6, 2013 1:15 AM
Subject: hello daniel djamo work submission

Hello, Mr. Director Luca Curci. I want to present to you my work – photography – for your upcoming exhibition.

I will have it printed (it is a promise) – and I always keep my word.
Also, I want to have it in an exhibition in Romania. I want to make you famous. You deserve it. You are amazing.

I dedicate it to you: http://djamo.weebly.com/dear-mr-luca-curci.html

Yours, kindly,
Daniel Djamo

He never replied to my demand of being part of the exhibition. So, I was unable to send it. I guess that Mr. Curci does not like my art.

Now, November 30th, 2014: He wrote to me that he is paying between 500 and 1000 euros/day for renting the spaces of his exhibitions. Of course, I do believe that he payed 1000 euros/day to have some works exhibited in Uzina de Apa (in Suceava, Romania). That meant that for the whole exhibition week he payed between 3500 euros and 7000 euros. To have payed this money for the exhibition only, he should have presented 70 works, only to neutralize the payment (for Uzina de Apa, Suceava, Northern Romania, the European center of marketed art). I am also very sure that he has the bills that state that he payed between 500 to 1000 euro/day for Suceava’s exhibition space.

Democratic as it should be on paper, the internet can prove a place of censorship.

And as open to dialogue as Mr. Curci seems to be, the content of my website angers him. I did not insult Mr. Curci, I did not use foul language in writing my messages and nor did I lie. I just shared two things with the artistic community: the price and the places of exhibition. And, of course, humor should be censored, as we are all aware.

I am kindly asking ROMANIAN INSTITUTIONS and my GOVERNMENT to take notice of my misbehavior, in presenting one’s point of view upon a matter.

I would want to thank all of the people who contacted me in regard to this work. Thank you for your support.

 

_____________________________________________________________________

Please share this story widely and post comments below to support the artist being threatened  for refusing to take his work down from his website. 

Other cases surrounding Mr. Luca Curci / ArtExpo Group that have been shared publicly:

Luca Curci and the ArtExpo Scam

Mexico Biennale paintings missing

International ArtExpo. Next Festivals

ArtExpo 2005 by Luca Curci in Italy

If there are other readers who have had similar experiences with Mr. Curci / ArtExpo we invite them to also share their stories with us. 

Police Censors Exhibition “Diorthosi” (Correction) by Artist Paola Reveniotis (Nicosia, Cyprus)

November 28, 2014

via Diana Georgiou

The transexual artist, Paola Revenioti, had a photographic exhibition on 20 November 2014, depicting the naked bodies of trans and gay individuals. Citizens complained about the content and the Cyprus state police walked in, without notifying anyone, and charged the organisation for publicly displaying obscenities: namely, penises. Note, the exhibition is supported by the municipality of Nicosia and by the national LGBT association. Further note, homosexuality has been decriminalized since 1998. Final note, Cyprus has happily agreed to embrace all articles of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Article 10 of the convention clearly states: everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.

I am looking for a lawyer to take on the above case. This is a voluntary position. It follows equality and diversity guidelines.

Please apply via email to diana.georgiou@cuntemporary.org

 

More information about the case via incyprus

Gay rights NGO Accept-Cyprus LGBT has slammed police censorship after photographs exhibited to mark International Transgender Day of Remembrance were confiscated and its chairman charged with exhibiting obscene material in a public space.

Accept said that it has already lodged a complaint with the ombudsman and would also be reporting the issue to local authorities, the European Parliament and the European Commission. The exhibition “Diorthosi” (Correction) by Greek trans activist and photographer Paola Revinioti was staged at Nicosia Municipal Market to mark Thursday’s Transgender Day.
Accept said that on Friday, police confiscated the photographs after a complaint by one individual. It noted that in order to protect the exhibited work during the daily operation of the market, the photographs had been covered. “Therefore the works were covered both when the complaint was lodged and when they were being confiscated by police,” it said.

Police confiscated all the photos, then questioned and charged Accept chairman Costas Gavrielides with exhibiting obscene work in a public space, Accept added. Police acted without informing Nicosia Municipality which had officially given permission for the exhibition nor the organisers, it said. Some of the photos were returned, but others of male nudes were confiscated to be used as evidence in a trial. “Accept condemns what happened as clear-cut censorship and believes it has been targeted for its work,” it said. “The confiscation goes against any artistic expression that does not fall within the antiquated ideas of the police and the state as to what is art,” it added.

The photographer was not in Cyprus when the police raided her exhibition. She told Lemesos newspaper that she had been shocked by developments adding that there was nothing obscene in the photographs, many of which were take years ago for which no issue had arisen in the past in Greece. “It is terrible for an artist to have his work taken down and branded obscene,” she said.

_______________________________________________________________________

Open protest letter

NO TO CENSORSHIP IN ART

As an artistic community we condemn the Cyprus Republic Police’s breaching and seizing of photographs from Paola Reveniotis’ exhibition “Correction” which took place at the Municipal Market in Nicosia on 21/11/14.

As artists and concerned citizens we believe that this downright act of censorship upsets, distresses and offends artistic creativity and the right to freedom of speech and expression.

We consider unacceptable such repressive acts, where art is subject to the judgment and censorship of any form of power.

We also consider it an alarming prospect that freedom of speech may be restricted, instead of protected, by any State institution. We confirm here that such practices belong to totalitarian regimes and not to democratic and multicultural societies.

The role of art is to be critical and to raise awareness on key social issues; to be a tool for change and to promote dialogue on issues that remain sidelined or suppressed.

We welcome Nicosia Municipality’s support for the visual and activist intervention of Paola Reveniotis, organized by ‘Accept’ LGBT Cyprus, as part of the International Day of Transgender Remembrance.

We would like to believe that the confiscation of the photographer’s work will remain an isolated incident, unrelated to her gender identity, sexuality and activism and similarly unrelated to Accept’s action.

We hope that this incident will provide the opportunity for open discussions and expressing positions responsibly on the following issues:

– What is considered obscene and what immoral? How does that insult and threaten society? Therefore, what representations of the nude human body are deemed acceptable?

-When and how is public space assaulted? How can we support the rights of trans persons (and also of other social groups) to claim public space and speech?

-What is the role of Art? Can what is constrained be considered Art?

-What are the limits and criteria of censorship, and at the expense of whom is censorship practiced? Who is eligible to censor and under what capacity?

Finally, we demand that any prosecution against the organizers of the exhibition is suspended and that the artist’s work is immediately returned.

Sincerely,

Artists and citizens of Cyprus.

 

Sign the petition here.

 

 

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