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Artists protesting against the early closure of the show “Women Make History, Feminism in the Age of Transnationalism” at the Haifa Museum (Israel)

May 15, 2020

May 8, 2020
To:
Yotam Yakir
Director of Haifa Museums

Re: Letter from the Museum on May 7th, 2020 concerning the exhibit “Women Make
History”

Dear M. Yakir,
We would like to turn to you personally, as a group of artists, as we believe that a
severe injustice has been done to us by the way the situation was handled and the
decision was taken to close the exhibit. We received the announcement only on
Thursday at noon – when there was no one to talk to – to take down the exhibit on
short notice, by Wednesday, the shipping day. We believe that this is not an honorable and proper way to handle things. The exhibit raises the banner of feminism, and in the thoughtless decision to close the exhibit, more than 50 women artists have experienced exactly the opposite of what the exhibit affirms.

This course of action, and the way it has been carried out, conveys the message that
the subject matter is not important and that all the efforts in creating this exhibit, have been for nothing. The disregard of the women artists by the current management of the Haifa Museums (headed by a man), making a ‘cold,’ economic, and arbitrary decision, that is sudden and one-sided, without caring to find a way that will respect all involved – is hurtful and certainly not a feminist decision.

The use of section 4 of the contract that permits the Museum to shorten the exhibit
as it pleases, and therefore depriving us of the right to protest, is an act that does not
recognize the essence of the relationship with the artists, especially when the
Museum is tainted by a problematic history and unclear courses of action and must
correct this reputation in the art world. As you remember, Yotam, you have taken on
the directorship with the clear agenda to correct that reputation.

We can easily find ways to link the current concerns of corona, with the feminist
exhibit “Women Make History” and believe that the reasons we were given for the
closure of the exhibit do not justify its early closure nor the one-sided and
disrespectful announcement.

As you know, many financial resources and efforts were invested, by both the artists
and the Museum, in order to mount the exhibit and to produce it on the highest level. It must be noted that we have not received artists’ fees, and most of us have not even received the reimbursement of our expenses, of our travels, of the mounting, or have not gained any other economic benefit from the exhibit. Our reward is the exposure– which has not happened because of corona.

During the period of corona, we have lost the big exposure that was expected to take
place during the days of the Passover holidays, and Independence Day, and now
because of the decision, we (as well as the Museum visitors) have been deprived of
the exposure during Shavuoth and the buzz of the exhibit’s closing days.

Exposure is a kind of unwritten agreement between the artists and the space where
they are exhibiting, and therefore we are very much harmed both in our advancement in the field of art, as well as economically. We feel that our considerations as artists have not been taken into account, and even worse, that there has been an attempt here to sweep us under the rug. Many meetings and gallery tours with curators, art lovers and collectors were planned
to take place after the corona restrictions were lifted, which now cannot take
place, and this hurts not only us, the artists, but also the Museum’s audience.

We must note that it would have been desirable for the Museum to extend the exhibit’s length (and we still hope that this will happen) as is happening in
many other places, in order for the exhibit to receive the exposure that was its
due, an extension of time that will also be a solution to the reason you are
taking down the exhibit (at least the reason that appears in the Museum’s
official letter.)

It is important to note that this decision does not respect the artist Bianca Eshel Gershuni, of blessed memory, who is participating in the Museum in the last exhibit of her life, and she is among the pioneers of feminist art in Israel. Furthermore, we believe that the Museum should hold an honorable event that will take note of her work over the years and will emphasize her presence in the exhibit.

To conclude, we protest the way decisions were made and believe that we should be
partners in a joint thinking process about the ways in which the problem can
be solved. It is important to us, the artists, to show the variety of considerations and constraints, and we want to invite you to a zoom conversation on Sunday at noon, in order to see how we can discuss the matter and to end this period in the best and most honorable way, that will benefit all the sides.

Thanking you in advance,
The artists from “Women Make History”

Signed:
Alona Friedberg, Anna Yam, Ariane Littman, Assaf Rahat, Efrat Galnoor, Elham Rokni, Inbal Mendes Flohr, Izabella Volovnik, Kathe Burkhart (USA), Liat Elbling, Limor Orenstein, Mathilde ter Heijne (Berlin), Maya Attoun, Masha Rubin, Meira
Grossinger, Michal Blayer, Naama Roth, Nava Harel Shoshani, Raya Bruckenthal,
Roey Victoria Heifetz, Shira Glezerman, Shirley Siegal, Tanja Ostojić (Berlin), Thalia
Hoffman, Tsipy Goldstein, Vanane Borian, Vered Nissim, Yael Meiry.

________________________________________________________

 

14.5.2020

Artists protesting against the early closure of the show “Women Make History, Feminism in the Age of Transnationalism” at the Haifa Museum (Israel)

We, women and men are protesting against the early closure of the show “Women Make History, Feminism in the Age of Transnationalism,” an important international feminist show which opened at the Haifa Museum on December 21, 2019 and was due to last until June 26, 2020. Like all other museums, the Haifa Museum closed during the pandemic and we were looking towards the reopening of the show on May 17 th with the easing of restrictions throughout the country.

But to our outmost astonishment we were told a few days ago that the show “Women Make History” will close on May 18 th because the museum doesn’t want to re-open a show for 5 weeks and then close down to put up the next exhibition. We find this sudden cold, economic and one-sided cavalier attitude disrespectful towards us. What is more, the use of section 4 of the contract that allows the museum to shorten the exhibit as it please deprives us of the right to protest. We did not receive any artists’ fees and our exposure to visitors, already shortened due to COVID-19, is now ending 5 weeks before the end of the show.

We believe that fighting for culture these days is essential and that fighting for our rights as wo/men artists is no less essential when individual liberties are curbed everywhere. Therefore, we ask the museum to reconsider its decision to close the show on Monday the 18 th and allow instead this important international feminist show that was closed for over two months during the Corona Quarantine to be extend be at least until August 26 2020.

The artists:
Alona Friedberg, Anna Yam, Ariane Littman, Assaf Rahat, Boryana Rossa (USA), Efrat Galnoor, Elham Rokni, Inbal Mendes Flohr, Izabella Volovnik, Kathe Burkhart (USA), Liat Elbling, Limor Orenstein, Marina Grzinic (Slovenia), Masha Rubin, Mathilde ter Heijne (Berlin), Maya Attoun, Meira Grossinger, Michal Blayer, Naama Roth, Nava Harel Shoshani, Oleg Mavromati (USA), Raya Bruckenthal, Roey Victoria Heifetz, Shira Glezerman, Shirley Siegal, Tanja Ostojić (Berlin), Thalia Hoffman, Tsipy Goldstein, Vanane Borian, Vered Nissim, Yael Meiry.

One Comment leave one →
  1. June 8, 2020 6:45 PM

    Our protests payed off!!! The museum in Haifa has reopened (3 days a week) and our huge feminist exhibition has been extended until august 2.2020.

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