Israel artist shuts Biennale show until ceasefire, hostages freed

The artist representing Israel at the Venice Biennale called Tuesday for a ceasefire in the war with Hamas and said her exhibit would remain closed until the hostages were released.

Ruth Patir’s video installation “(M)otherland” was due to open on Saturday at Israel’s national pavilion at the international art show, but the day before a media preview, she said it would remain closed for now.

“I feel that the time for art is lost and I need to believe it will return,” she wrote in a post on Instagram.

She said she and curators Mira Lapidot and Tamar Margalit “have become the news, not the art”.

“And so if I am given such a remarkable stage, I want to make it count,” she wrote.

“I have therefore decided that the pavilion will only open when the release of hostages and ceasefire agreement happens.”

Thousands of artists, architects and curators signed a petition earlier this year urging the Biennale organisers to ban Israel over its actions in Gaza — a call condemned by Italy’s culture minister as “shameful”.

“I am an artist and educator, I firmly object to cultural boycott,” Patir continued.

“But since I feel there are no right answer(s), and I can only do what I can with the space I have, I prefer to raise my voice with those I stand with in their scream, ceasefire now, bring the people back from captivity.

“We can’t take it anymore.”

The Biennale’s curator Adriano Pedrosa told AFP he thought Patir’s decision was “very courageous”.

“I respect and appreciate that decision. I think it’s also very wise,” he said.

Hamas launched an unprecedented attack against Israel on October 7, resulting in the deaths of 1,170 people in Israel, mostly civilians, according to Israeli figures.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed over 33,000 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.

The militants also took about 250 hostages, of whom Israel estimates 129 remain in Gaza, including 34 who are presumed dead.

The Biennale Arte 2024, one of the world’s leading international art exhibitions, runs from April 20 to November 24.


Leave a Comment