Artists At Israel’s Venice Biennale Pavilion Refuse To Open Until There’s A Gaza Ceasefire


Israel’s representative at Venice’s Biennale exhibition has said she won’t unveil the country’s pavilion until a hostage and ceasefire deal has been reached in Gaza.

Artist Ruth Patir said the exhibit in the Italian city “will only open when the release of hostages and ceasefire agreement happens” in a statement shared on Instagram Tuesday.

Patir said she would raise her voice “with those I stand with in their scream, ceasefire now, bring the people back from captivity. We can’t take it anymore.”

The Venice Biennale, an eight-month-long international festival of art and culture, is staged every other year, showcasing some of the world’s most prominent creatives in one place.

Each year, an artistic director is appointed to curate the central exhibit which in many ways sets the tone for the whole festival.

A petition signed by more than 23,000 people had recently called for Israel to be excluded from the international cultural exhibition, as calls for truce and an independently Palestinian state have grown.

Israel launched its military offensive in Gaza on October 7 after the militant group Hamas, which governs the strip, killed at least 1,200 people and abducted more than 250 others.

Israeli attacks in Gaza have since killed at least 33,797 Palestinians and injured another 76,465 people, according to the Ministry of Health there. Human Rights Watch and Oxfam have accused Israel of carrying out “indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks in violation of international law” and imposing collective punishments on the civilian population.

Patir on Tuesday said that she and commissioners Mira Lapidot and Tamar Margalit had become the news in recent weeks rather than the art and the exhibition entitled, “(M)otherland.” “If I am given such a remarkable stage, I want to make it count,” Patir said, adding that she “firmly objected” to cultural boycott but chose to take action as she felt there was “no right answer.”

Italian soldiers patrol the Israeli national pavilion at the Biennale contemporary art fair in Venice, Italy, Tuesday, April 16, 2024.

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