Israeli pavilion shut amid calls for ceasefire in Gaza.

The artist and curators representing Israel at the Venice Biennale say the Israeli pavilion will not open until “a ceasefire and hostage release agreement is reached” in the war in Gaza.

Israeli artist Ruth Patir’s video installation (M)otherland, curated by Mira Lapidot and Tamar Margalit, was due to open this weekend at Israel’s national pavilion in Venice however the doors were locked for the media preview on Tuesday.

“The decision by the artist and curators is not to cancel themselves nor the exhibition; rather, they choose to take a stance in solidarity with the families of the hostages and the large community in Israel who is calling for change”, reads a statement on Patir’s website.

“There is no end in sight, only the promise of more pain, loss and devastation” – curators Lapidot and Margalit added – “The art can wait but the women, children and people living through hell cannot.”

Earlier this year more than 23,000 people, including artists, curators and cultural figures, signed an online petition calling for Israel to be excluded from participating in this year’s 60th edition of the Biennale.

The appeal came from activist group Art Not Genocide Alliance which cited Israel’s “ongoing atrocities against Palestinians in Gaza” and accused the Biennale of giving a platform to a “genocidal apartheid state”.

Italy’s culture minister Gennaro Sangiuliano rejected the “shameful” petition and backed Israel’s participation in the international art fair which takes place in Venice from 20 April until 24 November.

Photo: Open

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