More than 1,300 artists, including Oscar winner Olivia Colman, denounce censorship on Palestine

More than 1,300 artists, including Oscar winner Olivia Colman, denounce censorship on Palestine

More than 1,300 artists, including Oscar winner Olivia Colman, Olivier Award winners Harriet Walter and Juliet Stevenson, BAFTA winners Aimee Lou Wood and Siobhán McSweeney, Paapa Essiedu (I May Destroy You), Susanne Wokoma (Enola Holmes), Youseff Kerkour (Napoleon), Nicola Coughlan (Derry Girls, Bridgerton), Amir El-Masry (The Crown) and Lolly Adefope (Ghosts, Loki), launched a letter addressed to the arts and entertainment sector culture, which accuses cultural institutions in Western countries of: “repress, silence and stigmatize Palestinian voices and perspectives”

They denounce the methods which consist “targeting and threatening the livelihoods of artists and arts workers who express solidarity with Palestinians, as well as by canceling performances, screenings, lectures, exhibitions and book launches.”

In the letter, writers Deborah Frances-White (The Guilty Feminist), Kamila Shamsie (Home Fire), Marina Warner (Once Upon a Time: A Short History of Fairy Tales), Lara Pawson (This is the Place To Be), playwrights Abbie Spallen and Camilla Whitehill, as well as poets Daisy Lafarge, Malika Booker and Emily Berry assert that: “ Despite this pressure, thousands of artists follow their conscience and continue to express themselves. Freedom of expression, as enshrined in the Human Rights Act and the European Convention on Human Rights, is the backbone of our creative lives and fundamental to democracy.”

Among examples of censorship, the letter cites the Lisson Gallery’s “postponement” of an Ai Weiwei exhibition in London; the last minute cancellation by the Folkwang Museum in Essen of the Afrofuturism exhibition by curator Anais Duplan and the cancellation by the Saarland Museum of a solo exhibition by the artist Candice Brietz, both in Germany ; the announcement by Hollywood producers of the withdrawal of actress Melissa Barrero from Scream VII.

In each case, the institution attributed the cancellation to comments made by the artist in support of Palestinian rights and unrelated to the content of his professional work.

This month, Arnolfini, Bristol’s publicly funded International Center for Contemporary Art, withdrew from organizing film and spoken word poetry events organized by the Bristol Palestinian Film Festival, saying the events could “lead to political activity”. The events were moved to other locations in the city.

Letter signatory Hassan Abulrazzak, whose play “And Here I Am,” based on the life of a Palestinian actor, was canceled in Paris in October, said: “This censorship is as frustrating as it is wrong. Now is the time to listen to the Palestinians, to understand what their lives are like.”

Directors Emma Seligman (Bottoms), Hany Abu-Assad (Omar), Ken Loach (I, Daniel Blake), Aki Kaurismaki (Drifting Clouds), Sara Driver (Boom For Real: The End of Adolescence by Jean Michel Baquiat) , Sally El-Hosaini (Les Nageurs) urged arts organizations to join calls for a permanent ceasefire and to “defend artists and workers who express support for Palestinian rights.”

They accuse arts organizations of “worrying double standards”asserting that: “Expressions of solidarity readily offered to other peoples facing brutal oppression have not been extended to Palestinians.”

Award-winning composer Jocelyn Pook, Robert del Naja of Massive Attack, David Sylvian and electronic composer Rrose plus visual artists Vanessa Jackson, Sean Edwards, Larissa Sansour, Luke Fowler, John Smith, Rosalind Nashashibi, Paul Noble, Florence Peake, John Keane and Staff P declare themselves “in solidarity with those who face threats and intimidation in the workplace.”

They go on to warn that:“Many artists refuse to work with institutions that do not respect (these) fundamental obligations” to defend freedom of expression and the fight against discrimination when it comes to expressing oneself about Palestine.

Two thousand poets announced a boycott of the Poetry Foundation in the United States after its magazine refused to publish a book review it had commissioned. Artists and writers around the world said they would no longer work with Artforum magazine and the editorial staff resigned in response to the firing of editor-in-chief David Velasco who published a letter signed by 8,000 artists calling for a cease. fire and “Liberation of Palestine”. ‘.

Last Friday, the UN office in Geneva issued a statement titled “Speaking out on Gaza/Israel must be allowed” which expressed “its concern about the global wave of attacks, reprisals, criminalization and sanctions against those who publicly express solidarity with the victims of the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine”. In it, UN experts stated that:

“Artists, academics, journalists, activists and athletes have faced particularly harsh consequences and retaliation from states and private actors due to their important role and visibility. »

Gabriel Frankel, British legal adviser at the European Legal Support Centre, which monitors incidents of repression against Palestinian rights defenders, said: “ We have… seen workers in the sector step back and stand firm in their commitment to justice, and we encourage those with concerns to contact the ELSC for advice. » translation

Artist for Palestine UK