Letter regarding Creative Time’s Living as Form
Dear Participants of Living as Form (nomadic version):
We have become aware that your work is being exhibited at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa as part of Living as Form (nomadic version), the Creative Time exhibition that is being toured internationally by Independent Curators International (ICI). As admirers of your work and this critical exhibition—which includes so many exemplary projects that imbue our everyday actions and lived environments with community participation, imagination, and political commitment—we are concerned about the disconnect between the artists’ orientation toward social justice and the exhibiting institution’s central role in maintaining the unjust and illegal occupation of Palestine.
Technion has, for decades, been a crucial research center for the development of technologies used by the Israeli Defence Forces against Palestinians in regular and widespread acts of surveillance, land theft, unwarranted eviction, restriction on movement, and violent repression. As the leading science and technology university in Israel (the world’s top exporter of drones), Technion has been central in the development of military unmanned aerial vehicles such as the “Stealth drone,” which can fly up to 1,850 miles and deploy two 1,100-pound bombs by remote control. Technion has also innovated remote-control capabilities for the Caterpillar D-9 armored bulldozer, an effective tool in the continued destruction of Palestinian homes (over 27,000 of which have been destroyed since 1967, according to the Israeli Comittee Against House Demolitions). Technion works closely with Rafael, the Israeli government company that designs advanced weapons systems, and Elbit, one of the two main contractors of the electronic detection fence, a key component of Israel’s Separation Wall in the West Bank (read more about these partnerships here).
So far, six collectives— Jennifer Allora & Guillermo Calzadilla, Chto Delat?, Céline and Gavin Wade Condorelli, the Decolonizing Architecture Art Residency, the U.S. Social Forum, and Women on Waves—have withdrawn on ethical grounds concerning Technion’s direct relation to the Israeli occupation and/or on the grounds of its violation of Palestinians’ call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law and ends its occupation of Palestinian land, dismantles the Wall, ensures equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and respects, protects, and promotes rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.
Since a broad base of Palestinian civil society called for BDS in 2005, thousands of activists, artists, and civil associations have courageously refused participation in Israeli cultural and academic institutions, noting their deep ties to governmental policies of apartheid and practices of settler colonialism. The BDS strategy has seen growing success. Support includes endorsement by a long list of luminaries, including Judith Butler, Naomi Klein, Angela Davis, Arundhati Roy, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Alice Walker, Eduardo Galeano, Brian Eno, John Berger, Roger Waters, the late Gil Scott Heron, and many others. Last year the American Studies Association endorsed the boycott of Israeli academic institutions; divestment resolutions are quickly spreading around the United States and the world. You can read more about the campaign for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel here.
We have been told that after concerns began to emerge about Technion’s military ties and the violation of BDS, ICI recently—several days after the show’s May 28 opening—wrote to some of you indicating that your work is being shown there and that you have the right to withdraw it. In addition to this exhibition, some months earlier this same exhibition has travelled to Artport in Tel Aviv (December 26, 2013 to March 7, 2014). It should be noted that both of these exhibitions are in violation of the BDS call.
Since we heard about the show at Technion, some of us have attempted to reach out to those exhibited in Living as Form before making the call public so that you could also be involved in the development of the call and what transpires in the future. We could not manage to reach all of you and this letter is part of that effort. With this appeal and the information contained herein, we call on you to join your fellow artists in withdrawing your works from this exhibition.
Creative Time and ICI are, according to their statements, choosing to disregard the BDS call and unwilling to withdraw the exhibition. They have placed the responsibility on artists to do so. We ask you, as artists whose imaginative and committed work we deeply respect, to stand in solidarity with Palestinians resisting the continued colonization of their land and to stand against the tacit legitimization of institutions which develop the technologies and infrastructures for maintaining the occupation.
Please notify ICI of your withdrawal from the show at Technion and let Creative Time and ICI know that cultural organizations must halt their partnerships with institutions that contribute to or normalize the Israeli military-industrial complex. We thank you for your consideration and your continued commitment to international social justice.
May such actions help us to begin boycotting all the institutions which implicitly or explicitly support militarism, including those in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere.
Withdrawn and in support:
Celine Condorelli and Gavin Wade
Decolonizing Architecture Art Residency
Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla
U.S. Social Forum
Women on Waves
Artists in ‘Living as Form’ (not at Technion) in support:
Cemeti Art House
Jeanne Van Heeswijk
Los Angeles Poverty Department
Magdalena Jitrik (former TPS member)
Wendelien van Oldenborgh
Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
Gulf Ultra Luxury Faction (G.U.L.F.)
Melissa M. Forbis
New Yorkers Against the Cornell-Technion Partnership
Not an Alternative
Omar Joseph Nasser-Khoury
Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
16 Beaver Group
US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation