Gallery parts ways with artist over politics


TORONTO (JTA) — A leading Toronto Jewish community-funded art gallery severed its ties to an exhibit over the artist’s political associations concerning Israel.

The Koffler Centre of the Arts announced Friday that it was disassociating itself from an art installation titled "Each hand as they are called," about life in the one-time Toronto Jewish neighborhood of Kensington Market, because of artist Reena Katz’s politics.

A statement on the UJA-funded Koffler Centre’s Web site said it recently learned of Katz’s "public support for and association with Israel Apartheid Week, which rejects the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state and promotes historically inaccurate comparisons between contemporary Israel and apartheid South Africa in order to delegitimize Israel."

The center "will not associate with an artist who publicly advocates the extinction of Israel as a Jewish state. The Koffler considers the existence and well-being of Israel as a Jewish state to be one of its core values."

"Therefore, the Koffler Centre of the Arts is disassociating itself from the artist and will not promote the exhibition on its Web site or through any other advertising from this point forward."

Katz, 33, told the Toronto Star that she was "shocked. I’m disgusted" with the decision.

"What they claim that I have said is not at all what I’ve said. I have said that I’m an anti-Zionist Jew. So they are conflating the State of Israel with Zionism," she said. "I’m speaking to an ideology when I speak about Zionism. They’re speaking about a Jewish state."

Katz called the exhibit an "homage to my Jewish roots and the Jewish roots of Kensington Market," and said the $20,000 in funding from the Koffler Centre is expected to continue.

"What they’re saying is they can’t support me, but they support the project," she said.

The center is allowing the exhibition, which is part of the larger Luminato art festival, to continue until July 26.

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