Artists in Brazilian exhibition protest Israeli funding


(JTA) — Most of the artists participating in a major Brazilian art event protested funding for the show from the Israeli government.

Sixty-one of nearly 70 artists in the 31st Sao Paulo Biennial have signed an open letter calling on the event’s board to return the funds from Israel due to its recent Gaza operation.

Three Israeli artists are participating in the biennial, which led to funding from the Israeli consulate. The logo of the Israeli consulate in Sao Paulo is featured on the event’s publicity materials alongside other supporters, including the City of Amsterdam and the Danish Arts Foundation.

“At a time in which the people of Gaza return to the rubble of their homes, destroyed by the Israeli military, we do not feel it is acceptable to receive Israeli cultural sponsorship,” the letter reads. “In accepting this funding, our artistic work displayed in the exhibition is undermined and implicitly used for whitewashing Israel’s ongoing aggressions and violation of international law and human rights. We reject Israel’s attempt to normalize itself within the context of a major international cultural event in Brazil.”

Ramallah-based Palestinian artist Ruanne Abou-Rahme signed the letter.

The biennial opens Saturday and runs through Dec. 7.

Brazil recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv in July following the start of Operation Protective Edge.

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