ART BEATS THREATS AS MANCHESTER’S WHITWORTH GALLERY STANDS UP TO INTIMIDATION AND REINSTATES THE EXHIBITION ABOUT INJUSTICES IN THE WORLD
It took a petition and a march to make the directors of the Whitworth see the light but apartheid Israel has been faced down. The events were as follows according to the Guardian:
“A Turner prize-nominated investigative group has said it is pulling an exhibition of its work at the Whitworth gallery in Manchester after a statement of solidarity with Palestine was removed from the display.
Part of the exhibition addresses violence used by Israeli forces against Palestinians and was accused of being “incendiary and by its very nature one-sided” by UK Lawyers For Israel (UKLFI) which advocates for Israeli causes.
Forensic Architecture, a team of architects, archaeologists and journalists whose digital models of crime scenes have been cited as evidence at the international criminal court, demanded the closure of its exhibit “with immediate effect” upon learning of the removal.
The removal of the statement followed a campaign by UKLFI. A letter sent on 28 July by UKLFI to the University of Manchester, which controls the Whitworth gallery, suggested the exhibition could through its “inflammatory language and representations [of Jewish people]” breach the university’s public sector equality duty. It argued the comparison of the Palestinian and Black liberation struggles “seems designed to provoke racial discord”.
The intervention led to a meeting between representatives from the university, the gallery, UKLFI and Jewish community groups in Manchester, where the decision was taken to remove the statement.”
The tide then turned on the friends of Israel as a petition, and then last Saturday a demonstration, showed that people are fed up with never being allowed to comment on injustice. Only a small proportion of the exhibition actually mentioned Israel/Palestine yet from the noise made by the Zionist lobby you could have thought that the whole gallery was highlighting Israeli atrocities.
The events purpose is to bring to attention worldwide wrongs from Palestine to Beirut, London to Indonesia and the US–Mexico border. Cloud Studies includes the first phase of a major new Forensic Architecture investigation, commissioned for the Festival by the Whitworth and MIF, on environmental racism along the banks of the Mississippi in Louisiana. Here, majority-Black communities whose ancestors were enslaved on these grounds breathe the most toxic air in the US – leading to the region’s nickname, ‘Cancer Alley’.
The friends of Israel were strangely silent on all the worldwide injustices but extremely vocal about suppressing critique of the horrors they perpetuate on the Palestinians. They demanded that the artists who put their findings together should take down one small piece of paper which showed solidarity with the oppressed of Palestine.
The exhibition was well worth the visit, where I learnt about some of the terrible things going on around the world by the people in control. I learnt how peoples lives were put at risk, how innocent people died, how their crops were deliberately destroyed and much much more.
The Exhibition is on until the 17th of October unless Israel tries to close it down again. The art gallery itself is also an interesting place to visit.
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