Last month a large group of artists, critics, scholars, and organizers signed an open-letter in solidarity with the Palestinian Struggle. In its first paragraph it states:
“We feel it is urgent to highlight the connections between the ongoing violence of Israel against the Palestinian people and a leading institution of the art system, namely the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).” (The letter can be read in its entirety at Social Text Online)
Why now? Here are two reasons: many signees already support the BDS initiative and all found it necessary to echo their support of recent grassroots protests in front of MoMA. First, many of the signees have been committed to BDS initiatives that benefit from open-letters like this one. Since 2005 the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement “works to end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law.” Secondly, the letter affirms each signee’s solidarity with the peaceful protests earlier in May that called for MoMA and the art establishment at large to align with Palestine’s liberation– for “All eyes to be on Palestine”– one of the many phrases circulating at the protests.
The open letter articulately expresses what a few of the speakers at the peaceful protests brought to the attention of many: key MoMA trustees, Larry Fink and Leon Black both invest in art and systematic military violence directed at Palestine. Fink’s company BlackRock invests in Lockheed Martin, which has assisted in weaponizing the Israeli army since 1971. And Leon Black’s private equity company, Apollo Global Management, invests in General Electric, who also supplies the Israel army with an array of military equipment. The letter goes into much more detail on other points of Israel support from the trustees, but we want to highlight the signees doing the important work of speaking out against institutions like the MoMA who refuse to challenge their own trustees.
Below are three individuals who work to see a free Palestine. Their activism and art uniquely bring others to consider the current situation. We have chosen three names from the list of over 200. Honest coverage of the Palestine and Israel conflict will not come from any major media outlet. So, following the individuals who signed the letter, and specifically the following three individuals, will keep us honest when considering how to not only learn about the conflict, but to also consider how we can become active supporters of the #freePalestine movement.
Angela Davis is one of the more well-known signees. She continues on her long life journey as an activist and educator for Black Liberation in the United States and beyond. She is a key source when it comes to discussing the intersections of Black Liberation and Palestinian Liberation. Her readings and videos online are equally beneficial for those unfamiliar with the struggle in Palestine. She proves that the Palestine situation is not an exotic and distant reality, but rather intertwined with politics and social movements in the Western world as well. A recent collection of her essays, speeches and interviews has been published by Haymarket books.
YAZAN KHALILI lives and works as a visual artist and cultural activist in and out of Ramallah, Palestine. Born in Syria, his work disassembles historically constructed landscapes. The image below is of Al-Amari Refugee Camp, located within and around Ramallah City. Khalili embellishes the photograph with color, inviting the spectator to reconsider what it is they are really looking at. What do you see?
Jumana Manna is a multidisciplinary artist who instigates those who engage her work to consider the body, national identity, and historical narratives. She works with film and sculptures. Much of her work seeks to preserve culture in Palestine and surrounding regions, touching on the biodiversity of the region and traditional music like in her film “A Magical Substance Flows Into Me”.
Written by Paul Holzman