Artists in Brazilian art event protest Israeli funding

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — A majority of the artists participating in the 31st Bienal de São Paulo in Brazil are protesting funding for the major event from the Israeli government.

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

New Mt. Sinai Cemetery advertisement

Some 61 of nearly 70 artists participating in the event have signed an open letter to the board of the biennial, calling on them to return the funds from Israel due to its recent Gaza operation.

“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 read. “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.”

The letter was signed by Ramallah-based Palestinian artist Ruanne Abou-Rahme.

The biennial opens on Sept. 6 and runs through Dec. 7.

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