Artists Pull Out of Whitworth Art Gallery’s ‘British Art Show’ – ARTnews.com
Days after news broke that the University of Manchester’s Whitworth Art Gallery had asked its director to leave after he included a statement of solidarity with Palestine in an exhibition, 21 artists, including several winners of the prestigious Turner Prize, said they would withdraw from an art survey scheduled to open at the institution in May. Many artists announced their decision on social networks, where a a message posted on multiple accounts said the move was intended as an act of “solidarity with the ongoing liberation struggle of Palestine and Palestinians living under Israeli occupation.”
The Whitworth Art Gallery has reportedly moved to oust its director, Alistair Hudson, in response to an exhibition of forensic architecture that opened at the museum last year. This exhibit featured a statement of solidarity with Palestine written by the collective and displayed in the galleries of the museum.
Pro-Israel advocacy groups, including Britain’s Lawyers for Israel, demanded that the museum retract the statement. After a while, the Whitworth Art Gallery answered these calls. Then, a few days later, the museum rested the statement in the exhibit. The Whitworth Art Gallery said in its own statement that the Palestine opinion “expresses the views of the contributing artists”, whose positions “come from their own experiences”.
The 21 participants who have requested their work be taken from an upcoming iteration of the ‘British Art Show‘ in Manchester – the traveling survey also has editions in other cities across England – include internationally renowned artists such as Zach Blas, Helen Cammock, Cooking Sections, Mandy El-Sayegh, Lawrence Lek, Oscar Murillo, Heather Phillipson, Joanna Piotrowska and Tai Shani. The other artists involved, totaling around half of the participants in the “British Art Show”, are Kathrin Böhm, Maeve Brennan, Jamie Crewe, Mark Essen, Beatrice Gibson, Cecilia Hempton, Ghislaine Leung, Paul Maheke, Uriel Orlow, Florence Peake, Margaret Salmon and Rehana Zaman.
“We condemn the University’s capitulation to continued pressure and demands from the UKLFI, which sets a dangerous precedent, particularly in the spaces where we often work: cultural institutions, galleries and higher education,” it read. in the artists’ shared post. “We stand in full solidarity with the staff of Whitworth, who have made the institution an example of a civic public space and a useful museum. We believe there is no room for such actions or possible engagement with the University and its platforms, particularly when public expression is limited and evidence of human rights abuses is obscured.
A representative for the Whitworth Art Gallery did not immediately respond to request for comment. A representative from Hayward Gallery Touring, which organized the exhibition, said in a statement: “We are having an open discussion with the artists and curators of British Art Show 9, Irene Aristizábal and Hammad Nasar, to decide on the next steps for Manchester.”