The following letter reflects the views of the undersigned individual parties and was not composed, directed, or initiated by Artforum or its staff.
THE ARTS COMMUNITY is diverse and crosses borders, nationalities, systems of faith and belief. We as artists, writers, curators, filmmakers, publishers, and workers who create the core around which institutions and organizations revolve need to be assured that these are not just safe but humane spaces.
We support Palestinian liberation and call for an end to the killing and harming of all civilians, an immediate ceasefire, the passage of humanitarian aid into Gaza, and the end of the complicity of our governing bodies in grave human rights violations and war crimes.
We demand that the institutional silence around the ongoing humanitarian crisis that 2.3 million Palestinians are facing in the occupied and besieged Gaza Strip be broken immediately. In the words of the UN resident humanitarian coordinator for the occupied Palestinian Territory, “It’s about the loss of our humanity if the international community allows this to continue. What we are seeing now is simply inhumane.”
Silence at this urgent time of crisis and escalating genocide is not a politically neutral position. Over the last few years there have been significant steps to institutionally address social justice and inequality. Your artistic programs benefit from these politics. We now ask that they continue and be extended in recognizing the crimes against humanity that the Palestinian people are facing.
The ongoing bombing of Gaza and the killing and forced displacement of its residents has been condemned by Amnesty International, the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and Action Aid. These, among other global bodies, have indicated that the collective punishment of Gaza civilians—which includes the killing of aid workers, journalists, and medics, as well as the destruction of all infrastructure and life-sustaining resources, cutting off water, food, electricity, and medicine—amounts to a war crime.
There is ample evidence that we are witnessing the unfolding of a genocide in which the already precarious lives of Palestinians are deemed unworthy of aid, let alone human rights and justice. With impunity, Israel has already undertaken three of the five defining acts outlined by the United Nations Genocide Convention. As Raz Segal, an Israeli historian and scholar of genocide, writes, “Israel has also intensified its 16-year siege of Gaza—the longest in modern history, in clear violation of international humanitarian law—to a ‘complete siege.’” This directive to accomplish the systemic destruction of Palestinians and Palestine society in Gaza comes directly from Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who has described his targets in degraded terms, as “human animals.”
We, the undersigned, reject violence against all civilians, regardless of their identity, and we call for ending the root cause of violence: oppression, and the occupation. We stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people. We ask arts organizations to show solidarity with cultural workers and call on our governments to demand an immediate ceasefire and the opening of Gaza’s crossings to allow humanitarian aid to enter unhindered.
We believe that the arts organizations and institutions whose mission it is to protect freedom of expression, to foster education, community, and creativity, also stand for freedom of life and the basic right of existence. We call on you to refuse inhumanity, which has no place in life or art, and make a public demand from our governments to call for a ceasefire.
UPDATE (October 23): While we cannot recirculate the petition to all 8,000 signatories, we, the group that authored the petition—as well as a number of the signatories who have reached out in recent days—would like to repeat that we reject “violence against all civilians, regardless of their identity,” and share revulsion at the horrific massacres of 1400 people in Israel conducted by Hamas on October 7th. We mourn all civilian casualties. We hope for the expeditious release of all hostages and continue to call for an immediate ceasefire.