Hundreds of Artists Say They Won’t Show at German Institutions with ‘McCarthyist Policies’ on Palestine

Hundreds of artists have signed a document being circulated by Strike Germany, a new initiative that encourages the refusal to mount exhibitions and stage events at institutions that “police the politics of their artists,” in particular those who have made pro-Palestine statements.

According to the initiative’s website, Strike Germany is “a call to refuse German cultural institutions’ use of McCarthyist policies that suppress freedom of expression, specifically expressions of solidarity with Palestine.”

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Many have denounced a tense atmosphere in Germany, where events, museum shows, and other opportunities have been taken away from figures who have voiced their support for Palestine. Matters reached a head last week when Berlin implemented a new funding clause that would not allow those critical of Israel to receive financial support from the city.

Among those who signed the Strike Germany call were several Turner Prize winners—including Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Charlotte Prodger, and Tai Shani—as well as Nobel Prize–winning writer Annie Ernaux, actor Indya Moore, and scholar Christina Sharpe. A range of Berlin-based artists also signed the document, among them Adam Broomberg, Basma Al-Sharif, Frieda Toranzo Jaeger, Jumana Manna, and virgil a/b taylor. (Some artists also reposted Strike Germany’s materials on social media but did not sign the document itself.)

Artists have publicly protested the newly introduced Berlin funding clause, which relies on a definition set by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. That organization says that labeling Israel’s existence a “racist endeavor” would amount to prejudice. Instead, some, including Strike Germany, have upheld the definition outlined by the Jewish Declaration of Anti-Semitism, which encourages “a view to context” when it comes to determining if an anti-Israel sentiment is antisemitic.

At a protest this week, Jesse Darling, the Berlin-based artist who won the Turner Prize last year, gave a speech in which he also encouraged using the JDA definition.

“While Israel bombs the children of Gaza, they still sing the old lieder about beautiful blue-eyed children in the increasingly multiracial kitas of Berlin, while passing legislation that naturalises racial profiling and begins the exclusion of a racial other from the realm of the polis, the realm of culture and speech,” Darling wrote in the speech’s transcript, which they posted to Instagram. “The one thing we know is that ‘it must never happen again’ but if you ask exactly what must never happen again, the perpetrator’s trauma kicks in and one is met with a shamed and shaming mechanism of control and silencing.”


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