Boycott Zablodovic on the power of teamwork

BDZ brings together artists and activists, and aims to evolve into a broader movement to achieve equality and dignity for all Palestinian people

The potential for teamwork within the visual arts to unite individual struggles makes our voices even more difficult to ignore. The effect of purposeful change is illustrated by the work of the Zablodović District (BDZ). BDZ is a movement of artists, activists, and academics founded in solidarity with Palestinian art organizations to oppose the ongoing violence against Palestinians by the Israeli military. It was spurred by the 2014 massacres in Gaza, when more than 2,000 Palestinians, including 500 children, were killed by Israeli security forces in Operation Protective Edge – a seven-week period of continuous air strikes that included targeting civilian homes, something the organization cited Amnesty International. as a serious violation of human rights. Although casualties occurred on both sides, the impact on the Palestinian population and infrastructure in Gaza was disproportionate. In 2021, Israel broke the cease-fire that had been reached in response to the events of 2014, and began air strikes in Gaza, thus reaping a new wave of support for the boycott of the BDZ. The list of signatories is now in the hundreds.

Specifically, BDZ draws attention to the internal structures of the Zabludowicz Art Trust. The organization’s owners and funding sources are associated with lobbying activities on behalf of the Israeli state and a company that provides services to the Israeli Air Force. The Zabludowicz Art Trust was accused of laundering the artwork; Publicly presenting itself as a “progressive” organization by explicitly supporting emerging artists. This in turn obfuscates the trust’s nefarious actions in order to legitimize its broader activities. On May 21, 2021, Anita and Pogo Zablodovic A statement was issued in response To BDZ, saying, “We passionately support a two-state solution that guarantees the rights of Palestinians and Israelis to live and work side by side in peace.” This statement It has been criticized by platforms like The White Pube, which highlights the disparity between Zabludowicz’s public data and financial records.

The success of boycotts in international campaigns is well documented. In fact, it was an integral part of the opposition to apartheid in South Africa from the 1960s through the 1980s. Besides encouraging signatories to avoid visiting and working with Zabludowicz, BDZ supports artists previously commissioned by the fund to decompose their art — publicly removing their name as an act of protest and devaluation.

Here, Jamila Prause talks to BDZ members about their tactics, motives, and the benefits of inciting a boycott.

BJP: What are the goals of BDZ?

BDZ: The aims and objectives of BDZ through campaigns of dispossession and boycott of the State of Israel demonstrate solidarity with, and build upon, Palestine. 2004, the Palestinian campaign for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel [PACBI] He called for solidarity and international action to end apartheid, and support for existing work and resistance for Palestinians living under occupation. In 2015, Artists for Palestine He launched a pledge, calling on British artists and audiences to support Palestinian human rights, and calling for an end to the apartheid regime in the State of Israel. In response to calls for solidarity from Palestinian arts organizations, BDZ recognizes the vital role of artists and cultural workers in speaking out against the suppression of Palestinian culture, and in opposing all attempts to suppress resistance and criticizing the ongoing violence of the State of Israel. Although BDZ focuses closely on the Zabludowicz Art Trust and its operations, we hope that the BDZ campaign will contribute to the broader movement that continues to work towards ending support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians. This movement aims to pressure the State of Israel to comply with international law and human rights, with the goal of achieving equality and dignity for all Palestinians and refugees.

The financing and structural models of technical institutions are often hidden. How do we begin to unravel what’s going on in the background, and what do you think that’s worth?

Washing art is pervasive. We see the institutionalization of critique, where exhibitions offer critical content that is progressive, but are supported by funders or sponsors who deal directly with violent repressive regimes or at-risk businesses. We hope BDZ’s work will encourage artists to demand transparency from institutions, galleries, and funders, in order to make clear how much people are paid, and where, who, and who the money is coming from. This need for transparency goes beyond the ability of individual artists to make informed decisions about who they work with; Demystifying money, power, and political bias at work within these institutions also creates the potential for cultural workers to demand deeper systemic change.

How has the response to the campaign been so far? Did you get any significant results, and where do you hope to take them next?

The response has been significant in a number of ways. There are increasing numbers of artists and art professionals applying to “author removal” and stripping their work as part of a largely ongoing process. Many art workers now realize that divestment and lack of affiliation from their past actions is possible, has meaning, can influence change, and will contribute to the expansion and strengthening of the boycott. We have also begun to establish relationships with art workers in the United States, as there seem to be links between them Data and Zabludowicz Art Trust Publications Less well-known, we’d be encouraged to see some cascading effects pop up there as well.

At the same time, we are trying to work with the boycott signers to pressure and support foundations to give up their investments – for which BDZ has consulted current precedents and received legal advice to ensure foundations can take action without risking their charitable status. During this process, we reaffirm the aims and objectives of the campaign, bringing the Palestinian struggle to life, and avoiding – as much as possible – any focus on individual art workers. By working together, we aim to ensure BDZ’s activity lasts longer than any short-term cycles of press attention. Our solidarity in rejection is our greatest strength, with which we can bring about real social change.

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