Israeli artist closes Venice Biennale pavilion

Israeli Pavilion at Venice Biennale, 2024. Rights reserved

Ruth Patir, the artist due to show work at the Israel pavilion at the 60th Venice Biennale, has closed her exhibition. The artist said in a statement printed and taped to the pavilion door that her show will not open until Israel and Hamas reach ‘a cease-fire and hostage release agreement’.

The sign states: ‘The artist and curators of the Israeli pavilion will open the exhibition when a cease-fire and hostage release agreement is reached’.

Speaking of her decision to the New York Times, Patir said ‘I hate it, but I think it’s important’ – and that, despite the opportunity for her as an artist, the conflict in Gaza is ‘so much bigger than me’. Her project, previously titled the ‘Fertility Pavilion’, was set to focus on contemporary motherhood.

The buildup to this year’s biennale has seen calls for a boycott of the Israeli pavilion by the cultural campaign groups Art Not Genocide Alliance and Strike Germany, as well as an open letter which was signed by over 22,000 artists and cultural workers criticising those who ‘think they can threaten the freedom of thought and of creative expression in a democratic, free nation like Italy’.

In February, Italy’s culture minister, Gennaro Sangiuliano labelled calls for boycott as ‘shameful’: ‘The Venice Biennale will always be a space of freedom, meeting and dialogue and not a space of censorship and intolerance. Culture is a bridge between people and nations, not a dividing wall.’

This edition of the Venice Biennale is the first to open under the populist right-wing government of Giorgia Meloni. In 2023, Meloni’s government appointed rightwing journalist and commentator Pietrangelo Buttafuoco as the Biennale’s new president.

Most recent


We use cookies to understand how you use our site and to improve your experience. This includes personalizing content. By continuing to use our site, you accept our use of cookies, revised Privacy.