Artists Accuse Western Cultural Institutions of Silencing Palestinian Voices

Over 1,300 artists, writers, and actors sign open letter denouncing the suppression of Palestinian perspectives in the arts.

Prominent figures in the arts, including actress Olivia Coleman and artist Molly Crabapple, have joined forces to condemn Western cultural institutions for their alleged silencing and stigmatization of Palestinian voices. In an open letter published by Artists for Palestine UK, the signatories accuse these institutions of targeting and threatening artists who express solidarity with Palestinians, as well as canceling performances, exhibitions, and book launches that touch on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This letter comes in the wake of heightened tensions following the recent Hamas attack and subsequent Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, which have claimed the lives of thousands.

Institutions accused of stifling Palestinian solidarity

The open letter specifically highlights several incidents where cultural institutions allegedly suppressed artists’ support for Palestinians. Lisson Gallery in London postponed an exhibition by Ai Weiwei after the artist posted a critical tweet about US aid to Israel. The Museum Folkwang abruptly closed curator Anaïs Duplan’s contribution to a group show due to her engagement with pro-Palestine content on social media. The Saarland Museum canceled a solo exhibition by South African artist Candice Breitz after she called for a ceasefire while condemning Hamas. The letter argues that these institutions have a “disturbing double standard” by canceling events based on artists’ personal views unrelated to their professional work.

Arnolfini faces backlash for canceling Palestine Film Festival events

The letter also mentions the Arnolfini, Bristol’s international center for contemporary arts, which faced criticism for canceling two events as part of the city’s Palestine Film Festival. The institution stated that, as an arts charity, it was not permitted to promote what could be seen as political activity. This decision drew further attention to the perceived limitations on freedom of expression when it comes to discussing Palestine.

Artists boycott Poetry Foundation over censorship

In a separate incident, more than 2,000 poets pledged to boycott the Poetry Foundation after it refused to publish a review that engaged with anti-Zionist politics. The poets argued that the foundation’s decision stifled freedom of expression and called on their peers to join the boycott until the foundation demonstrated a commitment to humanity. This boycott highlights the growing frustration among artists who feel their work is being censored due to its political implications.

Artforum faces backlash after editor’s dismissal

The firing of Artforum editor David Velasco following the publication of a letter calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and Palestinian liberation has sparked controversy. Although the letter was signed by thousands of well-known artists, criticism arose because it initially failed to acknowledge the October 7 Hamas attack. Velasco’s dismissal and subsequent resignations of two senior editors prompted hundreds of Artforum contributors to declare they would no longer contribute to the magazine or its affiliated publications, ARTnews and Art in America. This incident raises questions about editorial processes and the role of censorship within the arts.


The open letter signed by over 1,300 artists exposes deep-seated concerns about the suppression of Palestinian voices within Western cultural institutions. The incidents highlighted in the letter demonstrate a perceived double standard in addressing issues of oppression and solidarity. As artists, writers, and actors pledge to boycott institutions that fail to uphold freedom of expression and anti-discrimination, the conversation surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues to evolve within the arts community. The clash between political sensitivities and artistic expression raises fundamental questions about the role of art in society and the responsibility of cultural institutions to foster diverse perspectives.






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