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Artists Cancel Creative Time Summit Appearances Over Israeli “Partnership” [UPDATE 7]

by Hrag Vartanian on October 12, 2012

Hip hop duo Rebel Diaz, artist Narcenio Hall and Cairo-based art collective Mosireen are boycotting the two-day 2012 Creative Time Summit in Manhattan because of what they are calling a partnership with an Israeli organization that is funded by the Israeli government.

Last night, Diaz made his announcement via YouTube video after being contacted by “Palestinian comrades,” who pointed out the conference had a partnerships with the Israeli Center for Digital Arts, which is funded by the Israeli government. The partnership did not involve any financial exchange for the Creative time conference.

One half of Rebel Diaz, Rodrigo Venegas, told the influential Palestinian new website Electronic Intifada that they “made the decision not to participate, that we will show solidarity with the Palestinian community.”

Since the bombshell by Rebel Diaz, hip hop artist The Narcicyst (Yassin Alsalman) explained via tweet that the Electronic Intifada post convinced him to pull out of his planned participation in the Creative Time Summit in Dubai.

He explained his reasoning via Twitter:

Mosireen, which has also pulled out, was previously confirmed to take part in the Saturday workshops.

According to Electronic Intifada, Creative Time has removed at least one page featuring the Israeli-government-funded organization.

UPDATE 1: Creative Time has clarified to Hyperallergic that the partnerships have not been scrubbed, as EI suggests, but they have only been reorganized and those organizations previously listed as “Partners” are currently listed only as “Sites” and listed here: creativetime.org/summit/sites

UPDATE 2: We reached out to Rebel Diaz over Twitter and received the following response:

UPDATE 3: Speakers from Tidal Journal are addressing the CT Summit boycott and explaining that we should consider the boycott that is happening.

Members of Tidal Journal addressing the boycott on stage during their time. (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

UPDATE 4: Tom Finkelpearl, director of the Queens Museum, gave a poignant presentation regarding some recent history of activist art and he offered this gem regarding the boycott of the Creative Time Summit:

UPDATE 5: Michael Rakowitz started his presentation with:

“I’m a Jew, from Great Neck [Long Island], and I support the boycott of Israel and Israeli institutions.”

UPDATE 6: Author Jeff Chang takes to the stage and expresses his support of the boycott:

“I’m sorry Rebel Diaz couldn’t be here. I support their position and I support the boycott.”

UPDATE 7: Josh MacPhee has decided to jettison his whole talk about the Interference Archive in Gowanus, Brooklyn, NY, but is talking only about BDS and says Creative Time made a mistake by “partnering” with an Israeli organization that has not reject the Israeli occupation.

He says, “I believe in organized boycotts and not personal one … politics is nothing if it’s not about my relationship with you.”

He says a sign-up sheet will be circulated to the audience for those who want to get involved. He also mentioned these three websites for more information:

 

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  • http://www.facebook.com/brianmoz Brian Fernandes-Halloran

    Like most people in the audience on Friday, I don’t know enough about Israel’s occupation of Palestine to condemn every aspect of Israel or everything supported by Israel. Maybe absolute divestment and boycotting is the best coarse of action; Widespread boycotting certainly is the only kind that actually produces results, but unilateral action requires discussion and tactics not individual denouncement. Truly Creative Time is an opportunity to communicate and spread knowledge/open dialogue to cause a influential action. What a missed opportunity!

    Josh MacPhee was amazing and I think he took a very genuine and responsible tone, crossing the stage with his hands in his pockets, head down before addressing the audience. It felt as though he was clearing the air and resetting the space for a real dialogue. I feel that socially engaged art is facing the questions “To what degree must we be pragmatic in our discourse? Is the new exemplary artist one who sacrifices obvious displays of defiance for a more long term, real solution?” Tom Finkelpearl mentioned this diatomic but I think was too quick to dismiss the boycotter’s. So glad the issue was revisited throughout the day and would love to know what came of it on Saturday: I was a dum dum and didn’t get tickets for day two!

  • http://www.facebook.com/Balhatain Brian Sherwin

    What about people who have been killed in Palestine over religious choice? Or sexual preference, for that matter? Palestinian police are known for torturing and killing homosexuals… and from what I’ve read the laws in Palestine make their actions against homosexuals legal.

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