The art magazine Mute has published a call for the boycott of London’s Zabludowicz Collection over its founder’s connections to the Israeli arms trade and lobbying efforts. The digressive text, which according to Mute‘s editorial introduction was “originally published online a few months ago,” was posted to the magazine’s website on December 11. Edited by Goldsmiths College professor Josephine Berry Slater, Mute publishes primarily online, with a biannual print issue, and the unsigned posting on the magazine’s website “is entirely in keeping with its editorial history questioning the economic foundations of self-identified ‘radical’ art practices, and we stand by it and the decision of the authors to elect anonymity,” according to a note published from an official account in the comments section of the article. (Mute did not respond to Hyperallergic’s requests for comment.)
The text connects the Zabludowicz Collection to Poju Zabludowicz, a chairman and major funder of the Israel lobbying entity Bicom (British Israel Communication and Research Centre). “The scale of their activity is amazing,” said a reporter of Bicom in a 2009 Guardian article. “They fire off press releases several times a day, and have access to those at the very top of the Israeli government. You cannot compare then (sic) to the pro-Palestinian groups’ media operations, which are frankly amateurish.”
Zabludowicz, who runs the foundation with his wife, Anita, inherited his fortune from his father, Shlomo, founder of the Israeli arms company Soltam. The Mute piece continues:
[T]he Zabludowicz Foundation [Collection] represents a direct link between the opportunities for careers in art for young people here in London and the current bombing and ongoing genocidal oppression of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.
The boycott call arrives at the end of a year that has seen a number of artist-initiated interventions against major organizations, including Creative Time and the São Paulo and Sydney biennials. “In recent years, artist-led protests have targeted numerous sources of cultural funding deemed unethical,” Kareem Estefan writes in an essay titled “When Artists Boycott” on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement targeting Israeli state–affiliated institutions in the December issue of Art in America.
In addition to supporting the Zabludowicz couple’s art patronage activities, the collection maintains a “project space” at 176 Prince of Wales Road in London. Among the exhibitions currently on view is Priority Innfield, Lizzie Fitch and Ryan Trecartin’s first UK presentation.
As arts communities around the world experience a time of challenge and change, accessible, independent reporting on these developments is more important than ever.
Please consider supporting our journalism, and help keep our independent reporting free and accessible to all.