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The bullet found by a Forensic Architecture researcher near the Al-Bureji protest camp near the Israeli-Palestinian border in Gaza (image via Forensic Architecture)

Forensic Architecture has announced its decision to withdraw from the 2019 Whitney Biennial. The London-based research group has also requested to replace its 10-minute video about the global spread of tear gas and bullets produced by companies linked to Whitney Museum vice chairman Warren Kanders, with new evidence they’ve found that directly links the weapons manufacturer to violence on the Israeli-Palestinian border in Gaza.

The organization has previously claimed a connection between the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) and Sierra Bullets — a weapons manufacturer partially owned by Kanders — through contracts with the army’s preferred supplier of ammunition, the Israeli Military Industry.

Now, one of Forensic Architecture’s researchers in Gaza believes they may have found direct evidence linking the museum board member to border violence that the United Nations classified in a recent report as a potential war crime. After a weekly Friday protest in mid-July, the researcher says that she found an unexploded open-tip bullet in the sand surrounding the Al-Bureji protest camp near the border. The bullet was intact and largely matches the open-source analysis that Forensic Architecture has already conducted on the types of ammunitions Sierra Bullets manufactures.

“What we’ve seen in Palestine is an escalation in acceptable violence,” the researcher told Hyperallergic during a joint interview with Forensic Architecture’s director, Eyal Weizman. “This escalation has resulted in over 90 amputations — the vast majority of which have been to lower limbs.”

A lawyer by trade and professor of political science, the Forensic Architecture researcher has worked in the Occupied Palestinian Territories for 15 years. More recently, she has been tasked with collecting evidence in Gaza — both in the form of ammunition rounds and eyewitness testimony. These two components were key for building the group’s biennial submission, “Triple-Chaser” (2019), a collaboration with documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras and Praxis Films. Because the researcher investigates sensitive topics like the Israeli military’s weapons suppliers and its use of force on the Palestinian border, she has requested that her identity remain anonymous.

The Jerusalem Post estimates that over 60 Palestinians were injured during demonstrations on May 16, 2019. The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) said around 10,000 Palestinians in several locations along the fence burned tires and threw stones and explosive devices toward troops. Palestinian media has reported that the IDF fired live bullets, tear gas, and skunk spray at protesters trying to damage the border fence. (The UN report estimates that in 2018, Israeli forced killed 189 Palestinians and injured another 6,106 during that year’s protests.)

Weizman says that until yesterday, his organization was planning to release the new research alongside an ultimatum for the removal of Kanders from the Whitney’s board of trustees. Recent news of other artists withdrawing from the show — one of the world’s most prestigious exhibitions of contemporary art — convinced the group to expedite its plans. Forensic Architecture says they have informed curators Rujeko Hockley and Jane Panetta of their decision.

“We believe there’s a problem in how everybody is focusing on the tear gas,” Weizman told Hyperallergic.

“After this discovery, what may have started as the Tear Gas Biennial is now the Sierra Bullet Biennial,” added the researcher. “For context, human rights groups have been looking for an identifiable specimen. It’s something the art world may appreciate less, but these groups have been trying to get these bullets outside of Gaza for some time. We believe that we have something that is going to make a difference.”

Forensic Architecture is the eighth exhibitor to withdraw from biennial.

The Whitney has responded to artist requests for withdrawal with the following statement from the museum’s director, Adam Weinberg: “The Whitney respects the opinions of all the artists it exhibits and stands by their right to express themselves freely. While the Whitney is saddened by this decision, we will of course comply with the artists’ request.”

Hyperallergic has reached out to a Kanders spokesperson for comment but did not receive an immediate response.

07/20/19, 5:56pm correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Forensic Architecture made their decision to withdraw in consultation with Decolonize This Place. This error was made due to a miscommunication between the two organizations; the decision was made solely by Forensic Architecture. We have removed the error from this article.

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Zachary Small

Zachary Small was the senior writer at Hyperallergic and has written for The New York Times, The Financial Times, The Nation, The Times Literary Supplement, Artforum, and other publications. They have...

26 replies on “Forensic Architecture Says It Has Found Bullet Linking Whitney Vice Chair to Violence in Gaza, Withdraws from Biennial”

  1. Your incessant stupid left-wing politics is brain-damaged, annoying, and has nothing to do with Art. In fact, your warped and twisted and perverted perspective traduces Art by pretending the vast array of nonsense and absolute trash produced by nobodies has some kind of actual relationship to real Art.

  2. Kudos to Hyperallergic for reporting this, and kudos to the artists for taking a stand against those who perpetrate and facilitate ethnic cleansing and other brutality. Those who support the ethnic cleansing and subjugation of the Palestinian people by the Israeli state have for way too long been able to appear “respectable” and wrap themselves in the cloaks of “art and culture supporters” and the museums are happy to take their blood money. THANK YOU ARTISTS FOR HAVING SOME INTEGRITY! Show these warmonger and child-killer facilitators for who they are, war profiteers with blood all over their hands and faces.

    1. These sorts of statements, so lacking in any sort of critical thinking, analytical capacity, and/or intellectual honesty, make such barren practitioners of such categories incapable of understanding my earlier comment. We can be thankful that such ‘thinking’ is not pervasive among the readers of Hyperallergic.

      If you are going to espouse such notions, at least let us know where you are coming from. To do that you only need to preface your comments with the words: “In my opinion.” After that, anything goes, and requires no reply.

      1. “…lacking in critical thinking…analytical capacity…intellectual honesty…blah, blah, blah” Sounds like a defender of war profiteering and ethnic cleansing spewing insults to distract from a reality he doesn’t want to acknowledge.

        ETHNIC CLEANSING IS WRONG, no matter what religion the perpetrators identify with.

        Wealthy supporters of ethnic cleansing in Israel have not been held accountable for their complicity in those crimes against humanity.

        These artists are a welcome exception in trying to hold one of these war profiteers and facilitators of ethnic cleansing accountable. KUDOS to them!!!!!!!!

        1. “Sounds like a defender of war profiteering and ethnic cleansing. . .”

          Yes, indeed you are duped, otherwise you would/could see that what I have written sounds like nothing of the sort.

          , which you seem to be entirely comfortable with, are not necessarily ‘facts’. You are mixing assumptions of apples with assumptions of oranges.

          Certainly, artists, and everyone else, have a responsibility to speak out against racism and ethnic cleansing (of any sort). I believe strongly, and without reservations, 1. That the Palestinian people deserve, and ought to have their own state, and 2. That they and the State of Israel will have to make significant compromises for that to happen.

          In my experience, which is based on conversations with common people deep within ‘the territories’ as well as Palestinians living (and, in some instances, voting) within the State of Israel, Palestinians don’t always line up behind the Palestinian leadership. With regards to ethnic cleansing, we must remember that those leaders are the ones who have advocated driving Israelis into the sea.

          It seems to me that your rhetoric lends itself more to misunderstanding and strife than it does to solving problems and setting the world straight.

          I don’t know you or anything about, except for what you have written.

          1. Yes, the Palestinian people often do not line up behind leadership. That’s true in many places, including the United States. That’s not exactly a unique insight.

            Many defenders of Israel and its brutal occupation and colonization point to the poor leadership and will often use that as justification for the brutality. “If it weren’t for those horrible Hamas leaders who are all blood-thirsty terrorists, everything would be ok. But, unfortunately those irrational terrorists (who hate Israel just because they are irrational Islamic terrorists, not because they and their families were ethnically cleansed from their lands and are now kept in subjugation in the largest open-air prison camp) are in charge, and that’s why Israel has to massacre Palestinians every once in a while. It’s all their fault, darn it!”

            Those periodic mass killings (Operation Cast Lead was one of the catchy PR names of one of the massacres which killed 1500 children, women, and men, and left thousands more homeless) are referred to by Netanyahu and accomplices as “haircuts” evoking the racist callousness of Nazis.

            Those are some realities that defenders of Israel’s occupation and colonization want swept under the rug. What you refer to as rhetoric are realities that are not reported on in the US corporate media, that’s all.

            With regards to ethnic cleansing, what we need to keep in mind is not the threats or ambitions expressed by some Palestinians, but rather what has actually happened. Israel, and before that Jewish terrorist and militia groups carried out ethnic cleansing on a mass scale, and Israel continues to dispossess Palestinians of their homes and lands. And there you are trying to distract from and justify real ethnic cleansing perpetrated against hundreds of thousands of people, with a threat and wish… Do you realize that is a propaganda tactic?

          2. “Yes, the Palestinian people often do not line up behind leadership. That’s true in many places, including the United States.”

            This, of course, is an accurate statement. But when you apparently feel you have to close with “That’s not exactly a unique insight.” (which I read as some sort of critical comment), once again you demonstrate the (unfortunate) use of a good mind. It’s a use of that mind I do not wish to engage with any further.

          3. the only side to “compromise” has been Palestine by the forced expulsion from their homes. until Isreal acknowledges this oppression including the maiming of a whole generation of young people, there is little hope for peace. Isreal, like so many in our world now (and yes, it is OUR world!) is infected with the disease of greed. they will not be content until they have stolen ALL Palestinian land, which is in fact very close to happening, and Palestinians are wiped out. In addition, how is it possible to take away a people’s water supplies, destroy their farms and torture their children while espousing “compromise”??????

          4. I don’t see how finger-pointing, blame, and he-said-she-said can contribute to any sort of solution, let alone peace.

  3. After demonizing Jews and Israelis, including citing Islamic sources that depict Jews negatively, and culminating with ongoing lies and libels that portray Jews as an immediate threat to Palestinian life and existence, the Palestinian Authority foment violence against Jews and Israelis, presenting it as legitimate and even heroic self-defense.

    PA terror promotion takes many forms. Nationalistically, the PA actively elevates violence as a valid and heroic means to achieve political goals, while religiously, fighting and killing Jews has been presented repeatedly by PA religious and academic leaders as Allah’s will. On the social level, Palestinian leaders and society honor even the most loathsome of murderers portraying them as heroes and role models: Dalal Mughrabi, who led a bus hijacking in which 37 were killed, has schools, summer camps, and many other events and places baring her name to immortalize and glorify her and her terror attack.

    The success of the PA’s promotion of violence is readily evident: A majority of Palestinians support killing and suicide terror against civilian Jews and Israelis. A poll conducted after the murder of eight teenagers who were studying in a Jerusalem high school in 2008, found that 84% of Palestinians supported the murder [NY Times, March 19, 2008, citing the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research].

    This violent image of a dagger being thrust into the Star of David has appeared hundreds of times in a video clip for children on PA TV, from 2001 – 2008.

    http://www.palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=907

    1. The weapons discussed in the article are provided to the Israeli military and used against Palestinians children, women, and men.

      Defenders of the brutality and ethnic cleansing perpetrated by Israel often employ the racist stereotype of the “scary, unreasonable, hateful, blood-thirsty Palestinian,” as demonstrated by this comment. All regimes who subjugate and ethnically cleanse other groups dehumanize them, including Europeans toward Native Americans, Hutus toward Tutsis, Nazis toward Jews, and Israelis toward Palestinians.

      Yet, no amount of dehumanization can change the facts on the ground: some 500 Palestinian villages were destroyed by Jewish militia and terrorist groups who also committed massacres while dispossessing the native Palestinian people from their homes and lands. Nor does all of the dehumanizing propaganda change the contemporary reality that the Israel state continues to ethnically cleanse Palestinians from their lands so that Jewish colonists can live on those lands in a fundamentally racist project, and that Israel has killed thousands of Palestinian children, women, and men in the last couple decades, and relatively few Israelis have been killed by Palestinians. And yet, these defenders of ethnic cleansing like to pretend that Israel is the victim, and in so doing they swindle the American taxpayer out of over $3 billion a year.

      1. Just because you repeat something again and again does not make it true. Read some history by unbiased scholars. Don’t fall for Palestinian propaganda. Read Palestinian Media Watch to learn what the Palestinian leaders tell their own people in ARABIC, NOT WHAT THE PROVIDE TO THE WESTERN MEDIA.

        https://www.palwatch.org

        1. Just because people deny the Holocaust, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Just because people deny the Nakba (and what a rich irony that in Israel there has been legislative action to suppress mention of the Nakba) and the on-going ethnic cleansing and the brutality perpetrated by Israel doesn’t mean it didn’t happen and doesn’t continue to be perpetrated.

          Just because Netanyahu and the Israeli propaganda machine repeat propaganda over and over again, doesn’t mean it’s true, though that approach seems to have so far been successful with you.

          What defenders of Israel and its brutal, illegal occupation mean when they say “unbiased scholar” is somebody whose views conform to theirs. The website you gave is clearly biased and with an anti-Palestinian agenda, and you don’t seem to have the wherewithal to comprehend that.

          Here’s a scholar whose work I can recommend to you. His views don’t conform with those who support the colonial occupation and ongoing dispossession of Palestinians from their land, so it will be no surprise that you will dismiss his work, despite his impeccable scholarship and bonafides. But I wish you the courage to not be a sheep following the crowd and to explore other views. Good luck!

          http://normanfinkelstein.com

  4. I think we have to be terribly careful about how we interpret and understand such words as ‘could be’, ‘may have’, and ‘largely’. These are words that leave wiggle room, and therefore leave a measure of doubt. They are not proof words.

    Aberdeen could be whisky birthplace, researchers claim

    Scientists may have discovered the oldest evidence ever of . . .

    The bullet was intact and largely matches the open-source analysis . . .

    This is not to suggest that Aberdeen the birthplace, or that what scientists have found the oldest, nor that the bullet reportedly found match. We just don’t know for sure.

    1. Yes! Why is no one calling this out? “largely matches…” , “believes they may have found…” “potentially…” these statements do not have integrity in evidence-based reporting. This whole story is absurd and skewed to tie Warren Kanders into something he’s not connected to.

      1. Thank you for seeing the importance of the language we use. I know virtually nothing about Warren Kanders, and I think it would be helpful if you or someone else could fill in the blanks about his connection or lack of connection to all of this.

  5. I don’t understand; why is a democracy (Israël) where all kinds of people (including women) live peacefully together and share the same rights, denied it’s right to defend itself against attacks of a hostile totalitarion state where women and minorities are being surpressed, violated and murdered?

    1. because the country has chosen to base its existence on committing theft and oppression.

      1. Nonsense. The now called Palestinians could have returned to rheir own countries, the neighbouring arab countries.

        Are you btw American and planning to give back the country to the (few remaining) Indians?

        1. While among these comments/replies there is a lot of nonsense being spouted (so I agree with you on that point), I really think it is, and always has been inappropriate to suggest that anyone “go back where they came from”. We must remember that those who stayed in there own homes, such as the ones I have interviewed in Jerusalem, remain in those homes to this day. We must also remember that many, many residents who left their homes, at the behest of their brethren in neighboring countries, ended up living in mud-hut villages, such as the one I visited near Jericho

  6. Balzac wrote that the root of every great fortune was a great crime. Galleries should not be eager to launder the proceeds in the name of art.

  7. Israel kills 100s of innocent Palestinians and steals their land.

    Trolls immediately defend Israel without disputing Forensics evidence.

    Hmmmmm

    BOYCOTT, DIVEST, AND SANCTION is an appropriate action.

  8. How did the Museum administration allow an art installation to the Whitney Biennial that’s an outright attack on of the most prominent board members?! Where’s Adam Weinberg in all of this?? After all, he’s the museum’s director, no? It’s really ridiculous that these artists, especially Forensic Architecture, who we can see if vehemently anti-Kanders, are withdrawing from the Biennial only now – after they get their reviews, press, and Instagram exposure – when they all KNEW that Kanders was on the board from the get-go! The whole story and how it’s unfolding is absurd. Seems rigged to me.

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