Posts and Statements

25 Artists and Cultural Workers Announce their Disaffiliation from Zabludowicz Art Projects and the Zabludowicz Art Trust

On 26th July, twenty-five cultural workers announced their divestment and disaffiliation from Zabludowicz Art Projects, the Zabludowicz Art Trust and its affiliated platforms (including Zabludowicz Collection, Daata Editions, Daata Fair and Times Square Space Gallery), as part of the Boycott Zabludowicz Campaign.

Each cultural worker made a public statement and sent a signed letter addressed to Zabludowicz Art Projects and Zabludowicz Art Trust, making public their decision to disaffiliate from or deauthor prior work undertaken for, or on behalf of, both Zabludowicz Art Projects and Zabludowicz Art Trust. In this instance, the term ‘work’ includes, but is not limited to: artworks, curatorial work, editions, performances, residencies, screenings, talks, texts and workshops, in addition to any form of in-house employment, including, but not limited to: administrators, cleaners, curators, invigilators and technicians.

This coordinated act of withdrawal from Zabludowicz Art Projects and Zabludowicz Art Trust is part of the Boycott Zabludowicz Campaign (BDZ). Founded in 2014, BDZ actively aligns itself with the BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanctions) movement. BDS seeks to end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians, and to pressure the Israeli State to comply with international law. BDZ was set up in response to the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (P.A.C.B.I.) first established in 2004. 

The Zabludowicz Art Trust is directly connected to Tamares, a holding company initially established with money historically made from arms dealing and contracts with the Israeli Air Force. in 2017, Tamares became the first outside investor and remains a major investor in Peter Thiel’s secretive US tech company, Palantir. According to the Palantir SEC S1 filing in 2020, Zabludowicz Trust is listed as one of the principal investors. Zabludowicz Arts Projects trustee and director Fabio Botterini De Pelosi listed as a signatory on the filing.  Palantir’s technology plays a direct role in cyber security and predictive policing of Palestinians. Poju Zabludowicz is founder and director of Tamares Group and founder, major funder, and former director of the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre BICOM, and has made significant financial contributions to Conservative Friends of Israel. The Trust is thus complicit in and reproduces the Israeli-state-led apartheid, which normalises the oppression of Palestinians. This complicity must end, whether through the Zabludowicz Art Trust permanently divesting from, and fully severing, its ongoing complicit relations with the Israeli state’s policies of apartheid and military occupation, or through the self-emancipation of Palestinians. 

All withdrawals are made in full solidarity with Palestinian liberation. Artists and cultural workers stand together to oppose all attempts by the Israeli state to suppress resistance to, and silence critique of, the Israeli state’s ongoing violence towards Palestinian peoples. Whilst artists and cultural workers must name themselves publicly in order to deauthor or withdraw prior work from Zabludowicz Art Projects and the Zabludowicz Arts Trust, they do so as part of, and in full solidarity with, BDZ and BDS. Both BDS and BDZ seek to foreground the ongoing oppression of Palestinan life that drives the campaign, and work as collectively and anonymously as possible, in order to avoid detracting from this objective.

At the time of writing, the BDZ campaign has amassed over 600 signatories from individuals, organisations and institutions, who have pledged to boycott Zabludowicz Art Projects and the Zabludowicz Art Trust, and who stand united in solidarity with Palestine. BDZ welcomes new signatories who are keen to boycott and divest. Likewise, BDZ welcome contact with, and support from, other artists and cultural workers who are keen to join in this growing withdrawal of work and labour from the Trust.

If you are interested either in signing the BDZ boycott or in withdrawing work, please get in touch at: bdgrp@riseup.net

Mass Withdrawal of Student Curators from ‘Testing Ground’

BDZ commends the six curatorial students from Central St Martins, Sussex University and Chelsea College of Art who chose to withdraw from Testing Ground, the Zabludowicz Art Projects’ student-curatorial partnership. Together, these six students represent 75% of total participants in the Testing Ground programme, and their withdrawal makes a clear statement of solidarity with Palestinian liberation, and a clear statement against the art-washing of apartheid.

Testing Ground is one of the Zabludowicz Art Trust’s ‘philanthropic’ activities, designed to forge partnerships with art school curatorial courses, to lend the Trust a glossy veneer of credibility. This dubious unpaid ‘opportunity’ is commonly presented in the first term of the first year of Masters programmes, where new students are granted access to the Zabludowicz Art Trust’s collection to curate a public exhibition. Students are rarely briefed about the Trust and its activities, and upon taking up the opportunity, are required to sign an extensive ‘Deed of Confidentiality’ with ‘Zabludowicz Art Projects’ whose listed owners include ‘Zabludowicz Arts Trust’ and ‘Tamares Ltd’.*

Whilst the Zabludowicz Collection may itself remain a legitimate object of study and critique for artists, critics and curators, BDZ firmly believe it is not a fitting partner for any self-respecting educational institution. Any joint project between our academic and cultural institutions and the Zabludowicz Trust is complicit in normalizing, and therefore strengthening, Israeli apartheid and brutalities. BDZ amplify the call for academic and cultural institutions to end all complicit partnerships, and call upon institutions both to use their political and cultural leverage to demand an end to systemic racism and to recognise Palestinian peoples’ ongoing struggle against oppression.

The six students who have withdrawn from Testing Ground at Central St. Martins, Sussex University, and Chelsea College of Art should have the full support of their institutions to exercise academic freedom and to stand up and speak out against racism. We demand these and other institutions/educational establishments take a lead from their students’ disaffiliations, and undertake reviews of their other investments and partnerships with immediate effect, to ensure that they are not complicit in the Israeli state’s attempts to erase Palestinian culture.**

Goldsmiths, University of London, unofficially disaffiliated from Testing Ground in 2016, when the students from the MFA Curating course unanimously chose to not take part in Testing Ground that year. No announcement was made, but since then, the Zabludowicz Collection no longer works with that specific curating course. We sincerely hope that any progressive discussions about this that might be ongoing within Central St. Martins, University of Sussex and Chelsea College of Art can look to this course as an example of the power of students to make informed decisions about the kind of artworld they wish to work in and build from within.

Our solidarity in collective refusal is our greatest strength.

*Tamares Ltd is a holding company, initially established using money historically made from arms dealing and from Israeli Air Force contracts, BICOM (Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre), and significant financial contributions to Conservative Friends of Israel. See https://boycottzabludowicz.wordpress.com/ for more details.

**Institutions that take effective action to end their complicity no longer are subject to the boycott, as stated in the BDS Guidelines for the International Academic Boycott of Israel

BDZ Solidarity Statement

Boycott Zabludowicz stands in solidarity with those opposing the brutal policies of the Israeli State, with all resisting the extreme violence of its continued policies of occupation and apartheid, and in firm opposition to its ongoing massacres of Palestinians.

The ceremonial opening of the American Embassy in Jerusalem is designed purposely to antagonise, frustrate, provoke trauma and enact further violence against all Palestinians, and against the collective efforts to honour memories of the Nakba. It should be met with as much vocal and visible opposition, and with as much solidarity and resistance, as possible. Boycott Zabludowicz supports the general strike in memory of the Nakba, and the Great March of Return.

We urge all cultural workers to join us in our campaign and sign the collective pledge: a commitment to resisting the use of the arts and cultural sectors to hide and enact violent and brutal Israeli state policies. We ask cultural workers to show their practical solidarity with those party to continued campaigns of extreme cruelty and fully reject any complicity with Israeli state policy.

We act in memory of the Nakba, in memory of those who have so unjustly had their lives taken, and in solidarity with those who have been injured, and who have lost loved ones whilst resisting the continued violence that they are forced to endure on a daily basis.

Even one life lost is one too many. Collective action and practical solidarity are our strengths.

Boycott Zabludowicz. Free Palestine.

To sign the pledge, individually or as an organisation, or to get involved in the campaign, please email bdzgrp@riseup.net and help broaden our collective commitment. We ask all signatories of the pledge to help maintain our collective commitment by forwarding on this email, and by discussing the boycott with friends, colleagues, and other cultural workers to help raise awareness, to gain signatories and widen the solidarity of the boycott.

Interview with 86-year-old Nabka survivor Mahmoud Salah, who was born in a village just outside of Jerusalem that was bombed and invaded when he was a teenager in 1948:

https://www.democracynow.org/2018/5/15/the_disaster_of_my_life_nakba

https://www.facebook.com/MedicalAidforPalestinians/

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Boycott Divest Zabludowicz Statement of Solidarity with Palestine

Boycott Divest Zabludowicz (BDZ) condemns the Israeli State’s attacks on Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, which left over 300 wounded. Likewise, we condemn the recent and continued illegal expulsions of Palestinian families, designed to pave the ground for further Israeli settlements in Sheikh Jarrah, in East Jerusalem. We also condemn the airstrikes on Gaza, which have already killed 83 Palestinians, and the newly launched ground invasion.

This recent violence is not an anomalous occurrence, but a continuation of the Israeli state’s project of territorial expansion and ethnic dominance. When not erupting in the mass killing of Palestinians with the flimsy pretext of national defence, this project is maintained, structurally, by an apartheid system contravening human rights law which oppresses Palestinians living under the de facto governance of Israel, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. Under this regime, the Palestinian people are subjected to forced expulsions; extreme limitation of free movement; the deprivation of access to basic resources necessary for survival – including medical supplies, electricity and clean water; daily harassment, provocations and humiliations from the Israeli military; mass impoverishment, with industrial growth, trade and employment inhibited; oppressive policing; illegal mass imprisonment including the mass incarceration of children; and targeted executions of political representatives.

We call on all cultural workers, art institutions and arts press to join us in taking action in solidarity with all Palestinians who are forced to endure horrific daily acts of violent oppression by the Israeli state. We reiterate our demands to boycott the Zabludowicz Arts Trust* and its subsidiaries: the Zabludowicz Collection, Daata Editions, Daata Art Fair, Times Square Space Gallery and the Zabludowicz’ residency programmes. All contracts drawn up with the Zabludowicz Arts Trust are simultaneously contracts drawn up with Tamares Group. All cultural engagement with the Zabludowicz Arts Trust – from artistic sales to gallery visits, from online promotion to project commissions – are complicit with structural oppression.

We stress the increasing urgency, in the face of Israel’s current escalations, for collective international solidarity, resistance and active opposition to Israel’s apartheid regime. This regime consistently and flagrantly contravenes international human rights laws, and continues to commit the slow ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. It justifies this ongoing violence by conflating Judaism with Zionism (which in itself is anti-Semitic) in order to render all opposition to, and criticism of, Israel as necessarily anti-Semitic; anti-Semitism in this instance is weaponised as means to block accountability, justify ethnic cleansing and destroy all active international resistance to the atrocities that the state repetitively commits on a daily basis.

It is imperative that all who can take action do so, through whatever means they can. We urge all those working in the cultural sector to join the BDS movement, commit to boycotting the Zabludowicz Trust and sign our pledge. Help us to gain new signatories. Attend the upcoming demonstrations. Come to BDZ meetings and take direct action. Support and get involved in BDS campaigns. Call for institutions to sever all cultural and economic ties to the Israeli state. We implore people to show solidarity with all suffering these ongoing relentless and unbearable atrocities at the hands of the Israeli state – through participating in acts of collective resistance, through active opposition, and by refusing all collaboration and compliance with the state of Israel.

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*Zabludowicz Arts Trust was founded by Poju Zabludowicz, the founder, major funder, and former director of BICOM. BICOM lobbies the UK government, the main political parties in the UK and the British mainstream media on behalf of Israel. Poju is also founder and director of Tamares Group, a global private investment group with real estate interests that in the past have included illegal settlements on Palestinian land. In 1994, Poju inherited his family arms dealing business and most of the defence interests were sold. Today, it is now controlled through Tamares Group. Though Tamares Group recently sold their investments in Knafaim Holdings Ltd, (offering ‘military aircraft maintenance services’ to the Israeli Air Force via various maintenance contracts), in 2017, Tamares became the first outside investor and remains a major investor in Peter Thiel’s secretive US tech company, Palantir. According to the Palantir SEC S1 filing in 2020, Zabludowicz Trust is listed as one of the principal investors. Zabludowicz Arts Projects trustee and director Fabio Botterini De Pelosi listed as a signatory on the filing.  Palantir’s technology plays a direct role in cyber security and predictive policing of Palestinians. A report by Privacy International states that since 2014 Palantir had contracts with the Israeli government. Palantir also ‘powers ICE immigration raids, the defence sector and police surveillance.’ (The Guardian).

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The next BDZ online open meeting is on Sunday the 23rd of May at 7.30pm. Please join us and get involved by emailing  bdzgrp@riseup.net for a registration link.

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Further groups to support include:

https://bdsmovement.net / @BDSmovement

https://www.pacbi.org / @PACBI

https://www.palestinecampaign.org /  @PSCupdates

https://londonpalestineaction.tumblr.com / @Pal_action

https://www.map.org.uk / @MedicalAidPal

https://samidoun.net /  https://www.facebook.com/SamidounPrisonerSolidarity

https://artistsforpalestine.org.uk / @Art4PalestineUK

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A list of upcoming nationwide demonstrations on Sat 15th of May,  and registration links for online international rallies, can be found here. We urge all to attend:

Statement 3: November 2015

Following the first public meeting held by BDZ Group at MayDay Rooms on 3 October 2015, we began gathering the signatures of people wanting to commit to the pledge below. The individuals and organisations listed agreed that their name could be published as part of a list of 100 or more supporters, in the belief that a boycott of the Zabludowicz Art Trust ought to be public and collective.
To add your name, please email
bdzgrp@riseup.net

In solidarity with the Palestinians who have called for a boycott of Israeli cultural institutions that promote acceptance, in the global cultural sphere, of Israel’s ongoing colonisation, occupation and its apartheid policies, and in light of the current escalation of violence against Palestinians in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, we the undersigned make a public commitment not to show at, collaborate with or participate in any events taking place at, nor to visit or to sell our work to the Zabludowicz Collection, and not to work with Zabludowicz Art Projects/Zabludowicz Art Trust/Daata Editions[1]. We additionally commit, wherever possible, to withdrawing the conceptual content of previous participation in and/or sales made to the Zabludowicz Collection. We shall uphold this pledge until such time as the Directors of the Collection publicly recognise the rights of Palestinians, and desist from all activities and investments supporting the Israeli state in maintaining an oppressive and colonial system of apartheid. In the spirit of the guidelines produced by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), we call on other cultural workers of all nationalities to observe this ‘picket line’. Our solidarity expressed through collective refusal is our strength.

[1] Though itself London-based, the Zabludowicz Collection is principally owned and funded by Zabludowicz Art Trust, which is financially associated with companies that are active in Israel and that provide maintenance and services to the Israeli Airforce. See PACBI’s statement for details: http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=2755

(This list is current and updated as often as we can. If you do not see your name on the list and support the boycott, or would like to be added, please email us: bdzgrp@riseup.net)

https://boycottzabludowicz.wordpress.com/signatory-list/