Whitworth Gallery reverses decision to remove Palestine statement after artists protest

Forensic Architecture demanded its exhibit be closed after message of solidarity was removed

Whitworth Gallery in Manchester has reversed its decision to remove a statement made in solidarity with Palestinians from the display of an exhibition by a Turner prize-nominated investigative group after criticism of the move by exhibitors.

Forensic Architecture, an agency of architects, artists, filmmakers, journalists, lawyers, scientists and software developers that investigates state and corporate violence, demanded the closure of its exhibit “with immediate effect” after the statement of solidarity with Palestine was removed.

The exhibit remains temporarily paused but Forensic Architecture's founding director, Eyal Wiezman, told The National that he had "personally put the statement [back] on the wall" today after visiting the gallery in Manchester.

The Cloud Studies exhibit uses data visualisations to explore human rights abuses around the world, examining how power structures shape the air we breathe and included a section addressing the use of toxic weapons by Israeli forces against Palestinians.

In a pinned note at the entrance to the exhibit, Forensic Architecture, whose digital models of crime scenes have been cited as evidence at the International Criminal Court, said it “stands with Palestine” declaring their “liberation struggle” as “inseparable from other global struggles against racism”.

UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI), an independent group of lawyers who lobby in the interests of Israel, accused the exhibits of being incendiary and one sided, prompting the University of Manchester, which runs the Whitworth Gallery, to pull the statement.

Quote
I feel appalled by University of Manchester’s decision to remove a statement that expressed solidarity with Palestinians
Eyal Weizman, director, Forensic Architecture

Mr Weizman, a British-Israeli professor at Goldsmiths, said their decision had been “a complete travesty” and rebuked their failure to consult with them or the local Palestinian community before doing so.

“I feel appalled by University of Manchester’s decision to remove a statement that expressed solidarity with Palestinians at one of the hardest moments in recent years, facing bombardment and ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem. Solidarity was particularly important because it was also a moment of great agency and hope when Palestinians throughout the country rose up against oppression,” Mr Weizman told The National.

The removal of the statement came after a campaign by UKLFI and led to Forensic Architects pulling the show altogether, calling the decision a limitation on “our horizon of research and understanding”.

Updated: August 18th 2021, 4:52 PM
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