Israel artist shuts Biennale show for Gaza ceasefire, hostages

Israel artist shuts Biennale show for Gaza ceasefire, hostages
The artist representing Israel at the world-leading Venice Biennale show says she's closed her exhibit until a Gaza ceasefire is reached and hostages are freed.
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Patir said her exhibit would remain closed until a ceasefire deal was reached and hostages held in Gaza were freed [Getty]

The artist representing Israel at the Venice Biennale called Tuesday for a ceasefire in the Gaza war and said her exhibit would remain closed until the hostages were released.

Ruth Patir's video installation "(M)otherland" was due to open on Saturday at Israel's national pavilion at the international art show, but the day before a media preview, she said it would remain closed for now.

"I feel that the time for art is lost and I need to believe it will return," she wrote in a post on Instagram.

She said she and curators Mira Lapidot and Tamar Margalit "have become the news, not the art".

"And so if I am given such a remarkable stage, I want to make it count," she wrote.

"I have therefore decided that the pavilion will only open when the release of hostages and ceasefire agreement happens."

Thousands of artists, architects and curators signed a petition earlier this year urging the Biennale organisers to ban Israel over its actions in Gaza - a call condemned by Italy's culture minister as "shameful".

"I am an artist and educator, I firmly object to cultural boycott," Patir continued.

"But since I feel there are no right answer(s), and I can only do what I can with the space I have, I prefer to raise my voice with those I stand with in their scream, ceasefire now, bring the people back from captivity.

"We can't take it anymore."

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Hamas led an unprecedented attack on southern Israel on October 7, resulting in the deaths of 1,170 people, according to Israeli figures. The Palestinian group says the attack came in response to Israel's occupation of Palestine and continued aggression against the Palestinian people, as well as its siege of the Gaza Strip.

Israel's ruthless air and ground offensive has killed over 33,800 people in Gaza since then, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry. It has pushed the enclave to the brink of famine and rendered much of it uninhabitable.

Israel estimates that 129 hostages seized out of more than 250 during the October 7 attack remain in Gaza.

The Biennale Arte 2024, one of the world's leading international art exhibitions, runs from April 20 to November 24.