Gallery changes its mind over removing ‘one-sided’ anti-Israel line from exhibit

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Gallery changes its mind over removing ‘one-sided’ anti-Israel line from exhibit

Whitworth Gallery will run the Cloud Studies exhibition, criticised by campaigners, in full after artists threatened to pull work.

The Whitworth Gallery is licensed under CC BY 2.0
The Whitworth Gallery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

A gallery will reinstate a ‘dangerously one-sided’ statement about Israel at one of its exhibitions after artists threatened to pull their work.

The Whitworth Art Gallery, part of Manchester University, had come under fire for a statement which preceded its ‘Cloud Studies’ exhibition, which purports to show the environmental impact of Israel’s actions in Gaza and the West Bank.

A controversial statement about Israel’s conduct, which spoke of “struggle against apartheid” and “settler colonial violence,” was set to be removed after UK Lawyers for Israel suggested it could encourage antisemitism.

But in a u-turn yesterday, the statement is to be reinstated and the exhibition continued in full, after the artists Forensic Architecture threatened to pull their work.

“Having considered these issues carefully with various stakeholders, we concluded last night that it is important for the exhibition to remain open in full at the Whitworth and we expect this to occur later this week,” said Alistair Hudson, the gallery’s director. 

“The university, as a non-political organisation, has tried to balance extremely complex issues raised by the exhibition, but we believe that the worst outcome for all parties concerned would have been to close this exhibition for an extended period of time.”

The exhibit will now have a “space which gives voice to different  perspectives on the issues raised by the exhibition and help contextualise them,” added Hudson. It is not clear when it will reopen, as it has been shut since Sunday.

UK Lawyers for Israel, one of the Jewish groups who had raised concerns about the exhibit, said in an updated statement: “Manchester University reneged on their decision to remove the introductory statement from the exhibition.”

They had alleged having it in place could breach the universities public sector equalities duties.

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