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The New York–based artist and musician Laurie AndersonShe announced that she would not be accepting a position of visiting professor at the Folkwang University of the Arts of Essen, Germany. This was due to the scrutiny surrounding her views about Palestine.
Earlier this month, the school announced that Anderson, who has produced such works as the hit 1981 song “O Superman,” had been appointed its Pina Bausch Professor, a position named after a famed dancer. Since that announcement, however, the school has reneged, citing that Anderson had signed a contract. A 2021 open letter that calls for support for Palestine.
“To frame this as a war between two equal sides is false and misleading,” the letter reads. “Israel is the colonizing power. Palestine is colonized. This is not a conflict: this is apartheid.”
Moreover, the letter continues, “We have seen how governments in Europe and beyond recently have instated policies of open censorship, and fostered a culture of self-censorship, towards Palestinian solidarity. It is cynical to equate legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies towards Palestinians and the State of Israel with antisemitism. Racism and hate, including antisemitism and other forms of hatred, are unacceptable in the Palestinian struggle. It is time to stand up to these tactics of silencing and overcome them.”
She was among thousands of artists who signed the letter. These included Nan Goldin and Simone Leigh.
The Folkwang University of the Arts published a press release on Friday. Press releaseAnderson will no longer be working at the school as of April 1, according to the release. Specifically, the release claimed that the letter “takes up boycott demands from the anti-Israel BDS movement,” even though neither the movement itself nor a boycott of Israel are ever mentioned in the text. In Germany, BDS is a controversial issue, with some politicians trying to make it illegal.
“For me the question isn’t whether my political opinions have shifted,” Anderson said in a statement. “The real question is this: Why is this question being asked in the first place? This is why I have decided to withdraw from the project. My colleagues at the University and the Pina Bausch Foundation have discussed this with me at great length and we have jointly decided this is the best way forward.”
In its release, the university said the decision came amid “the context of the current discourse about freedom of art and freedom of expression.”
It was the latest in a series of events that have impacted the art scene, which has been shook by the Hamas attack on October 7. Many artists who express pro-Palestine views face the prospect Exhibitions cancelledYou can also find out more about the following: Opportunities withdrawn.
Berlin tried to implement a clause that would prevent pro-Palestine musicians from receiving funding earlier this month. After mass protests The funding clause was eventually repealed.