Sign: Remove Russia from Venice
28 February 2022

Urgent Call for Arts Organizations to Sever Ties with Russia’s Aggressive Expansionist Project

On 24 February 2022, the Russian state launched an unprovoked full-scale invasion of Ukraine. This aggression plunged a country of 41 million people into the horrors of war: shelling, artillery strikes, tank invasions, and aerial attacks on civilian targets, as well as cyberwarfare and media manipulation. These unjustifiable acts follow the illegal annexation of Crimea and occupation of Donetsk and Luhansk regions in east Ukraine in 2014, during which the Russian government and its cultural proxies were graciously permitted to continue participating in the international art community.

A convenient compartmentalisation is no longer tenable — not when Ukrainian cities are being bombed, towns and villages are burning, children have to spend their days in bomb shelters and more than 368,000 Ukrainians have crossed the border as refugees in just the first four days of the war. Amongst the latter, multiple marginalised groups are facing additional discrimination at the borders. With no end to the terror in sight, and millions of people sacrificing their lives to resist Russian occupation: matters of war and culture become inseperable.

We therefore demand that arts organizations adopt a boycott of the Russian state’s participation in the international cultural arena, including divestment from funding sources that originate in Russia, until the Russian state completely withdraws from Ukraine, including Crimea and east Ukraine. Specifically, we demand that:

1. The Venice Biennale issues a statement suspending Russia’s participation until they fully withdraw from Ukraine

2. Tate issues a statement suspending Russia’s representation in ‘Russia and Eastern Europe Committee’ until they fully withdraw from Ukraine, commiting to disband and reconfigure the Committee through an anti-colonial lens

3. Arts organizations divest from funding and partnerships with the Russian state’s oligarch founded foundations, which include but are not limited to V-A-C Zattere/Moscow, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Strelka Institute, Winzavod Centre for Contemporary Arts and independent institutions supporting the Russian state such as TZVETNIK until they issue explicit anti-intervention and anti-colonial statements

Lack of resolute action by the international art community is costing innocent Ukrainian lives. We stand in solidarity with activist efforts within Russia to resist the State war. It is our duty to show that we are united in the face of ruthless expansionist aggression.
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