Poju and Anita Zabludowicz have been collecting art since 1994. They have an official charitable organisation: the Zabludowicz Art Trust, of which Poju is the Chairman & Anita is the Director. Their collection of art is now fairly massive, and it has a formal home in the Zabludowicz Collection, a gallery chain principally owned by the Zabludowicz Art Trust - that ‘principle ownership’ just means that at least 80% of it is owned by the Zabludowicz Art Trust. This might all seem a bit tedious, but this tangled and confusing network is just what rich people’s financial footprint looks like. Bear with me while I make the connections. There’s the Zabludowicz Collection project space in North London, a gallery space in New York’s 1500 Broadway, and a residency programme in Finland. Anita Zabludowicz also collaborated with David Gryn (a curator) in setting up Daata Editions, a site that lets collectors purchase video, sound, and web-based art editions. Anita Zabludowicz provided the seed-funding for Daata Editions, and the Zabludowicz Collection provides a healthy amount of funding for a long list of cultural institutions - in London, as well as internationally. They have handily provided an alphabetised list of the most notable ones, here. Their daughter, Tiffany Zabludowicz, used family money to found Times Square Space: ‘a residency and exhibition program in vacant offices in Times Square, New York’.
Since 2014, there has been an international call to boycott the Zabludowicz Art Trust and all its various international cultural holdings. The boycott is a collective refusal to work for or with the Zabludowicz Art Trust; a refusal of your work, labour and the sale of your artwork to the Zabludowicz Art Trust, or to visit any of its institutions. I’m going to tell you why, I’m going to tell you how the Zabludowicz goes about operating despite the boycott, and then I’m going to explain some nitty-gritty practicalities about the boycott as #praxis. If you’re ready to dismiss this because you already know where you stand: hear me out. I’ll even run you through both sides. This might be a long one, but I promise you it is worth it, just hold tight.
Since 1990, Poju Zabludowicz has been the CEO of a private investment organisation called the Tamares Group. Tamares Group was founded by Poju’s father, Shlomo Zabludowicz. It has a $3 billion investment portfolio, but specifically, it has stakes in a company called Knafaim Holdings. Knafaim is the largest aviation holding group in Israel. Through its Maintenance Wings Limited Partnership, Knafaim has a long-term contract to provide military aircraft maintenance services for the Israeli Air Force.
In May 2021, the Israeli Air Force carried out 1,500 strikes on Gaza. Over 10 days, Israeli airstrikes demolished, completely or partially: 18 buildings including the offices of the Associated Press, 3 schools and 6 hospitals, and the al-Shati refugee camp. At least 256 Palestinians, including 66 children, were killed in a period of 10 days. As I am writing this, Israel has broken the ceasefire and launched airstrikes into Gaza. I cannot find reporting on the casualties yet.
This military link is an old one. In 1950, Shlomo Zabludowicz founded Soltam Systems, an Israeli defence contractor that specialises in manufacturing artillery for the Israeli Defence Force (/Israeli Occupation Force). They make Howitzers so big, they have to be mounted on trucks, or towed by a built-in diesel engine and wheels, and operated by a team of 7 people. Shlomo Zabludowicz made millions, an estimated $200-300 million, supplying these enormous fucking guns, and this artillery to the IDF/IOF. That is, in part, where Poju Zabludowicz’s family money comes from.
This isn’t just a historic link to an army/bodies that have committed well documented war crimes— the supply of services to the Israeli Air Force is current and ongoing. Further to that, Tamares Group’s property holdings have included a shopping centre in Ma’ale Adumim, an illegal settlement in the West Bank - this link popped up as recently as 2009 in an episode of Channel 4’s Dispatches. The investigation describes the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim as ‘strategically crucial in ensuring Jerusalem remains in Israeli hands. So much so that Netanyahu launched his election campaign in the settlement in 2005.’ Just a reminder: Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are in direct violation of international law. These are Israeli colonies on occupied Palestinian land, according to the UN.
In the realm of soft capital: Poju is also the founder, major funder and former director of BICOM- Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre- a private research centre dedicated to 'increas[ing] understanding of Israel and the Middle East in the UK.’ Through BICOM, Poju has a significant amount of sway in shaping public, media and governmental perception and opinion of Israeli occupation. Poju was caught up in Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption investigation, and has provided a significant amount of funding for both the Conservative Friends of Israel and the Conservative party itself - If you were wondering where his shaping of public perception would lean.
Financially, this activity takes place through Tamares Group; Tamares Real Estate Investments appears 4 times on David Cameron’s Register of Member’s Interests between 2005-7. (The financial contributions from Tamares Group to the Conservative Party, at present, total at least £380,000). Zabludowicz Art Projects is the registered charitable body for the London project space and other arts activity in the UK; their Companies House report for the 2019 financial year stated an income of £1,181,521 in 2019, and £1,114,769 in 2018. According to the Zabludowicz Art Project’s report, when declaring its sources of income; ‘The charity has no regular source of income other than the donations it receives from the Zabludowicz Art Trust’. Poju Zabludowicz is the Director and Trustee of the Zabludowicz Art Trust, and listed as such in the Zabludowicz Collection’s 2019 financial report. ‘The charity does not carry out any fundraising activities’, the Zabludowicz Collection’s >£1million annual budget comes from the Zabludowiczs and their personal fortune, which in turn, is accumulated profit from property, that has included interests on illegally occupied Palestinian land, dealing and servicing arms to the Israeli Defence Force and Air Force. Like this, Tamares Group acts as the corporate arm of the Zabludowicz Collection.
The Zabludowicz Collection’s cultural activity acts as a PR front, laundering bloody money through the art world. It comes in from Tamares, to the Zabludowicz Art Trust, and into the Collection like a straight line. But we should be specific about where it goes after that, and whose labour and artwork this money is being laundered through. And boy do I have a story for you.
Way back in 2017, when I was a baby-fresh artist, not even 6 months out of art school, I got an email from Haroon Mirza. He wanted to nominate me for a fancy-sounding show, and also speak to me about including my work in another show, alongside his work at a gallery in London. He didn’t specify which gallery. We arranged to meet for coffee near his studio in Camden. What follows is all alleged, as I have emails as proof of the conversation before and after, but I obviously can’t substantiate an in-person conversation. So maybe this is a fictional conversation between a made-up older male artist called Harun, and a hypothetical younger female artist called Serina. In this fictional world, they sit down for coffee, and Fictional Harun says that he was interested in hypothetical Serina’s work. He had seen a few pieces of her work when he was on the selection committee for a fictional graduate exhibition called Bloopberg New Contemberries. Harun came round to the topic of the show he wanted to include Serina’s work in. He specified the gallery this show would be at: The Zabludowicz Collection. Serina was suspicious; she had heard of the boycott, and was familiar with the fact that the Zabludowicz Collection’s money came from arms dealing. Harun told Serina that the arms dealing had nothing to do with Poju, and as soon as he was able to, he sold the arms company. He now makes his money in property, which is much better. Harun said the Zabludowiczs were incredibly personally invested in diplomacy towards a 2-state solution; and that they organise meetings between leaders on both sides behind closed doors. The boycott narrative lacked nuance. We’re all complicit in a multitude of things against our own will, no ethical consumption under capitalism; this hardline boycott missed out their sincere progressive intentions. Harun said this show could be a great opportunity; the Zabludowicz Collection is passionate about collecting work by young, exciting artists and investing in peoples’ careers from the very beginning. Harun said the Zabludowicz Collection would be looking to buy the artwork Serina might put in this show, and that if they bought one work, it would be a short jump to them purchasing more - the purchase would be an investment, remember. They were powerful players to have in your corner. Harun said the Zabludowicz Collection people had noticed Serina’s work already; they had kept an eye out for her since her degree show, seen her work in Bloopberg New Contembs, and they had identified her as one to watch. Serina left the coffee shop feeling confused and a little bit furious. She was quite young, didn’t know anything about the art world and how it all worked, not really. She texted her friend, Gabriel, who had been waiting for news about it all. Together on a phonecall, they did some googling and discovered that the property investments Harun had mentioned had included properties in Occupied Palestinian territory.
A few days after we met, Haroon Mirza emailed again, introducing me to the Director of the Zabludowicz Collection - Elizabeth Neilson. Elizabeth sent me an email inviting me to come and speak with her or visit the gallery space any time I wanted. She sent me her phone number, and was explicitly clear that she was keen to speak to me about this opportunity and more. I was 22 and I didn’t know my arse from my elbow - the art world was opaque to me, but here I was being explicitly offered access to the director of a large institution with a lot of money. I obviously said no. I even apologised to Haroon, for some unfathomable reason?? I explained the information I had found about Poju’s property interests, like this was information he might not have known. Even though it was always going to be a no, I am telling you this story because specific conditions were created around me that made this the hardest no I have ever had to say.
It isn’t an isolated incident. This strategy of reaching out to young, new graduates is part of the way the Zabludowicz Collection go about working. In the Zabludowicz Collection’s own words: ‘the programme features initiatives supporting emerging artists and curators... offers emerging artists without UK commercial gallery representation the opportunity to produce a solo exhibition and event... exploring art and education working with London's premier universities.’ In short: they look to target young and emerging, fresh new graduates entering the art world anew. They specifically target young artists, with little access to the apparatus of power, fewer professional contacts, smaller and newer social networks, and less experience actually working in the art world. They specifically speak about purchasing works for the collection, about developing relationships with these young, marginalised artists. They offer a route into an opaque and heavily gate-kept industry for artists that often have no clear point of entry. It’s an operational strategy that exploits the vulnerability of a precarious workforce.
While this isn’t a strategy specific to the Zabludowicz Collection (many institutions who spent lockdown casualising contracts for front of house staff could be described as exploiting the vulnerability of a precarious workforce), it does become sticky when discussing the moral implications of a boycott. Maybe, like the fictional artist Harun, you think this whole boycott business is a bit lacking in nuance, a bit too hardline, and we should hear the other side out. So let’s do it. Let’s discuss the boycott like it’s a pro/con list.
PRO: Artists must eat! I would like the money, I can’t afford to turn down an opportunity that will get me paid.
CON: It’s beyond me, or anyone tbh, to tell someone else what money they should say yes or no to. But how much are they actually paying you? We’ve heard the figures, and they range from around £1-2,000. Around £1k for a Daata Editions work, and £1-2k for an Invites show. If you’re a new name baby artist, maybe don’t expect anything too far out of that price range for a sale either. £2,000 might be a lot of money to you and me, but considering Poju Zabludowicz’s £1.5 billion net worth (according to Business Insider in 2020), it’s a bit lopsided. If the Zabludowicz Collection is really sincerely committed to supporting and investing in young emerging artists, don’t you think they’re capable of spending a bit more? Yeah, money is personal and political, so it’s up to you. And from a purely financial perspective, selling to a big collector like the Zabludowicz Collection could mean your prices go up; refusal might mean losing out on something tangible - whether that’s opportunities, immediate money, or money from future sales too. But perspective is important. The boycott isn’t just a TWP-one-man-smear-campaign, plenty of other artists and institutions have signed it. You might be alienating yourself from your peers as well as other collectors and future opportunities. Just be clear about what you’re getting and what they’re actually giving.
PRO: I need a route into the art world, and they’re offering me one. I’m not getting any other opportunities, and I feel like if I say no to this, I’d be blowing my Big Shot.
CON: Again, if you really think this, then it’s beyond me, or anyone, to tell you otherwise. I will say: if the Zabludowicz Collection is knocking on your door, it’s because you’re cool and making interesting exciting work that they see promise in. It’s flattering, but ultimately they’re looking at the social and cultural capital that you have, and wanting to use it in their PR front for something quite insidious. If they’re looking into buying your art, they’re not doing it out of the goodness of their hearts, and they’re not ‘tastemakers’ that can give you your make-or-break moment. It’s because they have identified it as already worth investing in, and that investment is part of a consistent cynical strategy to artwash apartheid money.
PRO: They’re not actually that bad! They want a 2 state solution & they organise meetings with leaders from both sides behind closed doors. This is a nuanced issue, and you can’t be so hardline about it all.
CON: Fair fucks. I can't tell you how to calibrate your moral compass, but let’s be clear about what’s being asked. Though the Zabludowicz Collection has a public stance, and puts out public statements about 2-state solutions, this call for a boycott comes from Palestinian artists and cultural workers themselves. This isn’t the Woke Brigade™️ crashing in to ruin everyone’s good time, it’s a call for solidarity from a group of people who are being brutally oppressed. The Zabludowicz Collection’s public statements about 2-state solutions don’t mean much when you look at the financial trail; they have been tied up with numerous points of contention, historically and currently. Please also consider that Poju has a huge amount of influence shaping public perception of Israeli apartheid through BICOM - he’s the founder, major funder and a former chairman of BICOM. I’m not really sure what to make of the claim that Poju organises meetings out of goodwill for peace, when BICOM have rolled out a well-tested pro-Israeli crisis-management strategy during acute periods of conflict, and initiated a Stop the Boycott campaign to try and frame international Palestinian solidarity as institutional anti-Semitism. If you’re going to take their money, don’t delude yourself about what you’re taking.
PRO: No offence, but I am one person. I’m not going to single handedly change anything, so what difference does it make if I say no?
CON: Ahhhh, mate. This just fundamentally isn’t true. We have collective power if we move together, and each one of us matters in that refusal. Neoliberalism, individualism, and fear of scarcity would have you believe we can’t unionise, we can’t work together, we all have to protect number one. It makes these institutions look bigger than they are. I’ll tell you one thing for free: what all institutions fear most, is artists going public about the reasons for their withdrawal/refusal. If we all collectively agree to withdraw... then we DO have power. And that power is entirely possible and tangible when we speak about this specific boycott. There's a reason the Zabludowicz Collection used Haroon Mirza as a buffer to approach me, and there’s a reason why Anita has (allegedly) been seen sliding into DMs with her phone number at the ready when prominent artists openly criticise the Zabludowicz Collection. They’re aware of how precarious this entire system of power is, and it is built on the assumption of our silent complicity in it. There are way more examples of this same fight being won than we could ever know about, because so many artists don’t say no in public. Those private refusals aren’t a problem, until people start to feel like their refusals don’t matter. They do, they all do. The art world could never ever exist without artists. Each and every refusal is important.
PRO: But all money in the art world is dirty money. If it’s not the Zabs, it’s an oil company, or it’s the Tate and their financial connection to profit made as a result of slavery. The British government has the most blood on their hands, and we take their money via the Arts Council. We’ll always be complicit in something, why is this different?
CON: Yeah, you’re basically right. It’s all dirty money, all of it has bloodstains from somewhere, and that’s so shit and painful. It shouldn’t be on artists to navigate a financial landscape so hostile, sticky and complicated; see Morgan Quaintance & Imran Perretta’s Conversation on involuntary complicity in May’s Art Monthly. I can't tell you why this is absolutely different in didactic terms. But I can say that the Zabludowicz Collection isn’t just a philanthropic exercise with a morally iffy source. This isn't just about rich people doing rich people things with their rich people money. (I believe) they are explicitly and cynically art-washing money as a PR exercise, profits rinsed off a brutal apartheid system are laundered through a labour pool of young, precarious artists. That is the Zabludowicz Collection’s literal purpose, and it is one small part of a complex machinery that siphons in money to fund it all. Just look at the art they exhibit and collect: they favour artistic practices that bear the aesthetics of criticality, that have a political sensibility without ever being explicit enough to be specific and threatening. They’re not buying nice safe abstract paintings from artists with name-brand recognition at Frieze; they’re actively associating themselves with edgy artists that have the cultural capital to provide them with a buffer for their darker corporate dealings.
Assuming that this question is asked in good faith, I think this letter from a friend on Jesse Darling’s tumblr makes a compelling human case for the specific differentiation here. I encourage you to read it with an open mind & heart, here is an extract:
‘there is no clean bloodless money in art - that ultimately all of the private interests that constitute the situation of contemporary patronage are built on the spoils of colonialism, war, and oppression… what is unusual about the contemporary situation in Palestine is that the demands for boycott, divestment, and sanctions come from the people of Palestine collectively. And they come from a situation of permanent war… it might not be the traditional endless bombardment, but instead is a war of attrition, conducted through everything from the controlling of calories of food let into Gaza so people have just enough to survive but are always hungry, the limitation of medical and educational supplies, the demolition of houses in the West Bank, and a state of total securitisation and siege by an aggressive national force against an impoverished people living in the most densely populated area on the planet.’
This IS different, direct, and specific. The call for a boycott comes from the Palestinian people themselves, and we KNOW it’s an effective strategy. Poju’s think-tank, BICOM, has pumped significant amounts of money, time and effort into a Stop the Boycott campaign; Poju himself has underwritten a £300,000 ‘fighting fund’ to oppose boycott motions from organisations like UCU (the University & College Union) [see page 54 of this report]. The Zabludowicz Collection functions as the cultural arm of a wider machinery that seeks to legitimise the Israeli state’s brutal system of apartheid and colonial violence. A boycott fights back on a level playing field; it isn’t performative or virtue signalling. It works, and it threatens them. Sometimes refusal is the only thing we have the capacity to fight with. We should do it.
PRO: I work for a cultural organisation, and if we implement a boycott policy, it’ll look like institutional antisemitism. We may lose our charitable status as a result.
CON: Firstly, criticisms of the Israeli state, or of the policies of the Israeli government, are not necessarily antisemitic. It’s incredibly important to not conflate the entirety of the Jewish community with the state of Israel; that flattens a wide, diverse community into a monolith, and erases Jewish voices that continually speak out against Israeli state violence. Israeli occupation of Palestine is a colonial problem, so opposition to the occupation is an opposition to settler colonialism, and the violent methods used to uphold it. The occupation of Palestine itself is widely recognised as illegal under international law; UN Security Council Resolution 446 declared Israeli settlements have ‘no legal validity’, UNSC Resolution 478 declared the annexation of East Jerusalem ‘a violation of international law’ which is ‘null and void and must be rescinded’, UNSC Resolution 497 declared Israel’s annexation of the Syrian Golan Heights is also illegal. This is a clear cut issue, and an industry boycott of the Zabludowicz Collection for their proximity and part in profiting from the violence of an apartheid system is clear cut too.
I think this is a more realistic concern in the US, where several states have anti-BDS laws; mostly this takes the form of legislation prohibiting organisations with BDS policy from receiving public funding. For the UK: charitable organisations are entitled to refuse funding, and lay out the terms of ethical governance in their mission statements. If accepting a donation would be detrimental to achieving their aims (eg: by contradicting the cultural integrity of their mission statement), or potentially threaten other sources of revenue (through loss of public support, or a withdrawal of donations from other benefactors), the institution is entitled to refuse funding. So, it’s a really good idea (legally speaking) to get this in writing as soon as possible; if you have BDS formalised as ethics policy, then your institutional position is clear and potential refusal can go through official channels.
For more info, please see the Chartered Institute for Fundraising document on charities refusing funding.
PRO: I have been offered money from the Zabludowicz Collection through another, larger institution (say, like the Tate! Just a random and totally not real-life example) in the form of an acquisition for said larger institution. I’ve been told that the work will be anonymously donated to that larger institution, so details of the money’s origins wouldn’t have to be made public.
CON: So, this is a thing. Allegedly, of course. The Zabludowicz Collection seem to mostly make purchases from their own Invite series, but they do make acquisitions via commercial galleries, and if you look carefully at an exhibition’s wall text, you might see their name in a long list of supporters. You can find an alphabetised list of the institutions they have given ~philanthropic~ funding to here. Interestingly, the Tate Modern’s 2012 Ei Arakawa show lists a display in the Anita Zabludowicz Gallery (this gallery is not listed on current Tate Modern floor plans). Though you could certainly take their money for this acquisition without anyone knowing, the point about Zabludowicz’s bloody arms-dealing-apartheid money being laundered through the art world’s labour market still stands. In fact, it’s potentially amplified, since the Zabludowicz Collection has a network of complicit arts organisations that are willing to play a part in mitigating individual unease about selling to them. This is inevitably the effect of Tory funding cuts and the impact of austerity on the cultural sector; the art world’s increasing positivity towards private funding is something that Morgan Quaintance writes about far better than I ever could. But it’s this cultural landscape that enables the Zabludowicz Collection to operate in this way, extend their influence and consolidate power. You could pitch a fair resistance to it all by simply asking that the money for the acquisition of your work come from elsewhere. Like you said, no one has to know. But you’ll know. Be honest about what’s being asked of you, even if you’re only being honest with yourself.
I think we’ve done our due BBC-impartiality diligence there, and covered both sides of the problems with the Zabludowicz Collection. But just talking about the problems in isolation, like they’re pure theory, is a sticky one. What does a boycott look like in practice, and what can you do if you’ve worked with the Zabludowicz Collection in the past, but have changed your mind?
1: I am an artist/cultural worker, and I HATE THIS!:
If you haven’t already, you can sign the BDZ boycott.
The BDZ boycott is a collective refusal to work for and with the Zabludowicz Art Trust. Signing means you will be pledging to refuse your work, labour and the sale of your artwork to the Zabludowicz Art Trust, or visit any of its institutions. It’s an important public act in solidarity with those in occupied Palestine, and their struggle for liberation.
If you’re an artist with formal gallery representation, you can take preemptive action and make a formal agreement with your gallerists to ensure artworks are neither loaned nor sold to the Zabludowicz Trust in future.
2: I have sold an artwork to/worked with the Zabludowicz Collection, and I now regret it:
You can deauthor the artwork.
Deauthoring is the withdrawal of yourself as the author of a work. You publicly announce the withdrawal of conceptual content, and sever your relationship with the owners of the work. You can deauthor a formal artwork, but you can also deauthor live or written work, as it’s primarily the withdrawal of labour. Legally speaking, it’s a symbolic or performative act; but it will have real material and political impact to disassociate yourself from the work and the Zabludowicz Collection.
From a financial position, it would tank the value of the artwork the Zabludowicz Collection has purchased. It’d be unlikely they’d be able to sell that artwork on, as your withdrawal of authorship would withdraw a source of value attached to that artwork. Socially and politically, a big public statement would be incredibly inconvenient for them. If their collection operates as a PR front, then a big PR mess, where artists they’ve bought into are disassociating themselves from them, would have a big impact. It would take away the thing they actually want: the prestige and clout of being associated with artists who actually have social and cultural capital.
How to deauthor: Deauthoring is a public act. It just involves publishing a permanent public ‘statement of deauthoring’ online, or wherever is most visible. This statement should remain visible and publicly accessible, to uphold and maintain the legitimacy of the act. BDZ have been working on a practical framework for how deauthoring could occur. BDZ have put together a template letter and a practical framework. Contact them [email@example.com] for more info and support in the process of deauthoring, and you will be added to the list of boycott signatories.
If you still have a residual ick: If you’re in a financial position to do so, BDZ suggest making reparative payment of past income from engaging with the Zabludowicz Trust, to charities that work to support Palestinian peoples (they recommend MAP (Medical Aid for Palestinians) but others exist too).
3: I am a cultural worker/artist, and the cultural institution I work for/am working with has taken money from the Zabludowicz Collection. It feels like it’s bigger than me, but what can I do to support institutional change?
You can pressure the institutions you’re working for/with to adopt BDS policy. This might sound really far out and massive, and institutions won’t take action without pressure and guidance, but it has precedent.
Artists have pulled a fast one: Morag Keil included a note about BDZ at the end of her exhibition handout at the ICA. It read, ‘I have signed a boycott to not show at the Zabludowicz Collection and Daata Editions or take direct money from Zabludowicz and I urge the ICA and others to do the same’, and then a link to BDZ’s sign up page. When we spoke to the ICA about their ethics policy in 2019, even though they had taken money from the Zabludowicz Collection in the past, they said it was this moment of pressure that made them adopt BDS as policy.
The Goldsmiths Curating MFA divested from the Zab's Testing Grounds programme. This was a change that came directly from the students; so if you’re studying at CSM, Chelsea, Birkbeck or Sussex, pressuring your art school has worked and is proven as possible.
As a cultural worker inside an institution, you might be more intimately inducted into the institutional justifications for taking the Zabludowicz Collection’s money. Please see the Chartered Institute for Fundraising document on charities refusing funding and the info about refusing funding earlier. In terms of materialising this, maybe see if any of your colleagues/co-workers can help you mobilise and push for this as formal policy change. It might also be worth contacting your union about helping you with this, and about adopting BDS policy themselves if they haven’t already. BDZ are also kindly offering their help to institutions who want to draft or redraft their Mission Statements, Anti-Racist Statements and Ethical Funding Policies to clarify their refusal of funding from the Zabludowicz Art Trust. You can contact them here.
4. I am an artist based in the US, does any of this apply to me?
Howdy, yes it does.
The Zabludowicz Art Trust has crossed the pond, and is in the process of consolidating a base for itself over in the US. They have a gallery space in New York’s 1500 Broadway building, and Tiffany Zabludowicz runs Times Square Space. Daata Editions is also included in the boycott, on account of Anita Zabludowicz providing the seed funding, and their continued association with her; Daata Editions seem to be working with artists internationally on digital commissions, so it crosses borders.
The boycott then faces a specific problem with a lack of visibility in the US, so it’s strategically important to link BDZ up with decolonial and anti-racist organising that’s already taking place in the American arts landscape. There is a crossover of concerns, so it’s not a reach. Letter From a Friend, published on Jesse Darling’s tumblr, notes, ‘Gaza remains effectively a laboratory for testing out tactics in suppression of protest and revolution, and for the repression of any expression of suffering. These tactics are then exported around the world, from Afghanistan to Ferguson.’ And solidarity across those concerns has, of course, happened before. In 2019 Hannah Black, Ciarán Finlayson, and Tobi Haslett wrote the Tear Gas Biennial. A week later, Warren Kanders resigned from the board of the Whitney Biennial. The text pointed out the links between tear gas manufactured by Warren Kanders’ company Safariland, and its violent use in Gaza, Ferguson, Standing Rock and on the US-Mexico border. Tear Gas Biennial called for a boycott, and after months of protests and action, it articulated the way collective feeling was shifting, acting as a rallying point and renewal of energy for action and withdrawal. I mention Tear Gas Biennial, because I know we have an inexplicable but significant readership in the US. I am writing to you now. This is connected, we just need your help to join the dots to see it. From London, to New York, to Gaza; there are straight lines; we are more powerful together, and all of these struggles are interlinked.
The boycott of the Zabludowicz Art Trust was issued in July 2014. At the time, Israel was launching an attack on Gaza; a military operation referred to as Operation Protective Edge. By the time a ceasefire was agreed 7 weeks later, between 2,125 and 2,310 Palestinians were killed in Gaza and between 10,626 and 10,895 were wounded, including 3,374 children. Israel killed more Palestinians in 2014 than in any other year since 1967. As I try to finish writing this now, Gaza is still under siege, blockaded by air, by land and by sea, it has been an open air prison since 2007. Israel’s military rule in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, disrupts every aspect of daily life; Palestinians are dying because of Israeli state violence, whether it's airstrikes or the relentless war of attrition or the brutality of living under an apartheid regime.
Palestinians have called for a boycott of ‘Israeli cultural institutions that promote acceptance, in the global cultural sphere, of Israel’s ongoing colonisation, occupation and its apartheid policies.’ Poju Zabludowicz’s arms money, BICOM, the Tamares Group’s property in Occupied Palestinian Territory; the Zabludowicz Collection is a cultural institution that exists for the fundamental purpose of laundering blood-stained money through a precarious cultural workforce. It is the PR wing that seeks to legitimise and art wash profits squeezed out of a system of apartheid.
The boycott asks artists, cultural workers and producers to not sell or show their work with the Zabludowicz Collection, to withdraw the conceptual content of their work from the Collection, to refuse to sell their labour to the Zabludowicz Collection, the Zabludowicz Art Trust and its associated institutions, including Daata Editions. The boycott asks the viewing public to refuse to enter the London project space on 176 Prince of Wales Road, the New York space at 1500 Broadway, and the residency sites available to visit on the island of Sarvisalo, Finland. The call for a boycott will be upheld until the directors of the Zabludowicz Collection publicly recognise the rights of Palestinians, and desist from all activities and investments supporting the Israeli state in maintaining an oppressive and colonial system of apartheid.
The boycott works. They don’t care about refusals made behind closed doors, because names can be quietly removed from websites, and no one has to know. It is artists, the exact same precarious workforce that the Zabludowicz Collection relies on for silent complicity, that grease the wheels of the art world’s machinery. If we all make our disavowal public together, news will spread.
If you want to sign the BDZ boycott, and pledge to refuse your work, labour and the sale of your artwork to the Zabludowicz Art Trust, or visit any of its institutions, you can do so via this form.
For more information, please visit the BDZ website.
If you want to sign the BDZ boycott, and pledge to refuse your work, labour and the sale of your artwork to the Zabludowicz Art Trust, or visit any of its institutions, you can do so via this form.
For more information, please visit the BDZ website.