Citing 'Dictatorship,' Israeli Artist Wants His Work Removed From the Knesset
Dani Karavan, who designed the wall that serves as the backdrop to those addressing parliament, says he has repeatedly asked that his art be removed until the Knesset reflects 'the spirit of the Declaration of Independence.'
Artist and sculptor Dani Karavan, who in 1966 designed the wall that constitutes the backdrop for speakers in the Knesset chamber in Jerusalem said on Wednesday that he has repeatedly asked that the wall be removed or covered until the Knesset, in his view, reflects the spirit of the country's Declaration of Independence.
"There have been several works that I made that were commissioned for public spaces and they belong to the sites, to their landscapes, to their environment, to their role," he told the Herzliya Conference, but he added: "[When it comes to] the wall in the Knesset, I sometimes am ashamed that I made it, and I have asked a number of times that it be moved, or covered with a tapestry, until the Knesset expresses the Declaration of Independence."
In the course of his remarks, delivered as part of a panel discussion on political art, Karavan made reference to a report on Wednesday that Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev is demanding that cultural institutions that receive government funding submit a declaration stating whether they have held performances in West Bank settlements, the Negev and the Galilee. The declaration requirement is an effort to implement the ministry's new policy of cutting financial support for institutions that do not perform in these areas.
"I read this morning in the newspaper that the Culture Minister is threatening anyone who doesn't appear in the settlements that they won't get funding. What is this if not a dictatorship?" he exclaimed.
Reacting to Karavan's remarks, another panelist, choreographer Ohad Naharin, cautioned against overreacting. "Miri Regev came and will go. The government came and will go, and that's not an opinion. It's a fact. Art is not dependent on money. We create without dependence on money. You need to remember that the government is not the one that makes it possible and will make it possible to be who we are and to create."
In April, Karavan sparked controversy for saying that he would design a monument in the Warsaw Ghetto to non-Jews in Poland who saved Jews during the Holocaust. Although Karavan has attracted some support among Jews for the project, there has also been vociferous opposition, particularly in light of a shift to the right in Polish politics. “If the Poles want to celebrate these people, as they should, they should do it on their territory, not in the ghetto,” Henryk Greenberg, a Polish Holocaust survivor and writer living in the United States, told the Forward. "They should do it not with an Israeli artist, but a Polish artist. Why do the Jews have to do it for them?”
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