ARTIST WITHDRAWALS



On 7 March 2024, our action was joined by participating artist Yto Barrada, who requested the removal of her two works.

On 8 March 2024, Cian Dayrit and Diedrick Brackens also withdrew their works.

On 9 March 2024, they were joined by Mounira al Solh.

On 11 March 2024, Art Jameel rescinded their loan, a trapunto painting by Pacita Abad.

On 16 March 2024, they were joined by Zamthingla Ruivah.

A total of ten artworks have now been withdrawn from Unravel: The Power and Politics of Textiles in Art, in rejection of the Barbican's anti-Palestinian censorship and racism.

Read Yto, Diedrick and Mounira's statements below.

Anti-Palestinian censorship, repression and racism must have consequences for the institutions that enact them.


YTO BARRADA


To The Barbican
March 7th, 2024

I am requesting the removal of my art works from The Barbican exhibition Unravel, the Power and Politics of Textiles in Art (13 Feb – 26 May 2024) in London, following the cancellation of a London Review of Books lecture by Pankaj Mishra about the ongoing genocide Gaza and the creeping normalization of censorship across art institutions.

My request follows the decision of London-based collectors Fahad Mayet and Lorenzo Leviste who had their loans removed from the exhibition.

If The Barbican thought it prudent to refuse the Radio AlHara Co-Founder’s address of "Free Palestine," in June, I should think it now recognizes the extraordinary dangers in the suppression of peaceful resistance. Today, we cannot take seriously a public institution that does not hold a space for free thinking and debate, however challenging it might feel to some staff, board members, or anxious politicians. 

I request that the reason for my withdrawal be indicated in the gallery, echoing the statement that accompanied the withdrawal of Loretta Pettway's quilts.

I pray for peace, justice and an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

In solidarity,

Yto Barrada
New York

Untitled (cosmos yellow), 2021 and Untitled (indigo grey), 2021


CIAN DAYRIT


Valley of Dispossession, 2021 and Yuta Nagi Panaad (Promised Land), 2018


DIEDRICK BRACKENS


In address to the Barbican’s Administration and Trustees,

It is with great frustration that I must insist my work “fire makes some dragons” be withdrawn from the exhibition, “Unravel: The Power of Politics and Textiles in Art.” I want to be clear that my textile and larger practice and what I know about this exhibition does not cohere with actions undertaken by the institution nor the inadequate responses made since the cancellation of Pankaj Mishra’s “The Shoah after Gaza” and the attempt to restrict speech of the co-founder of Bethlehem-based Radio Alhara. I am dismayed by the museum’s acts of censorship and refusal to hold itself accountable to the public as well as its employees. The Barbican has shown an inability to make decisions that uphold the shared visions of artists and curators. 

It is disheartening that this exhibition has to be dismantled work by work in order to expose the complicity of the institution in silencing those of us who are speaking out against the historical and ongoing violence being committed in Gaza. The continued withdrawal of works by artists who have inspired me and those that I call friends has, unfortunately, meant the sullying of the curatorial team's well-intentioned vision. It has historically fallen on artists to take principled stands when our arts organizations balk at their own commitments, even when it means facing retribution. 

The work in “Unravel” has garnered the Barbican considerable attention and acclaim, and positions the institution in alignment with the often unsung work of women and people of color, who have always been pioneers in textiles and radical politics. However, the institution, through its actions, has betrayed its lack of commitment to any such radical politics or the people who espouse them. 

I ask that the Barbican consider closing this exhibition, to stand in solidarity with those calling for an immediate ceasefire. Perhaps this will serve as a step in shifting the weight of responsibility off the backs of individual artists and interlocutors who are outspoken about such humanitarian crises. Closing the exhibition shifts this responsibility of standing with those of us calling for ceasefire back to the Barbican. My hope is that we can count on meaningful and actionable responses from those that claim to support a vision for a better world. 

Diedrick Brackens

fire makes some dragons, 2020


MOUNIRA AL SOLH

To whom it may concern, the Barbican's team of responsibles

My textile piece at Barbican deals with the power that women have demonstrated in Lebanon during the Lebanese uprisings in 2019. Many of these women have put themselves in danger, to speak up the truth in the face of corruption, and unjust rule. The textile work presented is playful, and is made of used left-over textiles, it refers to the inability to stay silent, in the face of injustice. It questions, rather than imposes:

“And whom am I?”
“And who are they?”
“And who are we?”

I wonder for myself, “who am I?”, and what would my artwork do, when shown lonely, in an art institution, whereby speakers who are raising their voices for justice are being canceled? For no one is free, until we are all free, as Marthin Luther King famously said.

The annihilation of rich voices speaking up, such as the cancellation of Pankaj Mishra's talk, which was terribly banned from taking place at the Barbican, also, previous to that, the restriction of voices such as that of Elias Anastas, of the Radio El Hara, such examples of cancelations, are being received by many of us artists and art practitioners, as highly aggressive and unnerving acts of injustice by themselves!

I find it very sad for all the efforts of each person who has worked to make that exhibition happen, including curators, and many people working behind the scenes, that I would rather really need to press to remove my work hanging in this show, following colleagues artists who also decided to take that clear route, and took the lead to do so, and I thank them for speaking up, trusting this is a path many artists will be able to follow.

In this scope, I will have to ask you kindly remove my work from being shown at the Barbican today.

In the name of justice, and in solidarity with the oppressed people today in Gaza, women and children and civil society being once again annihilated, today under a world watching, but not being able to react ethically. In support of an immediate cease fire, in Gaza and in all the region, in my country Lebanon, and in support of stopping all forms of aggressions, whereby the innocents pay the price by getting killed and left to starve, while intellectuals and artists “invited to the so-called free world” are banned to speak up their opinions.

In support of freedom of speech, and collectively speaking up against injustice! In support of Cease Fire Now!

Mounira al Solh – Beirut, 09-03-2024

Paper Speakers, 2020–21


PACITA ABAD

From Doro Wat to Sushi and Chicken Wings and Tings, 1991


ZAMTHINGLA RUIVAH

Luingamla Kashan, 1990-ongoing