Art News, Artists, Music and more!

Art Award taken back from Walid Raad for involvement in BDS movement

Achen City administration in Germany announced that it will be taking away its prestigious art prize from artist Walid Raad. The reason for this, as given by mayor Marcel Philipp, is Raad’s involvement and support for the controversial BDS movement.

The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement is a movement to strategically put pressure on the government of Israel to give equal rights to the Palestinian citizens. The movement, despite getting great support from prominent personalities, has also been very controversial. In Germany, due to its past history with jews, the BDS movement draws especially strong criticism. In 2017, the German parliament passed a resolution recognizing BDS as an “anti-semitic” movement. A few months ago, the director of a museum in Germany had to resign after he simply retweeted a post defending the movement.

Walid Raad’s involvement with BDS has not been explicit, and he hasn’t publicly supported the movement either. However, in 2014, he signed an open letter by BDS Art Coalition, considered the art-offshoot of the movement. The letter was against the organization Creative Time and its art exhibition, claiming that the organization has played a vital role in the continued and unjust occupation of Israel in Palestine. BDS Art also called for artists to boycott the event, and almost 100 artists complied by signing the letter. Walid Raad was one of them.

Talking about the decision to take away Raad’s prize, Philipp said:

“According to research, we have to assume that the designated prizewinner is a supporter of the BDS movement and has been involved in various measures for the cultural boycott of Israel.”

The Aachen Prize is the most prestigious award given by the city of Aachen each year. There is only one recipient each year who gets the €10,000 prize money. Raad was the recipient of the award in 2018 for his portrayal of the Arab conflicts in his works. Other recipients include names like Michael Asher, On Kawara, Christian Boltanski and Pavel Althamer.