Amidst the censorship controversy between artists and city officials, the Ramat Gan Museum in Tel Aviv has shuttered its doors.
The controversy began after the work of artist David Reeb was removed from the exhibition at the behest of the city’s mayor. In solidarity, 47 artists participating in the exhibition demanded the removal of their works. While a court battle was ensuing, the Ramat Gan museum announced that it is closing until further notice.
After years of renovation, the Ramat Gan museum was holding its first exhibition titled ‘The Institution’, themed on political works. One such work was Jerusalen (1997) by David Reeb. The work pictured black-and-white mirrored images of an orthodox Jew, with captions in Hebrew saying “Jerusalem of Gold” and “Jerusalem of shit” respectively. The work, which first went on display on December 23, soon faced criticism from the city’s mayor Carmel Shama-Hacohen. The mayor described the work as ‘racist’ towards orthodox Jews. After pressure from the city administration, the museum pulled the work from the exhibition.
Reeb protested the decision in court, calling it a politically-motivated stunt. The court ruled in favor of Reeb and asked the museum to negotiate with the city officials. On the other end, 47 artists participating in the exhibition decided to cover their works with black cloth in solidarity with Reeb. They had also asked the museum to remove their works from the exhibition.
On Thursday, Ramat Gan museum announced that they will be closing the museum after reaching no agreement with the city. The museum had only recently opened after renovations that began in 2017 and went over budget. In a statement, the museum called the whole controversy a ‘disappointment’.