Manifesta, The European Biennial of Contemporary Art: We ask that Manifesta 2014 reconsider St Petersburg as their next location.

Reposted to publicize and further document the efforts of Irish artist, Noel Kelly, to pressure Manifesta (Europe’s Roving Biennale) to withdraw from St. Petersburg on account of the extreme human rights abuses undertaken by the Russian government. While the petition emphasizes anti-gay legislation, one could also consider the irrational punishment of punk rock artists/activists, Pussy Riot only a short period earlier.  The latest news indicates that Manifesta has received the petition, but basically doesn’t care. Real estate development and tourism dollars from members of the complicit art elite clearly means more than fighting for the broadest definition of human rights possible.

For more information, please visit: http://www.change.org/en-CA/petitions/manifesta-the-european-biennial-of-contemporary-art-we-ask-that-manifesta-2014-reconsider-st-petersburg-as-their-next-location?utm_source=supporter_message&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=petition_message_notice

The original text reads:

Манифесты 10 Санкт-Петербург

“antigay sentiment has been spreading in Russia’s conservative society, encouraged by the Kremlin and the Russian Orthodox Church. But Mr. Putin and his government have taken that to a new level by legitimizing the hatemongering in legislation.

Earlier this month, he signed a law banning the adoption of Russian-born children to gay couples and to any couple or single parent living in any country where marriage equality exists. Last month, Mr. Putin signed a law allowing the police to arrest tourists and foreigners suspected of being gay or pro-gay and detain them for up to 14 days. He also signed a bill classifying “homosexual” propaganda as pornography with vague wording that could subject anyone arguing for tolerance or educating children about homosexuality to arrest and fines.

There is no defense for such actions, which occur against a backdrop of growing violence against gays and could be seen as a license for even more violence. Russia is in danger of moving from pursuing the rule of law to the rule of hate. The new laws contravene Russian commitments to human rights and fundamental freedoms under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.” New York Times.

It is important that we send a message to the Russian government that such draconian measures will not be tolerated. In particular, the art world community must act now and request that Manifesta is either awarded to a different city, postponed until human rights are restored, or cancelled as a sign of support for the LBGT community.

The petition reads:

To: Hedwig Fijen, Manifesta

We ask that Manifesta 2014 reconsider St Petersburg as their next location. “antigay sentiment has been spreading in Russia’s conservative society, encouraged by the Kremlin and the Russian Orthodox Church. But Mr. Putin and his government have taken that to a new level by legitimizing the hatemongering in legislation.

Earlier this month, he signed a law banning the adoption of Russian-born children to gay couples and to any couple or single parent living in any country where marriage equality exists. Last month, Mr. Putin signed a law allowing the police to arrest tourists and foreigners suspected of being gay or pro-gay and detain them for up to 14 days. He also signed a bill classifying “homosexual” propaganda as pornography with vague wording that could subject anyone arguing for tolerance or educating children about homosexuality to arrest and fines.

There is no defense for such actions, which occur against a backdrop of growing violence against gays and could be seen as a license for even more violence. Russia is in danger of moving from pursuing the rule of law to the rule of hate. The new laws contravene Russian commitments to human rights and fundamental freedoms under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.” New York Times.

It is important that we send a message to the Russian government that such draconian measures will not be tolerated. In particular, the art world community must act now and request that Manifesta is either awarded to a different city, postponed until human rights are restored, or cancelled as a sign of support for the LBGT community.

We would remind Manifesta “The concept of Manifesta‘s artistic autonomy is clearly acknowledged by the State Hermitage Museum and the City of St. Petersburg. In an artistic project of such high complexity such as Manifesta 10 -­‐ which touches upon different fields of interest and contexts of contemporary life such as urbanity, social discourse, activism and artistic practices -­‐ the ability to find moral, practical and sustainable solutions for unforeseen challenges is of the greatest importance. Manifesta attempts to master this process up to its highest standards.”

Sincerely,
[Your name]

An update on August 30 reads:

Manifesta have ignored the petition and will continue on despite the human rights abuses in Russia. We will continue the campaign, and posit the position that Manifesta has created their own grave and have now lost any credibility… Artists and the art world must now make their own decision as to whether or not they are comfortable exhibiting or visit the exhibition of the morally bankrupt.

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