BDS Is the Floor Not the Ceiling - Brooklyn Museum

Translation/Interpretation/Caption Text: 

This is one of five posters that were used in a protest againts the Brooklyn Museum

Artists' Statement:

On Saturday May 7, 2016 over 150 artists and activists from local community groups, including MTL+, G.U.L.F., We Will Not Be Silent, Direct Action Front for Palestine, Jews for Palestinian Right of Return, Rename and Reclaim, Rude Mechanical Orchestra, and the Brooklyn Anti­Gentrification Network, s​taged an intervention dubbed “Decolonize This Place” to transform two exhibitions ­­ This Place and A​gitprop! ­­ at the Brooklyn Museum, which normalize displacement and dispossession by instrumentalizing art and artists. This joint action launches the Decolonial Cultural Front (DCF) in New York City. The action is a major escalation in tensions surrounding the ​Agitprop! exhibition and the complicity of Brooklyn Museum in the gentrification and displacement of working poor residents of color, while connecting these issues to T​his Place’​s displacement and erasure of Palestinians.

In the first intervention, a​crowd of 100 people assembled in the photography exhibit T​his Place to perform Occupy­style micchecks that chorused around the fourth­floor galleries among curious onlookers. Participants draped banners reading “Decolonize This Place” and

“Displacement Destroys Culture,” one of which was later affixed to the museum wall. Speakers honored the native Lenape as ancestral owners of the land on which the museum rests, and renamed landscape photographs by affixing new labels with their indigenous Arabic place names. Amin Husain m​ic­checked a warning to the Brooklyn Museum: “The days in which art and artists are instrumentalized to normalize oppression, displacement, and dispossession of any people are over. We are watching you, and we will scrutinize your exhibitions and your funding, and we will act when you fail.” Police and security guards confiscated a banner, attempted to escort the protesters out, and closed off the exhibition.

This Place is a six million dollar exhibition by twelve art photographers who were paid $70,000 to photograph the state of Israel and the occupied West Bank between 2009 and 2012. One participant highlighted: “​By hosting T​his Place the Brooklyn Museum lends its cultural legitimacy t​o a sanitized vision of the region. I​t normalizes and aestheticizes illegal Jewish­only colonies in the West Bank. It renders invisible the daily violence experienced by Palestinians living under occupation, and the ongoing dehumanization of Palestinians who live in Israel. It conveniently says nothing of the Gaza Strip, currently enduring the tenth year of a brutal siege.” The show does not violate the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) because it came from p​rivate sources,​but the crowd mic­checked that “BDS is the floor not the ceiling” to demand justice for Palestine. Several funders directly support Israel’s illegal settlements in the West Bank and the Israel Defense Forces, and other funders support Israel­based projects whose descriptions of “coexistence” or “inclusion” never mention the words “Palestinians” or “occupation.”

It is clear that the exhibition represents a cultural show of force for the ongoing occupation of Palestine.