Sighting: Piet Zwart Institute (PZI), Rotterdam
This is not a watermelon
Co-artists and activists, Christian Ovesen and Emma Astner, turned to art proper to express their solidarity and painted a watermelon accompanied with the text: ‘“Ceci n’est pas une watermelon”. The watermelon banner went up on June 2. Aside from its popularity as a fruit and its culinary practises in the region, it became an alternative flag in response to the 1980 Israeli law which criminalised the use of four colours in artwork: red, green, black, white. Artwork that depicted the outlawed colours were confiscated, and in some cases their respective artists were arrested and imprisoned. The artists wrote:
“As a reference to both the Palestinian artist Khaled Hourani’s work ‘The Colours of the Palestinian Flag’ and French artist René Magritte’s ‘The Treachery of Images’, we wanted to call out the obvious hypocrisy carried out by Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences. The watermelon already goes into a history of censorship and by combining this sign of Palestinian resistance with an artwork well-known to a white Western audience, we wanted to question on what parameters and by whom art is legitimized.”
The banner was removed and seized by security the same day, this time because “absolutely nothing was to be hung from the school’s building”.