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Israeli Artist Demands His Work be Removed From Israeli Government Building

Israeli artist Dani Karavan wants his site-specific sculptural relief at Israel’s Knesset Plenum Hall—where the Israeli government’s legislative branch assembles—to be removed in protest of culture minister Miri Regev’s decision to cut thirty-three percent of government funding to cultural institutions that won’t hold performances in the West Bank, Negev, and Galilee, Shany Littman of The Haaretz reports. The minister is also allotting an extra ten percent of funds to artists who do perform in these regions. The new funding structure is part of the culture minister’s campaign to “encourage cultural justice and reduce social gaps.”

Karavan views Regev’s new funding criteria as a way to punish organizations who refuse to perform in the occupied territories. On Monday, theaters, orchestras, and dance troupes were sent forms by Pilat, a company that collects data from cultural institutions for the culture and sports ministry, asking where they hold performances.

Noa Dar, choreographer and founder of a dance group, said that having to declare whether performances are scheduled in the occupied areas “is essentially a demand to tie my political opinions and my conscience to ministry funding.”

During a panel discussion on political art at the annual Herzliya Conference on Israeli national policy, Karavan said, “The wall in the Knesset, sometimes I am ashamed that I did it. I have asked many times that they move it or cover it up with a rug until the Knesset embodies the spirit of the country’s Declaration of Independence.”

Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem, 1966, serves as the backdrop when officials address parliament. It is made of Galilee stones that were worked by local stonemasons. Karavan is also known for creating a Holocaust memorial at the Weizmann Institute of Science and a memorial dedicated to the Sinti and Roma victims of National Socialism at Nuremberg’s National Museum.