What is going on at the Whitworth??? – It has just go a whole lot worse.

JVL web reports

Yesterday we carried an article Fog and rain over Cloud Studies at the Manchester International Festival.

In it we reported that UK Lawyers for Israel had objected to the exhibition.

We have just seen the tweet above, put out by the Whitworth Gallery.

We know no more. As we get more information we will update you.

In the meantime you might like to read ‘s Cloud Studies is filled with hope not hate

You can read a brief description of the project and see some stills from the installation on the Forensic Architecture Website.


Update at 5.30pm – this article below has been posted on the UK Lawyers for Israel website.

It records an abject capitulation to pressure by the University of Manchester, and an act of groteque censorship, a clear violation of academic freedom:

Prof Nalin Thakkar, Vice-President of Manchester University, wrote on behalf of the Whitworth and the wider University: “.. we are very sorry for any distress which has been experienced by members of our Jewish community in connection with aspects of the Cloud Studies exhibition, particularly the accompanying written statement. The communications which the Whitworth and the University have received have expressed particular concern about the written statement authored by Forensic Architecture which is displayed at the entrance to the exhibition. We note, and understand, the concerns expressed about the inclusion of that statement within the exhibition space, including regarding how it might be received by visitors to the gallery and around its potential impact on members of our Jewish community. We consider it appropriate for it to be removed, which we have now done.”

Here is the full report. Below it we include again the censored written statement which we had posted yesterday – before it was censored.

Whitworth Gallery Removes Forensic Architecture Statement

UKLFI, 15 August 2021

The Whitworth Art Gallery, which is part of Manchester University, has removed the controversial written statement by Forensic Architecture that introduced its “Cloud Studies” exhibition, following interventions by UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI), the Manchester Jewish Representative Council (JRC), North West Friends of Israel (NWFoI) and the Manchester Zionist Central Council (ZCC).

UKLFI considered that the statement contained inflammatory language – it portrayed Israel as an occupation force engaged in ethnic cleansing, apartheid, and human and environmental destruction. UKLFI wrote to Manchester University querying whether the University had complied with its public sector equality duty to have due regard to the need to foster good relations between different communities.

A meeting was subsequently held between representatives of Manchester University, the Whitworth Gallery and the organisations mentioned above.

Following the meeting, Prof Nalin Thakkar, Vice-President of Manchester University, wrote on behalf of the Whitworth and the wider University: “.. we are very sorry for any distress which has been experienced by members of our Jewish community in connection with aspects of the Cloud Studies exhibition, particularly the accompanying written statement. The communications which the Whitworth and the University have received have expressed particular concern about the written statement authored by Forensic Architecture which is displayed at the entrance to the exhibition. We note, and understand, the concerns expressed about the inclusion of that statement within the exhibition space, including regarding how it might be received by visitors to the gallery and around its potential impact on members of our Jewish community. We consider it appropriate for it to be removed, which we have now done.”

Prof Thakkar also stated that the Whitworth will be undertaking a review of its governance arrangements around the approval of new artistic content at the gallery.

UKLFI, the Jewish Representative Council of Manchester, North West Friends of Israel and the Zionist Central Council have released the following joint statement:

“We are pleased that following our representations, The Whitworth Art Gallery has removed the written statement by Forensic Architecture that introduced the “Cloud Studies” Exhibition.

During our recent meeting with gallery representatives and the University of Manchester, it was pointed out that this was a factually incorrect and dangerously one-sided account on an extremely complex foreign policy issue. For a publicly funded body to support such a problematic and biased narrative was disappointing.

The fact this is the second occasion the gallery has displayd deeply problematic content in the space of a few weeks is unacceptable. We therefore welcome the review of governance arrangements that the Whitworth will be undertaking. We hope that lessons have been learnt and the same mistakes will not be repeated.”

 


Forensic Architecture statement at the start of the exhibition

Comments (24)

  • Naomi Wayne says:

    Terrific article by Conrad Bower – here’s hoping that he’s right about his eventual optimism. Anyway, I am totally in love with Forensic Architecture!!

    Here’s also hoping that the Whitworth – a beautiful gallery, by the way – is simply closed because it is locked in a huge row with whoever is trying to shut this exhibition, and will emerge with its integrity – and the FA exhibition – intact.

  • Paul Smith says:

    See the website of UK Lawyers for Israel. Says it all.

    [JVL web says: Thanks for the alert. Now included above.]

  • I read about the exhibit on your site and was planning on visiting from Coventry with a friend from Hebden Bridge but instead I guess I’ll spend tomorrow morning calling the Whitworth and expressing my dismay at this scotching of our plans.
    I’ll let you know what excuse they come up with.

  • Naomi Wayne says:

    Utterly devastating – still reeling from the craven cowardice of Manchester University and the bullying tactics of UKLFI, the Jewish Representative Council of Manchester, North West Friends of Israel and the Zionist Central Council. Freedom of speech, of political debate, of artistic endeavour, have just been torn to shreds by Manchester University. I hope other Jewish organisations, every arts organisation in the country and the plain people of Manchester, will say – this must stop. And maybe a mainstream newspaper or two might get out from under its terror of criticising Israel and stand up for liberties too. Though sadly I am not holding my breath. . .

  • Martin Read says:

    Truth is now anti-Semitic?

  • Brian Holland says:

    It would be interesting to know what part of the forensic architecture teams report who were witnesses to events described were considered factually incorrect by the Jewish organisations who were not there? Also to know how they would describe the events witnessed.

  • Marie Harrison says:

    I believe the statement to be an accurate description of life in Gaza and the terrible suffering if the Palestinian people by the Israeli apartheid state. Manchester University should not collude in a cover up by denying the evidence.

  • Sylvia Finzi says:

    The Whitworth should be ashamed that it didn’t feel able to stand by what it had clearly deemed to be a valuable exhibition. I hope its directors will use this period of closure to form a firmer opinion on the content of the show, and to investigate the extent and context of pressure in all areas of life, cultural, academic and political, to silence such content. I sincerely hope this will lead to the exhibition being re-opened without censorship within a few days. The directors of such an important venue should stand on the right side of history and brave the consequences of their actions.

  • DAVID EATOCK says:

    I would have thought it is obvious to any independent observer that Israel is an occupying force which is engaged in ethnic cleansing so what’s the problem?

  • Margaret West says:

    So let me get this right – they are removing the Statement but
    the exhibition remains?

    However the statement can be exhibited elsewhere –
    maybe Banksy will feel inspired? He has previously shown
    empathy with Palestinians.

  • John Bowley says:

    Horrific. How these Israeli racism advocates get their own way on what is said in our country about wrongdoing in Israel by just invoking ‘antisemitism’.

  • John Noble says:

    I suspect when oil has less significance to the West Israel will lose support for its role as a dividing force in the Middle East. They would be wise to understand this and modify their behaviour accordingly.

  • Dave says:

    At some point a brave organisation will challenge the links between the supposed sensitivities of British Jews and outfits such as the Zionist Central Council, which is too extreme even for the Board of Deputies. Clearly that time is not now.

    https://jewishnews.timesofisrael.com/jcore-and-manchester-zionist-group-fail-in-bids-to-get-on-board-of-deputies

  • Manchester University has form as one of the most cowardly academic institutions in Britain.

    A few years ago it censored the title of a lecture by a holocaust survivor because the Israeli Embassy took exception to the title which compard Israel and the Nazis.

    Unfortunately the gutless coward Prof Nalin Thakkar, who goes by the title of Vice-President of Manchester University, doesn’t have the intellectual clout to tell the various Zionist groups, who are probably much the same people, that unlike Israel Britain doesn’t have censorship laws nor academic censorship.

  • Abe Hayeem says:

    This is absolutely appalling, and censorship by Zionist organisations and bodies who are determined to intimidate every public institution that dares to show displays, concerts and exhibitions that depict the truth about the lives of Palestinians and the horrific brutality of the Israeli state. The UN, Amnesty International, B’Tselem and Human Rights Watch have all exposed and reported in great detail the racism, apartheid and supremacist ideology, and settler colonialism of the Israeli state. Forensic Architecture, whose intentions of exposing the unvarnished truth of horrendous state crimes are expressed in its name, is now a worldwide and highly respected research body based at Goldsmith University, also giving evidence to the UN of these crimes, has had highly acclaimed exhibitions in the top exhibition venues internationally. Their statement is bang on, and to suppress it is another example of the campaign to squash the truth, and bully academic and cultural institutions into putting their “distress” above the decades long oppression and nightmare under Israel’s illegal occupation and rampages on Palestinian life. No, this must not be allowed to continue and Manchester must face up to this lobby and stand up for free speech and democracy.

  • George Wilmers says:

    Manchester University under its current Vice-Chancellor Nancy Rothwell has a history of craven intellectual cowardice in dealing with the totalitarian demands of the Israel lobby. In 2018 the university compelled a holocaust survivor, Marika Sherwood, to change the title of her talk because it compared Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to what she had suffered as a child. The change, together with other severe restrictions on free speech, came after pressure exerted by the then Israeli ambassador Mark Regev. The pressure from the Israeli embassy only came to light after the Information Commissioner compelled the university to respond to a freedom of information request. This incident was specifically cited by Kenneth Stern, lead author of the IHRA definition, in written evidence to the US Congress, as an example of the egregious effects which the misuse of the IHRA definition had had on academic freedom on campuses in the US and UK.

    See https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/sep/29/manchester-university-censors-title-holocaust-survivor-speech-criticising-israel

    https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/app/uploads/2018/08/Stern-Testimony-11.07.17.pdf

    Curiously in the same year the University refused to yield to a campaign by religious leaders to remove books by the antisemitic historian David Irving from open display in the John Rylands University library. See below for the University’s eloquent defence of free speech.

    https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/apr/27/rowan-williams-david-irving-holocaust-denial-manchester

    But presumably there’s a significant difference which the University should of course not hesitate to point out to us: Irving is a harmless antisemitic nazi sympathiser, whereas Marika Sherwood and IFA director Eyal Weizman are dangerous Jewish leftists.

  • Betty says:

    What’s wrong with that statement. It’s commenting about Israel just like every news channel is. Shall we ban those too?

  • Alan Stanton says:

    What this? A University causing “distress” by allowing the expression of ideas that some people don’t agree with?!

    But it gets worse. It now seems that there were no proper arts or other censorship arrangements in place. As “…this is the second occasion the gallery has displayed deeply problematic content in the space of a few weeks…”
    What on earth do they think the task of a University is in a democratic open society?
    Surely not contending ideas and theories? Research adding to the body of knowledge?
    Heaven forfend!

    Let them just get on with their assigned tasks of delivering an agreed syllabus from approved textbooks ; arranging exams ; awarding certificates ; teaching students to toss mortar boards to regulation height for the official photos; and ensuring everlasting payback of student loans.

  • Jill Friedmann says:

    I find the removal of this statement shocking. Are those responsible for this denying that these events took place? Or did they object because they knew the events had happened and did not want it known?

  • Ann Hallam says:

    Disgusting capitulation by the university.
    Disgraceful statement by the Lawyers for Zionism, implicating the whole
    ‘Jewish community’ as automatic supporters of Israel’s policy of Apartheid, ethnic cleansing and collective punishment.

  • Catherine Newall says:

    More censorship! We are way down the road to a totalitarian state! To be honest I am surprised that such a bold statement was allowed to go uncensored by the gallery in the first place- it is not known for being progressive. I was planning to go to the exhibition and I will print out the statement to accompany me on the visit, should it be allowed to continue. Might even distribute a few copies!

  • Roy Dunnett. says:

    Forensic’s Architecture statement is basically factual, bombs kill more innocent people as well as destroy buildings. The Israeli Government cannot hid the truth no matter how much pressure the apply on these types of institutions. It was a cowardly response from the Whitworth..
    It also reminds us of the political power of the Israeli Government, and their agents.

  • Kuhnberg says:

    This is a battle to prevent the truth about Israel’s ongoing assault on the Palestinian people from getting out. Groups like UKLFI may win a short term victory like this one, but their action also has the effect of giving the statement additional publicity.

    As we know, the mills of justice can grind for centuries without any real improvement being felt, but in the end they tend to do the job. That thought may comfort those who stand outside this struggle, but for the Palestinians any comfort derived is cold and depressing. Their suffering is going on now; they shouldn’t have to wait centuries for justice.

  • Nuran says:

    The truth is the truth, no matter how unpalatable it is to some people. And a lie is a lie, no matter how many people believe it and how it is protrayed. Palestinians are being ethnically cleansed and are being brutally persecuted and oppressed.

Comments are now closed.