Brian Eno, Gwenno, Shopping & more boycott Berlin fest over Israel funding
UK artists Gwenno, Shopping and Richard Dawson have all pulled out of the upcoming Pop-Kultur Berlin, due to the the festival accepting travel support for Israeli artists from the Israeli embassy. Gwenno wrote:
I have taken the decision to cancel my appearance at Pop-Kultur Berlin this year having recently discovered that artists playing at the festival who are from Israel get financial support to cover travel costs from the Israeli government, an in exchange for that the Israeli government get to have their logo on all publicity materials to do with the festival. I'm aware that there are probably many festival that have a similar arrangement with this government, and I respect that Pop-Kultur are wanting to support artists from all countries regardless of their governments' behaviour, but I cannot argue with the clear facts that the Israeli government and army are killing innocent Palestinians, violating their human rights and that this desperate situation must change.
I stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people, the Israeli peace movement and all those who oppose imperialism and oppression in the belief that we can make the world a better place.
Brian Eno, a vocal supporter of BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions), has also come out against the festival. He released a video saying:
If I were running this festival, I would want to take a position on this. I would want to say: 'I'm sorry, we don't want your money, because we're worried about where it comes from.' So it is a whitewash actually. Art is a powerful substance. It can be used for power. It depends on whose hands it gets into. There's no reason why your art should survive that transition and not become a weapon in somebody else's hand. I've realized that a lot of artists believe that art is this sort of mysterious, powerful substance, and if you just bathe people in it they will automatically become better.
The two bands that played conspicuously in Israel last year -- Nick Cave and Radiohead -- both feel that people benefit from their art and that to sully that with, to try and mix that up with politics is a mistake. What I would say to them is that it already has been mixed up with politics. it's not your choice whether that happens or not. It's already there in the political arena, so your choice is whether you let it stay there or withdraw it.
You can watch that video below.
The boycotts stem from an ongoing BDS campaign against the festival and Pop-Kulture Berlin made a statement in 2017 responding that says, in part, "The BDS Movement claims that Pop-Kultur has been »co-organised« or «co-financed« by the Israeli state, which is not true...We believe that the only way to deal with conflict in this world is through critical discourse and dialogue. As artists and cultural workers, we in particular have the responsibility for building relationships and networks across borders, even if we disagree on certain points." You can read their full statement from 2017 here.
Pop-Kultur Berlin happens August 15-18 and the lineup currently includes Chelsea Wolfe, John Maus, Neneh Cherry, and more.