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Umělec magazine 2009/1


Ivan Vosecký | art project | en cs de es

I first wanted to post the sign, IZRAHELL, at the Eastern Alliance exhibit in Berlin in 2004. Ultimately I wrote KILL THEM ALL on the tall building and it was removed by the gallery after only one day following pressure from US companies. For a long time I had the feeling that I had no right to write such a thing. I was uncertain and I was a little scared. This feeling vanished, however, when this January I read the story of Sabra and Shatíli, two Palestinians in a refugee camp in Lebanon. The story describes in detail how one night, in 1982, 1700 defenceless persons were murdered under the watch of the Israeli Army. The women were raped and the men had their genitals cut off. Young children were either cut or shot point blank with pistols. The head of this operation, ARIEL SHARON, became prime minister of the State of Israel several years later. No one was punished for killing these 1700 persons. One man. And now history is repeating itself —this time in Gaza.

The article was so awful that I cried; then I got angry. I promised that I would do something, so I would not have to be ashamed of myself. I’m an artist. I express myself through art. I wouldn’t go to Palestine to fight, but the State of IZRAHELL now had a new enemy in me. I will not speak to anyone from Israel or to anyone who approves of its policies. I will not buy Israeli roses, or oranges. I will not watch soccer matches where the Israeli team plays. To kill women and small children in the name of anything whatsoever is a crime. It is a sin. It is cowardice. It is also called genocide. That is not my culture. I was raised to accept that one can kill armed fighters: but not defenceless civilians.

Israelis live in hell and do not know it. They bear the mark of Cain for what they once did long ago and for what they continue to do today. For 50 years Israelis have been sinning and they deem it to be normal. Each day they sin against their commandments. Thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not steal; thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. They have done it with American arms, under the watch of Christian Europe and with the silence of us all. A society that has lived for 50 years in a permanent state of war, and where mass murderers govern, has to be “morally deformed.“ The only way to end this errant wandering is to undo one’s sins: by taking a path of attrition and expression of regret. The expression of attrition should be their departure from Palestine and the return of that which they took by force. They should punish those who committed war crimes and when this is not possible – they should quit the area for the sake of their own clear consciences. However first Israel would have to admit that their fathers and they themselves have done something terrible. It would take courage to do so. And the world around them would have to help.

I do not know how to separate art from that which I experience: from my world. I cannot calmly in the comfort of my own home paint my pictures „because this blatant injustice affects me.“ I don’t know why for I did not choose for this to happen. This was not some artistic strategy. It took me a month to make that sign. I found out that many people were of the same opinion. Many people are not interested. And many do not have time to be interested. This is the privilege of art: to do superfluous things. Once they found out what I was doing, many of my friends offered to help me – even without my asking. Petr, also known as Krůša, helped me with the installation. He held the sign on its side for just under an hour, and then the police broke it. But that doesn’t matter. I will not give up. In war the muses are silent, but men should not be.

Ivan Vosecký

Prague, 30 January 2009



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