Pro-Palestinian protesters disrupted a performance by Cuban artist and activist Tania Bruguera at Berlin’s Hamburger Bahnhof on Saturday, February 10, twice interrupting Hannah Arendt’s 100-hour reading. The origins of totalitarianism. The work, which originally began at 7 p.m. on February 7 and was scheduled to last until 11 p.m. on February 11, lasted 88 hours out of 100, according to a statement from Bruguera. The German museum characterized the protests as “violent hate speech” on social media, although the artist refuted these claims and clarified in another post that the interventions were not violent while also criticizing aspects of the actions.
Videos posted on social media by the art activist group. Thawra (Arabic for “revolution”) and Palästina Spricht (German for “Palestine Speaks”) showed approximately three dozen protesters forming a single line, holding Palestinian flags and solidarity signs, and verbally fighting with museum staff and with Bruguera, singing “What a shame.” ! What a shame!” during one of the interventions. At one point, Bruguera confronted the protesters and asked them: “Do you have a weapon? Are you going to kill me?” to which they openly denied any violent intention. Later, on social networks , some commentators characterized the questions Bruguera directed at activists as a “racial attack.”
In one of two public statements he made about the action, Bruguera wrote: “They came, they protested, they made their points, people listened, some reacted, others watched and they left peacefully.” He added that the first outage was at his invitation and “was carried out in accordance with project guidelines.” The activists confirmed that they were invited by Bruguera “to occupy the time from 2 to 3 p.m.,” during which they read statements and demands in support of Palestine, Sudan, Kurdistan and Western Sahara.
Bruguera and Hamburger Bahnhof have not yet responded to HyperallergicRequests for comments.
In an additional statement, Bruguera criticized elements of the action and expressed strong condemnation of some protesters’ verbal attacks directed at museum directors and guest reader Mirjam Wenzel, director of the Jewish Museum in Frankfurt. Maintaining that the interventions were “resolved with civility and understanding” and that the Hamburger Bahnhof never called the police or pressed charges, Bruguera praised the museum’s handling of the disruptions and said staff showed bravery by creating a “safe space where all voices could be heard.” heard” even when protesters “unfairly labeled them in various hurtful racist ways.”
As an example, Bruguera noted that the museum’s director, Sam Bardaouil, was “called a racist” and a “light-skinned Arab.”
Bruguera also denounced the protesters’ accusations against Wenzel, who was supposed to participate in the performance between 8 and 9 p.m. Approximately ten minutes after she read it, activists interrupted her, singing “Free Palestine” and “From the River to the Sea” while calling her a “Zionist” and “racist,” according to statements from the Jewish Museum in Frankfurt and Wenzel.
The reading stopped for about 20 minutes and resumed at 9:00 pm with the next speaker.
In their response to Hamburger Bahnhof’s statement about the intervention, Thawra and Palästina Spricht accused Wenzel of expressing “uncritical support for Israel” and claiming that he supported a since-discarded resolution that would have required applicants for German citizenship to sign a declaration of loyalty to Israel. Wenzel refuted the claim when he was contacted by Hyperallergic for comments. Wenzel added that in an October 12 interview he criticized what he perceived as “the silence of German cultural institutions” regarding the Hamas attack of October 7, in which approximately 695 Israeli civilians were killed. Since then, Israeli forces have killed more than 27,947 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, as well as at least 382 Palestinians in the West Bank, according to the latest United Nations figures.
A group called The Collective Alarm for Palestine shared an unsigned statement with Hyperallergic supposedly written by protesters who participated in Saturday’s action.
“In recent weeks, we have seen attempts to hold ‘Israel’ responsible for the terrorist and genocidal acts it commits against the Palestinian people, but none have managed to bring about any relief for the innocent people who are being killed, maimed, displaced and taken for granted. hostages every day by the terrorist ‘State of Israel,’” the statement begins, drawing attention to the current airstrikes on Rafah and demanding an immediate ceasefire. Criticizing the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and the country’s “unquestionable support for the State of Israel,” the statement goes on to call for an end to the “illegal occupation of Palestine” and the liberation of all Palestinians today. detained in Israeli prisons.