Earlier this week, Kunsthalle Basel, the Swiss museum that has become a place of pilgrimage in the European art world for its cutting-edge exhibitions, announced the successor to Elena Filipovic, who left the institution to lead the Kunstmuseum Basel. The next leader will be Mohamed Almusibli, co-founder of Geneva art space Cherish, who will also be chief curator of Kunsthalle Basel.
But the appointment of Almusibli, 33, made headlines for reasons other than the usual ones associated with new museum leadership.
The press in Basel has seized an open letter signed by Almusibli published by Art Forum in October and called for a ceasefire in Gaza. Basler Zeitung ran an article noting Almusibli’s signature and claiming it was a sign that Almusibli “condemns Israel.” Both Basler Zeitung And this Baselandschaftliche Zeitung It also said that Almusibli had signed second letter Performed by Palestine UK artists.
Basler Zeitung report None of the letters were reported to initially include mention of the October 7 Hamas attack, and ended with a quote from Theodor Herzl, who helped conceive of Zionism. The report calls on the Basler Kunstverein, the organization that runs the Kunsthalle Basel, to answer a number of questions about Almusibli’s appointment, including whether the Yemeni-born curator can speak German and whether he “… ‘In the future, Kunsthalle Basel will showcase artists of Jewish faith or Israeli origin.’
In response, the Basler Kunstverein said, “The Basel Art Association is pleased with the election of Swiss curator Mohammed Almusibli as Director and Senior Curator of Kunsthalle Basel. The Basel Art Association and Mr. Mohammed Almusibli together work against all forms of terrorism, racism, anti-Semitism, Condemn anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, discrimination, sexism and other group-related inhumanities.
talking to Baselandschaftliche Zeitung“I have to admit that I have made allegations that are certainly not in line with my opinion,” Almusibli said. He expressed “deep concern on all sides at the ongoing suffering in the Middle East.”
As pressure grows, hundreds of artists, critics and gallerists have signed an open letter In support of Almusibli.
“We would like to urge the Kunstverein Basel to stick to its values – which are appreciated by a large and diverse arts community internationally – and unwaveringly support Mohammed Almusibli against increasing pressure from political bodies as well as the local media We would like to offer.” That letter reads. “We would like to urge you to protect Mohammed Almusibli from demanding any further statements that are not related to his professional mandate. With this, we ask you to make a statement against fascist repression.” To take a stand is what we are currently witnessing with the shock of the unknown in the arts and academia across continental Europe and the Americas.
Its signatories include the artists Diego Marcon (whose show is currently on view at the Kunsthalle Basel), Iris Touliatou (who had a show at the Kunsthalle Basel earlier this year), Wu Tsang, Camille Henrot, Nick Mauss, Ser Serpas ( Who co-founded). Cherish with Amusibali), Mai-Thu Perret, Sophia Al Maria, Hamishi Farah, Shuang Li, and Lydia Orahmane; curators Simon Castates and Billy Tang; and dealers Simon Wang, Maxwell Graham, and Rosas Farkas.
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