Pro-Palestinian activists unfurl a large quilt across the steps of the Met – cialisdfr
Pro-Palestinian activists unfurl a large quilt across the steps of the Met
Pro-Palestinian activists unfurl a large quilt across the steps of the Met

A huge quilt calling for the liberation of Palestine was unfurled on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Sunday, making the institution the latest in New York to be targeted by activists seeking a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.

Each of the quilt squares featured the green, black, and red of the Palestinian flag and bore an artist’s response to the prompt: “From Oppression to Liberation, Free Palestine.”

According to the artist-led advocacy group Hope in the Art World, 64 artists participated in the creation of the 30-by-50-foot quilt titled From occupation to liberation. Squares are called alternately Tatriz, a traditional form of Palestinian embroidery; poppies, a national symbol and a plant native to Palestine; and of Thomas Kilper Horse genes (2003), a 16-foot sculpture installed by the Israeli military during an assault on the occupied West Bank city of Jenin.

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The quilt also honored poet Refaat Alarier, who was killed in an airstrike in Gaza in December. His writings have often been quoted by pro-Palestinian protesters, most notably the verse “If I must die/you must live/to tell my story…”

The presentation of the quilt at the museum was realized by a group of autonomous organizers working with the artists. Scattered around the world, artists rallied around feelings of solidarity and resistance – which coalesced into Hope in the Art World – and began collecting donations for the quilt.

An artist who contributed a square and was present at the action said ARTnews: “I worked on putting the quilt together, gathering artists to paint and sew. It was an act of love, unfolding the quilt felt like alchemy. We must find a way for love to win, artists, dancers, musicians, cultural figures and activists have united their concerns and skills to demand an end to the genocide and show support for the Palestinians.”

The peaceful action involved interpretation of dabke, a Levantine folk dance, was performed. With some national variations, dancers clasp hands and move in a circle or line, tapping their feet to the beat to mark joyous occasions. In honor of Ramadan, the demonstration paused for prayers and provisions were distributed for iftar, the meal Muslims eat to break the daily fast.

Visitors freely walked in and out of the museum as protesters handed out fake museum brochures calling on the crowd to “Throw away the fine art of imperialism”. No arrests were made during the demonstration.

Copies of the mock-up brochure handed out at the event in the museum’s atrium.

Courtesy of Claire Voon

“We stand united in the global movement for a ceasefire and Palestinian liberation and the recognition that the history of Palestinian subjugation is perpetuated by the occupation and US military funding,” Hope in the Art World said in a statement. “Furthermore, we object to the argument of conflating the call for a ceasefire with a baseless charge of anti-Semitism.”

A representative for the Metropolitan Museum of Art did not immediately respond ARTnewsrequest for comment.

Since the October 7 Hamas attack, which killed 1,200 Israelis and took more than 200 hostages, at least 100 of whom were released, more than 32,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli airstrikes and ground operations in Gaza, according to the local health ministry. . On March 18, the World Health Organization reported that famine in northern Gaza was “imminent,” while 30 percent of the entire territory’s population – some 667,000 people – were already suffering from “catastrophic” levels of hunger. International commissions predict that the consequences of such malnutrition will be for several generations.

The demonstration at the Met joins a wave of similar actions at cultural institutions in New York and beyond.

In February, hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters gathered at the Museum of Modern Art and outside the Brooklyn Museum. In MoMA’s atrium, some banners read: “Cultural workers stand with Gaza.” Over 1,000 custom-printed fake museum guides distributed at MoMA accused certain board members of “directly [funding] Zionist occupation through arms production, lobbying and corporate investment.

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