A Sydney Festival Mural Has Shown Up In The Gaza Strip

"Never underestimate the power of a liberation movement rooted in global solidarities and connection."


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An anonymous artist has painted a mural in the Gaza Strip in response to Sydney Festival’s controversial decision to accept a hefty donation from the Israeli Embassy in Canberra.

Images of the work, sent to Junkee on Wednesday, depict the festival’s logo forged out of a damaged brick wall. Two young Palestinian boys peer out wide-eyed from a hole in the rubble — curious and cautious while gazing from afar. The work is based on an original mural of the boys in 2014.

Painted above is the word ‘Complex’, a word often used to discuss Israel-Palestine relations, and most recently dropped by Australia Jewish Association President David Adler when discussing the festival earlier this month. It was also used by the event itself to describe the organisation and its relationship with stakeholders.

Sydney Festival has refused to give back the $20,000 donation, instead promising to review their sponsorship arrangements with foreign bodies in the years to come. Board director Benjamin Law resigned on January 15 in response to the backlash, while more than 20 acts have withdrawn from the programme as well.

“We see it as the core role of the Sydney Festival to present art and to provide an inclusive platform for all artists. We aim to profile a diverse representation of work by artists and companies locally, nationally and internationally,” read a Sydney Festival statement on opening day, January 4. “We respect the right of any artist to withdraw from the Festival and hope that they will feel able to participate in future festivals.”

News of the boycott movement has reached overseas in recent weeks, with Palestinians in Gaza sending messages of thanks and support to Sydney activists in solidarity.

“Never underestimate the power of a liberation movement rooted in global solidarities and connection,” said activist Randa Abdel-Fattah of the artwork. “Never take for granted the fire and indomitable spirit of those resisting oppression.”

Sydney Festival runs until January 30.