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Israel will not participate in 2025 Venice Architecture Biennale due to “budget constraints imposed by the war”

A Noticeable Absence

Israel will not participate in 2025 Venice Architecture Biennale due to “budget constraints imposed by the war”

The Israel Pavilion in Venice (Fred Romero/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED)

Israel Culture Ministry officials announced this week that the state of Israel will not participate in the 2025 Venice Architecture Biennale. The Israel Pavilion, completed in 1952 by Zeev Rechter, is in need of costly repairs that the Israeli government can’t afford due to “budget constraints imposed by the war” on Gaza, officials said. The news was first reported by Haaretz and later shared by Artnet.

The last time Israel pulled out of the Venice Biennale was in 1974 during the Yom Kippur War. This time around, Israeli officials chose to withdraw from the 2025 Venice Architecture Biennale—curated by Carlo Ratti under the title Intelligens—because of fiscal issues, “security reasons,” and the need to repair the aging 1952 Israel Pavilion by Rechter.

Government leaders cited the Israeli military invasion of Gaza—an offensive which ICJ officials have called a genocide that’s killed almost 37,000 Palestinians—as the reason they cannot afford to rent an alternative location in Venice, Italy, Naama Riba reported for Haaretz.

Additionally, in February, a group called the Art Not Genocide Alliance (ANGA) started a petition which called for the “exclusion of Israel from the Venice Biennale.” The petition garnered over 24,000 signatures in support of the idea, but that effort was stopped by Italy’s Culture Minister, Gennaro Sangiuliano. In lieu of these calls for boycotts, Israeli officials considered hosting an installation in the Israel Pavilion’s courtyard, but that idea was stymied for “security reasons.

This week’s controversy has taken some in Israel by surprise. The grandson of Zeev Richter, Amnon Richter, has been in contact with the Israel Culture Ministry for 15 years about repairing the Israel Pavilion. After the Culture Ministry’s announcement this week, he told Israeli reporters that he was not consulted about the government’s decision to pull out of the 2025 Venice Architecture Biennale.

Idit Amihai, director of the Institute for Israeli Art, who previously worked for Israel’s Culture Ministry, was also taken aback. “This year of all years they have to renovate and decide not to participate by choice?” Amihai told Haaretz. “It would be one thing if we weren’t invited. Now when we’re being ostracized is precisely the time for us to take part.”

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