Biennale Für Aktuelle Fotografie 2024 canceled due to Allegations of Anti-Semitism

Wednesday, November 22, 2023
Biennale Für Aktuelle Fotografie 2024 canceled due to Allegations of Anti-Semitism

The planned fourth Biennale für aktuelle Fotografie in Mannheim, Ludwigshafen and Heidelberg, which was due to open in March 2024, has been cancelled.

This decision was made after intensive consultation between the Biennale's Board and the responsible mayors of cultural affairs of the three organising cities and in agreement with BASF, the longstanding main sponsor. The course of several discussions with the curators of the Biennale 2024 Shahidul Alam, Tanzim Wahab and Munem Wasif, which were previously held by the Board and the Management of the Biennale on site in Mannheim and digitally, were considered in the assessment.

The consequences of the cancellation for the Biennale für aktuelle Fotografie and the organising team are far reaching. They jeopardise the future of the entire event. 

Several reasons for the cancellation were given, the relationship of trust between one of the three curators of the 2024 Biennale, Shahi- dul Alam, and the three cities hosting the Biennale, Mannheim, Heidelberg and Ludwigshafen, has been severely damaged since the Hamas terrorist attack on Israeli civilians on 7 October.

Various posts by Shahidul Alam on his Facebook channel after 7 October have given a platform to content that can be read as anti-Semitic and anti-Semitic content. This includes an uncommented interview by Shahidul Alam with the Palestinian ambassador to Bangladesh, a comparison of the current war with the Holocaust and accusations of genocide by the state of Israel against the Palestinian population in Gaza. Racist and other comparable comments, e.g. with terrorist imagery directed against the Israeli civilian population (paragliders with weapons), are not deleted. The three cities mentioned above firmly reject these posts.

After these posts appeared, the planned programme press conference was cancelled and direct talks with the three curators were sought instead. On 23 October 2023, the problem of activities on Facebook that could be considered anti-Semitic was addressed by the Board and the Management in order to sensitise the curators to Germany's special historical responsibility for the State of Israel and its right to exist. Similar posts by Shahidul Alam continued to follow in the wake of these discussions. Shahidul Alam is not considered to have assumed any responsibility in his public function as a curator in the Biennale team.

The Biennales' board is not specifically concerned here with one-sided pro-Palestinian posts or hashtags such as #bds or #apartheid, "which it disapproves of and which were also posted in large numbers by Shahidul Alam, who sees himself as an activist and demands freedom of expression. In this case, it is a matter of content and messages that can be read as anti-Semitic and anti-Semitic content and messages that he has given a platform to".

When asked whether they wanted to continue the Biennale without Shahidul Alam, the other two curators Tanzim Wahab and Munem Wasif replied in the negative. As a result, it was clear to the three cities that they would have to cancel the Biennale.

The city and the Board are now holding talks with the invited artists, curators and advisors in an endeavour to find target-oriented solutions.

Main Image :Tanzim Wahab, Shahidul Alam and Munem Wasif: Curators of the cancelled Biennale für aktuelle Fotografie Mannheim-Ludwigshafen-Heidelberg 2024

Stephanie Cime

ArtDependence WhatsApp Group

Get the latest ArtDependence updates directly in WhatsApp by joining the ArtDependence WhatsApp Group by clicking the link or scanning the QR code below


Subscribe to the Newsletter

Image of the Day

Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.

Anna Melnykova, "Palace of Labor (palats praci), architector I. Pretro, 1916", shot with analog Canon camera, 35 mm Fuji film in March 2022.


About ArtDependence

ArtDependence Magazine is an international magazine covering all spheres of contemporary art, as well as modern and classical art.

ArtDependence features the latest art news, highlighting interviews with today’s most influential artists, galleries, curators, collectors, fair directors and individuals at the axis of the arts.

The magazine also covers series of articles and reviews on critical art events, new publications and other foremost happenings in the art world.

If you would like to submit events or editorial content to ArtDependence Magazine, please feel free to reach the magazine via the contact page.