We wrote an investigative article Our efforts to show solidarity for Palestine are tested at Kiasma, with Pietari Kylmälä for No Niin. The text was edited by Elham Rahmati & Vidha Saumya, who did a great job. With help from the kind people of the Boycott Zabludowicz campaign we were able to gain an update to the affairs of Chaim “Poju” Zabludowicz, a business person who funds an influential pro-Israeli lobbying organisation (BICOM), and who has a long record of investments in companies which work for the security and military forces of the State of Israel.
As a senior member of the Kiasma Support Foundation, Zabludowicz is deeply involved with the museum. In our view, their track record as an investor makes their affiliation with the public institution problematic. Kiasma should ensure that museum beneficiaries are not involved in businesses which benefit from military conflicts such as the current apartheid policies implemented by the State of Israel. We asked museum director Leevi Haapala for a response to the troubling details our investigation touched. Their response is available online.
Haapala’s response depicts a disconnection between politics and rhetorics. It’s disheartening to read how they deploy the museum’s newly announced safer space policy as a rhetorical device to slither away from responding to the concerns we’ve brought forth. They even spent a paragraph celebrating an artist whose artwork Zabludowicz’s involvement has secured into their collection.
In Haapala’s portrayal, as the director of the museum they’re also leading the operations of the support foundation. Paradoxically, while asserting that they are in control, Haapala also insists that since the museum is funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture, the organisation cannot take a public stand in humanitarian concerns. This means that in their leadership the programming of the museums is meant to represent political struggles but not to engage with political reality.
The response depicts Kiasma open and willing to receive funds from anyone. It seems there are no standards, no qualifications – as long as you bring in money and love art, the museum’s happy to serve you. This stance is common for private museums. But Kiasma is not a private museum. It is funded by the state; we need it to do better.
The museum expects its visitors to follow their safer space policy but does not expect the same from their financial beneficiaries.
Kiasma is not a “safe space” if it continues to harbour businesspeople who are investing in companies which Amnesty International is investigating for human right violations. I will not participate in events in the museum until they set forth guidelines which ensure that their beneficiaries are not involved in business actions which violate international law and human rights.