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SEABA's Preemptive Strike on Art-Related Controversy


Published August 14, 2009 at 4:23 p.m.

It appears the fair and impartial peeps at SEABA — that's the South End Arts and Business Association, for you Queen City art neophytes — are looking to preemptively smooth out some as-yet unruffled feathers over this year's politically charged art offerings at the Flynndog, which will be included in the 2009 Art Hop. (A full description is included below.)

In both 2007 and 2008, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict dropped the proverbial turds in the Art Hop's punch bowl, overshadowing two otherwise successful community celebrations of the arts, free cheese and cheap wine drunk from plastic cups. The nerve of some artists, spoiling all the fun by using their artwork to advance a political agenda! 

This year, SEABA Executive Director Carlos Haase sent a heads up to Yoram Samets, of the Israel Center of Vermont, and Mark Hage, of Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel (VTJP), so neither side feels blindsided.

Will the SEABA board's one-statement solution limit the collateral damage of wadded panties, twisted knickers and bruised egos? Or will it just give each camp more time to organize their protests and craft clever political cartoons denigrating their opposition? Your call. My prediction: Mentioning the words "Israel," "Palestine," "Al-Jazeera"and "Burlington" in the same breath must result in fireworks. If so, Seven Days will be on hand to bear witness.

FYI, here's a description of the exhibits/events from VTJP:

The VTJPcontribution features photographs of Gaza taken during and after themassive attack on the territory last December and January by Israelioccupation forces. The photographs, collectively titled "GazaBurning,"  were taken by Ayman Mohyeldin, international correspondentfor Al Jazeera, the only major international broadcasting network that hadreporters in Gaza during the attack, and James Marc Leas, a Burlington attorneywho visited the strip on a fact-finding mission sponsored by the NationalLawyers Guild in the wake of Israel's attack.  

The Art Hop opens Friday, September 11. Additionally, Ayman Mohyeldin will bespeaking at the Flynndog on Saturday, September 12, at 2 p.m. His talk, "Witnessto War: Reporting from an Occupied Land Under Siege," will focus on hisexperiences as a reporter during Israel's military assault and the challengesand responsibilities of covering a war in a territory that is both occupied andunder siege, and that was closed off by Israel to most of the world's mediaduring the hostilities.

Also during the Art Hop, Al Jazeera's documentary Reflections of War will be shown. It examines the 22-day war against Gaza through visual images, documentary footage, personal testimonies and the reflections of Mr. Mohyeldinand his colleague, Sherine Tadros.