German Museum to Give Walid Raad Art Prize Despite City Government’s Objection: Report

The Ludwig Forum for International Art in Aachen, Germany.

The Ludwig Forum for International Art in Aachen, Germany.


On Monday, the German city of Aachen announced that it had withdrawn a decision to give a prestigious art prize worth €10,000 (roughly $10,900) to artist Walid Raad, citing his alleged support for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, a pro-Palestine movement. But, according to a new report, that move is not the end of the story.

The German news network WDR reports that Raad will receive the award after all, via the Ludwig Forum for International Art, a museum in the city that facilitates the award, the Aachen Art Prize. The museum’s board reportedly made the decision on Tuesday night.

Marcel Philipp, the mayor of Aachen, previously said in a statement, “According to research, we have to assume that the designated prizewinner is a supporter of the BDS movement and has been involved in various measures for the cultural boycott of Israel.” He added that, when the city of Aachen had inquired with him about his alleged support for BDS, Raad had been “evasive.” The city alleged that Raad “could not distance himself from BDS,” which it referred to as an “anti-Semitic” movement.

The Ludwig Forum’s board reportedly disagreed with the city’s of Aachen’s decision, however, and WDR said that its members could not find any evidence that Raad was an anti-Semite.

The Ludwig Forum and Raad did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In an interview with the German publication Deutschlandfunk, the Ludwig Forum’s CEO, Michael Müller-Vorbrüggen, said that the museum had obtained the funds to give out the award, and it therefore did not need to the city’s permission to offer Raad the prize.

ARTnews reported on Tuesday that Raad has not publicly stated whether he supports BDS. The artist was, however, one of 100 signatories of a 2014 open letter by an art-related BDS offshoot that encouraged artists to pull out of a Creative Time–organized exhibition at an Israeli university.

In Germany, BDS has been the source of fierce political debate. Two years ago, members of German parliament passed a resolution that labeled the movement anti-Semitic. Earlier this year, the director of the Jewish Museum in Berlin resigned after tweeting a pro-BDS article.

The Aachen Art Prize is given out biannually to one outstanding contemporary artist, and in addition to the cash prize, it comes with an exhibition at the Ludwig Forum. Past winners of the award include Tacita Dean, On Kawara, Christian Boltanski, Pavel Althamer, and more.

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