31 May 2024


HIAP Open Studios Spring 2024 cancelled – residents’ Palestine initiative and the next steps

UPDATE / 20 JUNE 2024

Here is a snapshot of the current discussions and plans for action that HIAP has been developing since last week regarding the Palestinian cause.


The Apartheid Free Zone (AFZ) campaign, which Sumud has introduced locally is well-defined and connected to the global BDS movement. We think that HIAP should make a decision on a long-term commitment of whether to join this initiative or not, instead of setting up an alternative, stand-alone version of AFZ. In our meeting with Sumud on 19 June, we learned about the practicalities of AFZ and the importance of each organisation adopting the policies in its own way. We agreed to continue the discussions in August, when the new HIAP Director is on board. The final decision will eventually be confirmed by the HIAP board and possibly the member organisations of HIAP as well.


The statements by the resident artists propose various programme activities and collaborations in solidarity with Palestine. These align well with what HIAP has already been striving to realise. We have previously collaborated with Ramallah Municipality, and were working to realise a residency with them earlier this year, but the plan collapsed due to the lack of resources. We would also welcome collaborations with local initiatives which work in solidarity with Palestine. We believe this is potentially the most impactful way for HIAP to contribute.

Over the past years, we’ve also been working on a residency programme that would be aimed at countries in the Global South and/or addressing the crisis regions in the world. The initiative put forth by the current residents emphasises the need for such a programme to exist, and gives further impetus for getting such a programme running.


HIAP staff members take part in various demonstrations. We do this as private individuals and out of our own motivation. We often take part in demonstrations with our friends or family members. We would not wish to lose the power and the right to make choices about this ourselves, and to turn this act into an organisational obligation.

We are sharing this in the last moments when the current HIAP staff is still together before the vacation break. These actions and ongoing discussions with the residents will be prioritised on our return in August. For us, it’s important to ensure that when we make statements, we are also able to follow up with the concrete, practical actions those statements necessitate.

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UPDATE / 12 JUNE 2024

We, the HIAP staff, appreciate the resident artists’ decision to take the initiative and call for action regarding an urgent cause.

We are dedicating time this week to gaining a deeper understanding of all the actions proposed by the residents and discussing what would be the best means for HIAP to act. We believe that we can announce some concrete actions next week.

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UPDATE / 10 JUNE 2024

HIAP Spring 2024 Residents’ Open Studio Withdrawal Statement

The Helsinki International Artist Programme (HIAP) Spring 2024 Residents are collectively withdrawing from the HIAP Open Studios as a call for action from HIAP, the institution, to publicly extend solidarity to the Palestinian struggle for decolonisation and to support the political, civil, and human rights of all Palestinians.

This is in response to HIAP’s unwillingness to sign a Commitment to an Apartheid Free Zone which was prepared and signed by the HIAP Spring 2024 Residents. We demand HIAP to use the time, energy, and resources freed up from organising Open Studios to:

  • Gather resources and form a public response to the residents actions and demands.
  • Commit to participating in the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement and Commitment to an Apartheid Free Zone.
  • Commit to sustainably implementing tangible actions within the programme beyond our term as residents.
  • Work towards establishing a sustainable Palestinian Solidarity Residencies Programme, building on past initiatives and the current active Ukraine Solidarity Residencies Programme, to directly support Palestinian artists and artworkers.

Our time at HIAP is brief and we are taking this time to channel our energy, and mobilise our grief and outrage into direct action. In doing so, we commit to meaningfully start and maintain a much-needed and overdue dialogue to initiate and demand institutional accountability. We invite HIAP alumni and future residents to sign this statement with us in solidarity.

Please find the link to sign the Commitment to an Apartheid Free Zone in the HIAP Spring 2024 Residents instagram bios and HIAP online platforms.

Free Palestine. Ceasefire Now.

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UPDATE / 7 JUNE 2024

Based on the initiative of the HIAP Spring 2024 Residents, the Open Studios event is cancelled. A statement by the residents will be announced very soon.