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The Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee organized an art exhibition in Harvard Yard on Wednesday to mourn the Palestinians killed in the Israel-Hamas war.
The one-day-only installation, titled “Life Under the Rubble,” was erected in Tercentenary Theatre. The installation included everyday items such as furniture, clothing, books, and medical equipment, all spray-painted red and damaged to “show the destruction of life and property,” according to a PSC spokesperson granted anonymity due to safety concerns.
The PSC’s art installation comes in the wake of national backlash that began after the PSC and other student groups published a joint statement that called Israel “entirely responsible” for the violence amid the Islamist militant group Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel. Earlier this month, students from Harvard Hillel and Chabad installed a Shabbat table in Tercentenary Theatre as a tribute to those kidnapped or killed by Hamas.
The PSC’s exhibition was organized into six parts — “The Home,” “The Hospital,” “The School,” “The Graveyard,” “The Refugee Camp,” and “The Diaspora” — which represent “the six domains of Gazan life under siege today,” according to a website specifically created for the art installation.
“‘Life Under the Rubble’ visually mourns the lives of over 11,000 Palestinians killed in Gaza during the ongoing genocide that has unfolded in the past month,” the PSC spokesperson wrote in a statement. “As the media and mainstream discourse seeks to dehumanize Palestinians — reducing Gazans to numbers — this exhibit aims to bring the loss of the past month to Harvard Yard, to not only create a space for grief, but to also highlight memories and aspirations.”
Students and affiliates from multiple Harvard schools — especially the Graduate School of Design and the Medical School — helped create the installation, according to the spokesperson.
Midway through the exhibition, several counter-protesters set up signs bearing Israeli flags and the names and faces of people who had been killed or kidnapped by Hamas. Near the end of the exhibition, a person stood on the steps of Memorial Church and waved oversized Israeli and American flags while shouting at passersby.
“By putting up this installation in Harvard Yard, we hope to spark a conversation about how the violence in Gaza is not removed from our own reality as students and Harvard’s institutional complicity,” the PSC spokesperson wrote.
University spokesperson Jonathan L. Swain declined to comment.
Harvard President Claudine Gay condemned the pro-Palestine slogan “from the river to the sea” in a statement last week.
“Combating antisemitism and fostering free expression are mutually consistent goals,” she wrote. “We are at our strongest when we commit to open inquiry and freedom of expression as foundational values of our academic community.”
The PSC spokesperson wrote the organization aims to “call out the institution that ignores these lives” that the installation mourns.
“This installation seeks to challenge Harvard’s silence — and silencing — of voices, and to empower our student body and community to keep speaking out in the face of injustice,” the spokesperson wrote.
Correction: November 16, 2023
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that students from Harvard Hillel and Chabad installed a Shabbat table in Tercentenary Theatre last Tuesday. In fact, this took place on Nov. 3.
—Staff writer Madeleine A. Hung can be reached at email@example.com.
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