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HOUDINI Magazine

Erik Houdini

An Open Letter to Artists Performing at SXSW

Erik Houdini is a member of Artists Against Apartheid

SXSW, the famed Austin music and culture festival, is currently facing a form of whiplash. After learning the festival is heavily sponsored by RTX (formerly Raytheon) and Collins Aerospace, both of whom manufacture weapons for use in Gaza for the ongoing Israel-American funded genocide of Palestinians. Over 80 artists, including every artist from Ireland, have dropped out of the festival in solidarity with Palestinians.

If you consider that over 80 artists and dozens of panelists have already withdrawn, and you're not among them, it's essential to self-reflect: do I stand for with what those artists are protesting against? If you don't why haven't you joined them in dropping out? This situation could be a big opportunity for you, but it's also true that many are viewing the artists who continue to participate with skepticism, pondering the same considerations previously mentioned. Pondering just do you believe? Where you do you stand? Do you stand with genocide? With war profiteering? With your music, your art, being used as a recruitment tool for US imperialism? I mean, if you didn't you probably would have joined those other artists in solidarity right? Not really as big of a break as you thought when you put it that way, no?

Last year the festival made a staggering $380 Million, breaking previous records. Want to hurt the beast? Don't feed it.

SXSW organizers have said the sponsorship deal with these "defense" contractors is part of their “commitment to bring forward ideas that shape our world.” Shape our world into what? An unlivable hellscape where human lives are deemed worthless? A world where we watch from our phones as bladed missiles, manufactured by the same companies that sponsor SXSW, maim and murder innocent civillians? It's been 5 months, if you've opened any social media app, you've seen the footage, you know what these companies do, you know what our country does. Do you want to be part of a world shaped by the likes of SXSW and those that sponsor it? I don't, and I'd bet your fans, future or present, don't either.

We can shape our world without these war profiteers. In fact — we must, if we wish to have a world worth living in. This is the message to any artist, panelist, or performer on the fence. Drop out. To those with tickets, don't go. It's the 2020s, the winds of change are blowing. Will you sail with this new culture, or will you be left behind, gradually fading like footprints on the shifting sands of time? The stage is set for anyone to be Houdini, to control the spectacle and shatter the chains.

“If you have an official showcase, please drop it, Fuck SXSW, free Palestine.”

-TC Superstar frontman Connor McCampbell

If at the end of some centuries of sporadic struggle against foreign domination the Irish failed to hurl the English invader into the sea, they accomplished something better and more economical: By their resistance they took the profit out of colonialism and turned the colony from a British asset into a liability, so, in effect, persuading the enemy to withdraw.

War of the Flea - Pg 106

To Fight for Palestine is to Fight for Humanity