This afternoon, April 9, activist and performer Brittany Williams poured water from a bottle onto the ground of Manhattan’s Urban Plaza, throughout the road from the Museum of Modern Art, in a gesture of therapeutic and acknowledgment of the Lenape land on which the plaza stands. Brandishing a machete, the co-founder of Get This War Dance then paced slowly in the direction of MoMA’s constructing on West 53rd Street. Her face was coated with a steel mesh display screen, evoking cage wire.
“Strike! It’s time, y’all,” Williams known as on passersby in entrance of the museum. “This place right here represents colonialization, white supremacy, and the reason why our ancestors died. We say no more!”
That was the excessive level of a protest held at the moment as half of the “Strike MoMA” marketing campaign, organized by a new coalition of activists named the International Imagination of Anti-National Anti-Imperialist Feelings (IIAAF).
About 50 protesters, amongst them present and former MoMA staff, gathered on the plaza in entrance of the museum beneath drizzling rain. The protest kicked off what will probably be “10 Weeks of Art, Action, and Conversation,” working by June. According to the organizers, extra actions had been held at the moment in Chicago, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Greece.
For months, MoMA has been mired in controversy surrounding billionaire investor Leon Black, who not too long ago recused himself as its chairman after a whole lot of artists protested his former ties to intercourse offender Jeffrey Epstein. However, Black will stay a member of the board.
The IIAAF activists say that their objective is to reimagine MoMA as an establishment untethered to billionaire donors engaged in predatory practices, hoping to usher in a “post-MoMA future.”
The protesters focused a number of different MoMA trustees, together with Larry Fink, Steven Tananbaum, Glenn Dubin, Steven Cohen, and Ronald Lauder. The activists have drawn consideration to the trustees’ controversial political and monetary histories, together with alleged ties to Epstein and Donald Trump and enterprise dealings associated to vulture capitalism, environmental destruction, and mass incarceration.
“When we strike MoMA, we are allowing something else to emerge, something that allows care and generosity over property and profit,” one of the activists learn from a assertion. “Something controlled by workers, communities, and artists rather than death-dealing oligarchs who control it now.”
Two police vehicles that had been stationed on 53rd Street firstly of the protest quickly left the scene. The motion proceeded with none clashes between the activists and the museum’s safety.
“We are outside MoMA because MoMA exists outside of itself,” one other speaker stated. “It is more than an art museum. It is a spectacular node in a grid of power and capital extending through the city and the world.”
Khadeeja Majoka, a PhD Student at Columbia University, got here to take part within the protest with two of her buddies after seeing an announcement of the occasion on social media.
“The art world pretends to exist in a mystical isolation from class, race, and gender,” Majoka advised Hyperallergic. “I’m hoping this would start a conversation,” she stated in regards to the protest. “Museums are the prime place where decolonization should happen. They’re built on such violence.”
Abou Farman, a member of the group MoMA Divest, stated in an deal with: “Some of the most powerful men of the world sit on MoMA’s board. Their net worth over the last year has gone up exponentially while many people have lost their jobs, incomes, and lives.”
“People on that board make weapons; own mercenary companies that committed war crimes; have connections to sexual predators; and own companies that imprison people in cages,” Farman continued. “They come to the museum to wash their money and reputations. That’s the MoMA laundromat we’re looking at.”
In October of 2019, MoMA Divest and different teams crashed a VIP preview celebrating the museum’s redesign, calling on MoMA and Fink, CEO of BlackRock, to divest from personal jail firms. Seven protesters had been arrested later that month throughout a demonstration calling for the elimination of Tananbaum, a hedge fund supervisor accused of making the most of Puerto Rico’s debt disaster.
“The problem goes beyond any one board member; the museum itself is the problem,” a member of IIAAF advised Hyperallergic.
“MoMA needs to look different,” the activist continued. “It may not even look like a museum, but it needs to be a place for people, not for big money.”
The museum has not but responded to Hyperallergic’s request for remark.
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