Black artists are protesting a painting — based on portraits of Emmett Till by White artist Dana Schultz — included in the Biennial exhibition at the Whitney Museum of Art in New York, reports the New York Times.
From the New York Times:
An African-American artist, Parker Bright, has conducted peaceful protests in front of the painting since Friday, positioning himself, sometimes with a few other protesters, in front of the work to partly block its view. He has engaged museum visitors in discussions about the painting while wearing a T-shirt with the words “Black Death Spectacle” on the back. Another protester, Hannah Black, a British-born black artist and writer working in Berlin, has written a letter to the biennial’s curators, Mia Locks and Christopher Y. Lew, urging that the painting be not only removed from the show but also destroyed.
“The subject matter is not Schutz’s,” Ms. Black wrote in a Facebook message that has been signed by more than 30 other artists she identifies as nonwhite. “White free speech and white creative freedom have been founded on the constraint of others, and are not natural rights. The painting must go.” She added that “contemporary art is a fundamentally white supremacist institution despite all our nice friends.”
…Mr. Bright, in a Facebook Live video of his protest, makes some of the same points in objecting to the painting’s inclusion in the show. The biennial is an unusually diverse exhibition of work by 63 artists and collectives; nearly half the artists are female and half are nonwhite. Calling the painting “a mockery” and “an injustice to the black community,” Mr. Bright adds that he believes the work perpetuates “the same kind of violence that was enacted” on Till “just to make a painting move.”
Black posted an open letter — which was co-signed by over 25 black members of the arts community — on Tumblr. The Biennial’s curators, Christopher Y. Lew and Mia Locks, have defended the painting, which depicts the “unforgettable” image of 14-year-old Emmett Till’s dead body in an open casket at his funeral after he was lynched in Mississippi in 1955 after he was falsely accused of flirting with a white woman, reports New York Magazine.
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