Whitney Museum Cancels Mutual Aid Art Show After Outcry From Artists

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The Whitney Museum planned to feature works sold for mutual aid funds.

Recently, New York’s Whitney Museum announced an exhibition titled “Collective Actions: Artist Interventions in a Time of Change.” The exhibit, scheduled for September 17, was to feature pieces of art being sold to support mutual aid funds aiding in COVID-19 relief and the Black Lives Matter movement. After outcry from artists whose work was involved in the event, the museum has now canceled the event.

“We at the museum have been listening and hearing from artists about their concerns,” said Farris Wahbeh, the show’s organizer in a letter to ARTnews. “The conversations and discussions that have come out of the exhibition are deeply felt. We apologize for the anger and frustration the exhibition has caused and have made the decision not to proceed with the show.”

Earlier this week, numerous artists posted emails from Wahbeh. The artists were to be compensated with lifetime passes to the museum, but no information about payment was given in the emails posted.

“This is why you shouldn’t be out here selling your images for $100,” tweeted artist Antwaun Sargent. “Becaue a major museum will “acquire” your art through and stage an exhibition.”

Another artist involved, Fields Harrington, says their included art (a digital piece called Abolish Fucking Police) wasn’t intended to appear in a museum.

“I was responding to continuing state violence that I was witnessing on social media,” Harrington said. “I put it up for the public–I thought people would put it on their phone, print it out and bring it to protests. I didn’t have an intention other than that it was for people in the streets.”

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