Opinion

Art After Trump: A Wish List

The art world is part of the actual world. Let’s imagine and reflect the society we want to live in.

Carolyn Lazard, “Support System (after Park, Tina, and Bob)” (2016), documentation of bouquets brought to the artist by 24 visitors over the course of a 12-hour bed performance. “Support System” is a durational piece addressing the performance of convalescence, disabled sociality, and the transactional nature of emotional labor. (courtesy the artist)

Welcome to the world some of us have known far too well for far too long.

Now that you’ve seen it, will you unsee it?

This is a wish list for art during and after Trump:

1. Decenter whiteness. We lead with our women, queer, and disabled artists and art spaces of color. White allies and white artists: Listen. Assist. Step aside. This is how we will begin to protect each other.

2. The art world is part of the actual world. Let’s imagine and reflect the society we want to live in. Make things — actions, gestures, objects — that are necessary, that are timely, and that are in service of the safety of our peers. Infuse art back into the streets, the streams, the fields, and the tunnels of our cities and towns. The country is the canvas. Resistance is the tool. Justice is the highest aesthetic criteria.

3. We can’t fund justice if there is blood on our bills. Disassociate art from luxury. Refuse money from those who profit off of waterfront development and the resulting tsunami of displacement, off of prisons, off of your grandma’s foreclosed house and your own student debt and innovations in drone technology and semiautomatics and access pipeline engineering and Bangladeshi factories and Walmart workers and Home Depot–sponsored school-to-work curriculum and prison and migrant slave labor and the War on Drugs, the War on Crime, the War on Science, the War on the Poor, and the many, many wars for oil.

Put use before press, and values before market trends.

4. Act with urgency. Make space for quick, loud, spectacular statements and surreal alternatives but hold sacred long-term, open-ended, steady commitment.

5. Acknowledge the long history of artists working this way over time and across the world. These are the artists to be supported, respected, and learned from.

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