Editor’s note: This part of a series of essays commissioned by Hyperallergic about the #J20 Art Strike, whose purpose and terms are articulated in a letter signed by dozens of critics, artists, curators, and gallerists. The #J20 Art Strike is proposed in solidarity with other #J20 actions taking place across the country that demand business does not proceed as usual on inauguration day. The art strike asks individuals and institutions to close or otherwise observe the day of noncompliance.
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Last week, several items came to my attention at the same time: the New York Times coverage of a call for an art strike in solidarity with a general strike on Inauguration Day, Adam Weinberg’s response to this call, and a steady stream of emails requesting additional signatories to the open letter from artists associated with #J20. Conversation inside and beyond the museum ensued.
For 10 years, I directed Visual AIDS, the organization behind Day With(out) Art. So the idea of shuttering museums, galleries, and cultural institutions in “action and mourning” and “in solidarity” (specifically with “people living with AIDS and their caregivers” to follow the language of early DWA) makes certain sense to me. A strike is a tactic among tactics and Visual AIDS evolved DWA into an opportunity to unite the art world(s) around the ongoing crisis, the history of art AIDS activism, and the work of HIV-positive artists. With this in mind, I am buoyed by the current call to strike, the willingness of artists to issue it publicly, and by the need to respond.
Critics of #J20’s call to action can consider a colleague’s offhanded response to the claim that the strike will be ineffectual: “If you work in visual culture and don’t understand the power of symbolism, you’re in the wrong business.” It is powerfully symbolic for those institutions who go dark to do so, just as it is powerfully symbolic for other institutions to deliberately choose to remain open.
Given this context and history, on Friday, January 20, 2017, the Institute of Contemporary Art will be open and, as always, will be admission-free.
We will be open on January 20th because openness is one of our principal guiding values. Our role as a public space on the campus of a private university in a city as rich in history and heart as it is impoverished in equity and resources remains crucially important. We work in recognition that political activism cannot and should not be disentangled from cultural institutions. I believe ICA’s program shows this clearly.
Now is the time to double down for institutions and also to hold institutions accountable, especially those providing space for artists and publics, for the unknown, the unimagined, and the overlooked. In times of great conflict, every action and word has greater significance. This we take seriously, as is our responsibility to art, artists, and audience. ICA, alongside many contemporary museums and cultural organization nationwide, will continue to make space for discourse and collectivity, for dissent and for the imaginary, for reflection and for action, on January 20th and beyond.
Once denounced as “women’s work” with no artistic merit, embroidery is experiencing a revival, with a feminist punch.
Inspired by the journey made by the epic hero Homer’s Odyssey, a show at Villa Carmignac combines myth with contemporary issues.
This new kunsthaus in Potsdam shows modern and contemporary works of art from East Germany in what was once a terrace restaurant.
Courtney Stephens’s documentary on women’s travels from the 1920s to ’50s presents not just personal glimpses into daily life a century ago but also documents of colonialism.
Laura Larson’s City of Incurable Women draws from archival materials to speculate on the lives of women who were famously hospitalized for hysteria throughout history.
The Philadelphia organization offers artists on-site access to recovered materials, studio space, construction equipment, a $1,000 stipend, and more.
The company is asking users to verify their bank details via Plaid, a fintech company that recently settled a privacy class action lawsuit.
Each artist will receive $190,000 in cash and benefits from the Tulsa Artist Fellowship over a three-year period.
Drawn to Life at the Ackland in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, showcases 17th-century Dutch drawings of landscapes, portraits, preparatory studies, and biblical and historical scenes.
The 1,000-year-old Cañada de la Virgen ceremonial site will be protected from encroaching development.
A total of 24 board members stepped down from their posts after the art center’s parent company allegedly attempted to terminate 12 of their colleagues.
A group of artists and writers denounced the center for hosting Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son of the country’s former dictator.