Following widespread criticism on social media, Andrea Bowers’s installation at Art Basel has removed a photograph of Helen Donahue, screengrabbed from a tweet made in October 2017 that included an image of the writer’s body and face marked with bruises. Donahue is a writer who was one of four women who accused Michael Hafford, a former writer at Vice’s Broadly and “Male Feminist Here” columnist, of sexual assault.
Bowers’s installation, called Open Secrets, outlined the allegations against men who had been outed as abusers in the #MeToo movement, including film producer Harvey Weinstein, and former Artforum publisher and co-owner Knight Landesman. The artwork, priced at $300,000, was part of Art Basel’s Unlimited section, curated by Gianni Jetzer.
After learning about the installation at Art Basel via social media, Donahue wrote in a tweet: “cool that my fucking photos and trauma are heading art basel thx for exploiting us for ‘art.’”
She continued, “DO YOU KNOW HOW FUCKING INSANE IT IS TO FIND OUT MY BEAT UP FACE AND BODY ARE ON DISPLAY AS ART RN FOR RICH PPL TO GAWK AT THRU A STRANGER’S INSTAGRAM STORY.” She requested that individuals contact Jetzer to demand the work be removed, and was met with an outpouring of support.
This morning, the Art Newspaper reported that the panel including Donahue’s image would be removed.
“I, Andrea Bowers, would like to apologize to the survivor whose image was included in my piece. I should have asked for her consent,” the artist said in a statement sent to Hyperallergic. “[Donahue] has asked that the panel including her photo be removed and I have honored the request. I have reached out privately and am very much looking forward to listening.”
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We're excited to present Andrea Bower's work "Open Secrets 1 & 2" @artbasel #ArtUnlimited in collaboration with @capitainpetzel @kaufmannrepetto, @vielmetter. On view from June 10 – June 16. Open Secret documents the important cultural shifts represented by the #MeToo and Time’s Up international movements against sexual harassment and assault, which spread virally following public revelations of sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein in 2017. The work contains approximately 200 photographic prints, each of which lists the name and occupation of an accused person, as well as their response to the allegations, printed in the typeface in which they were originally published. This project serves as both a physical manifestation of patriarchy and a monument to the courage of survivors who are speaking out against sexual harassment and assault, thereby making public what many repeatedly said were "open secrets." The work was researched, designed, written and produced in collaboration with: Kate Alexandrite, Angel Alvarado, Ryan Beal, Carey Coleman, David Burch, Miriam Katz, Zut Lorz, Julie Sadowski, Ian Trout, Ingrid von Sydow #AndreaBowers
The work was presented by kaufmann repetto, in collaboration with Capitain Petzel; Andrew Kreps Gallery, and Vielmetter Los Angeles. In a joint statement, the galleries said that they “would also like to issue an apology to the survivor pictured in the piece. The galleries stand by Andrea Bowers and her work and support the conversation that has only just begun.”