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Andrea Bowers, “Open Secrets Part I” (2018), Archival pigment prints, 100 prints, dimensions variable, 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 (Photo: Jens Ziehe, Courtesy of the Artist, Capitain Petzel, Berlin, Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York, kaufmann repetto, Milan, and Vielmetter Los Angeles)

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.”

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.”

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Jasmine Weber

Jasmine Weber is Hyperallergic's news editor. She is an artist and writer based in Brooklyn, particularly interested in Black art histories and visual culture....

One reply on “Following Social Media Criticism, #MeToo Artwork at Art Basel Removes Image of Assault Victim”

  1. This artist is also more than happy to sell her work to male collectors who have been accused by women of harassment/assault and have been publicly implicated in the Me Too movement. SMH.

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