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.
why wouldn’t she work directly w consenting victims ? i dont — ??♀️ im so sorry helen
— ??? Wild Chamomile ??? (@GigiHernandezz) June 11, 2019
A cool move would have been to not only reach out to the victims but include them in the show if they agreed to participate. So that y’alls voices were the ones amplified.
— ariana delawari (@arianadelawari) June 11, 2019
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.”
this gallery is straight up lying to people in real time about using my image in their exploitative bullshit pic.twitter.com/ORnhU5zCge
— helen (@helen) June 11, 2019
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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