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The Walker Art Center will no longer contract the services of the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) for special events, the museum announced in a statement this afternoon. In one of the most robust acts of support for the ongoing protests against anti-Black police brutality seen by an art museum so far, the Walker said it would stop working with the MPD until it “implements meaningful change.”
Those measures of change would include “demilitarizing training programs, holding officers accountable for the use of excessive force, and treating communities of color with dignity and respect,” says the statement. “Enough is enough. George Floyd should still be alive. Black lives matter.”
A previous post by the museum on Friday, May 29, expressed grief for the death of Floyd, a Black man choked by a white ex-police officer in Minneapolis. His murder has been met with calls for accountability and action, spurring nationwide demonstrations.
“What financial resources are you offering to Black artists in the community and other organizations/groups affected?” one commenter asked the museum. “How are you pushing for justice?”
Another invoked artist Sam Durant’s “Scaffold” (2012), a sculpture that was to be installed in the Walker’s sculpture garden in 2017. The piece caused controversy for its references to the US Army’s mass execution of 38 Native men in Minnesota at the end of the US-Dakota War of 1862. Both its aestheticizing of the gallows and its planned installation on a museum that sits on land once used by the Dakota people were highly condemned, leading to the piece’s burial by members of the Dakota nation.
But the Walker’s promise to divest from the MPD — the agency that formerly employed Derek Chauvin, the officer responsible for Floyd’s death — has been viewed by many as an important first step toward improving its track record in the fight for social justice.
The museum’s statement comes amid a wave of criticism that institutions nationwide are not doing enough to support Black communities and in some cases even enabling the work of police and oppressors. This weekend, the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City came under scrutiny for allowing patrol units to station for one day during nearby protests, later asking police to leave its premises. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art was accused of silencing a Black former employee by erasing and disabling comments on an Instagram post featuring a work by artist Glenn Ligon.
Others — the Whitney and the Guggenheim among them — were blasted for publishing black squares as part of the #BlackOutTuesday initiative. The blank posts, ostensibly meant as an expression of solidarity, ultimately clogged feeds with noise and made it more difficult to access critical information and protest resources.
The Walker has not yet responded to Hyperallergic’s immediate request for comment. In response to one Instagram commenter’s demand that the Walker cut “all ties” with MPD, the account’s administrator responded, “The Walker Art Center has no ongoing or existing contracts with the MPD but has in the past contracted officers to work large special events.”
“Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants—11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data—a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were…
he ownership of images has a long and nuanced legal history, which has evolved dramatically in recent years as cultural standards and photographic technologies have rapidly advanced
The show, which honors the 50th anniversary of an exhibition history once ignored, continues a series of projects documenting Wilmington’s contemporary art scene.
Renty and his daughter Delia. Renty was an enslaved African, kidnapped from the Congo, sold and forced into slave labor on the South Carolina plantation of B.F. Taylor
What is the relation between possessing a person, possessing their image, and dispossessing their progeny
As a scholar of African American history and photography whose work has focused on the status of violent images in museums and archives, I fully support the validity of Ms. Tamara Lanier’s claim and the amicus brief.
Two K-12 art teachers will each receive a $1,000 cash gift and an additional $500 to put toward classroom art supplies. Nominations are due October 31.
The daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor, Delia, Drana, Alfred, Jack, George Fassena, and Jem remained in an unused storage cabinet until 1975, when it was discovered by an employee of the Peabody Museum.
I am writing in support of the amicus curiae brief submitted by Professor Ariella Aïsha Azoulay of Brown University for the full restitution of the daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor and his daughter Delia, currently held by Harvard University, to their familial descendant, Tamara Lanier.
We cannot be indifferent to the long-lasting effects of photography. The photographs at the center of Lanier v. Harvard are relentless in making Renty and Delia Taylor work and perform as slaves. The pain inflicted on them has not ceased. Photography has the capacity to propagate harm, and we have the moral obligation to interrupt…