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Protest signs on the fence near Sam Durant’s “Scaffold” (2012) in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden (photo by Sheila Regan/Hyperallergic)

A few weeks ago, artist Sam Durant released a long essay about his work, “Scaffold,” which reflects on the project that dominated art world headlines. Originally commissioned for documenta (13) — the influential quinquennial exhibition in Kassel, Germany  in 2012, it wasn’t until “Scaffold” was installed in the Walker Art Center’s sculpture park in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, that it was met with protests by the local Dakota community.

That event was a lightning rod for a national conversation about appropriation, racism, and the role of artists, museums, curators, and others in those conversation. I invited Durant to join me on the podcast to discuss the reason he wrote this so many years after the fact and what he thinks the lessons are.

The music featured in this episode is the track “California Life” by Radiochaser.

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Hrag Vartanian

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic. You can follow him at @hragv.

3 replies on “Sam Durant Revisits the “Scaffold” Controversy Three Years Later”

  1. You must be joking. Quit blaming the Walker. The artist needs to wake up. The arrogance of this artist is emblematic of the art world right now. The Guggenheim for one. Oblivious to their white privilege. Dana Schutz comes from the program at Columbia U which bestows their elitist diploma on the students and endow them with an enormous ego which they flaunt around the world. The director of the Walker resigned over this but immediately got other jobs and then wrote an op ed on the importance of being aware. Hello?

  2. This controversy was very poorly represented in the media. Thank you for giving me better understanding of this.

  3. The Walker has a long history of cutting edge contemporary international art. They also have a long history of ignoring their community. It is the elitist position of intellectual and aesthetic dominance that pervades the art world. They would never lower themselves to actually ask opinions of the community they work in, they know better. This is systemic racism. They have blocked out all minorities from the power.

    The Guggenheim has the most elite of art world operators. The director is a graduate of the Whitney Independent Program for God’s sake. And yet he and his museum consistently ignored African American people in their Board of Trustees and senior positions. They would give many, many shows to African American artists but just don’t ask to have a position of power. Just ask Chaedria. The director and the Chief Curator still believe they have done nothing wrong. Amazing the delusion of the entitled white person.

    I do not want to demonize anyone. We all make mistakes but lets have the integrity to recognize those mistakes. I would like to see Thelma Gooden as the Chief Curator if only for a couple of years.

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