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Protesters during a "Strike MoMA" action in midtown Manhattan on June 11, 2021 (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)

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After taking a summer hiatus, members of the Strike MoMA campaign will return this week to the Museum of Modern Art in Midtown Manhattan to launch “phase 2” of their protests against toxic museum philanthropy.

The activists will convene outside MoMA on Friday, September 10, to discuss what they call a “just transition to a post-MoMA future.” The meeting was planned last year as the second act in a multi-staged campaign against MoMA’s alleged complicity, mainly through a cluster of influential billionaire donors on its board of trustees, in war profiteering, environmental destruction, and the dispossession of communities worldwide.

Organized by a coalition of activist groups named the International Imagination of Anti-National Anti-Imperialist Feelings (IIAAF), the first phase of the Strike MoMA initiative included 10 consecutive weeks of protest outside MoMA, spanning from early April to mid-June. Attended by hundreds, the weekly protests and online talks highlighted the “interconnected struggles” of communities across Palestine, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Colombia. The activists also targeted several MoMA trustees — among them Leon Black, Larry Fink, Steven Tananbaum, Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, and Paula Crown — for their alleged involvement in violent, imperialist, or predatory business practices. At the height of the protest series, four activists were permanently banned from MoMA after a confrontation with MoMA’s security staff. In addition, over 250 artists and public intellectuals signed an open letter denouncing MoMA’s alleged ties to violence against Palestinians, and artist Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill withdrew from activities at the museum in solidarity with the protesters.

“POST-MOMA FUTURE” banner at Manhattan’s Urban Plaza on West 53 Street

The meeting on Friday will also kick off a week of activities and organizing leading up to a city-wide action on September 17 under the slogan “Globalize the Intifada.” The planned action will set in motion a new framework that adopts the Palestinian uprising (“Intifada”) as a model of resistance against colonial violence and oppression worldwide, including the “U.S. genocidal grip of imperialism and Zionism.” The protest is organized by a coalition of groups that includes Decolonize This Place, Within Our Lifetime, and others.

“We build upon the revolutionary spirit and inspiration of Palestinian resistance, in the understanding that our own liberation is either collective or nonexistent, and that it must reflect the interconnectedness of our struggles in our neighborhoods and homelands,” a statement on Within Our Lifetime’s website says. “That is why we are organizing actions every week as we build towards September 17th, a peak day of action across New York City and beyond.” 

Last Tuesday, August 31, an anonymous protester (or group) spray-painted MoMA’s staff entrance on West 53rd Street. A video of the incident was shared on the Instagram account @savannah_luvvu with a caption that partially said: “The ‘MOMA’ is a multimillionaire dollar company. Instead of tightening their security and adding extra measures they are funding Israel which is preforming [sic] systematic ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian.”

Strike MoMA Working Group told Hyperallergic that the action was not committed by members of the group but commented: “The interlocking directorate of the board of trustees of MoMA is responsible for violence and extractivism across the globe from Palestine to the Dominican Republic. If museums continue to try to do business as usual people autonomously and creatively will choose to continue, diversify, and escalate action and organizing.”

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Hakim Bishara

Hakim Bishara is a staff writer for Hyperallergic. He is also a co-director at Soloway Gallery, an artist-run space in Brooklyn. Bishara is a recipient of the 2019 Andy Warhol Foundation and Creative Capital...

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