Are you a certified hater, elbow-deep in the art world, and in New York City this coming weekend? If you said yes to all three, then you might want to pay the inaugural NADA (New Art Dealers Alliance) Flea market a visit this Saturday or Sunday (February 4–5) to get your hands on a limited edition “FUCK CARL ANDRE” t-shirt or baseball cap.
Designed by artist Christine Egaña Navin and sold through pop-up exhibition space Project Art Distribution, the black shirts and caps read “FUCK CARL ANDRE EST. 1985” in reference to the year Andre was accused of murdering his wife of eight months, Ana Mendieta, a Cuban-born American artist renowned for her feminist performance work underlining the relationship between natural landscapes and the politics of the female body.
“My wife is an artist, and I’m an artist, and we had a quarrel about the fact that I was more, eh, exposed to the public than she was,” Andre said during his 911 phone call on September 8, 1985 after Mendieta plummeted down 33 stories to her death from the window of their Greenwich Village apartment. “And she went to the bedroom, and I went after her, and she went out the window.” Andre was acquitted of all charges in 1988 when a non-jury trial ruled Mendieta’s death a suicide. This courtroom decision prompted international outrage from feminists and artists who maintain that Andre had pushed or thrown her from the apartment window, referencing courtroom evidence highlighting a verbal and physical altercation that occurred between the pair prior to Mendieta’s fall.
Despite many activists’ and artists’ calls to re-examine the incident, Andre continues to have the backing of blue-chip spaces such as Paula Cooper, his longtime gallery which held a solo show of his work as recently as last year. In 2014, DIA:Chelsea held a Carl Andre retrospective that sparked a peaceful but powerful protest from artist Christen Clifford and the No Wave Performance Task Force, equipped with chicken blood, entrails, and disposable Tyvek jumpsuits with variations of “I wish Ana Mendieta was still alive” scrawled on with Sharpie. “I’m not making a protest saying he’s a fucking murderer, even though that’s what I believe,” Clifford said, explaining the wording choice. “I want to put positive things in the world.” In 2015, feminist poets, artists, and activists convened in the exhibition to cry and emote collectively in an action titled “CRYING; A PROTEST.”
Last year, a podcast ostensibly examining the art world’s “silence” around Mendieta’s death was decried by some critics as true-crime sensationalism that focused disproportionately on her alleged killer’s career and influence.
On the other hand, while Navin’s and Project Art Distribution’s declaration of “FUCK CARL ANDRE” is rather confrontational, all proceeds from apparel sales will go toward a Latina-led organization called Violence Intervention Program (VIP) that has provided culturally-specific resources, housing, and healing avenues for primarily Latine survivors of domestic and sexual abuse in New York City since 1984.
“As a Cuban-American artist who is a second-generation New Yorker, I’ve always been naturally drawn to this story,” Navin told Hyperallergic. “However, as the surviving sibling of a girl who was also murdered in her own New York home in the 1980s, Ana Mendieta’s story hits me a little differently.”
“Carle Andre’s persistent reinsertion into the contemporary art world is deeply disturbing to me as a reminder that my sister’s murderer one day might be free and his crimes forgotten,” Navin continued, pointing out the art sphere’s broader involvement in Andre’s continued appreciation.
“The silence of art world participants, implicated in the t-shirt, points to silence, complacency, and fear to speak up,” she said.
The shirts will be sold at sliding scale price range between $35 to $120, and the caps at $30 to $75. You can get the apparel this Saturday and Sunday between 11am and 5pm from the pop-up exhibition shop, swap meet, on the 2nd floor of 311 East Broadway in the Lower East Side. And for those of you outside of the city, Navin has an online store that sells the wares at a fixed price.
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