The art world would surely make its most effective statement against Donald Trump by simply carrying on as normal and creating powerful political art.
Instead many artists, in the name of an ‘anti-fascist cultural front’, are pledging to strike on inauguration day with museums, theaters, galleries and concert halls closing for the day. Prominent artists including Richard Serra and Cindy Sherman have signed the ‘J20 Art Strike Letter’ .
“We consider Art Strike to be one tactic among others to combat the normalization of Trumpism—a toxic mix of white supremacy, misogyny, xenophobia, militarism, and oligarchic rule,” the letter declares, adding: “It is not a strike against art, theater, or any other cultural form. It is an invitation to motivate these activities anew, to reimagine these spaces as places where resistant forms of thinking, seeing, feeling, and acting can be produced.”
But over at the prestigious Whitney Museum of American Art in downtown Manhattan, they have organized what might be the lamest, limpest protest yet against Trump. The Whitney isn’t going on strike but instead promising ‘civic engagement and diversity’ via a pay-what-you-can concept.
The museum pledges: “On January 20, the Whitney will be open all day on a pay-what-you-wish basis, and will offer programming that reflects the Museum’s commitment to open dialogue, civic engagement, and the diversity of American art and culture.”
What is intended as an anti-Trump gesture from the Whitney actually turns the inauguration into an advertisement for affordable art since the usual $25 admission charge doesn’t apply.
The Whitney, à la Meryl Streep and Michelle Obama, can’t even bring itself to name Trump by name. So much for “open dialogue”…