Artists are requesting that the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York remove their work from its biennial showcase over a museum board member’s ties to the sale of law-enforcement supplies including tear gas. Image: Bebeto Matthews/AP
More artists are telling the Whitney Museum for American Art they are withdrawing from the museum’s high-profile Biennial contemporary art showcase currently underway in New York.
“It was a really easy decision,” says artist Nicholas Galanin, who spoke by phone from Alaska, where he lives. Along with three other artists, he told the Whitney on Friday that he wanted his multimedia work pulled from the show.
Over the weekend, Galanin and the others were joined by four more artists and collectives. Many in the art world expect other artists in the show to follow suit during the coming week.
The artists are protesting the vice chair of the Whitney’s board, Warren B. Kanders, over his ownership of military supply companies that sell tear gas and bullets, which the artists allege to have been used against migrants on the U.S. southern border and against unarmed civilian protesters in Gaza.
One of the pieces in the Biennial show, a short video entitled “Triple-Chaser,” lays out a case against Kanders, with the help of gruesome footage of a Palestinian protester getting shot. It was made by a London collective called Forensic Architecture, along with Praxis Films, a company run by filmmaker Laura Poitras.
Forensic Architecture is among the artists requesting that their work be removed from the Whitney Biennial.
“We might just end up with a Biennial of empty rooms,” says Zachary Small, senior writer for the art news website Hyperallergic. “That would be an amazing statement about who is funding culture.”
Art critic Blake Gopnik, a contributor to the New York Times, agrees.
“The artists who withdrew from the Biennial actually made the best work of art in the Biennial. This is an excellent work of political art,” he said, referring to the…