Migration Exhibitions Obscure the Reality of Militarized Borders – ARTnews.com – Google Alerts

When museums become sites of political struggle, it is usually because they have been criticized from outside. Lately, activists and artists have cast these institutions as storehouses of capital and monuments to colonial power, challenging them on everything from the looting of Indigenous artifacts to the influence of opioid profiteers. But the global far-right resurgence over the last few years has also given museums an opportunity to act politically in ways they rarely imagined. Xenophobic nationalism seems to stand in every way against the cosmopolitan, multicultural image that museums present to the world. In the United States, institutions now have an opening to articulate an alternative vision, one that not only confronts Trumpism but understands its links to the neoliberal consensus that came before, that not only showcases the work of artists who reject nationalism but identifies culprits and underlying structures. Yet, they find themselves torn between the radical vision of an open world and the temptation to flatter and reassure.

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This is the dilemma that confronted three recent exhibitions about borders and migration. Presented at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., from June to September this past year, “The Warmth of Other Suns: Stories of Global Displacement,” curated by Massimiliano Gioni and Natalie Bell of the New Museum, was the largest of the three, with seventy-five artists and collectives; “When Home Won’t Let You Stay: Migration through Contemporary Art,” a show of twenty artists curated by Ruth Erickson and Eva Respini, opened in October and closed last month at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (though it continues to travel through January 2021); and “Crossing Lines, Constructing Home,” curated by Mary Schneider Enriquez and Makeda Best, was at the Harvard Art Museums from September through January, with more than forty works, all…

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