MoMA exhibiting artist withdraws from museum events in solidarity with protesters
Artist Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill, who currently holds a personal exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, withdrew from two activities at the museum in solidarity with the protesters of Strike MoMA. Hill, a Métis artist and writer who lives and works in Canada, is the first MoMA artist to withdraw from the museum’s programs since the weekly MoMA strike protests began on April 9.
In a letter to MoMA today, June 9, the artist announced her decision to cancel her participation in an educational program called “Family Art Talk” which was scheduled for June 15. She also canceled a scheduled submission to MoMA magazine.
“It doesn’t seem fair to me to participate in programming for families sponsored by a gunmaker profiting from the deaths of these children,” the artist wrote in her letter, citing links to administrator Paula Crown and of her husband James Crown with General Dynamics, an arms manufacturer who supplied the IDF with the bombs it used against civilians in Gaza in May.
In an email to Hyperallergic, a MoMA spokesperson confirmed receiving Hill’s letter, adding: “We respect the right of all to have their voices heard and have a long history of making room for many. voice at MoMA. “
Hill’s exhibition is currently on display in the museum’s galleries at street level as part of MoMA’s series of projects. The exhibition features sculptures and drawings made primarily from tobacco, a plant of indigenous significance that was subjected to colonial extraction.
“I realize that I am in an adversarial position,” Hill’s letter continued. “I am currently exhibiting work at MoMA and thus personally benefit from the money provided by the Board of Directors. At the same time, I wish to align myself with those who are fighting to abolish the prison industry, the prison justice system, the extraction of resources that benefits the richest while costing the lives and lands of indigenous peoples and the poor. around the world, Israel’s apartheid system, arms trafficking, corruption and white supremacy.
“But I also know that I’m not alone, that a lot of people who work or have worked at MoMA as artists or arts professionals also want to put an end to these things,” the artist added, “and he there may be many ways for us to keep hitting. “
Hill said she has decided to honor her pledge to participate in a third program which will be co-hosted by MoMA and the Native American community house (AICH) in New York.
“As a Métis artist who is not from Lepapehoking, it is my responsibility to reach out to the natives of New York, to ask what can be done,” she explained. “By entering into a relationship with AICH, MoMA has long been committed to begin supporting Indigenous artists, Indigenous arts institutions and Indigenous curators, on their own terms.
Read the letter from artist Gabrielle L’Hirondelle Hill, reproduced in full, below:
June 9, 2021
I have decided to opt out of two of the public educational programs I had previously committed to in conjunction with my current solo show at MoMA: a Magazine Submission and a Family Art Talk, which was scheduled for June 15. This year, activist group Strike MoMA, made up of artists from New York and around the world, revealed the MoMA board’s financial ties to Jeffrey Epstein, Donald Trump, private prison companies Geo Group and CoreCivic, and the violent extraction of resources from Barrick Gold. More recently we learned of the links between the MoMA board of directors and the bombing of Gaza last May. Several board members were involved, including Paula Crown. The Crown family owns General Dynamics, a company that not only works closely with the Israeli occupation forces, but also manufactured the MK-84 bombs that were dropped on Gaza in the 11-day assault that cost the lives of 250 Palestinians, including 66 children. . As I wrote in a previous email, it doesn’t feel right to participate in programming for gunmaker sponsored families profiting from the deaths of these children.
The work I have done to exhibit at MoMA Projects consists of sculptures and works on paper largely made from tobacco, a plant that taught me a lot about capitalist colonial extraction but also about economic systems. indigenous people, who survive and thrive despite all attempts to extinguish them. . Sculptural forms refer to rabbits, families, and mothering to recognize reproductive work and other economies that spread sideways, giving and scattering wealth rather than accumulating it. The works on paper, especially the “flags” also contain many nods to spring, to what rises from the ground and to what is “in the air”. For me, this particular corpus suggests the possibility of economic forms that offer an alternative to capitalism, reflecting on those we already practice. And while I know that there is a long history of art institutions absorbing critical art to purify their own image, the intent of this work runs counter to the interests of MoMA board members including great wealth comes from the death, dispossession and imprisonment of people and the land.
I realize that I am in a contradictory position. I am currently exhibiting work at MoMA and thus personally benefit from the money provided by the Board of Directors. At the same time, I wish to align myself with those who are fighting to abolish the prison industry, the prison justice system, the extraction of resources that benefits the richest while costing the lives and lands of indigenous peoples and the poor. around the world, Israel’s apartheid system, arms trafficking, corruption and white supremacy. But I also know that I am not alone, that many people who work or have worked in MoMA as artists or arts professionals also want to put an end to these things. And there can be many ways for us to go on strike.
I am also in an adversarial position as I decide to continue participating in a program, which will be co-hosted by MoMA and the American Indian Community House (AICH). MoMA, which opened in 1929, operated for almost a century before it had a solo exhibition by a Native American artist: Edgar Heap of Birds’ Surviving Active Shooter Custer in 2019. The museum does not have only failed to engage meaningfully with Indigenous artists. and the Arts in the Americas, he also neglected to develop relationships with the vibrant Indigenous artistic communities living in Lenapehoking. AICH has been a hub of the Indigenous community and Indigenous arts in New York City since the 1960s and continues to offer programming despite the fact that they haven’t had a physical venue since 2018. I can only imagine how devastating a blow has been dealt to the Indigenous arts and community. well-being the loss of a space for AICH was. We should all ask ourselves how is it acceptable that such a fundamental space for Indigenous arts in the city can be lost as one of the world’s largest arts institutions, with billions of dollars in resources, continues to expand. and accumulate more and more goods? As a Métis artist who is not from Lepapehoking, it is my responsibility to reach out to
Native New York, to ask what can be done. By entering into a relationship with AICH, MoMA has long been committed to begin supporting Indigenous artists, Indigenous arts
Indigenous institutions and curators, on their own terms.
For everyone I know, it has been an incredibly isolating, alienating and difficult year and a half. It seems more important than ever to provide support, community and community, even if sometimes it seems more difficult than ever. I am very grateful to the members of AICH, who listened to me and offered me sound advice and guidance; for the support of those within MoMA who stand by my side as we attack, in different ways, a corrupt institution; and to Strike MoMA for the incredible work they have done to demand better from the art world and a better world for all.
Gabrielle L’Hirondelle hill