ArtistsInstitutions 20-02-2017

Anti-Trump protest erupts inside MoMA

Last Friday, in the latest attack on Donald Trump by artist activists, a group of several dozen protesters and hundreds of other attendees stormed the lobby of the Museum of Modern Art in New York to demand the immediate removal of Larry Fink from the institution’s board. Fink, CEO of BlackRock, Inc., is also a member of President’s Strategic and Policy Forum – a collection of business leaders who advise the Trump administration.


The protest was led by artist-activist collective The Illuminator and the splinter group of the Occupy Wall Street movement, Occupy Museums, which “attempts to reclaim space for meaningful culture by and for the 99%.” The protesters launched an attack, not solely on Fink’s collusion with Trump, but also on his status as cofounder and CEO of Blackrock Inc, the largest financial company in the world which currently manages $1.1 trillion worth of assets. The statement distributed by the protesters read: “...virtuoso of the credit default swap, and an exemplary predator on the crushing debt burden of millions of people, Fink is just one of many such oligarchs deeply entwined with MoMA in particular and the institutional landscape of the art-world more generally.” This line of attack was a pertinent one for Occupy Museums, whose “Debtfair” project, which goes on show at this year’s Whitney Biennial, explores the crippling impact of financial debt on artists working today.

 

A video of the protest, via Mira Schor's Facebook page.

 

The protesters expressed their disgust at what they saw as MoMA’s implication in the Trump regime due to Fink’s presence on the board: “Because Trump is waging a war of hate and of lies against muslims, against immigrants, against women, against LGBTQ people, against disabled people, and against the planet itself, one cannot reasonably advise or do any kind of business with this regime. We are calling for Larry Pink to be kicked off the board as a sign to your public that you care for our values of human dignity.”

As the protesters emphasized in their rallying statement, the action fittingly took place on MoMA’s “Free Friday” (February 17), a day that was created due to pressure from the Art Worker’s Coalition, a group of artists, critics, writers and museum workers formed in 1969. “There is a long history of activism at MoMA. In fact tonight’s free museum entrance was brought to you by the Art Workers Coalition’s protest decades ago. So in this tradition, we are calling from MoMA to change this behaviour of normalizing Trump.”

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