Quantcast
Connect with us

Activists call white artist’s Michael Brown ‘death scene’ exhibit ‘atrocious’ and exploitive

Published

on

If you’re not careful as you walk into the Gallery Guichard on Chicago’s south side, you could trip over police tape that surrounds a life-size mannequin of Michael Brown’s dead body while a video of Eartha Kitt looks over him singing Angelitos Negros .

Nooses and other paraphernalia largely associated with racism in the south decorate the rest of the space, a neon sign spelling out “Strange Fruit” glares against a white wall, and a Confederate flag with the names of the nine victims of the Charleston massacre – with a price tag of $4,500 – hangs behind the Kitt video. The piece sold over the weekend.

ADVERTISEMENT

The goal of this exhibition, entitled Confronting Truths: Wake Up!, by New Orleans-based artist Ti-Rock Moore is to start a larger discussion on the violence she sees white privilege produce in America from her perspective as a white female artist.

However, the exhibition has also been criticised on the grounds that it exploits the tragedy black Americans face for profit through the artist’s own white privilege.

“I definitely didn’t want to go [at first],” Johnetta “Netta” Elizie, an activist and high profile leader of anti-police violence group We the Protesters told the Guardian after visiting the Chicago gallery. “I felt it would do me no good to go there as far as my spirit is concerned.”

Related: US poet defends reading of Michael Brown autopsy report as a poem

Elizie had read local reports of the installation at the exhibition that vividly recreates the murder scene of Brown, who was shot dead by police officer Darren Wilson and left for hours in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri.

ADVERTISEMENT

But when friends from Ferguson drove to see the exhibition and voice their disdain for something that used the death of Brown as an artwork so soon after the tragedy, she felt she needed to go and support them.

“The artwork was atrocious,” she said. “The way she is using those images is just disgusting.”

While walking around the gallery, which sits in the Bronzeville neighborhood of the city and is an area affected by gun violence , Elizie used Periscope to live-stream to her 51,000 followers and the exhibition, which had garnered little attention in the previous few days, exploded across social media – with most responses seeming to share her disgust.

ADVERTISEMENT

Since then the exhibition has gone viral and has led to hate mail and even death threats directed at the gallery, according to the owners, Andre and Frances Guichard. But they seem at ease with the sharp responses, saying they believe the work will help heal a country torn by racism.

“I think what makes this exhibition really unique is that it’s really bold and blunt, and it’s right in your face,” Andre Guichard told the Guardian. “But when you really think about racism, racism can be bold and blunt and right in your face, too.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Guichard and his wife say the exhibition is not only timely but also responsible due its depiction of what they think art should engage with: our contemporary moment.

“When you have people who are trafficking young ladies across the globe and the people speaking up for them aren’t the people being trafficked,” Frances Guichard told the Guardian. “The people [speaking up] are those who care about making sure that it’s just based on humanity and that’s Ti-Rock.

“She’s not trying to be black or be part of the black experience,” Frances continued when asked if Moore was the art-world equivalent of viral sensation Rachel Dolezal , who identifies as a black woman but was born white. “If she was trying to be black, she would [for example] try to be somebody that infiltrated into sex trafficking and [being] victimized, but she didn’t do that.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The Guichards argue that even though her work is depicting violence against black people it is still appropriate for her to produce it as an artist since the point is to show how Moore’s own white privilege helps perpetuate said violence when the country does not work to change that system.

“My whiteness carries an unearned advantage in the American system,” Moore said in a 2014 interview before her Brown installation had made its debut. “We’re living in a society of very complicated systems that create advantages for white people and disadvantages for others. That’s what my work is about.”

Moore did not respond to requests from the Guardian to comment about her work and her latest exhibition at the time of reporting.

The gallery plans to donate 10% of the money from any artwork sold to a charity aimed at ending police violence. They are currently deciding on the specifics of where that potential gift will go.

ADVERTISEMENT

“This [exhibition] is something that needs to stay alive because we need to do what Ti-Rock says and understand what white privilege does to the African American community,” Frances Guichard said.

Michael Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, was in Chicago last week and attended the opening night of the exhibition. Before arriving, she learned that the piece specifically about her late son was not a photograph, as she had assumed, but an actual recreation of the scene.

She requested the gallery cover it up while she visited because it would have been too painful for her to witness, which they did.

The piece is one of the few being shown that isn’t for sale.

ADVERTISEMENT

by Zach Stafford, Chicago
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2015


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

‘I’m entitled’: Kayleigh McEnany defends her 11 mail-in votes while calling it ‘fraud’ for the masses

Published

on

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Thursday faced questions from Fox News about why she had voted by mail 11 times even though President Donald Trump has called absentee ballots a "scam."

McEnany was asked about her voting history after the Tampa Bay Times reported that she had used mail-in voting nearly a dozen times in recent years.

"So why is it OK for you to do it?" Fox News host Ed Henry asked McEnany. "I understand you are traveling, you're in a different city. But how can you really be assured that your votes were counted accurately but when other people do it, it's fraud."

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

‘They want their civil war’: Far-right ‘boogaloo’ militants have embedded themselves in the George Floyd protests in Minneapolis

Published

on

Young, white men dressed in Hawaiian-style print shirts and body armor, and carrying high-powered rifles have been a notable feature at state capitols, lending an edgy and even sometimes insurrectionary tone to gatherings of conservatives angered by restrictions on businesses and church gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic.

Just as many states are reopening their economies — and taking the wind out of the conservative protests — the boogaloo movement found a new galvanizing cause: the protests in Minneapolis against the police killing of George Floyd.

A new iteration of the militia movement, boogaloo was born out of internet forums for gun enthusiasts that repurposed the 1984 movie Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo as a code for a second civil war, and then modified it into phrases like “big luau” to create an insular community for those in on the joke, with Hawaiian-style shirts functioning as an in-real-life identifier. Boogaloo gained currency as an internet meme over the summer of 2019, when it was adopted by white supremacists in the accelerationist tendency. In January, the movement made the leap from the internet to the streets when a group boogaloo-ers showed up at the Second Amendment rally in Richmond, Va.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

WATCH: Man holds black DoorDash driver at gunpoint for delivering food to an Arizona apartment complex

Published

on

A man in Mesa, Arizona, is facing assault and weapons charges after he allegedly held a delivery driver at gunpoint this Sunday, 12News reports.

Police say Valentino Tejeda pulled a gun on 24-year-old Dimitri Mills in the parking lot of Tejeda's apartment complex, and when Mills and his girlfriend tried to explain they were making a food delivery to a neighbor, Tejeda still insisted that Mills, who is black, was somehow a threat.

Continue Reading
 
 
You need honest news coverage. Help us deliver it. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free.
close-image