Whitney Museum Cancels Show of Mutual Aid Art

Yesterday, August 25, the Whitney Museum of American Art has canceled the show Collective Actions: Artist Interventions in a Time of Change that was to take place from September 17, 2020 to January 3, 2021.The exhibition included the exhibition of prints, photographs, posters and digital files made this year in response to the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement. Most of the work that was to be exhibited was done by black artists to “raise funds for anti-racist initiatives, including criminal justice reform, bail funds, trans-black defense groups, and other mutual aid activities.” The Whitney would purchase the works of black photographers through the collective See In Black – which sold black artist prints at discounted prices, donating 100% of the proceeds to charity – without the permission of the authors and without further compensation. The artists involved, after discovering that their work had been acquired by the Museum through discounted sales for charity and that the works would be exhibited in a dedicated exhibition without permission, opposed. As a result of the media confusion surrounding the event, Whitney has cancelled the exhibition and is considering the next steps.

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