More Artists Refuse to Exhibit Artwork in Tear-Gas-Tainted Whitney Biennial

More Artists Refuse to Exhibit Artwork in Tear-Gas-Tainted Whitney Biennial

More artists refuse to have their name and their artworks linked to the museum tainted with what fellow artist Michael Rakowitz call as “toxic philanthropy.”

The move by the artists is in line with the calls for resignation of museum board vice chairman Warren Kanders, whose main source of wealth comes from being the chief executive of tear gas company Safariland. The same company that manufactures the tear gas canisters used on asylum seekers arriving at the US-Mexico border.

Artists Nicole Eisenman, Nicholas Galanin, Korakrit Arunanondchai, Meriem Bennani, Eddie Arroyo, Forensic Architecture, Christine Sun Kim and Agustina Woodgate have already withdrawn their artwork, following suit to Chicago-based Michael Rakowitz, who made the first move in February. Rakowitz was the first to withdraw his artwork when he joined the museum staff and other protesters calling for the resignation of toxic philanthropist Kanders.

Demonstrators protest Whitney board member's ties to tear gas maker

Protestors occupied the Whitney Museum on Friday to demand the removal of Warren Kanders, CEO of the tear gas manufacturer Safariland, from the institution's board. The protest capped off nine weeks of demonstrations against Safariland, whose tear gas has been used in Standing Rock, Ferguson, Palestine and against migrants at the southern U.S. border.

Posted by Democracy Now! on Monday, May 20, 2019

Actually, Rakowitz’ action was in response to the open-letter published by the Whitney Museum staff, who were the first to signify outrage over Kanders, after learning how the latter was able to amass his fortune. The open letter, which was signed by more than 120 people consisting of scholars, critics, and theorists called on artists to support their calls for Kander’s resignation. The sad reality though was the museum management’s refusal to act on their protest.

Whitney Museum Ignores Calls for Resignation of Toxic Philanthropist and Tear-Gas Tycoon

Concerned artists are now calling the Whitney Biennial as the “Teargas Biennial” as the Whitney Museum management continues to ignore their calls for Warren Kanders’ resignation.

The director of the museum Adam Weinberg said the artists’ works will all be removed. He also wrote in a statement that

’The Whitney respects the opinions and rights of all artists whose works they exhibit.”…“While the museum is saddened by their decision, we will comply with the withdrawal request of the artists.”