cindy sherman and barbara kruger want the art world to strike on inauguration day

'Art Strike is an occasion for public accountability, an opportunity to affirm and enact the values that our cultural institutions claim to embody. '

by Hannah Ongley
09 January 2017, 11:52pm

Barbara Kruger's cover for New York Magazine's 2016 Election Issue

As January 20 looms closer, the art world has been floating more and more ideas about how to protest our soon-to-be new president. One that has gained a particular amount of attention is an "art strike" endorsed by over 80 artists and critics so far. Cindy Sherman, Marilyn Minter, Richard Serra, and Barbara Kruger have signed the call to action "toward an anti-fascist cultural front" made in solidarity with other such calls for noncompliance across the country on Inauguration Day. "No Work, No School, No Business," reads the invitation. "Museums. Galleries. Theaters. Concert Halls. Studios. Nonprofits. Art Schools. Close For The Day. Hit The Streets. Bring Your Friends. Fight Back." Women are being urged to abstain from all labor over inauguration weekend to demonstrate their power of disruption, while Vic Mensa and Thurston Moore have joined the call for an entire month of resistance against the fascist Trump/Pence regime. 

"We consider Art Strike to be one tactic among others to combat the normalization of Trumpism — a toxic mix of white supremacy, misogyny, xenophobia, militarism, and oligarchic rule," say the art strike's organizers. "Like any tactic, it is not an end in itself, but rather an intervention that will ramify into the future. It is not a strike against art, theater, or any other cultural form. It is an invitation to motivate these activities anew, to reimagine these spaces as places where resistant forms of thinking, seeing, feeling, and acting can be produced."

The protest claims to be about galvanizing the art world rather than seeing it grind to a halt. But inciting change by inaction hasn't gone over well with everyone. Art critic Jonathan Jones wrote for The Guardian today, "The American left is in for a long, wretched period of irrelevance if this is its idea of striking back." The effects of closing museums and art schools, he continued, are not likely to be felt by most of the people for voted for Trump. Yet he also calls out Meryl Streep's powerful anti-Trump Golden Globes speech as "pointless," and while it's unlikely to have any direct effect on policy, it did serve as a reminder that this is a very abnormal situation — and incidentally raised a lot of money for the Committee to Protect Journalists. Judging by the art strike's plea — "Hit the Streets. Bring Your Friends. Fight Back." — the idea isn't for people to spend the day off watching Westworld in bed. "Let us assemble for the protracted battles that have long been underway," states the invitation, "and those on the horizon."


Text Hannah Ongley
Photography Tony Webster via Flickr Creative Commons

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