March 24, 2021
The Museum of Modern Art, designed by Yoshio Taniguchi. Entrance at 53rd Street. Photo: Timothy Hursley
A newly formed coalition including artists’ collectives, activists, and former employees of New York’s Museum of Modern Art today announced a ten-week-long series of actions protesting what they characterize as the institution’s “elitism, hierarchy, inequality, precarity, disposability, anti-Blackness, [and] misogyny,” Hyperallergic reports. The International Imagination of Anti-National Anti-Imperialist Feelings (IIAAF) say they are launching the campaign, called “Strike MoMA,” in order to “dismantle” the museum so that “something else can emerge, something under the control of workers, communities, and artists rather than billionaires.”
The “Strike MoMA” announcement was authored in consultations with 12 activist-artist groups and grassroots organizations, among them MoMA Divest, Forensic Architecture, Decolonize This Place, Comité Boricua En La Diáspora, Take Back the Bronx, and Curators and Educators for Decolonization. The coalition also consulted former MoMA employees.
New York Art Strike taking over the lobby of the Museum of Modern Art, June 18, 1970. Photo: Jan van Raay.
In recent weeks, MoMA has faced mounting pressure to separate itself from its chairman, Leon Black, for his former ties with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Though Black yesterday stepped down early from his role of CEO of private equity firm Apollo Global Management and unexpectedly gave up the chairmanship of that company, citing health concerns, no plans have been made public for him to depart MoMA’s board, of which he has been a member since 1997 and chair since 2018.
“Whether Black stays or goes, a consensus has emerged: beyond any one board member, MoMA itself is the problem,” the IIAAF contended in a manifesto downloadable from its website. Among the actions the group plans for its “strike” are virtual and live conversations, training sessions, writing projects, agitprop campaigns, and direct actions, with the last taking place at the museum and other locations. At the end of the 10 weeks, the activists will reconvene to discuss a “just transition to a post-MoMA future that prioritizes workers and communities.”