Why Should We Care About Muslim Artists?
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City recently took down classic modern favorites like Picasso and replaced them with works from artists in born in countries affected by President Trump’s recently imposed travel ban. The MoMA says they are doing this as a form of protest. In reality, this is just a form of exploitation, bringing in visitors at the expense of a disenfranchised group.
The works that the MoMA is showing have been part of their collection for some time, so why haven’t these works been featured sooner? The truth is, MoMA doesn’t care about these artists any more than Donald Trump, but this “protest” is designed to make people think the museum is a benevolent organization. Each of these new works has this tag installed by it:
“This work is by an artist from a nation whose citizens are being denied entry into the United States, according to a presidential executive order issued on January 27, 2017. This is one of several such artworks from the Museum’s collection installed throughout the fifth-floor galleries to affirm the ideals of welcome and freedom as vital to this Museum, as they are to the United States.”
If the MoMA was really interested in “welcome and freedom,” the artists that are now being featured should have been given attention long ago. They are accusing the President of being xenophobic, but the museum has done the same thing by ignoring these pieces of art all this time, heaping hypocrisy on top of that.
In MoMA’s mission statement it says: “Central to The Museum of Modern Art’s mission is the encouragement of an ever-deeper understanding and enjoyment of modern and contemporary art by the diverse local, national, and international audiences that it serves.”
MoMA prides itself on being forward thinking in art and has for years, featuring the newest artists and (hopefully) getting credit for discovering new trends. They have fallen short this time. Why were these artists not exhibited with prominence before? This reminds me of how people used to justify any kind of racist actions when I was growing up. “Hey, I am not racist! Some of my best friends are (insert ethnic group here)…”
The MoMA and The Metropolitan Museum of Art are in fierce competition for just about everything lately. Board members, pieces of art, and most importantly, funding. People don’t go to museums like they used to, so any trick to get up on the competition will be employed, no matter how vile. This is just another gimmick.
The MoMA is not doing these artists any favors. People are not going to go in and see the art, no matter how wonderful it may be. They are going to see the little placard, see the museum thumbing their noses at Trump, but they are not going to see the meaning the artist is trying to convey.
Another disingenuous thing the MoMA did was put these scattered about the 5th floor, when their floor plan shows that special exhibitions are normally on the 2nd. So these artists that are allegedly so important to MoMA are not likely to get any real attention because of the haphazard way this “protest” was cobbled together. This is yet another example of saying they are helping some group but actually doing the opposite.
It as also bad business, because people wanting to see certain works will have to wait until this poorly executed publicity stunt is over. They should have rearranged their collection to place these works side by side with their big draws, giving the artists in question some notoriety for hanging next to great masters.
When this current political event wanes, I am sure MoMA will take down the cards and put these works back in storage area to languish in obscurity. MoMA has eschewed its self-imposed directives and promises to the public to bring new artists and new trends to all audiences, and is now exploiting artists in favor of political snark to sell tickets. Like so many liberal minded organizations, they ignore minorities and downtrodden groups unless a member of the press is nearby. Then they make some bold pronouncement about some amazing thing they have done to advance some group’s cause.
MoMA, you have shamed yourself. President Trump may be acting improperly, but he is at least sticking by his promises. MoMA, you have not. Instead of showcasing art, you are now a political tool of the elitist mentality you profess to abhor. All for selling more tickets.