Artists boycotting or withdrawing form private collections, fairs, Biennials or institutions in protest.
Artists withdraw from exhibitions or collections for various reasons as a political device. Yet you can only pull-out if you are being asked in the first place. You can only decide not to sell to a big collector if they want to buy it. If you have the privilege to afford to go without the income. You have to be a successful artists to stand up in this way for the oppressed or dis-empowered.
Big companies fund art institutions the money is welcome but often the benefactors are not scrutinized. Should artists protest against the corporate sponsorship of Frieze, Whitechapel Gallery or the Tate. Morgan Quaintance says it is important to point fingers, name names and call for actual reforms.
Artists Alex Da Corte and Richard Prince sold work to Ivanka Trump. They protested the presidential election of her father. Da Corte asked her to take his work off of her walls. Prince who sold Ivanka a $36,000 work made for her for, now says it is ‘Fake Art’ and claims to have given back the payment.
Russian art collective Chto Delat? (What is to be done?) withdrew from Manifesta 10. They boycotted it under duress having said before they were against a boycott. Saying; “A cultural blockade will only strengthen the position of reactionary forces”.
The 19th Sydney Biennale was snubbed by many artists. As a consequence in the Biennale severed its links with its main sponsor. Artists used the slogan ‘Don’t Add Value to Detention’ referring to Transfield. It operates the Australian off shore refugee detention centres.
Because one of its venues was an institution with a ‘central role in maintaining the unjust and illegal occupation of Palestine’. An open letter was written calling for participants to withdraw from Creative Time’s ‘Living as Form’ traveling exhibition.
The BDZ group, call for a boycott of the Zabludowicz Art Trust. An expression of solidarity with the Palestinian struggle. Zabludowicz’s fortune derives partly from arms manufacturing sold to the Israeli Defense Forces.
The Russian oligarch and art collector Roman Abramovich is worth billions. He dealing in commodities as diverse as plastic ducks, timber, sugar, and oil. But not all the money was earned in an ethical way. To receive lucrative 30% tax breaks, his business would employed mainly disabled workers. During the aluminum wars, where people were murdered every three days he paid protection money.
To become a billionaire business people often have to be ruthless and unethical. They spreading their chances and alliances. Art collector and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen for instance supported both Republicans and Democrats. So is it surprising when artists are also going turn a blind eye when selling or exhibiting their work.
The arts have always been depending on patrons from the church to banking dynasties. Sometimes there seems to be little in common between the two but they depend on one and other. One needs the money the other the status or buy of their guilt. In order to do that they have to overlook certain things on occasion, and a mutual fascination helps.
“When bankers get together for dinner, they discuss Art. When artists get together for dinner, they discuss Money” Oscar Wilde