Strikes, closures and public gatherings: the art world gears up for Trump’s inauguration

More than 80 leading artists and critics have called for museums and galleries to close on 20 January


The art world is mobilising ahead of Donald Trump’s inauguration on 20 January. Allora and Calzadilla, Hans Haacke, Barbara Kruger, Richard Serra, Cindy Sherman, Yve-Alain Bois, Benjamin Buchloh, Hal Foster and Lucy Lippard are among the more than 80 top artists, critics and art historians who are calling for a strike on the day Trump is to be sworn in as US president.

“We consider Art Strike to be one tactic among others to combat the normalisation of Trumpism—a toxic mix of white supremacy, misogyny, xenophobia, militarism, and oligarchic rule,” the signatories say. “It is not a strike against art, theatre, or any other cultural form. It is an invitation to motivate these activities anew.”

The petition calls on museums, galleries, studios and art schools, among other institutions and businesses, to close on 20 January in an act of solidarity that “concerns more than the art field”. The movement is aligned with the nationwide #J20 strike, which is demanding that business should not proceed as usual. “Art Strike is an occasion for public accountability, an opportunity to affirm and enact the values that our cultural institutions claim to embody,” the petition says.

However, some in the art world have criticised the call to strike. Writing in the Guardian newspaper on 9 January, the critic Jonathan Jones described the proposed action as “futile”. “Emotionally, I completely sympathise,” Jones writes. “Yet an art strike is just about the least effective idea for resisting Trump that I have heard […]  I admire some of these artists greatly, but the notion that museums will help anything by closing their doors, or students will scare middle America into its senses by cutting art classes, tastes not of real hard-fought politics but shallow radical posturing by some very well-heeled and comfortable members of a cultural elite.”

It remains to be seen how museums across the US will respond, but Adam Weinberg, the director of the Whitney Museum in New York, says the institution will be open for free on Inauguration Day so people will have a place to gather. The museum is also holding tours focusing on what America means to people in a bid to reclaim the nation.

A number of other events are taking place in response to Trump’s inauguration and ideas of American identity. They include the book launch of Gene Stone’s The Trump Survival Guide at New York’s Alexander Gray gallery on 19 January and a night of discussions at the Brooklyn Public Library on 28 January, including a five-hour reading of Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville.


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