1,760 Won’t Do: Why We Must Go Beyond Surveying Collections and Interrogate Power Structures in Museums
, 2022-12-14 10:13:00,
We think: Maybe having more works by non-white artists in our art museum collections equals fewer racial problems among us, or it might solve something. including work in our museums by artists who are not straight, or white, or healthy, or educated, or American, or men, or whatever—so long as the work is beautiful or masterful according to the practices of those men’s generations we say no longer defer to; As long as the work is included sparingly so as to match, say, the demographics of the population of the United States; As long as new artists are often described in terms of how they differ from old ones, so their inclusion always points to itself and reminds us that we’ve done them a favor—that’s a form of justice we can all get behind. right?
Art museums will not provide us with solutions to their problems that do not depend on collecting and exhibiting works of art. They (I say this without empathy) are doing the best they can. But comparing the demographics of our groups to ours is not enough, given some very basic historical facts.
The Native American population has been destroyed more by the violence of US policy. Is it enough that the works of Native American artists make up 2% of the art collections that would not exist in a world where Native American peoples and cultures were not systematically eradicated?
The museums surveyed acquired only 1,877 works by black women between 2008 and …
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