“Hit the streets. Bring your friends. Fight back.” Those are the encouraging words plastered at the bottom of a flyer for the #J20 Art Strike. So far, over 80 artists, including Cindy Sherman, Thurston Moore, Marilyn Minter, Simone Leigh, Barbara Kruger, Vic Mensa and Richard Serra, have each pledged their support.
The day in question is January 20 – Trump’s inauguration – whereby #J20 asks that people (women in particular) use their strength for disruption rather than labour.
While The Guardian’s Jonathan Jones is less optimistic about the strike – calling it "futile" – he’s missing the point. What the art strike aims to do is to rally the art world via support, prolific names, voices and strength. Whether Trump will actually care is really a no-brainer (he won’t will he?) but the call-to-action is a vital display of continued resistance against a new and frightening world in which we don’t want to be led into. And with some of the world’s greatest artists leading the charge – whether it invokes any physical change or just a mentality – it’s further proof that while we might not have a choice in a new political era, we certainly won’t be entering it quietly.
“We consider Art Strike to be one tactic among others to combat the normalization of Trumpism – a toxic mix of white supremacy, misogyny, xenophobia, militarism, and oligarchic rule”
The full call reads:
#J20 Art Strike
An Act of Noncompliance on Inauguration Day.
No Work, No School, No Business.
Museums. Galleries. Theaters. Concert Halls. Studios. Nonprofits. Art Schools.
Close For The Day.
Hit The Streets. Bring Your Friends. Fight Back.
This call concerns more than the art field. It is made in solidarity with the nation-wide demand that on January 20 and beyond, business should not proceed as usual in any realm. We consider Art Strike to be one tactic among others to combat the normalization of Trumpism – a toxic mix of white supremacy, misogyny, xenophobia, militarism, and oligarchic rule. Like any tactic, it is not an end in itself, but rather an intervention that will ramify into the future. It is not a strike against art, theater, or any other cultural form. It is an invitation to motivate these activities anew, to reimagine these spaces as places where resistant forms of thinking, seeing, feeling, and acting can be produced.
We address ourselves to the people who make our cultural institutions run on a daily basis, including many of our own friends and colleagues. Those who work at the institutions are divided in multiple and unequal ways, and any action taken must prioritize the voices, needs and concerns of those with the most to lose. However you choose to respond to this call, Art Strike is an occasion for public accountability, an opportunity to affirm and enact the values that our cultural institutions claim to embody.
The disruptions of J20 are just the beginning. They will resonate with the Women’s March on Washington, D.C. and other cities on January 21, and will stand as beacons of ungovernability as the darkness of the Trump era descends upon us. Let us assemble for the protracted battles that have long been underway, and those on the horizon.
More information on #J20 is available here
Follow Ashleigh Kane on Twitter here @ashleighkane
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