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Chit Chat, Tala Madani
"Chit Chat", Tala Madani, MoMAvia YouTube

MoMA rehangs art from Muslim countries to protest Trump ban

The New York museum has swapped Western works for artists from countries affected by the executive order

MoMA has replaced some of its permanent works by artists such as Picasso and Matisse with pieces by artists from predominantly Muslim countries that have been included in Donald Trump’s travel ban.

In a major political stand by the cultural institution, works by artists including Iraqi-born architect Zaha Hadid, LA-based Iranian video artist Tala Madani, photographer Shirana Shahbazi, painter Marcos Grigorian, sculptor Parviz Tanavoli, draftsman Charles Hossein Zenderoudi and Sudanese painter Ibrahim el-Salahi are now being shown on the museum’s fifth-floor, which is usually home to work by western artists including Picabia, Matisse and Picasso. As well as the seven artworks, Iranian sculptor Siah Armajani’s aluminium and steel structure has been moved into one of the main courtyards. The New York Times reported the move, as well as the statement written by the works:

“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 Jan. 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.”

Papers leaked to the Hill only last month showed that the Trump administration plans to cut major arts funding, affecting many public art institutions. A budget ‘blueprint’ circulated around White House staff and Trump’s transition team shows that the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities could be totally abolished. The entire federal spending budget could decrease by $10.5 trillion across the next decade.

MoMA has been leading the way with giving voice and space to the most marginalised: the museum recently announced its partnership with Open Art Space to provide a free weekly drop-in where LGBTQ-identifying teens and allies can create and learn together in a safe space.

And as we navigate these troubled political times, the art world has been a part of the radical resistance – from Anish Kapoor’s anti-Trump poster to provocative paintingperformance art and anti-Nazi video games and festivals.