This post has been updated.


ARTISTS, CURATORS, AND CRITICS are planning an Art Strike on Inauguration Day. The J20 Art Strike calls for a day of “noncompliance,” no work, no school, no business. The organizers are entreating museums, galleries, theaters, concert halls, studios, nonprofits, and art schools to close for the day and “hit the streets” and “fight back.”

A week ago, when the New York Times first reported the campaign, about 130 people had endorsed the call document. Now the list has grown to more than 300 and includes Coco Fusco, Joan Jonas, Simone Leigh, Julie Mehretu, Marilyn Minter, Walid Raad, Dread Scott, Richard Serra, Cindy Sherman, Renee Stout, Xaviera Simmons, Ralph Lemon, Occupy Museums, Nancy Grossman, Laurie Simmons, Hilton Als, Darby English, and Steven Nelson, among many, many others.

The organizers stated their motivations: “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 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.” — J20 Art Strike

NEARLY 20 GALLERIES have pledged to close on Friday, Jan. 20, according to Art Strike. Participating galleries include Salon 94, which represents Ibrahim El-Salahi and the estate of Terry Adkins, among others; Alexander Gray, whose roster includes Fusco, Lorraine O’Grady, and Melvin Edwards; and Lisson Gallery, where artists represented include John Akomfrah and Stanley Whitney.

Hyperallergic is updating a list of New York gallery and nonprofit closures on Jan. 20 here.

Lisson Gallery gave a statement to Hyperallergic about its support of Art Strike. “We will indeed close on 20 January as part of the J20 strike. We felt it was important to mark this occasion by standing in solidarity with our artists, other gallery colleagues, and various museums. Everyone is apprehensive about the incoming administration and in these moments, sometimes a collective restraint speaks volumes,” said Alex Logsdail, the gallery’s international director.

A number nonprofit spaces have signed on, too, including SculptureCenter, Smack Mellon, and Triple Canopy. After the Presidential transition of power officially occurs at 12 noon on Jan. 20, the Queens Museum is devoting the afternoon to “Sign Making in Solidarity,” providing free materials to the public to produce banners, posters and buttons for use in future marches and demonstrations.

SOME MUSEUMS, such as the Studio Museum in Harlem, New Museum, ICA Philadelphia, and MCA Los Angeles—are offering free admission on Inauguration Day. Apparently, no museums have heeded the call to close their doors for the day. According to the New York Times, the Museum of Modern Art, MoMA PS1, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) plan maintain their regular hours on Inauguration Day. “Our entire program and mission, every day, is an expression of inclusion and appreciation of every culture,” LACMA said.

The Brooklyn Museum is hosting a marathon reading of Langston Hughes’s poem “Let America be America Again.” Artists Jordan Casteel, Nona Faustine Simmons, and Steffani Jemison, are among the dozen-plus participants.


Clockwise, from top left, Hilton Als, Coco Fusco, Julie Mehretu, Simone Leigh, Steven Nelson, and Dread Scott.


Tom Eccles, the executive director of the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, questions the merits of the Art Strike. He told the Times, “Inauguration Day is symbolic but let’s not just make it a day of symbolism. What we have to worry about is the next four years. At a certain moment in history, one has to retrench and consider the forms of resistance one is promoting. The struggle is long, and I would say it is not our role to close. It is our role to watch, to listen, to encourage.”

ARTnews is keeping a running list of special museum admissions, programming during Art Strike here.

Jamillah James, curator of the forthcoming Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, said on Twitter, “If museums are going to remain open on #J20, they should all offer free admission and relevant programming around dissent, resistance.”

“If museums are going to remain open on #J20, they should all offer free admission and relevant programming around dissent, resistance.”
— Curator Jamillah James

EVERY FRIDAY, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York offers pay-what-you-wish admission after 7 p.m. On Inauguration Day, the museum will be open and offer the flexible rate the entire day. Special programming with artists, writers, and activists is planned. Discussions will explore art and American identity. Occupy Museums is organizing a slate of speakers invited to “affirm their values to resist and reimagine the current political climate.” A number of named participants—including Occupy Museums, Paddy Johnson, and Dread Scott—have also signed the Art Strike call for museums to close on Jan. 20.

In an essay for Hyperallergic framing the call for an Art Strike, Fusco explains how artists are uniquely positioned to influence “the powerful.” She writes: “As artists, we occupy a somewhat unusual and often contradictory social position in American society. The more politically minded among us tend to stress the precariousness of our working and living conditions. There is nothing wrong with recognizing our vulnerability. The majority of us struggle financially and are exploited as cheap labor whether we teach, fabricate, or answer phones in galleries.”

Fusco continues: “But we also, as a group, operate in proximity to extreme wealth and power. Artists have a disproportionately high degree of access to the media. Artists also have an unusual degree of access to the rich, since they, after all, are the ones who buy art and manage the business of art. We are not always afraid to use that leverage. Now is the time to come together to conceive of ways that we can organize on the basis of how we are threatened by the political landscape and how we can wield influence on the powerful. An artists’ strike — like the #J20 Art Strike — is just one small step, even if it feels to some like taking a leap.” CT


TOP IMAGE: Washington, D.C. Jan. 15, 2017 – Center camera stand rises in front of the stage where President-elect will be sworn in during a dress rehearsal for the inauguration ceremony at the U.S. Capitol. | Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images


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