Since the election of the 45th President of the United States of America, artists and cultural institutions have been speaking out against his programme and actions. Last week, MoMA changed its exhibitions in reaction to his Muslim Ban (subsequently blocked by federal judge James Robart).
The New York museum has decided to exhibit works by eight artists from three of the seven countries targeted by the anti-immigration decree. Changes were made to the fifth floor of the museum and New York Times reported that the works replaced paintings by Picabia, Matisse, and Picasso. The American institution’s curators instigated the symbolic gesture. The accompanying information panel states: “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.”
The new display provides an opportunity for visitors to discover works by Sudanese painter Ibrahim el-Salahi, who was the first African artist to have a solo show at the Tate Modern; and Zaha Hadid, an architect of Iraqi origin, who passed away recently and who was the first woman to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize, in 2004. Five artists of Iranian origin also feature in the exhibition: sculptor Parviz Tanavoli, a major name in Iranian art; painter Charles Hossein Zenderoudi, renowned for his paintings exploring calligraphy; photographer Sirana Shahbazi, celebrated by MoMA for her work, which is at once abstract and representational; and Marcos Grigorian, the doyen of modern art in Iran. The museum has announced that it will be screening films by artists from the region. The curators also told The Art Newspaper that they would continue to add works to the exhibition over the next couple of weeks.