5,000 artists sign open letter condemning sexual misconduct in their industry

Jenny Holzer: “Abuse of Power Comes As No Surprise.”
Over 5,000 female, transgender and nonbinary artists have signed an open letter condemning the harassment they “experience regularly, broadly and acutely” in the industry.

iThe letter comes after a prominent figure in the art world, Knight Landesman, was issued a lawsuit for sexually harassing nine women.

Landesman, the publisher of Artforum, resigned on Wednesday after his behaviour was condemned by the women.

A website for the letter opens on Jenny Holzer’s work, “Abuse of Power Comes As No Surprise.”

The letter reads: “We are artists, arts administrators, assistants, curators, directors, editors, educators, gallerists, interns, scholars, students, writers, and more — workers of the art world — and we have been groped, undermined, harassed, infantilised, scorned, threatened, and intimidated by those in positions of power who control access to resources and opportunities,”

“We have held our tongues, threatened by power wielded over us and promises of institutional access and career advancement.”

It goes onto specify the inappropriate behaviour those in the art world have experienced:

“We are not surprised when curators offer exhibitions or support in exchange for sexual favors.

We are not surprised when gallerists romanticize, minimize, and hide sexually abusive behavior by artists they represent.

We are not surprised when a meeting with a collector or a potential patron becomes a sexual proposition.

We are not surprised when we are retaliated against for not complying.”

It concludes: “We are not surprised when Knight Landesman gropes us in the art fair booth while promising he’ll help us with our career. Abuse of power comes as no surprise.”

The letter credits Landesman’s lawsuit as the spark for a discussion about harassment in the art industry.

MOMA PS1 curator Ruba Katrib told the New York Times that Landeman is one of ‘many’ perpetrators and the letter is just a first step.

“There’s a real recognition that needs to take place that this is an actual problem and affects a huge percentage of people working in the contemporary art industry.”

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