^2017: Me protesting in front of "Open Casket" at the Whitney Biennial. The back of my shirt reads "BLACK DEATH SPECTACLE" (I believe Beloufa used this exact image (cropped) in his work that is below). This image is not owned by Beloufa.
I would like to stage another protest inside the Palais De Tokyo in Paris where Beloufa's piece is on display because I believe that Beloufa is appropriating my narrative without consent. This is a form of defamation of me as an artist and arts activist. With that said, I am asking you to donate to help me fund a round-trip flight to Paris and back to NYC from March 1st to March 7th. With $1,500 I can purchase a round-trip ticket, afford living arrangements during my stay, pay for my admission to the Palais De Tokyo to speak to museum curators and speak to the artist, and find ways to reclaim my image and the work that I put forth last year (protest, interviews, and meetings with artist and curators at the Whitney).
The protest I performed at the Whitney Biennial was very difficult for me to handle during and after the events in regards to dealing with press and being harrassed constantly on online platforms and through email. This caused me a lot of emotional and mental distress that I still feel today and even more so now with the usage and recontexualization of my work that was done without my permission.
Myself and others that were involved with the 2017 Whitney protest put in a lot of hard work (intellectual and emotional labor) to create a conversation about racial injustice within the artworld, so it is really unfortunate to see the narrative that I helped create be appropriated and recontextualized without anyone's permission or say in how this work of art is to be experienced.
Images of my work and my body have been used before without my permission for products and fine art, but what makes this situation more troubling to me as a Black artist is that it seems that my voice does not matter in this case of Beloufa's piece, i am being used as raw material, just like Dana Schutz did to Emmett Till in her rendition at the Whitney Biennial. Black voices continue to be silenced and then appropriated, and my mission is to make sure that my voice and others are not silenced and co-opted.
^ Neil Beloufa's work at the Palais De Tokyo, 2018 (an image of me from my protest, printed on a mirror with the "Open Casket" painting reflected.
If I were to fullfill this protest in Paris I believe that many artists will benefit from my actions. I am not the first artist to have their images, narratives, and their likeness stolen from them. This continues to be an issue that affects so many artists and people outside of fine art world.
I would gratefully accept your support.
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