On Sunday, December 3, a group of people gathered outside the Met Breuer in New York to protest sexual violence, Ysabelle Cheung of ArtAsiaPacific reports. Holding signs that read “Me Too” and with red cloths tied around their mouths, the demonstrators stood silently outside the institution in solidarity with artist Jaishri Abichandani, who claims that the late photographer Raghubir Singh sexually harassed her. Singh’s work is currently featured in an exhibition at the Met Breuer that will run through January 2.
A Brooklyn-based artist originally from Mumbai, Abichandani made her allegation public on the Brian Lehrer Show, a radio program produced by WNYC, on October 13. In a conversation on air with Lehrer and attorney Jill Filipovic, Abichandani claimed that the photographer abused her in a hotel in India for two weeks and then continued to harass her for a year. Shortly after the broadcast, Abichandani was contacted by more women who allegedly experienced “similar situations.” The artist then put out a call to action through her New York–based organization the South Asian Women’s Creative Collective.
“My abuser is on display right now, at one of the most prestigious museums in the world, with articles extolling his virtuosity,” Abichandani wrote on her website. “He may be deceased, but his legacy continues to grow. Help me make his violence visible. Help everyone visualize the scale of the violence by coming and standing with me, physically creating a safe space from which to speak our truths. They can ignore my lone voice, but not a hundred of us.” During the demonstration, at least seven activists entered the museum and stood in front of the wall text about the exhibition.
Upon learning that the action was set to take place, Sandra Jackson-Dumont, the chairperson of education at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, e-mailed the artist. She said, “The Met fully supports the right to free expression and therefore we wish to assure you that we will not try to stop you . . . Let me underscore The Met’s support of your courage to speak out.” Jackson-Dumont also informed Abichandani that the institution is planning an open forum to discuss the role of museums in addressing controversies surrounding artists or works of art.