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Forensic Architecture, Triple-Chaser (still), 2019.
Forensic Architecture, Triple-Chaser (still), 2019.

Forensic Architecture Becomes Eighth Exhibitor to Withdraw from Whitney Biennial

Forensic Architecture is the latest participant to pull their work from the Whitney Biennial over Warren B. Kanders, the vice chair of the Whitney Museum of American Art’s board who is the CEO of Safariland—a global weapons manufacturer whose munitions have been used to suppress protests in at least thirteen countries. Forensic Architecture’s move follows the decision of four artists—Korakrit Arunanondchai, Meriem Bennani, Nicole Eisenman, and Nicholas Galanin—to withdraw on Friday morning and the decision of three other artists to withdraw since then: Eddie Arroyo, Christine Sun Kim, and Agustina Woodgate. Forensic Architecture’s announcement was first reported by Hyperallergic and follows the publication of a statement written by Hannah Black, Ciarán Finlayson, and Tobi Haslett by Artforum imploring Whitney Biennial artists to boycott the exhibition. Only one artist, Michael Rakowitz, refused to participate in the biennial when initially invited.

Forensic Architecture—a London-based collective headed by Eyal Weizman that often exhibits its research about human rights violations in art galleries—was the only participant to use the platform of the biennial to explicitly confront Kanders; their ten-minute video, Triple-Chaser, 2019, examines the violence committed by Safariland, whose tear gas has been deployed in Ferguson, Standing Rock, and Gaza. Forensic Architecture also believes that it has found incriminating evidence against Kanders through his executive chairmanship of the Clarus Corporation, the parent company of Sierra Bullets, which sells open-tip bullets to Israeli weapons manufacturer IMI, which in turn sells weapons to the Israel Defense Forces, whose soldiers have allegedly committed war crimes.

According to the New York Times, the collective asked the curators to replace Triple-Chaser with a statement about their ongoing investigation into Sierra Bullets.

“We’re making some very extreme allegations, hopefully with legal implications,” the collective recently said in an as-told-to interview for Artforum. “The more we welcome the executives of arms and drugs manufacturers into our institutions, the more we encourage, normalize, justify, and accept the deep, systemic harm that their business models perpetuate.”