British artist Liv Wynter has stepped down from her role as artist-in-residence at the Tate, citing what she perceives as both the museum's and the art world’s failure to reckon with sexual harassment and to cultivate inclusion. Wynter’s resignation was largely a response to recent comments about sexual harassment allegations made by Tate director Maria Balshaw, who told the Times: “I personally have never suffered any such issues. Then, I wouldn’t. I was raised to be a confident woman who, when I encountered harassment, would say, ‘Please don’t’ . . . or something rather more direct.”
Balshaw has since apologized, claiming that her intention was not to blame women. Last January, the Tate severed ties with major art donor Anthony D’Offay after he was accused by several women of sexual harassment. Wynter, who identifies as a queer working-class activist, was an artist-in-residence for education, schools, and learning, and described Balshaw’s words as a “huge slap in the face.” Wynter also said she was disappointed in the director’s subsequent responses, including those made at a public meeting hosted at Tate Modern. “I cannot describe to you the personal shame I feel as a survivor of domestic violence, to work for someone who could think so little of me whilst simultaneously profiting off of my ‘survivorness’ and the work I dare to make about it,” Wynter wrote in a public letter of resignation.
In the letter, Wynter expressed that she sees the Tate’s relationships with marginalized communities as a “distraction technique” and cited statistics about the institution’s workforce, including the fact that every director is white and that only nine percent of its staff identifies as lesbian, gay, or bisexual. The artist said that the Tate should have provided resources for groups like IMKAAN and Sisters Uncut. “My resignation will hopefully spotlight the invisible inequalities of the institution,” the artist said.