This project evolved from This is weird without you, a series of posters, made in dialogue with latinx, women and queer owned local businesses in the Mission, that were printed at home and wheatpasted in their boarded up storefronts at the beginning of shelter-in-place. The project intended to have a poetic energy in public space recognizing the fact that we are all interconnected and we need each other’s support now more than ever.
Context & History
Eungie Joo (Curator of Contemporary Art) and Erin O’Toole (Baker Street Foundation Associate Curator of Photography) reached out about continuing the This is Weird Without You project in the boarded up entrance of the museum. The energy in the country had drastically changed both with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and the national uprisings against police brutality. As our conversation with the curators started, the museum had just censored Taylor Brandon, a former black employee on social media and had announced the second wave of layoffs. With all of these in mind, the messages moved from having a poetic energy to joining and honoring the conversations and efforts currently being done by different groups around the country including: Art Workers for Black Lives, Philly Arts for Black Lives, Open Letter from Boston Arts and Cultural Workers in Demand of Racial Equity and Social Transformation and locally by No Neutral Alliance, as well as, BIPOC artists and art workers that have pushed and dedicated their careers for radical change in art institutions for decades.
The museum is in a crucial moment, we knew there was potential to use the resources and space of the institution to include strong, clear and direct messages without our words being edited down. We wanted to create a visual artwork in public space that materialized the energy into a documentation of the times, right in front of the entrance of the museum where the piece engages the public directly. For us, art and design are tools that can be used to dismantle, question and challenge the institutions that serve us. We Need an Anti-Racist, Transfeminist and Intersectional Museum (2020) was developed in conversation with other local artists, mentors, cultural workers, educators, and activists who are dedicated to implementing systemic change within art and cultural institutions in the Bay Area and beyond.
SFMOMA like many institutions that serve us uphold white supremacy and continuously exploit Black and Brown folks. Part of what the project wants is to further push for real systemic change. The site specificity of the piece aims to push both from within, as the internal shifting that must take place, as well as, the changes that need to happen externally in our communities and society. The messages of the posters, We need a museum that destroys white supremacy / We want Black, Indigenous and People of Color in leadership positions / We want Trans*, queers and non-binary folks leading the way / We need an anti-racist, transfeminist and intersectional museum, are just the very beginning of the ongoing, yet necessary, changes that art and cultural institutions, not only SFMOMA must undertake.