How to know if your favorite museum is racist

How to know if your favorite museum is racist

There is clear evidence such as the lack of presence of creations of migrant and racialized people or the absence of programming that reflects the existing diversity. But exclusion acts in less obvious ways in the aesthetics of the spaces, in the physical design, in the type of people who appear on the posters announcing the exhibitions. It is also recognized in the lack of mechanisms that encourage the presence of migrant and racialized public in cultural institutions. These are some of the conclusions of the report Racial ethnic diversity in the cultural institutions of the Community of Madrid, carried out by researchers José Ariza and Yeison García for the FelipaManuela platform.

In November 2021, they conducted a survey of eleven cultural institutions in Madrid, where 15% of the population, one million people registered, is of migrant origin. 66% of the management personnel of the cultural centers and museums that answered the questionnaire stated that the artistic creations of migrant and rationalized people are not present in Madrid's cultural institutions. 11% stated the opposite.

55% of the directors of cultural institutions also answered that the programming does not represent the ethnic-racial diversity of Madrid society. Although 11% assured that this situation is represented. In addition, the cultural institutions themselves pointed out the lack in promoting the public of migrant and racialized people. 55% explained that they do not promote it and 22% assured that they do encourage the assistance of racialized public.

The panel of five experts who were also questioned by the researchers added their professional insight to the surveys. They assured that the lack of representation in the centers is due to the selection criteria of the works. The so-called "quality" barrier. With this criterion, based on the academic canon, artistic sensitivities of marginalized social groups are left out. The knowledge defined by the academy "has a deeply colonial, sexist and classist history," say the experts consulted by the study. With the excuse of "quality" the work of women, migrant and racialized people is censored.

And if they are included, they are not betting on racialized artists who work locally, but on those people who have built their careers outside the Spanish state. Hence, the incorporation is carried out "from an idea of ​​the exoticization of difference, emphasizing that the artists who enter are creators already legitimized outside the country." The opposite reality to this is the barrier that prevents artists who create in the Community of Madrid, but also national ones, from accessing the institutions.

They also warn that the absence of migrant or rationalized creators in the institutions has to do with the absence of migrant and rationalized people in the institutions' own teams. It is essential that, both to guarantee their participation in cultural life and to expand reflection on the racial inequalities that exist in our society, public institutions – in this case, cultural ones – commit to collecting data on ethnic-racial origin. The researchers say that obtaining this type of data would facilitate the adoption of measures to reverse structural inequalities. In fact, up to now there is no analysis on the presentation of ethnic-racial diversity in Spanish cultural institutions.

That is why the choice of Elvira Dyangani Ose as director of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona (MACBA) has been so important. "When you are born as a colonial subject you have to constantly reconstruct yourself and define yourself against the way they see you. The museum has settled into a vision of itself that has to be questioned and put in check. I will not let the museum settle and bourgeois," the director of MACBA explained emphatically to this newspaper.

"The decolonization of museums and cultural institutions is not a linear process, neither easy nor without contradictions. It is important that the incorporation of migrant and racialized people respond to a collective political process, and not to instrumentalist and extractivist logics" , claim the researchers. And they warn that initiatives enunciated as "multicultural" or "intercultural" should be distrusted. In addition, these excluded subjects are presented as a theme, always from the perspective of a white person. They are never the object of the exhibition nor the creative subject.

As several of the people interviewed for this report point out, the estrangement from cultural institutions of the migrant and racialized public is related "to a question of class, to the use of specific languages ​​and with a manifest intention to address a specific type of audience: an upper-middle-class white male with a college education.

To review and rectify this museographic pattern at the Guggenheim in New York, they have drawn up a plan with the intention of creating a more inclusive and diverse institution. They want to refine hiring practices to increase ensemble diversity, provide anti-racism training, acquire works by Black, Latino and Indigenous artists, reduce barriers to access, and study the past 25 years of exhibition history to determine those patterns of representation. . These proposals are the same ones that the researchers of this study recommend to Spanish cultural institutions so that the ethnic-racial diversity of society is projected in the institutional culture.

Source link