Art industry speaks out against sexual harassmentMarch 5, 2018
The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is #PressforProgress. For women in the art world there’s no more pressing issue than sexual harassment, the scale of which has become clear over the past few months.
This article in the Guardian lists just a few of the high-profile names that have been highlighted in recent months, including art collector Steve Wynn, curator Anthony d’Offay and dealer Aaron Bondaroff. A push for women to come forward was propelled last year by revelations in the entertainment industry initially surrounding Harvey Weinstein.
The reaction in the art world to widespread sexual abuse and harassment claims is summed up by the campaign #NotSurprised, which kicked off with an open letter to the industry in October, 2017.
The hard-hitting letter begins: “We are artists, arts administrators, assistants, curators, directors, editors, educators, gallerists, interns, scholars, students, writers, and more—workers of the art world—and we have been groped, undermined, harassed, infantilized, scorned, threatened, and intimidated by those in positions of power who control access to resources and opportunities.”
Resolving to end the silence around this endemic abuse of power, the letter concludes, “We, the undersigned—those who have experienced abuse and those standing in solidarity with them—call upon art institutions, boards, and peers to consider their role in the perpetuation of different levels of sexual inequity and abuse, and how they plan to handle these issues in the future. We are too many, now, to be silenced or ignored.”
In the fashion industry, Vogue’s publishing company Condé Nast International has issued a code of conduct to protect its models for harassment. This approach was matched by the British Film Industry, which has published guidelines calling for a zero-tolerance policy towards abuse. These pioneering steps are likely to influence action across the arts as the stigma surrounding sexual harassment is eroded.