Yesterday, The Daily News printed an article that began, "A cop-bashing art exhibit at a taxpayer-funded museum in Brooklyn portrays the city's Finest as trigger-happy racists who have put bull's-eyes on the backs of black New Yorkers."
The exhibit is a retrospective of the artist Dread Scott's work called "Welcome to America," and the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA) is calling the paper out for sensationalizing the story with a laundry list of inaccuracies. Yesterday they sent us a statement saying they "stand firmly behind our decision to exhibit a retrospective of Dread Scott’s innovative and provocative work and strongly supports the right to free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment."
The museum, which is only partially tax-funded, then addressed "several inaccuracies and false implications made in the Daily News article on February 29, 2008."
• The exhibition is not cop-bashing. There are only two works within the entire exhibition that directly relates to police brutality and these images are simply a reflection of the artists’ opinion about police who use excessive force, not all police in general.
• Nowhere in the artist’s work are police directly or indirectly referred to or labeled as “trigger-happy racists,” as the Daily News implies. However, the work does remind viewers that disproportionately high young black males are shooting victims.
• The rest of the images on exhibition are not mentioned, which confront issues about the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina and the experience of men within the prison population. All of these works are important social and political messages, none of which are mentioned whatsoever in the Daily News article.
City Council members have spoken out in support of the exhibit; Letitia James asked, “What is wrong with self-expression? I have been a strong supporter of MoCADA, its exhibitions and programs from the beginning and will continue to support them.” Artistic freedom or NYPD-bashing? Decide for yourself, the exhibit is open through June 1st.