MoMA has made numerous headlines for replacing works by Picasso and Magritte with pieces by Ibrahim El-Salahi (Sudanese), Marcos Grigorian (Iranian-Armenian), Tala Madani (Iranian), Parviz Tanavoli (Iranian), Siah Armajani (Iranian), Zaha Hadid (Iraqi), Shirana Shahbazi (Iranian), and Charles Hossein Zenderoudi (Iranian).
Works by Iraqi, Iranian, and Sudanese artists can be found in MoMA’s fifth floor galleries, accompanied by the following note:
“This work is by an artist from a nation whose citizens are being denied entry into the United States, according to a presidential executive order issued on Jan. 27, 2017. This is one of several such artworks from the Museum’s collection installed throughout the fifth-floor galleries to affirm the ideals of welcome and freedom as vital to this Museum as they are to the United States.”
The gesture is MoMA’s way of expressing solidarity with fellow artists from targeted countries. The rehang is unprecedented for the world-class museum, and involved a dedicated team of curators who spearheaded the exceptional initiative in a short period of time.
The peaceful protest is a means of showcasing a new selection of works already in the museum’s permanent collection whilst simultaneously advocating for tolerance and beauty through the exhibition of exceptional modern works by artists from less-explored regions.
Due to a limited time frame, works by artists from Yemen, Somalia, Libya and Syria are not amongst the first round of newly-installed pieces. However, MoMA curators are due to install additional artworks as part of this collective effort once the remainder of the museum’s fifth floor galleries re-open to the public following a period of renovation. The museum plans to screen a series of films by artists from more targeted countries later in February.