"5 Artists Respond to: Charlottesville," by Robert Longo, T Magazine, New York Times
Art doesn’t just reflect the world — it engages with it. In a new series, T magazine asks artists to submit works inspired by world events. For the first installment, Robert Longo, Andrea Bowers, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Sanford Biggers and Michael Hauptman respond to the violent events in Charlottesville, Va., and provide statements.
“As an American and as a human being, the events in Charlottesville are deeply disturbing to me. I am outraged not only by the white supremacists, the neo-Nazis and the fascists, but also by the way our president has failed to respond to this emboldened, racist cancer in our country.”
“My response to the events in Charlottesville is an increased sense of urgency to collaborate with activists and artists who labor and resist white supremacy, neo-Nazis, union-busting bosses, anti-immigration and anti-environment legislation and business. I have been making drawings, photographs and other works that aim to amplify the voices of these activists and of those who are most impacted by the violence and hate speech espoused by the many white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups last weekend, today and every day.
I work with many artists who are impacted by the lived realities of racism, anti-Semitism and homophobia, so I asked two of them if they would like to collaborate with me on this project and express their response to the events in Charlottesville. The result is a series of photographs (one image is shown at top), shot by Angel Alvarado and directed by me, of Ingrid von Sydow, a visual artist, wearing a T-shirt of her own design that reads: My Mom Survived the Nazis, Dad Survived Jim Crow.
The shared authorship of this photo series reflects our belief in intersectionality as a model for the future. Von Sydow’s mother is a Polish-Jewish Holocaust survivor and vividly remembers the fascism that she narrowly escaped. In her artistic practice von Sydow explores the very real, everyday traumas experienced by othered people, demonstrating how simply existing and persisting can become an activist effort.
In addition to the photo series that we produced for T magazine, I’ve included an image of one of my intimate and labor-intensive drawings of protesters, this one of a Black Lives Matter protester at a May Day March in 2015 (bottom). His shirt reads: Young, Gifted, and Black.”