'I felt a sense of urgency and solidarity': Artist Michael Rakowitz on opting out of the Whitney Biennial

Chicago-based artist Michael Rakowitz discusses his decision not to participate in this year's Whitney Biennial in an act of protest.
Chicago-based artist Michael Rakowitz has declined to participate in this year's Whitney Biennial in an act of protest. (Submitted by the artist)

The Whitney Museum of American Art's biennial art exhibition, the Whitney Biennial, is considered one of the most prestigious exhibitions of contemporary art in the U.S., giving many young and emerging artists their first chance at an international audience. Yet one artist, Michael Rakowitz, has declined to participate in this year's exhibition, which has prompted seven other artists to now withdraw their work.

The artists who have refused to participate have done so as a form of protest. They discovered that one of the board members at the Whitney, a man named Warren Kanders, is also the CEO of a company called Safariland, which distributes tear gas, holsters and riot gear that some people are saying is being used against migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Rakowitz joined q's Tom Power from Dublin to discuss his decision to opt out of the Whitney Biennial.

Download our podcast or click 'Listen' near the top of this page to hear the full conversation with Michael Rakowitz.

— Produced by Diane Eros

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