A controversial-as-all-hell art exhibit featuring a life-size replica of the 2014 shooting of Mike Brown in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, has opened to the public in Chicago.
Called Confronting Truths: Wake Up!, the 3D installation was masterminded by New Orleans-based artist Ti-Rock Moore, and features the lifeless ‘body’ of the 18-year-old black teen – unarmed, as he was when white police officer Darren Wilson gunned him down in August 2014, sparking a furore within the local, predominantly black, community who argued it was a sign of institutionalised racism within the US armed forces.
Other paraphernalia associated with racism in America’s south is scattered across the rest of the space, including a noose, a Statue of Liberty replica that’s been given the blackface treatment and a Confederate flag bearing the names of the nine victims of the Charleston massacre.
We get your initial reaction:
WHAT THE ACTUAL EFF?
THAT SHOWS A DISGUSTING LACK OF RESPECT!
DOWN WITH THE ARTIST!
And you wouldn’t be alone in your disdain – the owners of the Gallery Guichard, Andre and Frances, have received hate mail and death threats, while various activists (and even some of Brown’s friends) have accused Moore of profiting from her white privilege with the “atrocious” artwork.
But before you join in the pitchfork-waving, consider this: while the provocative nature of the piece, combined with the global outrage Brown’s death sparked, will no doubt attract droves of visitors, Moore’s installation is NOT for sale. The exhibit itself is free to the public. The gallery’s owners have pledged to donate 10% of profits made from any artwork sold to a TBC charity aimed at ending gun violence. Brown’s own mother, Lesley McSpadden, attended the opening of the exhibit, which is on display until August 10.
Yes seeing a replica of Brown’s lifeless body face-down in the middle of an art space is unsettling and kind of gross, but so is racism. As gallery owner Andre Guichard told The Guardian: “I think what makes this exhibition really unique is that it’s really bold and blunt, and it’s right in your face. But when you really think about racism, racism can be bold and blunt and right in your face, too” Moore’s installation is much less about profiteering from Brown’s death than it is keeping the conversation – and his memory – alive.
Image via The Muse