NEW YORK — At 4 p. m. on Sunday, a group of women and men formed a line alongside the entryway to the Met Breuer, a contemporary outpost of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan. Each held a red sign reading “Me Too” in black letters, with red sashes of fabric gagging their mouths. Together they formed a shocking streak of colour against the museum’s gray exterior and the evening’s cloudy sky.
Mumbai-born, Brooklyn-based artist Jaishri Abichandani,who organized the protest performance, held a slightly different sign. Hers read “I survived … Raghubir Singh. #MeToo. ”
Singh’s work is currently on view at the Met Breuer, in an exhibition titled “Modernism on the Ganges.” In sunlight of the show, and the countless number of peoplewho have shared stories of sexual assault and harassment at the hands of powerful humen in various fields over the last several weeks, Abichandani opted to step forward with her own tale of abuse by an influential male figure — and provide a space for other people in the art world to do the same.
She organized the protest on Facebook last month, creating an event titled ” #MeToo at the Met.” Invoking a phrase used by many survivors of abuse over social media, she invited women and male allies to join in the participatory project, including her own friends, fellow artists and members of the South Asian Women’s Creative Collective, which Abichandani founded in 1997.
“You have all heard me talk about my experience with Raghubir Singh who has an exhibition up at the Met Breuer, ” she wrote on Facebook. “With your help, I would like us to put on a silent performance/ protest to ensure that historians cannot erase this part of[ Singh’s] legacy, to hold institutions responsible for their choices.”
“Help me construct his violence visible, ” she added. “They can ignore my lone voice, but not a hundred of us.”