A new art exhibit in Chicago by New Orleans-based artist Ti-Rock Moore that displays a life-sized mannequin of Michael Brown’s dead body has received criticism from visitors and activists.
The exhibit depicts Brown laying on the ground surrounded by police tape as a looping video of Eartha Kitt singing "Angelitos Negros” plays in the background.
August will mark the one-year anniversary since the fatal shooting of Brown by former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. Brown’s death immediately prompted protests around the country as demonstrators cried “Hands up, don’t shoot” and “black lives matter,” which evolved into a larger scale movement in the year since.
The mannequin replicating Brown as he lay in the street has received negative feedback from activists, local residents and even Brown’s father.
Moore discussed the exhibit prior to the opening. “There are many artists coming out of this movement and we’re activists and we’re just expressing and we happen to be expressing through visual art,” Moore told WGN-TV before the exhibit opened. “But we know that the arts are very healing and so I think it’s self-help for many people.”
Lesley McSpadden, Brown’s mother, attended the exhibit’s opening reception on July 10. According to a report from The Guardian, McSpadden was under the impression that the piece depicting her son’s dead body was a photo, not a life-sized mannequin, and the recreation of her son’s body was covered during her visit per her request.
According to Andre Guichard, a co-owner of the gallery, Brown’s father hasn’t seen the exhibit, and he said the gallery has made several attempts to contact him. Brown told FOX2 that no one from the gallery has extended an offer to view the exhibit.
“Most people who have an opinion haven’t seen the exhibit,” Guichard told The Huffington Post. “It’s still about treating people humanely.”
Critics and activists are calling out Moore for exploring the poisons of white privilege by exemplifying her own.
Activist Johnetta “Netta” Elizie visited the exhibit, calling the display “offensive and lazy.”
Kirsten West Savali, cultural critic and senior writer at The Root wrote that Moore’s work is "a crude plagiarism of Darren Wilson’s brutality.”
Though critics believe the gallery should remove the exhibit, Guichard stands by the artwork.
“Our goal is to continue the conversation about race,” Andre Guichard said. “Even though Ti-Rock is not black, she does have an opinion on injustices.”
The replica of Brown’s body isn’t for sale.
“Our best gift to foundation is to continue the conversation around the foundation,” Guichard said. “We’ve also decided any work that sells, we’ll donate a portion to the foundation."
The exhibit will run through August 10.
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