The Essex Street Gallery Moves to 55 Hester, Joins ‘Art Strike’ Against Trump’s Inauguration
The Essex Street Gallery is returning home. For the last five years, the showroom held court on Eldridge Street, having been forced from its namesake. And it’s happening just in time for a coordinated “gallery strike” against Trump’s inauguration.
Moving to 55 Hester Street, formerly home to the Tracy Williams gallery, provided a massive opportunity for expansion. Indeed, the space is a three-fold increase in floor area from Essex’s previous two iterations.
A show called “Change of State” opened the Essex Street Gallery last night, and is a protest exhibition. “I planned on doing an anti-inauguration exhibition regardless of which of the two candidates were elected,” founder Maxwell Graham told Art News.
To that end, Graham is referring to the J20 Art Strike…
The call reads: #J20 Art Strike An Act of Noncompliance on Inauguration Day. No Work, No School, No Business. Museums. Galleries. Theaters. Concert Halls. Studios. Nonprofits. Art Schools. Close For The Day. Hit The Streets. Bring Your Friends. Fight Back.
This call concerns more than the art field. It is made in solidarity with the nation-wide demand that on January 20 and beyond, business should not proceed as usual in any realm. We consider Art Strike to be one tactic among others to combat the normalization of Trumpism—a toxic mix of white supremacy, misogyny, xenophobia, militarism, and oligarchic rule. Like any tactic, it is not an end in itself, but rather an intervention that will ramify into the future. It is not a strike against art, theater, or any other cultural form. It is an invitation to motivate these activities anew, to reimagine these spaces as places where resistant forms of thinking, seeing, feeling, and acting can be produced.
We address ourselves to the people who make our cultural institutions run on a daily basis, including many of our own friends and colleagues. Those who work at the institutions are divided in multiple and unequal ways, and any action taken must prioritize the voices, needs and concerns of those with the most to lose. However you choose to respond to this call, Art Strike is an occasion for public accountability, an opportunity to affirm and enact the values that our cultural institutions claim to embody.
The disruptions of J20 are just the beginning. They will resonate with the Women’s March on Washington, D.C. and other cities on January 21, and will stand as beacons of ungovernability as the darkness of the Trump era descends upon us. Let us assemble for the protracted battles that have long been underway, and those on the horizon.