At the Museum of Modern Art, Protesters Demand Something

It’s understandable for artists to protest Trump, both because of his clear authoritarian tendencies and because his administration has cut the two most prominent federal arts programmes. But there’s a major problem when you hold a protest and nobody understands what it’s about:

Many visitors to the museum listened to the words but some seemed to have trouble understanding the message, which was clarified by handouts to the crowd that included a graphic by the Guerrilla Girls. One high school student from Virginia named Miranda was standing on the balcony when the protest began and told me she thought the protest was about: “The state of the world at this time and the election of Donald Trump.” She wasn’t clear about the action’s connection to the museum, but she thought most people visiting probably agreed with the protesters. When I explained to her that the action was directed at a MoMA board member connected to Trump, she said she understood the protestor’s intention. “I don’t agree with the state of the world now, it’s not safe,” she added to explain why she was unhappy with the new government.

Another group of visitors on the ground floor also had trouble understanding what was going on even as they were reading the handouts. When I approached two visitors from Charlotte, North Carolina, I asked them what they thought the issue was and one said, “Cultures are not being represented correctly, is that it?”

If your explanatory leaflet doesn’t explain, you need to work on your messaging.