To the MOCAD Board of Directors,
We, the New Red Order, respectfully insist that the opening of our forthcoming exhibition, Crimes Against Reality, currently scheduled to open on July 9, 2020, be postponed until the MOCAD Board of Directors agrees, in writing, to meet all five of MOCAD former staff’s actionable items.
This decision is made in solidarity with current and former MOCAD staff, and informed by our own negative experiences with MOCAD’s Executive Director, Elysia Borowy-Reeder. From the beginning of our relationship with MOCAD our interactions with Borowy-Reeder have been characterized by carelessness, racial insensitivity, tokenization, and neglect. Unfortunately, through the course of undertaking our exhibition, we have become well acquainted with the erratic and hostile work environment perpetuated by her leadership. We hope our words and actions further amplify the concerns of current and former staff who have and will no doubt continue to speak out.
It has become evident that this institution can no longer function with Borowy-Reeder leading, but this is not only about one person. Since our exhibition will only open after Borowy-Reeder’s departure, we want to ensure that a prior commitment, promised by Borowy-Reeder, is still met by the Board. Upon our request, and as a precondition for our participation, Borowy-Reeder agreed, in writing, that MOCAD will adopt a land acknowledgment practice that includes “a commitment to working to dismantle the ongoing effects of settler-colonialism, and to serve Detroit’s Indigenous community” and that this commitment will be “accompanied by a list of concrete actions that demonstrate this commitment” which will be released “by the end of the year.” Before our exhibition can open we need to know, in writing, that the MOCAD Board of Directors still stands by this promise made by the institution's Executive Director.
We would have preferred not to have to make this decision: to withhold this exhibition until the Board agrees to meet these demands. We sincerely want to share our work here, with people in Detroit and beyond. We want to be in dialogue with those we have not yet met; but we cannot in good conscience tacitly support an institution whose leadership instills a culture of fear and reinforces racial hierarchies that our work aims to dismantle. Borowy-Reeder herself told us, “I've always taken the approach that actions speak louder than words.” We are hopeful that Borowy-Reeder and the Board will listen closely to the myriad of voices demanding change at MOCAD, and that both will act quickly to ensure this institution is capable of serving its people.
With respect and appreciation,
New Red Order
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