After weeks of "ongoing dialogue and discussions" with the Whitney, The Yams Collective (also known as HOWDOYOUSAYYAMINAFRICAN?) has officially removed themselves from the Whitney Biennial this year.
According to Hyperallergic, Yams Collective member Maureen Catbagan says that the decision to leave the event was brought on by objections to another artist's work. Joe Scanlan’s “Donelle Woolford” piece is explained in the article as a work "in which the white male Princeton professor hires black female actors to play the part of a fictional black artist named Donelle Woolford."
Catbagan say that the collective felt that "the representation of an established academic white man posing as a privileged African-American woman is problematic, even if he tries to hide it in an avatar’s mystique...It kind of negates our presence there, our collaborative identity as representing the African diaspora." In a response to their withdrawal, Scanlan wrote "I understand that the project is provocative and controversial, and I respect everyone’s right to react as they see fit for their own mind, their own body, and their own politics."
This isn't the first time that race has been an issue for people concerning the Whitney Biennial, but losing African American artists in an event that has already been called out for its lack of diversity is definitely not a good look.
Head over to Hyperallergic to read Scanlan's full letter and to learn more about this unfortunate news.