Sir Anish Kapoor has urged museums and art galleries to end their culture of “tokenism” by displaying art that represents contemporary culture, not because of the artist’s origins or identity.
The Mumbai-born winner of the 2017 Genesis Prize, which is nicknamed ‘the Jewish Nobel,’ made the comments while speaking to The Guardian as he unveiled his latest artwork at Houghton Hall.
Kapoor said: “Contemporary museums, they need to stop this tokenism. Collect an Iranian artist here, a South African artist there or whatever. They need to really begin to try to properly take on what is contemporary culture today.”
He said artists “have to refuse, have to say no more tokenism,” adding that museums such as London’s Tata were “paying lip service to world art”.
Discussing the recent £400 million revamp at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, he said: “On the ground floor they have room after room after room of artists from here, there, and everywhere, and they are put together like a jumble sale. It is appalling… We can’t do that kind of s*** anymore.”
He added: “It is almost as if we have to go back to rethinking what cultural representation means. Not colour of skin. Not male or female or otherwise. Not places of origin. So what? How? There is a whole, deeper, post-enlightenment conversation to have here.”