Thu. Jul 25th, 2024

Kehinde Wiley Exhibitions Halted After Sexual Assault Allegations

By admin Jun14,2024

Editor’s Note: The following story contains mentions of sexual assault and harassment. To reach the National Sexual Assault Hotline, call 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.

Two museums have nixed or postponed their iterations of a traveling exhibition dedicated to American painter Kehinde Wiley in the wake of accusations of sexual assault against the artist.

A Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) spokesperson told Hyperallergic that it was “considering taking the Kehinde Wiley exhibition, but as a result of these unfortunate allegations we will not be proceeding with this presentation.” A representative for Nebraska’s Joslyn Art Museum, where the show was scheduled to debut in September, said the institution is revisiting its exhibition schedule. “Kehinde Wiley: Omaha will not be presented in 2024,” the spokesperson confirmed. “The Joslyn will announce any updates at a later date.”

The news of the changes in programming, first reported by Artnews and the Flatwater Free Press, follow at least four allegations of sexual misconduct that have all been brought against the prominent artist in less than a month. Wiley has fervently denied the claims, calling them “baseless and defamatory.”

“It is disappointing that this social media-driven fabrication is distracting from the goal of the tour: shedding light on the inequities Black and Brown people face in our society,” Wiley told Hyperallergic in a statement. “These allegations are completely false, raising more questions about their credibility and motivation than there are facts supporting their authenticity.”

In an Instagram post last month, artist Joseph Awuah-Darko accused Wiley of assaulting him twice during an event in Ghana in 2021. Barely two weeks later, activist Derrick Ingram came forward with his own allegations of sexual violence, posting on Instagram that Wiley had “raped [unprotected] and sexually assaulted” him at his Soho apartment in September 2021 during an approximately four-month relationship. Ingram alleged that Wiley asked him to sign a non-disclosure agreement, a claim Wiley denies.

On top of these accusations, United Kingdom-based artist Nathaniel Lloyd Richards accused Wiley of “aggressive and forceful” touching and groping during a 2019 date. In a signed statement shared with Hyperallergic, Richards wrote that Wiley’s behavior made him feel “unsafe” and ultimately led him to depart the date early.

Yesterday, photographer Terrell Armistead became the fourth individual to accuse Wiley of assault, claiming on Instagram that he was “groped and sexually assaulted” by the painter in 2010 at his apartment after meeting at the since-closed bar Secret Lounge on West 29th Street. Armistead alleges that he fell asleep at the residence and woke up to Wiley performing oral sex on him.

Wiley has denied all the claims. In response to the latest allegations from Armistead, Wiley’s attorney Jennifer Barrett said Wiley “does not know who this latest accuser is.” She also sent Hyperallergic photos of the two dogs that Armistead mentions seeing at Wiley’s house in 2010, noting that Wiley did not adopt the first dog until 2015.

“Sadly, this appears to be another example of a person who has been manipulated into joining the scurrilous campaign orchestrated by Mr. Awuah-Darko, who has been harassing Mr. Wiley’s friends and colleagues in a desperate attempt to get information to support his vendetta and build his fake case,” Barrett said.

On Instagram, Wiley has posted screenshots of messages and social media exchanges with both Awuah-Darko and Ingram in the months after the alleged incidents.

An online petition started by Awuah-Darko urging Wiley’s representing galleries to look into the claims has nearly reached its 1,000-signature goal. “We must empower those who have suffered in silence and create a safe space for victims to come forward,” Awuah-Darko writes in the petition text.

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