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Walker Art Center to remove gallows-like sculpture after outcry

American Indian communities came out against the work's trivialization of genocide and Dakota history

A view of the Walker Art Center and Minneapolis.
A view of the Walker Art Center and Minneapolis.
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Protests have embroiled the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden at Walker Art Center ahead of its grand reopening next month. “Scaffold,” one of 18 new additions selected for the garden as part of an extensive renovation and expansion of the renowned contemporary art institution, will removed following an outcry from Minnesota’s American Indian communities, the Star Tribune reported.

A “gallows-like” sculpture by Los Angeles-based artist Sam Durant, “Gallows” was created to raise awareness and open a dialogue about the history of capital punishment in the U.S. But critics and protestors argued that it trivializes genocide and the history of the Dakota people.

Originally set to debut on June 3 with the rest of the new additions, the wood-and-steel work is a composite representation of seven gallows that were used in U.S. government-sanctioned hangings between 1859 and 2006. One of these sculptures was inspired in part by the gallows used in the execution of 38 Dakota Indians in Mankato, the largest mass execution in the history of the United States.

After two days of protests, Walker Executive Director Olga Viso announced Saturday that the art center would remove the sculpture. "I regret the pain that this artwork has brought to the Dakota community and others. This is the first step in a long process of healing,” she said in a statement.

The museum will discuss the removal of the sculpture in consultation with Dakota elders at a meeting on Wednesday. Some have suggested that the Walker commission a piece from a Dakota artist, while others have suggested that the piece be destroyed or burned as a way to heal. Head to the Star Tribune for the full story.

Via: Star Tribune