A controversial art exhibit showcasing the scene of Michael Brown’s shooting death in Ferguson, Missouri is on display in Chicago.
The exhibit, which the gallery calls “provocative” and “courageous,” will be open at Gallery Guichard in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood for one month.
Others say the display needs to be removed.
Called “Confronting Truths: Wake Up!” the exhibit features a life-size mannequin of Michael Brown’s body face down in an area marked off with crime tape. A video of Eartha Kitt singing Angelitos Negros plays nearby.
The images, created by artist Ti-Rock Moore, are intended to confront racism in America through art, according to the gallery.
“Honestly and frankly I explore white privilege through my acute awareness of the unearned advantage my white skin holds,” Moore wrote on the gallery’s website.
— Ti-Rock Moore (@TiRockMoore) July 9, 2015
Among the Michael Brown scene are more than 50 images by the New Orleans artist, including a noose, a neon cross with the words “White Privilege” on it and a frame with shredded pieces of the Confederate flag and the American flag combined to make an optical illusion.
“The literal shredding of the Confederate Flag alludes to the removal of the racist symbol from the South Carolina state capital and its continued questioning and dismantling as a legitimate national symbol,” the gallery’s website reads.
The names of the nine victims are also illustrated on the American flag to “commemorate their loss.”
“We knew, when we accepted this exhibition, that it could be controversial. We do not try to control the artistic process; rather, we invite the public to engage the artist's view and have their authentic interactions,” the gallery’s owner, Andre Guichard, wrote on Facebook. “We were, and we remain, uncertain about how much any white person can truly understand and empathize with the Black experience. But because we know and respect this artist as a colleague, and have spent time discussing her motivations for this show with her, we accepted the show. Now, this show is creating a very difficult, painful, but important dialogue. This painful dialogue is the next step in our ongoing discussion of race. When we accepted the exhibition we accepted responsibility for continuing this discussion.”
The gallery has since said that critics called the artwork “insensitive” and expressed concerns that she used peoples’ names and stories without compensating their families. There have also been questions surrounding the price tags on the pieces, which are for sale.
“Ti Rock is a full time artist who relies on the sale of her artwork to make a living. We are a small business and also rely on the sale of artwork during our exhibitions in order to keep our doors open and support our current and future programming,” the gallery wrote.
Guichard said the gallery also plans to donate a percentage of all sales to related foundations.