In today’s Wall Street Journal “Sightings” column, I discuss Nan Goldin’s protests at museums that accept charitable contributions from the Sackler family. Here’s an excerpt.
* * *
Nan Goldin, a fine-art photographer hitherto best known for her interest in sexual politics, has found herself a new cause. It is now her mission to force art museums not merely to stop accepting charitable donations from members of the Sackler family, but to give back donations that they’ve already accepted. Having previously staged anti-Sackler protests at New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Sackler Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington, she has just informed London’s National Portrait Gallery that she won’t permit that museum to mount a planned retrospective of her work if they accept a proposed million-pound donation from the Sacklers….
So who are the Sacklers? Mortimer and Raymond Sackler, two now-deceased brothers who gave millions of dollars to the Met back in the ’70s, are better known nowadays for having launched Purdue Pharma, the manufacturers of OxyContin, the painkilling drug introduced in the U.S. in 1996 whose present-day popularity is widely thought to have driven the opioid-abuse epidemic in America. Ms. Goldin, a recovering OxyContin addict who contends that Purdue Pharma seems to have marketed the drug in such a way as to encourage mass addiction, thinks that any museum that takes or has taken Sackler money should be publicly shamed….
Nowadays social media makes it dangerously easy to convene spur-of-the-moment outrage mobs, and the activists who have come to be known in recent years as “social justice warriors” (or SJWs) are quick to resort to public protest whenever their sensibilities are inflamed, especially by the seeming misconduct of the rich. The problem, however, is that Ms. Goldin is also targeting the family of the late Arthur Sackler, the older brother of Mortimer and Raymond and a major donor to the Met and the Smithsonian Institution, even though he had no connection whatsoever with OxyContin….
* * *Read the whole thing here.