Museums and galleries dropped Canadian artist Jon Rafman amidst allegations of sexual misconduct.
Artist Jon Rafman. Photo by Petri Virtanen, courtesy Finnish National Gallery, via Wikimedia Commons.
Canadian artist Jon Rafman has been dropped from Montreal gallery Bradley Ertaskiran and has had several solo museum exhibitions suspended after multiple women made allegations of sexual misconduct against him on social media. To date, both the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC) in Montreal have halted upcoming and current solo shows of Rafman’s work indefinitely.
Last week, the Montreal Gazette reported on allegations made by several women against Rafman on the Instagram page, “Surviving the Artworld.” The first to share their story was Montreal-based artist and editor, Anne-Marie Trépanier, who initially posted about her experience on her personal Instagram account. According to her post, Trépanier met Rafman in 2014 while studying visual arts at Concordia University, after adding him as a friend on Facebook. Rafman invited Trépanier to visit his studio one evening, which she quickly learned was also the artist’s living space, alerting her to Rafman’s ulterior motives. Trépanier said in her post: “I really thought I was going to his studio and that we would drink some wine and talk about visual arts and his practice, and that I would learn from this experience.” However, Trépanier said the conversation with Rafman “very quickly oriented towards us just having sex”
Trépanier’s decision to speak out was spurred, in part, by a recent influx of accusations of misconduct against several powerful men in Quebec’s cultural sphere. Two other women, who had both met the artist on the dating app Tinder, also shared stories describing Rafman’s behavior as manipulative with “Surviving the Artworld.”
Responding to these allegations, Rafman said in an email to The Art Newspaper:
I want to reiterate that I was deeply saddened by how upsetting these experiences were for the women involved. I empathise with their voices, but I disagree with how these testimonies have been labeled on Instagram and in the press. The relationships described were initiated and maintained by both parties, and they unfolded over an extended period of time; the communications we had were positive, and no grievances were expressed to me until now. In retrospect, I wish I had been more attentive to the intricacies and dynamics of these relationships so I could have better addressed them at the time; this is, of course, a source of profound regret.
Considered one of the most prominent figures of the Post-Internet Art movement, Rafman was slated for his largest solo exhibition in the U.S. at the Hirshorn this fall. The show was set to feature Rafman's notable works including Nine Eyes of Google Street View (2008-present), Dream Journal (2016-2019), as well as a new virtual reality work.