Eric Garner 'Death-In' Rocks Armory Show

All eyes in the art world were on New York this weekend, and no, not just because of Bjork’s show at the MOMA. This past weekend marked the 2015 Armory Show, the annual art event that has been the city’s biggest for nearly two decades. This year’s Armory Show however will not be remembered for the wealth of artists that were showcased, but rather by a performance piece commenting on the death of Eric Garner.

Staging it as a ‘death-in,’ the interruption was a tightly orchestrated performance by Artists for Justice for NYC, a group specifically formed after the officer responsible for Garner’s death, Daniel Pantaleo, was not charged by the court for his involvement. Those participating collapsed to the ground in a tangible representation of this violence rocking the country. Many called out Garner’s final words, “I can’t breathe,” as they fell, alarming the Armory Show’s emergency staff who came rushing to their aid. Because of this disturbance, the entire group was escorted off site by security. “We’re trying to get our message out to a crowd that is historically out of touch with the struggle of black America," group member Patrick Waldo told the New York Times. And after 10 minutes of their death-in, the message seemed to have been received.

New York was very recently rocked by protests spurred by the slaying death of Eric Garner, and though his death is sadly but one of many deaths at the hands of recent police violence, his is certainly one of the most symbolic of the movement. His final words have become a battle cry in the fight against racially charged police violence, even appearing in a recent song by punk activists Pussy Riot. The death-in at the Armory Show is but the latest to remind us of Garner’s fatal end in hopes for equal justice for all, and it’s up to more groups like Artists for Justice for NYC to keep the fight going until that day comes.

Photo by Victoria Valentine

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