Artnet News reports that a Finland art exhibit inspired by Michael Jackson opened August 21 at the Espoo Museum of Modern Art. The display comes in the wake of accusations of sexual abuse leveled against the late pop star by Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who appeared in HBO’s controversial documentary, Leaving Neverland.
According to the Espoo museum’s chief curator, Arja Miller, the exhibit — which TMZ reports previously appeared in Bonn, Germany — has been well-received.
“For us, it was important that the exhibition doesn’t celebrate Jackson or put him on a pedestal,” she says. “[Instead], it explores him and his impact as a cultural symbol.”
The exhibition includes work by 48 artists, including Isa Genzken, Andy Warhol, and Kehinde Wiley. TMZ reports that one controversial piece portrays Jackson being carried by Jesus, while another shows the star with angel wings while standing on the Devil.
Miller says that no works of art by Jackson are included, as the exhibit aims to focus on his portrayal through other artists.
“Michael Jackson is recognizable worldwide in a way that almost no one else is,” she said. “The question is more about art in context and how interpretations can change over time.”
“We are a discursive platform for art, artists, and audiences, and we still see this exhibition as relevant in that sense,” she added.
Michael Jackson Carried by Jesus, Standing on Devil in Art Exhibit https://t.co/hOV3jdy3cb
— TMZ (@TMZ) March 21, 2019
Miller claims that no artists have yet to request their works be removed from the exhibition. She claims to have spoken with each artist and says that each one believes strongly that their works are relevant at least in part because they are not simply about Jackson but the phenomenon he was a part of.
Although many defend Jackson or simply believe his legacy remains relevant regardless of the accusations, others are calling for a reevaluation of his legacy. Per The Inquisitr, Robson claims that Jackson was able to get away with purportedly sexual abusing children for so long because he was merely “too powerful to be controlled.”
According to Yahoo News, Robson compared the coverup of Jackson’s affinity for children to the Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal. He claims that there was a particular employee of the late pop star’s that acted as a “gatekeeper” and was aware of all of his activities with children.
Musician Sheryl Crow echoed Robson’s statement during an interview with The Guardian last month. She said that a “huge network of people” enabled Jackson and says she feels sad for victims such as Robson. The 57-year-old described Jackson as an “untouchable” and “almost alien-like [figure]” during her time touring with him. Crow also addressed Safechuck specifically, saying he was a “great kid” but that she wondered what his parents were doing when he was on tour with her and the King of Pop.