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NYC parents enraged over Met lobby exhibit featuring F word



Some local mothers are angry about a new multi-media exhibit — including curse words and what they say looks like BDSM images — that is front and center in the Great Hall of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Words like “f–k it” and “lick it” are projected on six large screens along with phrases such as “This is the new world order” and “May you fill yourself with lust.” There are images of seemingly naked males with their genitals blurred out and men standing over other men who appear to be wearing dog collars. Trashed NYPD patrol cars are seen in a junkyard with burned-out school buses.

“I saw a wasteland ‘Mad Max’ scenario with people dressed in S&M gear and others who looked as if they were fornicating with the earth,” said one Upper East Side mother who asked that only her first name, Jennifer, be used. “There were [images] of two women with a cross with a skull in it, seeming to be stabbing the earth. Lots of people with glowing eyes. It looked Satanic and demonic to me. Imagine a kid standing in line with their parents getting tickets for the Met. There is no escape from it … If anything it should be in a separate area with age requirements and parental guidance.”

The F-word is used a few times in “A Metta Prayer,” a new multi-media exhibit in the Great Hall at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that has angered some mothers because of what they see as inappropriate sexual and “demonic” imagery.
Dana Kennedy
Mothers interviewed by The Post complained that young children “cannot escape” the imagery in the “A Metta Prayer” exhibit which is projected on the walls of the lobby of the Met.
Dana Kennedy

Jennifer said she filed a formal complaint with the Met last week but has not heard back.

The Met — which is partly supported by taxpayer dollars — did not respond to a call and an email from The Post Tuesday.

“My daughter takes an art class at the Met and last week they took them to the lobby and I couldn’t believe my eyes,” Kate, a Manhattan mother of an 11-year-old girl, told The Post. “Here’s a whole group of about 15 kids between 8 and 12, and we’re walking by these giant video screens with this stuff on it that was so shocking and inappropriate.”

“A Metta Prayer” is projected on six giant screens in the Great Hall of the Met.
Stefano Giovannini for NY Post
Artist Jacolby Satterwhite told The Post that what some see as “BDSM” imagery is inspired by a gay wrestling collective called the Chokehole.
Dana Kennedy

The work is part of an ambitious exhibit, “A Metta Prayer,” by Brooklyn-based multi-disciplinary artist Jacolby Satterwhite, 37, which was unveiled this month and runs through January.

It’s billed as a “multi-channel video installation… based within a computer-generated landscape of an imagined New York City” and borrows from Titian, video games and many of the Met’s own artworks.

Satterwhite draws inspiration from the Buddhist Metta prayer, a mantra of loving-kindness, to build a narrative that rebels against the conventions of commercial video games,” the Met said in its description of the commission. “Rather than perpetuating violence, the characters in ‘A Metta Prayer’ dance, perform, preach and pose.”

Artist Jacolby Satterwhite said that “A Mette Prayer” is a life-affirming Buddhist work depicting the dark and light that humans struggle to keep in balance.
Deonté Lee/BFA.com

But the mothers who spoke to The Post said they don’t think it’s appropriate for children — and they don’t think the “loving-kindess” comes through as much as what one of them called “demonic” images.

“I felt this is not the institution we know and not what we consider the museum to be,” Kate added. “It’s supposed to be the center of culture and learning — for children as well … It was so disgusting to me. One person holding someone with a chain and that person was on his knees crawling on the ground, so much weird stuff about the new world order. I don’t like children being exposed to this.”

Reached by The Post Tuesday, Satterwhite said his work was being misinterpreted if anyone thought it was Satanic or overtly sexual.

Artist Jacolby Satterwhite said his work was being misinterpreted if anyone thought it was Satanic or overtly sexual.
Stefano Giovannini for NY Post
“Don’t take your child to a f–king museum of you don’t want them to learn,” Satterwhite told The Post.
Stefano Giovannini for NY Post

One of the dancers in the videos that make up “A Metta Prayer” was O’Shae Sibley,  28, who was murdered at a gas station in Coney Island in July. Sibley had been vogueing to a Beyonce song at the time.  Satterwhite said some of “A Metta Prayer” is a tribute to him.

Satterwhite has been open about using BDSM images in previous works, like an art and performance piece he did at a party for Grindr, the gay men’s dating app, in which performers were styled in leather and recreated the experience of gay cruising in 1980s Central Park.

The “Chokehole” wrestlers take part in a type of queer and drag wrestling.
Dana Kennedy
Images of a trashed NYPD patrol car in what looks like an apocalyptic junkyard appear several times in “A Metta Prayer.”
Dana Kennedy

But he said Tuesday that what the mothers saw as BDSM images is in fact images of so-called “Chokehole” wrestlers which Satterwhite, who is gay, described as as a type of queer and drag wrestling.

“Would these mothers mind if we showed a retro Hulk Hogan?” Satterwhite asked. “This is a collective of queer wrestling. The paradox about them is they are a community of queers who love each other and they they bring people together. They are simulating violence all under the guise of bringing people together.”

Dancer O’Shae Sibley, who was killed while dancing in what authorities are calling a hate crime, is featured in the videos.
Sage O. Dumure Versailles/Facebook

Satterwhite had little patience for those lodging complaints about his exhibit at the Met.

“They’re just seeing blackness and queerness which is what a lot of people hate the most,” Satterwhite said. “The piece is based on a Buddhist prayer and that journey. It’s about the two sides of you battling to be a good person. Don’t take your child to a f–king museum of you don’t want them to learn. Go to the Frick and look at flowers.”

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