op-ed: an open letter to björk – re: “sound is the n***** of the world, man.”

April 23, 2015

This week, while explaining that museums deprioritize sound over visuals, (which in fairness is true, though in the grand scheme of things, not really that big a deal), Björk declared “sound is the n***** of the world, man.”

By Nathan Leigh, AFROPUNK Contributor 


Dear Björk,

What the actual fuck? It’s bad enough that you’re making a reference to the super problematic (though admittedly well-intentioned) John & Yoko song “Woman Is the N***** of the World.” But “sound is the n***** of the world?” Really? There’s so much wrong with that sentence, it’s not worth taking apart other than to say, you should know better. So yes. Shitty sound in an art gallery is exactly as bad as centuries of subjugation, slavery, and racism. Congratulations, Björk. You’ve found the problem with the world, and it’s that expensive museums, which are already funded and propped up by massive wealth inequality, which disproportionately feature white male artists at a rate of roughly 25 to 1, which exoticize the work of the rare POC artist they choose to feature, which strike deals with oil and gas conglomerates despite espousing progressive values (hello new Whitney museum!), which devalue the work of living artists both on a financial and artistic level despite calling themselves “modern” (hello MOMA!), which profit off of social movements in retrospect without taking any chances and engaging with them in the present, and serve only to propagate an art market both for and by the 1%, don’t invest enough money in speakers. That’s the problem. Good on you for identifying it. The world is fixed now.