Three activists affiliated with the organizations Rise Up 4 Abortion and Vets Rise 4 Roe were arrested at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art last week during a protest staged in front of the museum’s popular outdoor installation Urban Light (2008) by the late artist Chris Burden.
Victoria Eggers and Lavi Bourne—two of the activists who are both women and both veterans—chained themselves to the work’s historic lampposts and spilled fake blood in front of the work on July 28. Their arrests, along with a third activist named Sean David Gorman, were captured on video and shared on social media. They were detained on charges of felony vandalism, according to a report by the Los Angeles Times.
“We are not free in this country until every person, every birthing person, every person with a uterus, every woman, is free,” Eggers said as she was being arrested, per a video shared on Twitter by Rise Up. “I did not serve my country to have my freedoms stripped away. I will rise up and use my body, put it on the line, because that’s what I took an oath to do.”
According to a GoFundMe page started by Rise Up, the activists were released early on July 29 after posting bail. (The GoFundMe page was set up to reimburse the person who had covered their bail money.)
The video posted to social media also showed a large influx of police in riot gear sent to disperse the protestors, which numbered around 25 persons.
“There is a war on my body right now and it is unacceptable. It is time for change,” Bourne said at the time of her arrest, per a video posted to Twitter,
The activists said that the protest was not targeted at LACMA but toward the “business as usual” approach most art institutions are taking in regards to abortion after Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling that guaranteed a right to abortion, was reversed this past June as part of the Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
The activists’ tactics of staging actions with artworks to call attention to larger social issue echo those recently made by climate activists in Europe, who have been gluing themselves to the frames of famous masterpieces.
“This is not a protest against LACMA, but a call to the arts community and to all of society: silence is compliance, start taking action and RISE UP FOR ABORTION RIGHTS NOW!,” the GoFundMe page reads.
LACMA did not immediately respond for ARTnews’s request for comment, but said in a statement to the L.A. Times that repairs would need to be made on Urban Light as some of the blood had splashed on the lampposts. (According to the GoFundMe page, the fake blood was made using washable paint.) The work had been closed off immediately following the protest, but had reopened by 7 p.m. on July 28.