Art-World Activist Tanya Selvaratnam Among Women Accusing New York Attorney General of Abuse
She co-founded the Federation, an art activist group established in response to President Donald Trump’s travel ban.
The New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman resigned on Monday night, just three hours after four women accused him of physical abuse in a detailed investigation published by The New Yorker. One of the women was art-world activist, author, and film producer Tanya Selvaratnam.
“After I found out that other women had been abused by him in a similar manner many years before me,” Selvaratnam said in a statement, “I wondered, who’s next, and knew something needed to be done. So I chose to come forward both to protect women who might enter into a relationship with Eric Schneiderman in the future but also to raise awareness around the issue of intimate partner violence.”
Selvaratnam is the co-founder of the Federation, an art activist group established in response to President Donald Trump’s travel ban. The group teamed up with artists including Joan Jonas, Glenn Ligon, and Shirin Neshat to launch an Art Action Day of readings, workshops, and panel discussions on the first anniversary of Trump’s inauguration. She has also conducted press relations for art institutions including the Rubell Family Collection in Miami and performed in “The Shape of Things,” a day of performances and workshops organized by artist Carrie Mae Weems at the Park Avenue Armory in December.
The other woman who spoke to the New Yorker on the record is political activist Michelle Manning Barish. Both Selvaratnam and Manning Barish said they dated Schneiderman for more than a year and were repeatedly hit, choked, threatened, and verbally abused by him, eventually seeking medical attention for their injuries. They said they felt it was important to go public in order to prevent other women from experiencing similar abuse. Two other women who came forward have remained anonymous.
Announcing his resignation on the same day that the story went public, Schneiderman said: “In the last several hours, serious allegations, which I strongly contest, have been made against me. While these allegations are unrelated to my professional conduct or the operations of the office, they will effectively prevent me from leading the office’s work at this critical time. I therefore resign my office, effective at the close of business on May 8, 2018.”
Just in February, Schneiderman rose to prominence as a progressive Democrat who some predicted would one day run for governor of New York. He has also been a vocal supporter of the #MeToo movement. Before his resignation, he filed a lawsuit against the founders of the Weinstein Company for allegedly violating state and city laws barring gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and abuse.
In the New Yorker article, Selvaratnam asked: “What do you do if your abuser is the top law-enforcement official in the state?”
Follow artnet News on Facebook:
Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.