The newly launched Museum of Modern Electronic Music (MOMEM) in Frankfurt has been criticised by female:pressure for being too male-centric, lacking diversity, and for not properly acknowledging techno's Black roots.
Through an open letter published on the day of the museum's opening (April 6), the global network of female and non-binary people involved in electronic music argues that MOMEM lacks diversity in terms of personnel and does not sufficiently acknowledge the Black roots of techno.
It reads: "We are shocked that in an event that is extensively funded by the city and the Cultural Office of Frankfurt and of such importance for the city, the manifold achievements of women and non-binary artists in and for the history of electronic music are ignored in such a way."
The letter is addressed to Peter Feldmann, Mayor of the City of Frankfurt, the Magistrate of the City of Frankfurt, and Dr Ina Hartwig, the Head of the Department of Culture of the City of Frankfurt.
The letter details: "The opening of MOMEM is exclusively in the hands of cis men (Sven Väth, Sami Hugo, Sven Louis and Noe Fazi as DJs, Tobias Rehberger as curator)", and criticises how the directing team of MOMEM is made up entirely of male members.
The letter explicitly calls out Mayor Feldmann for the line "In the middle of Frankfurt, where techno has its origin" featured in the exhibition. The network also cites two key projects, Make Techno Black Again and dweller, to argue that the Mayor's claim dismisses the work done by Black and POC artists in Detroit, New York, and Chicago.
The letter says the statement: "inadmissibly exploits the cultures of people with histories of migration and oppression by marginalising their achievements."
"Should the claim be a pure marketing measure, it inadmissibly exploits the cultures of people with histories of migration and oppression by marginalizing their achievements. This also repeats the economic exploitation experienced by protagonists of the early techno & house scene in Germany/Europe."
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The open letter also highlights how the MOMEM website states “First Things First: Black Music Matters” - but it does not mention the origins of techno in the above-mentioned communities. The letter reads: "We can only interpret this measure as a strategic, yet not very credible brand message with the intention to disguise the fact that the actual protagonists at MOMEN are primarily white."
Speaking to RA, one member of the pressure group said, the MOMEM board must correct the problem as detailed in the letter. They said: "[The] museum [must] live up to its responsibility as promoters of culture and take action that integrates the achievements of women, non-binary, Black and Latinx artists into the history of electronic music with parity and historical accuracy."
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The museum, which was first announced in 2015, has been delayed owing to a lack of financing and a suitable location.
female:pressure was founded in 1998 by Electric Indigo and is noted for its large database of female, non-binary, and transgender DJs, composers, and artists. FACTS, a bi-annual survey that examines the gender balance of festival line-ups, is also published by the organisation.
Read the open letter here.
Aneesa Ahmed is Mixmag's Digital Intern, follow her on Twitter