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Friday, April 23, 2021

To be accused of #MeToo is the easiest thing to be accused of, but ‘the leaders come forward first’

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He’s not a creepy creep, he’s just the dude who’s about to launch an alternative army for the “survivors” of #MeToo, a charity he started to give cash to women who have been sexually harassed.

Right now, that guy is a giant Medusa, made from 38 blue velvet butterfly wings, his face a snake’s head, his tongue extended. It’s the head of a sculpture that hangs from the facade of his New York gallery, Untitled. And that’s what it’s called, a sculpture called “Medusa.”

Daniel Edwards, 40, and his wife, Jade Kennedy, who run the gallery, met in Washington, where she worked for the Smithsonian. When they moved to New York, they had nothing but antiques and artwork — a dream on the wall, a studio wall.

The couple were about to open Untitled in 2004 when Jade surprised Daniel with the Medusa. “That was one of the most fabulous things she’d ever done,” he says. “I said, I’ll do this with you, because I believe in it.”

“And here we are,” says Jade.

And today, amid the week’s cascade of allegations against Harvey Weinstein, that Medusa sculpture is more salient than ever. Why? Because the gesture is an image of empowerment, not a symptom of evil — something the sculpture’s creator acknowledges.

Daniel, or DJ Dan, as he is known to friends, is well aware of the significance of #MeToo. To his feminist audience, it’s a call to arms — for those who suffer the damage done by an “unwanted intrusion” — and an invitation to raise a picket sign.

“We certainly need women telling their stories, so that people can see what is happening,” says DJ Dan. “You can’t just have people who do what they do and not have the community look at them and realize that.”

But so far, he says, the #MeToo movement has benefited men at all levels — executives to everyday office workers. “I find it interesting, because the most prominent men coming forward are ones that I think have achieved the highest status,” he says.

As for the dark side of #MeToo, he has mixed feelings. For many men, he says, the sense of responsibility for preventing alleged misconduct is overwhelming.

“It’s scary to know that you can actually stop someone,” he says. “And it’s terrifying to think what an unfair situation that would be.”

He’s considering selling some of the, and possibly the whole, Medusa sculpture, for a total of $200,000. His long-term hope is that it may find its way into the field of therapy.

At least one of Daniel’s female friends raised the idea on Twitter a few months ago, asking for permission to buy the sculpture. (Ms. Kennedy, who’s also DJ Dan’s wife, requested permission to speak to The New York Times on the condition that she not be identified. DJ Dan agrees.)

DJ Dan feels a sense of responsibility to give back. In the meantime, he says, he has accomplished his goal of finding a work of art, which, he says, “is free and fun.”

For the moment, DJs Dan and Jade say, they don’t worry that their work might connect them to Weinstein’s accusations — but they’re not so sure their patrons would be so sure. “If one of our patrons becomes a guilty party or indirectly connected to something like that,” says DJ Dan, “we’ll probably think about a way to disassociate ourselves from that, and say something like, ‘We’re friends with Jade and Daniel,’ and ask them to help us raise awareness instead.”

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