The Museum of Modern Electronic Music in Frankfurt is facing criticism over an alleged lack of diversity, and misrepresentation of techno's Black roots.
It comes after female:pressure, a global network of women*, non-binary, transgender and gender fluid artists, wrote an open letter to Frankfurt's mayor, Peter Feldmann, and culture chief, Dr. Ina Hartwig, directly addressing how "the manifold achievements of women and non-binary artists in and for the history of electronic music are ignored" by the museum.
Published on 6th April, the day MOMEM finally opened after numerous delays, the letter begins by addressing issues at an organisational level. "With great irritation we have taken note of the events for the opening of MOMEM – Museum of Modern Electronic Music in Frankfurt," it reads. "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), MOMEM’s team of directors is also 100% male." On the day of MOMEM's opening event, DJ Franziska Berns was added to the line-up as headlining support act.
The letter also addresses alleged failings in regards to how the museum and the Magistrate of the City of Frankfurt portrays the Black origins of techno:
"Furthermore, you, the Magistrate of the City of Frankfurt as the inviting party, write on the invitation card: In the middle of Frankfurt, where Techno has its origin ('Mitten in Frankfurt, wo Techno seinen Ursprung hat'). With this statement you are outside of all academic research and assessments on the origins of Techno culture, which stems from the diverse cultures of queerness and BPoC, especially in the urban centers of the USA (most notably Detroit for techno, Chicago and New York for house)," the letter continues, citing projects Make Techno Black Again and dweller.
"Additionally, on the MOMEM website, the claim 'First Things First: Black Music Matters' was published which does not mention the origins of Techno in the above-mentioned communities," the letter continues. "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 Resident Advisor's Anu Shukla, a spokesperson for female:pressure said that MOMEM must address the issues outlined in the open letter, and uphold their "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."
Plans to build MOMEM were initially announced in 2015, with it being trialled in pop-up form in 2018. The museum - which features exhibition rooms, performance areas and installations, as well as a library space - is under the stewardship of Alex Azary.
Founded by Electric Indigo in 1998, female:pressure is an online database and network of artists and cultural workers who work in the fields of electronic music and digital arts. The network comprises over 2800 DJs, musicians, composers, visual artists and also bookers, promoters, journalists and researchers from 85 countries.
DJ Mag has approached MOMEM for comment.