[ View the story "Guggenheim protesters 'make it rain' to highlight poor labor practices" on Storify] Guggenheim protesters 'make it rain' to highlight poor labor practices Activists protest the use of migrant laborers to build Guggenheim museum in Abu Dhabi.
AJAMStream· Mon, Mar 31 2014 15:25:44
The demonstrators posted a video of Saturday's action, shown below:
Guggenheim Action - March 29th 2014U4l2-1OlbM46g1x-xroO7g
The fake dollar bills used in the protest asked museum attendees to consider the "sustainable cultural value" of the Guggenheim in Abu Dhabi:
Saadiyat Island, off the coast of Abu Dhabi, has seen
in investments pour in as the island hopes to become a new beacon of culture in the region.
But the developers behind the island have received international attention for the poor conditions in which migrant laborers work and live. Reports have
that in some cases, the control employers hold over the island's workers, such as withholding their passports to prevent them from returning to their home countries, amounts to forced labor.
Saturday's protest at the Guggenheim was performed by Global Ultra Luxury Faction, an offshoot of Gulf Labor – a coalition of international artists and activists who have been working since 2011 to bring attention to the conditions that the workers on Saadiyat Island withstand.
In addition to the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, Gulf Labor has focused on the Louvre Abu Dhabi and the British Museum's collaboration with the Zayed National Museum. Artists have signed on to the group's
demanding that the Guggenheim protect the workers behind the new museum's construction.
In an op-ed in the New York Times, Gulf Labor member and New York University professor Andrew Ross explained that the labor system supports the "lavish lifestyle of a minority...maintained by a vast majority that functions as a servant class." He continued:
If liberal cultural and educational institutions are to operate with any integrity in that environment, they must insist on a change of the rules: abolish the recruitment debt system, pay a living wage, allow workers to change employers at will and legalize the right to collective bargaining.nytimes.com
Gulf Labor has been joined in protests by Occupy Museums, a group that seeks to bring attention to economic injustice in the art world.
Each time the Guggenheim speaks, its approach to migrant labour issues on Saadiyat Island sounds more like that of a global corporation than that of an educational or art institution.occupymuseums.org
Saturday's demonstration was the latest in an ongoing effort to highlight the conditions of migrant workers in the Gulf States. Last month, the group performed a
inside the Guggenheim, dropping leaflets and displaying banners that accused the museum of wage theft.
In a protest last week, the activists used a projector to brand the Guggenheim as the "1% Museum."
Gulf Labor - Rebranding the Guggenheim | FacebookFacebook
G.U.L.F. & The Illuminator at GuggenheimU4l2-1OlbM46g1x-xroO7g
Gulf Labor has also created a website to solicit plans for an ethical, sustainable Guggenheim in Abu Dhabi. The Guggenheim was quick to call the site a
What do you think about the protests? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.