May Day Occupation at Guggenheim

Practitioner: 

Date: 

May 1 2015

At noon today, a group of artists and activists including members of the Gulf Ultra Luxury Faction (known as G.U.L.F.) unfurled a large parachute in the atrium of the Guggenheim Museum, demanding to meet with a member of the institution’s board of trustees to discuss the labor conditions at its Abu Dhabi site. At the appointed time, members of the collective threw leaflets inspired by the current On Kawara exhibition from the museum’s upper levels and the protesters articulated their demands through a human microphone chant.

“It’s the most beautiful piece in the show,” remarked a French tourist watching from the top of the museum’s rotunda.

Though the protesters’ banner was swiftly destroyed by a guard wielding scissors, the group was allowed to remain seated in the museum atrium. As many as six NYPD officers arrived on the scene but, an hour after the protest began, they were called off by the museum administration.

“The museum doesn’t want to arrest us,” Amin Husain, one of the organizers, told the group after consulting with NYPD officers. “The museum has communicated to us through the cops that we can stay in this number, but we can’t grow.” The announcement was met with cheers.

While the museum has remained open since the protest began — no effort was made to clear the building — no new visitors have been admitted for over an hour now and a long line has formed outside the building.

The Guggenheim has not acquiesced to the protestors demands by sending a trustee to meet them, but their deputy legal council is en route from the museum’s offices in Lower Manhattan.

According to various tweets, protesters, including members of the Guerrilla Girls, are outside the Fifth Avenue museum with banners that read “Right to Organize” and “Debt Jubilee Now.”

Today’s event is the latest in a series of actions that began in February 2014 at the Guggenheim Museum related to the labor issues at the museum’s Abu Dhabi franchise.

-Benjamin Sutton

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