Protesters Unfurl Three-Story Banner 2 Favorite 



Nov 5 2014


in Guggenheim Museum

A thirty-nine-foot banner was unfurled in the rotunda of a sparsely-attended Guggenheim Museum this evening, the latest action carried out by the Gulf Ultra Luxury Front (G.U.L.F.) activist group. Decrying labor abuse at the museum’s planned Abu Dhabi outpost, the banner announced the forthcoming “Countdown” campaign by Gulf Labor, the larger collective of artists and activists of which G.U.L.F. is an offshoot. “Countdown,” according to Gulf Labor, will consist of a series of direct actions, and follows the recently concluded “52 Weeks” campaign that saw individuals and collectives weigh in on the labor issue, with contributions from such artists as Hans Haacke, Thomas Hirschhorn, and Andrea Fraser.

The banner, reading “Stop Labor Abuse / Countdown to Guggenheim Abu Dhabi,” was brought into the museum hidden inside a baby stroller, and one G.U.L.F. member arrived in light disguise to avoid detection by the Guggenheim’s guards. Held aloft from the rotunda’s upper tier for several minutes, the sheet was torn down from below by two male guards. At one point a female guard approached the pair holding the banner, asking them if this was part of the current Zero: Countdown to Tomorrow, 1950s–60s exhibition, to which they replied it was. That guard then walked away. Though the banner was confiscated, all involved G.U.L.F. members left the museum without incident.

The unannounced action precedes a protest planned for tomorrow’s International Gala at the museum; the $75,000-a-table fundraiser, sponsored by fashion brand Christian Dior, benefits the institution’s global efforts. To that end, the banner joined another temporary, albeit official, intervention in the rotunda — Otto Piene’s “White Balloon,” designed by the artist before his death this summer and installed for three days on the occasion of the International Gala and tonight’s Young Collectors Council party. Preparations for the latter were well under way by the time the banner was displayed a little after 5pm ET, and entry to the museum was free.

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