Artists in Guggenheim Show Release Statement Criticizing Termination of Gulf Labor Talks

Protests at the Guggenheim Wednesday night.COURTESY GULF LABOR COALITION

Protests at the Guggenheim Wednesday night.


Since the Guggenheim announced earlier this month that it would suspend its dialogue with the Gulf Labor Coalition, the group that is advocating for better working conditions for the laborers building the museum’s new Abu Dhabi outpost, groups have publicly criticized the institution and called for it to reverse the decision. On Wednesday night, activists protested the suspension of talks by projecting on the exterior of the 5th Avenue institution phrases such as “ultra luxury art / ultra low wages,” while also showing a video of the faces of the members of the board of trustees accompanied by the phrase “you broke trust.”

Now, a group of ten artists who have work included in a show currently up at the Guggenheim, “But a Storm Is Blowing from Paradise: Contemporary Art of the Middle East and North Africa,” have released a statement expressing their disappointment in the dissolution of the talks.

ARTnews obtained a copy of the statement, which is posted below.

Friday, April 29th, 2016

Artists respond to the Guggenheim-Gulf Labor split

The artists listed below have work included in the Guggenheim Museum’s collection and in the UBS MAP exhibition: But a Storm is Blowing from Paradise: Contemporary Art of the Middle East and North Africa. We express our disappointment over the Guggenheim Museum and Foundation’s recent decision to end dialogue with the Gulf Labor Coalition, concerning labor practices in the construction of their Abu Dhabi Museum. As artists connected in various ways to this region, we believe in new institutions as cultural forces; we support their creation but also believe they can be catalysts for greater social change. We hope that the Guggenheim remains committed to innovation on both a representational as well as a structural level. Furthermore, we believe that dialogue is the most productive way forward for all parties involved. This exhibition is one form of dialogue and we regret that it opens amidst the current development in the exchange between the museum and GLC. We urge the museum to reconsider and reverse its decision to terminate its dialogue with GLC and affiliated NGOs.

List of names:

Abbas Akhavan

Kader Attia

Ali Cherri

Mariam Ghani

Joana Hadjithomas

Iman Issa

Khalil Joreige

Hassan Khan

Ahmad Mater

Zineb Sedira

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