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G.U.L.F. Responds to Guggenheim, Calls on Museum to Open Its Doors to Free Public Assembly

by Hrag Vartanian on February 24, 2014

The front cover of an informational brochure distributed during the February 22nd intervention. It was designed by Noah Fischer of Occupy Museums. (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

The front cover of an informational brochure distributed during the February 22nd intervention. It was designed by Noah Fischer of Occupy Museums. (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

The following statement was emailed to Hyperallergic from one of the organizers of G.U.L.F. (Gulf Ultra Luxury Faction). This is a response to the statement earlier today by Guggenheim Director Richard Armstrong about Saturday’s protest action. We’ve preserved the original formatting of the statement:

Monday, February 24th

On Saturday, the G.U.L.F (Global Ultra Luxury Faction) staged a protest at the Guggenheim Museum in support of the rights of migrant workers in Abu Dhabi.

Earlier today, the Guggenheim director, Richard Armstrong issued a statement pointing out that construction has not begun on the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. In reality, however, construction on the Saadiyat Island infrastructure has been underway for several years, and the Guggenheim is central to the island’s overall development plan, along with the Louvre and NYU. Moreover, the Guggenheim brand is being used to promote the exclusive, ultra-luxury ambience of the island’s appeal to potential investors and tourists.

An in-depth discussion on Saadiyat Island is scheduled for Wednesday, February 26, 5:15pm EST, at NYU’s Global Center for Academic & Spiritual Life (GCASL), which is located at 238 Thompson Street, Room 369, in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village.

Art is not a Luxury Asset for the Wealthiest Global Citizens.

In the course of the Saturday protest, we were outraged to learn about the inadequate pay of the museum’s security guards. As part of their efforts to keep us and the priceless art on display safe, they are paid a mere ten dollars an hour by one of the wealthiest institutions in New York and indeed globally. In New York City, this is not a living wage, by any estimates. The Guggenheim can and should be paying them more. As the wealth gap widens and the global 1% literally builds exclusive luxury islands, the fates of those left out are bound together. They include both Guggenheim’s NYC museum guards and migrant workers who are constructing the museums on Saadiyat Island.

Museums Should Not be Built on the Backs of Ill-Treated Workers.

We call on the Guggenheim Museum to open its doors to a free public assembly on these issues on Saturday March 1. We look forward to the conversation.

Museums Should Be Raising Labor Standards, Not Lowering Them.

In Solidarity

G.U.L.F.
(global ultra luxury faction)

We have reached out to Guggenheim to confirm if guards are indeed being paid $10/hr. and will update the post when we hear back.

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  • vitaminC

    They just now discovered wage workers like security guards are underpaid? Maybe they should try to get out of the museum more, rather than get in.

  • Cat Weaver

    Here’s the specific info that contradicts the Guggenheim’s statement:
    http://www.saadiyat.ae/en/project-update/Guggenheim-project-update.html

    Perhaps Armstrong will quibble about what “under construction” means, in which case I find it very sad that the Guggenheim should use semantics to escape controversy while building its brand on indentured servitude.

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