News

Guggenheim Spoof Site Targets Abu Dhabi Controversy

by Mostafa Heddaya on March 28, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 11.25

(screenshot via globalguggenheim.org)

A spoof Guggenheim website, globalguggenheim.org, went live this morning with a satirical “Sustainable Design Competition” for the museum’s embattled Abu Dhabi branch. The website, a slightly modified replica of the official Guggenheim version, features images of Saadiyat Island, where the museum is to be built, overlayed with the hashtag #futureguggenheim, as well as references to Gulf Labor’s ongoing 52 Weeks campaign. The domain was registered anonymously on March 12, according to WHOIS records. The stunt bears some similarity to such actions as the 2012 Whitney Biennial spoof website made by members of various Occupy Wall Street groups and the culture-jamming parodies carried out by the Yes Men, who do not appear to have publicly weighed in on the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi before but yesterday tweeted a recent Hyperallergic story about a related protest. The website also links, in a sidebar, to Hyperallergic coverage of bloody labor clashes on Saadiyat Island last summer.

The museum’s “About” page text has also been replaced with a critique of the global museum franchise’s position in the neoliberal economic system:

An internationally renowned art museum and one of the most significant architectural icons of the 20th century, the Guggenheim Museum is at once a vital cultural center, an educational institution, and the heart of an international network of museums built specifically for the winners of global economic inequality. Visitors can experience special exhibitions of modern and contemporary art, lectures by artists and critics, performances and film screenings, classes for teens and adults, and daily tours of the galleries led by museum educators while the workers who are to build Guggenheim’s new location on Saadiyat Island are already laboring in debt bondage conditions constructing the foundation and utilities of the museum. Founded on a collection of early modern masterpieces and with money by extracting the earth’s resources for quick profit, the Guggenheim Museum today is an ever-growing institution devoted to the art of the 20th century and beyond. However, as we move deeper into the 21st century and as world econonomic [sic] inequality widens and environomental catstrophe looms, we recognize the need for post-Capitalist models if museums continue to go global.

At 12:01 pm EDT, a press release from “press@globalguggenheim.org” announced the two phases of the “Sustainable Design Competition for Abu Dhabi Branch,” with a submission deadline of June 28 for the first phase. Submissions are directed to a second website, globalguggenheim.com, which is differently structured and appears to be hosted on Tumblr.

Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 11.28

(screenshot via globalguggenheim.org)

Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 11.26

(screenshot via globalguggenheim.org)

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