Last Friday, January 27, an otherwise uneventful evening of art-gazing was interrupted when Occupy Museums, a subgroup of Occupy Wall Street, made its way to midtown Manhattan to give MoMA visitors a lot more to see than they paid for when the movement infiltrated the institution’s atrium.
On the heels of their rally at the Museum of Modern Art last Friday, the following focused and powerful letter arrived in our inbox 15 minutes ago from Occupy Museums.
Philip Glass, Laurie Anderson and Lou Reed joined last night’s Occupy Museums demonstration at Lincoln Center, held to coincide with the final performance of Glass’s Satyagraha at the Metropolitan Opera.
At the huge protest by the Local 814 art handlers in front of Sotheby’s this Wednesday, the divide between the 1% and the 99% in the art world could not have been clearer. While protesters chanted, whistled and booed from the heavily barricaded picket lines, wealthy auction attendees were rushed into the building by security. Wednesday marked the second of two major contemporary art sales at the auction house that included million dollar masterpieces by Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still, de Kooning and Gerhard Richter to name a few. This high profile sale was the most opportune time for the art handlers to make their voices heard and let Sotheby’s know that will not accept no for an answer on a better contract agreement.
Before heading to Sotheby’s I met with members of Occupy Museums at Zuccotti Park who have taken on the struggle of the locked-out art handlers and have joined them in protests against Sotheby’s. After searching through the maze of tents that have recently sprung up in the park, I finally found Blithe Riley holding a mini General Assembly to get participants ready for the evening’s action: Occupy Sotheby’s. Riley, who is a member of Occupy Museums and the OWS Labor Outreach Committee, told the small crowd, “Occupy Wall Street stands with organized labor.”
Occupy Wall Street is heading into its third month and continuing to spread across the country. Here at Hyperallergic we have been doing our part to spread the word on art coming out of the movement. Below is a brief round-up of OWS art related news for Occupy movements around the country and events happening in NYC to look out for.
The art world has a tendency to make everything about itself, and some of the art happenings at Occupy Wall Street are no different. Contentious art projects that have spawned from the movement like the No Comment exhibition and Occupy Museums have sparked important discussions, but also remain somewhat insular. While its certainly worthy to critique and examine the art world under the lens of Occupy Wall Street, artistic responses to the movement should also aim to educate and entice more people to join the ranks of OWS. NYU Gallatin’s exhibition This is What Democracy Looks Like, which opened last Friday, makes such an attempt to extend a hand outward.
The current exhibition A Show About Colab and Related Activities at Printed Matter in Chelsea is a perfect example of the positivity that can result from discontent. First known as the Green Corporation and subsequently named Collaborative Projects, Inc. Colab was a loosely organized group of artists that functioned from the late 1970s through the early 1980s, serving as a platform, agency and collective for art making. The current exhibition consists of original artworks and ephemera (including meeting minutes, flyers, posters and publications) that document and sample from the slew of work produced under the organization’s moniker.
The face of Occupy Museums is evolving, and possibly for the better. After an aggressive rhetoric that seemed to blindly go after any large museum with money, the movement has toned down its mission. In its second week, Occupy Museums now seeks a more inclusive discussion, and shows support for Sotheby’s locked out art handlers.