Abu Dhabi Guggenheim Faces Protest
by Nicolai Ouroussoff – Article Here
A new protest group of over 130 artists are planned to boycott displaying their pieces of art in the Guggenheim to be constructed at Abu Dhabi if the Guggenheim does not promise to improve the conditions for their laborers. News spread wide about the mistreatment of workers within Abu Dhabi in a news release by the Human Rights Watch (HRW) as I had discussed in a previous post.
The projected $800 million dollar museum is to be designed by the great Frank Gehry and reside on Saadiyat Island along with the Louvre Museum, luxury resorts, marinas, and New York University Campus. It is one of the highest-profile construction in the Middle East thus far – but it will be useless if it is empty. These workers are making Gehry’s visions come to live – they take the tangible pieces of work and create what he has envisioned, doesn’t that make them artists too? They are creating something so grandiose to be admired by people all over the world.
If the requests of these artists are not met they will refuse to attend events and sell pieces off to the museum. Which the opening of the museum scheduled to be in 2015, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation is rushing to fill the tens of thousands of square of gallery – so they can not afford to not comply with the wishes of these artists. They only seek the same respect that they receive for these workers.
These violations, which threaten to sully the Guggenheim’s reputation, present a serious, moral challenge to those who may be asked to work with the museum. No one should be asked to exhibit or perform in a building that has been constructed and maintained on the backs of exploited employees.
Our cooperation with the Guggenheim in Abu Dhabi (and, for many of us, at other Guggenheim locations) will not be forthcoming if the Foundation fails to take steps to safeguard the rights of the workers who will be employed in the museum’s operations on Saadiyat Island. Human Rights Watch will determine if and when adequate monitoring measures have been established and effectively implemented.
– Excerpts from the petition addressed to Richard Armstrong, Director Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation