Guggenheim Protesters Make It Rain in Frank Lloyd Wright Rotunda

Saturday's Guggenheim protest. Photo: courtesy Global Ultra Luxury Faction/Gulf Labor.
Saturday's Guggenheim protest. Photo: courtesy Global Ultra Luxury Faction/Gulf Labor.

The Gulf Ultra Luxury Faction (GULF) continued their protests of labor conditions at the forthcoming Guggenheim Abu Dhabi this weekend at the museum’s New York branch, report Complex Art + Design and Hyperallergic.

As they did last month, the protesters made their move during the museum’s busy pay-what-you-can Saturday evening hours. At 6:45 p.m., a ringing bell signaled the action’s start, and protesters released 9,000 fake bills from the top of the iconic rotunda, each marked with question marks or one percent signs where a dollar amount would normally be. Other phrases written on the ersatz currency, which rained down like confetti during a ticker tape parade, included “no sustainable cultural value” and “What does an ethical global museum look like?”

Museum security responded to the action quickly, and officers from the New York Police Department allegedly escorted a reporter from Gothamist off the premises for interviewing visitors.

An opinion piece in last week’s New York Times from New York University professor and Gulf Labor member Andrew Ross offers a chilling indictment of the exploitative kafala sponsorship system, used to employ construction workers in the United Arab Emirates region.

The latest action also follows on the heels of the launch of globalguggenheim.org, a fake version of the institution’s website designed to promote GULF’s agenda through a non-existent “Sustainable Design Competition for Abu Dhabi Branch.” An earlier New York protest saw the Occupy Wallstreet Illuminator target the museum facade.

The Guggenheim has issued the following statement in response to the ongoing protests:

It is important to clarify that the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi is not currently under construction, despite erroneous claims by certain protesters. The building foundations and pilings were completed in 2011. While in Abu Dhabi in mid-March 2014, our director revisited the workers village to ensure that living conditions for workers who will work on the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will set new and respected standards for workers engaged in building other projects on Saadiyat Island.


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