Friday, January 20, 2012

'Sotheby's: Hang art, not workers' says Occupy Museums in MOMA direct action

It's kind of disgusting, when you think about it, that artwork about suffering workers gets sold by rich, union-busting companies like Sotheby's for millions of dollars -- to rich people.

That's why Occupy Museums disrupted the Museum of Modern Art last month at a Diego Rivera exhibition.

(If you haven't been following, Sotheby's locked out 42 art handlers on Aug. 1 because they wouldn't stand for lower wages, a lousier retirement plan and the gradual dissolution of the union.)

Art in America writes,
The Museum of Modern Art was once again targeted by Occupy Museums, bringing their protest inside the building on a bitterly cold evening. Occupy Museums has staged a number of demonstrations since October; this was a homecoming of sorts, since the first protest took place at MoMA.
Over the two-hour event, protesters ... were joined by representatives of the Arts and Labor Group of Occupy Wall Street, artists' group 16 Beaver and Occupy Sotheby's.

The main thrust of the occupiers' complaints was that two MoMA board members, James Niven and Richard E. Oldenburg, are also involved with Sotheby's (as a vice chairman and consultant, respectively), which has locked out its unionized art handlers over a contract dispute. A representative of OWS Labor Outreach (who gave his name only as "Alex") proclaimed in the Rivera exhibition, "The fact that MoMA will show Diego Rivera while breaking labor is a disgrace." Noah Fischer, the artist who is the main organizer of Occupy Museums, repeatedly asserted that Sotheby's has spent more on locking the workers out than it would have on their wages.
And we love this:
Creative Time curator Nato Thompson, a participant in the protest, pointed out that while The New York Times was slow to cover Occupy Wall Street, it was fascinated with the Egyptian revolution. He saw a similar phenomenon in MoMA's exhibition of Rivera: "Rivera can be abstracted from the present. Would he really want us to passively enjoy his murals? If you really love this show you'll get off your ass and overthrow your boss!"