130 Artists Call for Guggenheim Boycott

From their website:

A group of leading artists, curators, writers, and others launched a boycott of Guggenheim Abu Dhabi today over the exploitation of foreign migrant workers building the museum on Saadiyat Island, the United Arab Emirates.

More than 130 international artists, curators, writers and others have signed a boycott to end all cooperation with the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and are demanding that the Guggenheim Foundation and its Abu Dhabi partner take immediate and meaningful steps to safeguard the rights of the workers constructing the new branch museum on Saadiyat Island. Some of the artists who have signed the appeal have also decided to boycott other Guggenheim locations around the world until this issue is resolved.

“Artists should not be asked to exhibit their work in buildings built on the backs of exploited workers,” said Walid Raad, one of the artists boycotting the Guggenheim. “Those working with bricks and mortar deserve the same kind of respect as those working with cameras and brushes.”

Among those calling for the boycott are prominent artists Emily Jacir, Walid Raad, Yto Barrada, Mona Hatoum, Shirin Neshat, Akram Zaatari, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Janet Cardiff, Willie Doherty, Hans Haacke, Alfredo Jaar, Barbara Kruger, Antonio Muntadas, and Paul Pfeiffer.

Read more here. You can also sign the petition here. View all the press they’ve gotten in two days here.

UPDATE: March 23, 2011

The Guggenheim’s Richard Armstrong and Nancy Spector reply to the artists’ petition. In brief:

We believe that the progress made [to protect workers’ rights] thus far is more than ceremonial. In fact, it signals fundamental changes in the emirates’ decades-long labour practices

Read their entire letter here.

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