Gulf Labor is an active participant in the 2015 Venice Biennale’s central exhibition, All the World’s Futures, which is curated by Okwui Enwezor. They are a coalition of artists, writers, architects, curators, and political cultural The group staged a series of protests dedicated to its investigations of labor conditions in the Persian Gulf:
May 8, 2015, VENICE — At 10:20am this morning, two boatloads of artists and activists occupied the dock landing of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection (PGC) in Venice.
‘This morning we shut down the Venice Guggenheim by way of boats, for the same reason we recently shut it down in NYC: to crank up pressure on the museum to meet the worker’s demands in Abu Dhabi for dignified rather than debt-bonded labor conditions. Now is the time: main construction starts in the next few months .
Even since I was invited to participate in the Venice Biennale with Gulf Labor, it was always clear that this was a new possible stage for the campaign, and also that we should avoid export/import politics so frequently seen in high-flying art exhibitions. Following months of setting up relationships and plans through skype, this time we were joined by more than 30 people from occupied art spaces in Venice & Milan: Seasoned activists who provided us with all kinds of support and quickly became friends.
After a day of meetings and a night of banner painting, we rode through the grand canal on five boats and scrambled up on the Guggenheim to occupy its canal-facing facade with a banner carefully lettered by Joulia, waving colorful flags and bearing signs, then a group shut down the entrance on the other side. After a few hours the museum agreed to meet a small delegation of us, and after a couple more hours Richard Armstrong called from NYC, they had acceded to our demand to meet with the board of directors. The campaign is far from over but it was a big win today in Venice!
– from Facebook wall, Noah Fisher
– Images and text coordinated by J.G. Wita