VENICE — At 10:20am this morning, two boatloads of artists and activists occupied the dock landing of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection (PGC) in Venice. It marks the first joint action between GULF (Gulf Ultra Luxury Faction) and Gulf Labor, which is an official participant in the 2015 Venice Biennale, and two Italian organizations, Sale Docks in Venice and Macao from Milan — an independent art space which started organizing art workers in 2012. The crowd of roughly 40 people are hoisting banners and flags that read, “Meet Workers’ Demands” and other labor-related messages. The museum occupation is the latest effort to highlight labor issues impacting migrant workers at Saadiyat Island, where Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, Louvre Abu Dhabi, and other luxury culture brands are building outposts.
“We organized the AbStrike [abstract strike] event in Venice and Milan and we’ve been involved with Gulf Labor for over a year,” Emanuele Braga of Macao told Hyperallergic. “AbStrike is exploring the possibilities for strikes for cultural workers. We gathered various projects that explore the issue of artist workers and debt, among other issues. We did joint events in Venice and Milan, which is hosting Expo [that is having labor issues], to also see how these models that are both pushing forward this model of labor precarity and build up a different type of consciousness in the workers and raise awareness in the communities and the media.”
The event is the first “official” event of Gulf Labor’s Biennale participation, according to New York University professor Andrew Ross, who made headlines in March when he was banned from visiting the United Arab Emirates.
Originally Published by Hyperallergic Media, Inc.