Creative Extraction: Why are Art Schools at the Vanguard of Unreasonable Debt Burdens? A Conversation with Coco Fusco

organized by Occupy Museums:
Friday, December 5, 2014, 6-8 pm:

Momenta Art, 56 Bogart St Brooklyn NY.

FB event here

In recent years, we have witnessed many art school graduates snared into unpayable debt traps through the skyrocketing tuitions paired with low earning potential. Debtfair by Occupy Museums, currently on view in the exhibition “Work It Out,” is a proposal for an alternative art fair that aims to alleviate the debt crisis in the Art World. While proposing a solution based on solidarity, Debtfair also examines the interconnections that exist between student debt, exploitative labor conditions in the art industry, and alliances between the art market and multinational banks and corporations.

How does the “Art World,” whether willingly or unwittingly, take part in an inter-connected web of globalizing neo-liberal economy? While the Art World frolics amid the markets of the Miami Basel Art Fairs, Occupy Museums invites artist and educator, Coco Fusco to introduce a less glamorous section of the Art World: an art education complex paralleled with global practices of labor exploitation, predatory lending, and the privatization of culture. We will discuss broader ranges of oppressive practices, including tuition hikes, predatory lending to students, and the increasing precariousness of faculty positions that parallels other service-labor.

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Coco Fusco is an interdisciplinary artist and writer and MIT’s MLK Visiting Scholar for 2014-2015. She is a recipient of a 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship, a 2013 Absolut Art Writing Award, a 2013 Fulbright Fellowship, a 2012 US Artists Fellowship and a 2003 Herb Alpert Award in the Arts. Fusco's performances and videos have been presented in two Whitney Biennials (2008 and 1993), BAM’s Next Wave Festival, the Sydney Biennale, The Johannesburg Biennial, The Kwangju Biennale, The Shanghai Biennale, InSite O5, Mercosul, Transmediale, The London International Theatre Festival, VideoBrasil and Performa05. Her works have also been shown at the Tate Liverpool, The Museum of Modern Art, The Walker Art Center and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona. She is represented by Alexander Gray Associates in New York.

Fusco is the author of English is Broken Here: Notes on Cultural Fusion in the Americas (1995) and The Bodies that Were Not Ours and Other Writings (2001), and A Field Guide for Female Interrogators (2008). She is also the editor of Corpus Delecti: Performance Art of the Americas (1999) and Only Skin Deep: Changing Visions of the American Self (2003). She is currently working on a new book entitled Dangerous Moves: Performance and Politics in Cuba.

Fusco's work combines electronic media and performance in a variety of formats, from staged multi-media performances incorporating large scale projections and closed circuit television to live performances streamed to the internet that invite audiences to chart the course of action through chat interaction. Her most recent performance, Observations of Predation in Humans: A Lecture by Dr. Zira, Animal Psychologist, revives the character from Planet of the Apes to offer a commentary on contemporary forms of aggression that is supplemented by multimedia illustration.

Fusco received her B.A. in Semiotics from Brown University (1982), her M.A. in Modern Thought and Literature from Stanford University (1985) and her Ph.D. in Art and Visual Culture from Middlesex University (2007).

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Debtfair Proposal display at Momenta Art's "Work it Out" 


please see: Debtfair.org

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Ritual Rebranding of the David H. Koch Plaza on the Day of its Dedication 

 





#RebrandKoch #PeoplesClimate  See Facebook event

As the world prepares to converge on NYC in a mass call for Climate Justice, the Metropolitan Museum of Art will honor David H. Koch, a 4-star general in the dirty energy industry’s war against planet earth. The public space and two grand fountains in front of the Met’s facade will be renamed as the David H. Koch Plaza, following an extensive renovation.

The people will be present at the dedication on Tuesday, September 9th to stand in resistance. The celebration of this philanthropic abuse of the commons cannot pass unchallenged. People are rallying to demand sustainable policies for our culture and the ecosystem.

These fountains are boiling. The policies of The Patron contribute to the melting of the ice caps and the rising of the seas.

We invite you to join a ritual cleansing of the Place Formerly Known As David H. Koch Plaza. In a durational ceremony, we will call upon the energies of resistance, chanting and making offerings, and will collectively rename and rebrand the Plaza.


Proposal to Re-Common the David H. Koch Plaza

"The Metropolitan Museum is scouring away the mark of the public, banishing the working artists who sell their art outside the museum to support their artistic practices and feed their families. Koch Plaza is an intolerable affront to the hardworking people of New York who are one Koch-funded cut away from joining the City’s 66,000 homeless.

In a climate of near-total reliance on ever-more powerful plutocrats, how can free speech in public institutions flourish?

Occupy Museums proposes a project to re-common the Museum."

Read our full proposal

Press: Gothamist

recommon the met recommon met

 

BIG win for Union Labor at Frieze Art Fair 2014:

http://hyperallergic.com/124066/the-story-behind-frieze-new-yorks-decision-to-hire-union-labor/

"One of the most significant consequences of the Occupy Wall Street movement that descended on lower Manhattan in 2011 was a rejection of that cynicism and a renewed vigor in the alliance between cultural workers and actual workers. From Adbusters to n+1, cultural reviews found common cause with labor, united against the increasingly oligarchic structures of capital freed from democratic accountability. So when it first emerged that the Frieze fair, unlike the Armory and the Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA), New York’s other two major fairs, would not be employing union labor for the construction of its vast (and vastly temporary) facility, the initial protest fell not just to the slighted unions but to an offshoot of this newly formed consciousness. Occupy Museums staged protests at the exit of the 2012 Frieze Art Fair, passing out pamphlets and copies of the n+1-produced Occupy! Gazette into the hands and windows of fair patrons. An alternative event was also organized: Un-Frieze, a barter-based fair. The unions picketed Frieze sponsor Deutsche Bank at 60 Wall Street and joined Occupy Museums at the fair with a signature inflatable rat."


Please Join Us on May 1st for an open class at Free University, Madison Square Park

We will create a space where everyone who cares about grassroots urban social justice can come together, learn about each others' initiatives, and share old wisdom and new developments in radical politics.

Join Occupy Museums for an action planning session and discussion on the possibilities of bringing effective politics to the museum space. We start with a short presentation on our top tactics developed since 2011, including a discussion of our recent actions at the Guggenheim (with G.U.L.F., MTL, and Gulf Labor), and kick off a brainstorm on new museum occupation strategies. We will end by collectively cooking up a concrete occupation of a major New York museum. Stay later to continue the conversation and participate in a collective painting.

Fore more information on Free University-NYC, visit

http://freeuniversitynyc.org/

https://www.facebook.com/events/408480645955299/?ref=br_tf

Occupy Museums joins Gulf Labor, MTL, students from NYU, and others to form Global Ultra Luxury Faction (GULF). Highlighting Migrant Labor Debt Bondage involved in the construction of new Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.

Money Rains down in the Guggenheim

http://hyperallergic.com/117512/protesters-rain-down-thousands-of-bills-in-guggenheim-rotunda/

http://www.newsweek.com/protesters-sneak-guggenheim-make-it-rain-false-bills-238877

 

Illuminator team joins to rebrand Guggenheim as 1% Global Museum

The Illuminator Joins Gulf Ultra Luxury Faction:

Rebranding the Guggenheim for Exploiting Migrant Workers in Abu Dhabi

At 10:00 pm last night, members of Gulf Ultra Luxury Faction (G.U.L.F.) joined by the OWS Illuminator occupied the facade of Guggenheim Museum in Uptown Manhattan for over 40 minutes. G.U.L.F. rebranded the Guggenheim’s flagship museum in protest of complicity at the ill-treatment and economic exploitation of migrant workers in Abu Dhabi who are beginning to build the new Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim on Saadiyat Island (aka ‘Island of Happiness’). G.U.L.F.’s act of messaging solidarity follows recent reports from Human Rights Watch, as well as investigative findings from members of the Gulf Labor Coalition (some of whom overlap with G.U.L.F.) who have just returned from a fact-finding mission in Abu Dhabi where where they visited several worker camps and spoke with workers. They confirmed a reality that is the opposite of happy: multiple labor violations, generated by a system built on human suffering and debt bondage.

Last night, G.U.L.F. renewed the call on the Guggenheim to own up to its responsibility as a leading cultural, educational and art institution, and not take economic advantage of the workers seeking the ‘Gulf Dream’. Workers should not be caught in a debt spiral where they must work for years on building the museum only to pay the fees that brought them to Abu Dhabi in the first place. Guggenheim has a choice here. It must refuse to lend its cultural capital to build the ‘Island of Happiness’ where art and luxury mask and maintain a racialized exploitative labor regime, while using its PR department and those of its partners to hide the facts and mislead the public. Unless the Guggenheim changes course with the new museum in Abu Dhabi, G.U.L.F. will continue to remind the Guggenheim that their brand is: “1% Global Museum.”

1% Museums means 1% Art.

Art built on Oppression Loses Meaning.

There are other possible Futures of Art.

http://hyperallergic.com/116438/activists-take-protest-to-the-facade-of-the-guggenheim-museum/

 

Occupy Museums joins Gulf Labor, MTL, students from NYU, and others to form Global Ultra Luxury Faction (GULF). Highlighting Migrant Labor Debt Bondage involved in the construction of new Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.

First Action of GULF


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(above image-manifesto briefly on Guggenheim's wall/photo: Hrag Vartanian)

Each time the Guggenheim speaks, its approach to migrant labour issues on Saadiyat Island sounds more like that of a global corporation than that of an educational or art institution. We would like to remind the Guggenheim that it’s a museum, with a mission to “explore ideas across cultures through dynamic curatorial and educational initiatives.” Museums should help the public come to a greater understanding of the global complexities we all face.

Each day the Guggenheim hides behind the excuse that “construction has not yet started on our building” is another day of evading decisions and actions which could prevent a future migrant worker’s servitude. Right now, the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi’s infrastructure is being constructed. That infrastructure includes roads, sewage, water, electric, net pipes, etc., leading to the museum. But other components of the work are also under way. We can only assume that money has been transferred to the Guggenheim here in New York in order to hire the curators and administrators of Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. We know that events off-site have already been organized. Works of art have certainly been bought, insured, and stored. Last but not least, Saadiyat Island is being sold to investors on the basis of the Guggenheim’s name, along with those of the Louvre, the British Museum and others. How can the Guggenheim claim that construction has not begun?

Even if we were to take at face value the claim that construction of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi has not begun, we would say the following: NOW thousands of workers who will build your museum are taking on the massive debt that will take them years to repay; NOW workers are being recruited with promises that will not be fulfilled, for jobs that will pay less than they expected; NOW workers are applying for the passports that may be confiscated as soon as they land in the UAE; and, surely, NOW is the time to do something about all of this.

It is unfortunate but not surprising that the Guggenheim refuses to open its doors to a serious public dialogue about the migrant labor issues in Abu Dhabi. A museum of its stature must foster public education about the conditions under which art is viewed. The Guggenheim is stepping back from this social responsibility as it focuses on expanding into new global markets.

As for the underpaid Guggenheim guards’ wages in New York, passing off culpability to a subcontractor is no longer an acceptable practice, even in the corporate world. The Guggenheim should pay all employees at least a living wage, even if they are on a contractor’s payroll.

Sadly, the Guggenheim’s latest response confirms our expectation. It has tried to hide behind technicalities and PR spin as it waits for news cycles to die down. We know the composition of their board and it does not surprise us. A 1% Global Museum with a 1% Board that cares very little about its lowest-paid employees and the example it is setting to the world.

We will be back.

G.U.L.F.(Global Ultra Luxury Faction)

full video with subtitles:

Monday, February 24th

On Saturday, the G.U.L.F (Global Ultra Luxury Faction) staged a protest at the Guggenheim Museum in support of the rights of migrant workers in Abu Dhabi.

Earlier today, the Guggenheim director, Richard Armstrong issued a statement pointing out that construction has not begun on the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. In reality, however, construction on the Saadiyat Island infrastructure has been underway for several years (link to: http://www.saadiyat.ae/en/project-update/infrastructure.html), and the Guggenheim is central to the island’s overall development plan, along with the Louvre and NYU. Moreover, the Guggenheim brand is being used to promote the exclusive, ultra-luxury ambience of the island’s appeal to potential investors and tourists.

An in-depth discussion on Saadiyat Island is scheduled for Wednesday, February 26, 5:15pm EDT, at NYU’s Global Center for Academic & Spiritual Life (GCASL), which is located at 238 Thompson Street, Room 369, in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village.

Art is not a Luxury Asset for the Wealthiest Global Citizens.

In the course of the Saturday protest, we were outraged to learn about the inadequate pay of the museum’s security guards. As part of their efforts to keep us and the priceless art on display safe, they are paid a mere ten dollars an hour by one of the wealthiest institutions in New York and indeed globally.. In New York City, this is not a living wage, by any estimates. The Guggenheim can and should be paying them more. As the wealth gap widens and the global 1% literally builds exclusive luxury islands, the fates of those left out are bound together. They include both Guggenheim’s NYC museum guards and migrant workers who are constructing the museums on Saadiyat Island.

Museums Should Not be Built on the Backs of Ill-Treated Workers.

We call on the Guggenheim Museum to open its doors to a free public assembly on these issues on Saturday March 1. We look forward to the conversation.

Museums Should Be Raising Labor Standards, Not Lowering Them.

In Solidarity

G.U.L.F.

 

(global ultra luxury faction)


early coverage: http://hyperallergic.com/110856/protest-action-erupts-inside-guggenheim-museum/

 

manifesto for the action, hung on the wall besides curatorial text of Italian Futurism:

 

 

 

 

 

photo: Nick Pinto

 

 

manifesto being ripped off wall and taken into Guggenheim's collection

 

photo: Nick Pinto

 


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OCCUPY MUSEUMS SUPPORTS TEAMSTERS DISPUTE AGAINST FRIEZE ART FAIR

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Michael McKeon

April 16, 2013 (212) 681-1380

LABOR LEADERS TO HOLD PRESS CONFERENCE ON FRIEZE NEW YORK ART FAIR AND CALL UPON ELECTED OFFICIALS TO CHANGE PARKS PERMITTING

Elected officials will join members of Teamsters Joint Council 16, IATSE Local 829, IATSE Local 1 and District Council 9 of Painters, at a press conference on the steps of City Hall Wednesday at 1:00 PM to confront the organizers of the Frieze New York Art show and their local events coordinator, Production Glue, LLC on their continuing discrimination against hiring New York City’s union workers.

Labor leaders contend that Frieze NY and Production Glue refuse to hire professional exhibition workers and hire workers from as far away as Wisconsin to avoid paying a fair wage. Art world enthusiasts speculate that London based Frieze will become a permanent yearly fixture at Randall’s Island. Production Glue also ran the event in 2012 and refused to employ union workers to construct the fairgrounds and facilitate the event.

These unions will demand that Frieze Art Fair end its practice of freezing out New York workers, and engage good, local, union employers effective immediately. They will also call upon the New York City Parks Department to pursue a new permitting process that evaluates labor standards for these major private events that make major profits while displacing families from enjoying local parks.

Frieze New York, which will run on Randall’s Island May 10-13, 2013, is an international contemporary art fair and will feature works from more than 1,000 artists from around the world.

On Wednesday, April 17, 2013, Teamsters Joint Council 16 President George Miranda, NYC Central Labor Council President Vincent Alvarez, Councilmember Jessica Lappin, Exhibition Employees Union Local 829 President Kenny Kerrigan, IATSE and members of several local unions will speak out on this lack of support and call for Frieze New York’s sponsors to acknowledge the rights of New York City’s union workers.

When: Wednesday, April 17, 2013

1:00 P.M.

Where: Steps of City Hall, City Hall Park

Broadway, New York, NY 10007

Who: Labor Leaders and Elected Officials

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