On February 22, members of G.U.L.F (Gulf Ultra Luxury Faction) staged a protest inside a busy Guggenheim Museum, speaking out against labor conditions at the construction site of Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. According to reports, workers are forced to live and work in horrendous conditions for very little money. The activists came with banners, leaflets, and a bugle horn, taking positions around the railings on each floor of the museum and sharing their concerns with the visitors and museum staff.
The G.U.L.F coalition features participants from the Gulf Labor, Occupy Museums, and "NYU-affiliated" groups, and according to Hyperallergic, this was their first scheduled intervention. It lasted for around 20 minutes and including call-and-response chants, the installation of the group's manifesto on the museum wall, and other actions meant to disrupt the normal events of the evening. "Artists should not be asked to exhibit in museums that have been built on the back of abused workers… that’s what it boils down to. When you’re acquired by a museum that does that, that’s unfair. Your complicity is being bought along with the artwork,” said Andrew Ross, a Sociology professor at NYU.
Two days later, Guggenheim director Richard Armstrong issued a response to Hyperallergic's request for comment:
"The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation is engaged in ongoing, serious discussions with our most senior colleagues in Abu Dhabi regarding the issues of workers’ rights. As global citizens, we share the concerns about human rights and fair labor practices and continue to be committed to making progress on these issues. At the same time, it is important to clarify that the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi is not yet under construction."