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Artists Strike Against Saadiyat

The artist Walid Raad has been pressing on the Guggenheim Museum for some time. Now his campaign has rallied 130 artists and their demans have reached the New York Times:

The artists’ group says it is responding to a range of abuses that have been reported on the island, including the failure of contractors to repay recruitment fees — which can lead to crippling debt for laborers — hazardous working conditions and the arbitrary withholding of wages. Such problems are not uncommon in a region where almost all low-skilled jobs are performed by foreign workers with few legal rights.

“Artists should not be asked to exhibit their work in buildings built on the backs of exploited workers,” Walid Raad, a Lebanese-born New York artist who is one of the boycott’s organizers, said in a statement. “Those working with bricks and mortar deserve the same kind of respect as those working with cameras and brushes.”

The artists say that until their demands are met, they will refuse to participate in museum events or to sell their works to the museum.

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