On April 17, 2016, the Director of the Guggenheim Museum Richard Armstrong, announced breaking off negotiations with Gulf Labor a coalition of artists, writers, and scholars who for six years have worked to draw attention to the conditions under which the future Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will be built.
This announcement came less than two weeks before the start of the video program Hello Guggenheim, organized by Bidoun at the Guggenheim which we are participants of. The timing seems deliberate, in order to create tensions or even divisions amongst the community of artists from our region.
We would like to emphasize our support for the Gulf Labor Coalition and their demands for migrant labor rights. We also endorse the solutions outlined by GLC in their February 2016 letter to the museum. Foremost we are concerned about the implication of this end of dialogue, on the living and working conditions of the workers who are and will be building the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.
As artists, we refuse to remain blind to scale of unpaid work, and poor wages within the art world and its institutions. We take this opportunity to draw attention to the economic inequalities that exist in the arts, and call for actions to remedy this dire situation.
We the undersigned believe the best way forward is through dialogue and urge the Guggenheim to return to negotiations with the Gulf Labor Coalition and their affiliated NGOs in order to establish a precedent for other institutions in Abu Dhabi and around the world.
Jumana Manna & Sille Storihle