Week 10 . NO DEBT IS AN ISLAND . Andrew Ross and MTL (Nitasha Dhillon and Amin Husain)


Launch of a solidarity initiative, December 2013
A triptych; multimedia components and a printable PDF

This week’s contribution to Gulf Labor’s 52 Weeks is by Andrew Ross and MTL (Nitasha Dhillon and Amin Husain)

A high school graduate with an offer from a prestigious art institute dreams of  artworld renown and takes out loans that will burden her for decades. Her brother is enrolled at NYU, national leader in student debt–the university is a growth machine, feeding off tuition and cheap credit to expand at home and overseas. In Bangladesh, the eldest son of a heavily indebted family dreams of Gulf riches, and borrows money to pay his recruitment and transit fees for passage to the UAE. There, on the “Island of Happiness,” Abu Dhabi’s showpiece real estate venture, his bonded labor is now linked to the “indenture” of the American students. Their respective financial obligations are connected to, and amplified by, Abu Dhabi’s over-leveraged boom economy, which rests on an ever-growing carbon debt. No Debt Is An Island traces the chain of debt that sustains the fortunes of the international art market, the global aspirations of Anglophone higher education, and the ascent of the Gulf petroleum states.


Make the links
Follow the money
Do the research
Walk the talk
Pressure the brands
Raise the bar
Break the chain
(and keep the oil in the soil)

From NYU to the Guggenheim – February 17 – 21st


Gulf Labor is a coalition of artists and activists who have been working since 2011 to highlight the coercive recruitment, and deplorable living and working conditions of migrant laborers in Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island (Island of Happiness). Our campaign focuses on the workers who are building the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, Louvre Abu Dhabi, and the Sheikh Zayed National Museum (in collaboration with the British Museum). 

“52 Weeks” is a one year campaign starting in October 2013. Artists, writers, and activists from different cities and countries are invited to contribute a work, a text, or action each week that relates to or highlights the unjust living and working conditions of migrant laborers building cultural institutions in Abu Dhabi.

To learn more visit: www.gulflabor.org

Please read and/or sign our petition

For additional information, please email: contact@gulflabor.org

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