Hrag Vartanian reports at Hyperallergic that two activist groups, GULF (Gulf Ultra Luxury Faction) and Gulf Labor—a participant in the 2015 Venice Biennale—occupied the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, Italy this morning to protest the labor conditions on Saadiyat Island where a new Guggenheim branch has been proposed. The protest was organized in conjunction with two Italian organizations, Sale Docks in Venice and Macao from Milan. They held banners and flags that read, “Meet Workers’ Demands,” among other messages. GULF most recently staged the May Day protest at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York over the same issues.
This is the first official event of Gulf Labor’s Biennale participation as part of Okwui Enwezor’s exhibition, “All the World’s Futures,” according to New York University professor Andrew Ross who has been banned from visiting the United Arab Emirates possibly due to his involvement in Saadiyat Island-related activism. Ross was quoted as saying, “this is a continuation of last week’s action [at the Guggenheim in New York] and our demands are the same. We were treated with disdain by Guggenheim authorities last week, who would rather shut down the museum than speak to us. We’re only amplifying the workers demands and using our volunteer effort and labor to do so. They are not treating our demands with the seriousness they deserve. We’re acting here in our official capacity as participants in the Venice Biennale.”
The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is is ordinarily open from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm on Fridays but locked protesters and the public out and eventually closed for the day by mid afternoon.