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New Museums in the Emirates raise the issue of workers’ rights

United Arab Emirates - Dec 30, 2016 - 15:09   4638 views


The members of Gulf Labor insist that they want to see the museum built. Their demands have centered on three main issues: recruitment debt, fair wages, and worker representation. More than twenty-four hundred people have added their signatures to a version of the group’s first public letter, including Anish Kapoor, Isaac Julien, and Louise Lawler. Michelle Kuo, the editor of Artforum, told me, “Not since the Art Workers Coalition picketed museums for failures like ignoring the Vietnam War has there been such a visible, and truly international, political movement of artists.”

Armstrong has exhibited a mixture of patience and exasperation in his dealings with Gulf Labor. He and Spector and other museum staff members have met with the activists on more than a dozen occasions. Each time, they reiterate the museum’s commitment to workers’ rights, while pointing out that the Emiratis are in charge of construction and of national labor policy. They often note that work on the building has not even begun; the activists counter that this is precisely the point......Continue Reading

Top image: The Louvre Abu Dhabi dome and the site of the Guggenheim’s troubled project. Image by Knut Egil Wang / Moment / Institute for The New Yorker

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