Latest News: Posts Tagged ‘the gulf’

“From New York to the Arab Gulf, Challenging Global Capitalism to Build Worker Power” ANDREW ROSS mentioned in In These Times

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

“In Qatar, while exact figures are disputed, perhaps over a thousand workers, mostly South Asians, have died during construction for the World Cup. Employers hold onto passports of imported laborers and deport them if they get too restive, drawing on the massive human well created by the agricultural misery of South and Southeast Asia.

Such penury (rural South Asia holds nearly half the world’s poor) contrasts sharply with the opulence of the Gulf. In the desert cities of the peninsula, air conditioned skyscrapers contain ski slopes. Sand islands, built by European engineering firms, rise up from the sea. Meanwhile, the rights of those constructing these towers and islands are nearly nonexistent.

This maltreatment, and the attempts to resist it, are the topic of The Gulf: High Culture/Hard Labor, edited by Ross, a lustrously illustrated chronicle of the efforts by the Gulf Labor Coalition to throw sand in the machinery of the repression and exploitation confronting guest workers in the Gulf.”

To hear more, visit In These Times

Panel discussion on THE GULF in London

Tuesday, December 15th, 2015

Anthony Downey: “Thinking about the relationship of cultural to the political… Is there a danger that the cultural becomes a sphere in which we all feel comfortable to discuss these [political transformation and change] debates, without really affecting change? Is there an attendant danger that that cultural norm is actually quashing further political debate as you said, or further dissent, because it has now become a lightning rod for governments to come down on activists?

James Lynch: “… earlier this week, I was called by [American] journalists who wanted to speak about the case about the poet… “What about the American universities there?” I could not quite see the link. He said: “no, they must be sparking debate about this; they must be concerned that they are operating in a country where a poem recorded on Youtube in Cairo, leads to someone serving… 15 years”… Cultural and educational institutions implanted from the West play very quickly about rules. They inhabit the world; they understand the red lines very quickly. I don’t see any great challenge in any sense… The real question is “what is the real role played by them” or… are we seeing a perpetuation of “this is how things are and this is the system we exist in”.

To listen to full recording of the panel discussion, visit Ibraaz.

The Guardian commends GULF LABOR for their advocacy in the UAE

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

Both institutions face pressure from Gulf Labor – a coalition of artists, scholars, and other concerned individuals – to “assert responsibility for the wellbeing of these workers”. In a letter to the New York Times in June, Guggenheim director Richard Armstrong insisted that conditions on Saadiyat Island had improved in terms of “worker accommodation, access to medical coverage, grievance procedures and passport retention”. He nevertheless acknowledged the Guggenheim’s inability to more broadly affect the political and legal landscape of the UAE. A recent report released by Gulf Labor found that poor conditions persist on Saadiyat Island despite a public relations campaign to highlight a model housing complex for the island’s workers.

To read the rest of the article, visit The Guardian.

The Nation reviews THE GULF

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

Gulf Labor has now produced The Gulf: High Culture/Hard Labor (OR Books; Paper $20), which recounts its activism during the last five years. In 2011, artists, curators, and writers affiliated with the group signed up for Gulf Labor’s boycott of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. In New York, they projected messages on the museum’s outer walls, dropped fliers inside, and pasted their own work on its walls alongside exhibitions. At the Venice Biennale, they assailed the Guggenheim site by boat. With the group’s 52 Weeks campaign, which was launched in October 2013 and is documented in The Gulf, artists created works—mostly video and print materials—to support the campaign, sharing them online over the course of a year. Many of the pieces draw their power from simple juxtaposition. Of salaries, as mentioned above; of square footage (the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi’s 322,917 square feet to the 182 square feet of a windowless dorm room for 10 workers); of the grandiose design of the museum to the punishing mathematics of the workers’ debts, pay, and work hours. In a digital collage entitled 2015: Grand Opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Janet Koenig simply Photoshops workers into the lobby of the museum they have built, where they look terribly out of place but also possibly like a brilliant installation.

To read the rest of the review, visit The Nation.

“The rights of artistic expression and academic freedom are inextricable from the rights of those who build museums and classrooms” ANDREW ROSS in Artforum

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

For Gulf Labor, the ban on some of our members was a setback. Ours is a solidarity campaign, so any kind of restricted access hampers our capacity to build cross-class relations with Gulf workers. Even so, the clampdown helps illustrate a key principle of our campaign—that the rights of artistic expression and academic freedom are inextricable from the rights of those who build museums and classrooms. It is on the basis of that principle that we have begun a dialogue with the Guggenheim trustees about how to realize the three demands of our campaign: a debt-settlement fund to reimburse workers for their heavy recruitment fees, a living wage, and the right to worker representation. And it was to amplify those demands on a larger art-world stage that we accepted the invitation to participate in the Venice Biennale this past summer.

To read the rest of the article, visit Artforum.

“The root principle is that freedom of artistic expression or academic expression is incomplete right, it is a flawed right if it’s enjoyed at the expense of these other workers’ rights.” ANDREW ROSS talks about THE GULF with The Nation

Monday, October 26th, 2015

“Our labor analytic…is not just about artists and writers,” Ross says. “It’s about the folks who are building and maintaining and operating the infrastructure for those forms of expression…. The root principle is that freedom of artistic expression or academic expression is incomplete right, it is a flawed right if it’s enjoyed at the expense of these other workers’ rights.”

There’s no blueprint for activism, but rather an impulse to recapture and rebrand cultural capital from below, so all workers can wield culture as a tool for dismantling social hierarchy, and building anew.

To that end, the new vanguard of creative laborers are constructing a new platform for protest as they go, and redefining the work of the artist, and the labor of creative protest, alongside workers of every stripe.

To read the rest of the article, visit The Nation.

ANDREW ROSS interviewed about THE GULF on Uprising Radio

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015

To listen to the full broadcast, visit Uprising Radio.

Andrew Ross explains the origins and goals of the Gulf Labor Coalition in a TruthDig excerpt of THE GULF

Monday, August 17th, 2015

Though its name did not always appear alongside those of the NGOs and high-profile advocacy groups, the Gulf Labor Coalition has played a key role in raising awareness of labor exploitation, especially in the UAE. An international network of artists and writers, energetically focused on Abu Dhabi’s development of a new cultural zone on Saadiyat Island, Gulf Labor was able to do and say things that the more official organizations could not. Our creative approach to activism was inspired and innovative, and, in some respects, unique in the field of labor advocacy. More decisive was the position of our artist members as coordinators of cultural value, with some leverage over the politics of constructing museum branches of the Guggenheim and Louvre on Saadiyat.

To read the rest of the excerpt, visit TruthDig.

“Lively, opinionated and eye-opening” We Make Money Not Art reviews THE GULF

Monday, August 10th, 2015

The Gulf: High Culture/Hard Labor is lively, opinionated and eye-opening book. It is an important publication because of the realities it reveals and investigates. But it does more than that. The essays it contains can be read as a series of lessons for anyone, journalists, artists or activists, who want to take a stand, protest and challenge every complicit element leading to a situation of abuse and injustice.

To read the rest of the review, visit We Make Money Not Art.

Gulf Labor Coalition stage BDS intervention

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

Gulf Labor Coalition (GLC) creatively interjected Palestinian resistance and BDS into the 56th International Contemporary Art Exhibition 2015 Venice Biennale, in Venice Italy on Sunday. GLC’s exhibition artists in residence, G.U.L.F. (Gulf Ultra Luxury Faction), staged an intervention performance adding a stencil of Handala to their exhibition banner hung prominently in the Pavilion Arsenale exhibition hall, read a ‘Statement on Palestine’ and occupied the 2nd floor of the Israeli Pavilion at the exhibit, with visitors in tow.

To read the rest of the article, visit Mondoweiss.

Audiences at Venice Biennale launch of THE GULF “shocked” to learn about appalling labor conditions in UAE, reports HyperAllergic

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

Attendees at Wednesday’s event, especially the Italians, seemed shocked by the revelations and asked the speakers questions after the conference. Even though Italian media have reported on labor conditions for migrant workers in the UAE in the past, the issue seems virtually unknown to the Biennale public. Hopefully, the Gulf Labor Coalition’s presence in Venice will help remedy this.

To read the rest of the review, visit HyperAllergic.

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