With great urgency, the first action was organized for the Museum of Modern Art and the New Museum. The Frick was also planned, but was dropped due to time constraints. Participants staged an OWS-style assembly in front of the museums where a manifesto was read and injustices in the world of culture were spoken publicly. This first action was widely covered in the press and debated on countless online forums. At the end of the action, directors of MoMA came down and asked what we wanted. We replied that we had no demands, but would continue to Occupy each week in order to open up a meaningful conversation about economic injustice and abuse of the public for the gain of the 1% in cultural institutions. They were invited to join our General Assembly.
Here is the text, prepared by artist Noah Fischer,which was distributed and read at the start of the general assembly in front of MoMA:
Occupy Museums! Day 1: October 20, 2011
We gather here at the foot of the temple of the cultural elite.
We see that the art establishment, with the museum as its pinnacle, resembles a pyramid scheme just like banks of Wall Street itself, where wealth and power flow up to the 1% We see that the wealthiest one hundredth of one percent claim ownership of culture through their control of these temples.
For too long we have been SUBMERGED under insane hierarchies, insane student debt, and corrupt financial dealings of the art world.
We, the artists of the 99% have EMERGED!
Not as pawns in your fraudulent art market where the royalty of Wall Street rule. And launder their stolen loot!
But rather with our own voices, and power.”
Our love for art and for people and respect for ourselves requires that we, the artists of the 99%, can no longer allow ourselves to be tricked into accepting a corrupt hierarchical system based on false scarcity and propaganda concerning absurd elevation of one individual genius over another human being for the monetary gain of the elitest of elite.
We read from “From Maintenance Manifesto- by Mierle Laderman Ukeles 1969J
A.The Death Instinct and the Life Instinct:
The Death Instinct: separation; individuality; Avant-Garde par excellence; to follow one’s own path to death. do your own thing; dynamic change. The Life Instinct: unification; the eternal return; the perpetuation and MAINTENANCE of the species; survival systems and operations; equilibrium.
It’s time for an art of the Living, the Equal and the Free – We are ready to leave behind the Death Cult of Capital!
We recognize that art is for everyone, across all classes and cultures and communities. We believe that the Occupy Wall Street Movement will awaken an art sprit and practice not confined by the narrow parameters set by the market but much more vibrant and powerful.
It will awaken consciousness that art can bring people together –all 100% rather than divide them apart as we see in the art world of today…
Recently, we have witnessed the absolute equation of art with capital. We see this in the decadence of the auction market and extreme conspicuous consumption of the galleries and art fairs. While so many people in so many nations slip into poverty. Museums are the both the ratings agencies and the temples at the top of this art market. The members of museum boards mount shows by living or dead artists whom they collect like bundles of packaged debt. Shows mounted by museums are meant to inflate these markets. The wide acceptance of cultural authority of leading museums have made these beloved institutions into corrupt ratings agencies or investment banking houses- stamping their authority and approval, triple A ratings, on flimsy corporate art and fraudulent deals. This is bad for the 9
We are also concerned about a culture of Co-optation. The 1% has learned to purchase and co-opt critique rather than listen and learn from the voice of the people. Museums, you are not invited to co-opt this movement. Rather, think deeply about where your money comes from, and why the people are at your door.
This is From the Arts and Culture statement of non co-optation-in progressJ
After years of witnessing our most precious symbols and self-created culture appropriated by the corporate elite for profit, we are no longer willing to stand by and witness the destruction of things and ideas that create genuine meaning and value in our lives.
We close with by citing the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City:
As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors.
We, the artists and art lovers of the 99% will no longer be silent about corruption.
It is time to end that silence not in bitterness, but in strength and love! Because the occupation has begun and the creativity and power of the people have awoken! The Occupywallstreet Movement will bring forth an era of new art, true experimentation outside the narrow parameters set by the market. Museums, open your mind and your heart and Listen! Art is for everyone! The people are at your door!