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Occupy Museums to Occupy Sotheby’s in Support of Embattled Art Handlers Union

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After an initial protest action that struck a controversial chord, Occupy Museums is barreling ahead with another occupation of MoMA and then a trip to Sotheby’s, where the group will support the picket line of Teamsters Local 814, the Sotheby’s art handler union who have been locked out of their jobs for the past three months after protests over planned cuts.

At 4 p.m., Occupy Museums will meet at MoMA along with members of Teamsters Local 814, then march (or take the bus) to Sotheby’s at 1334 York Avenue just in time for the house’s evening auction at 6 p.m., which the art handlers union will be picketing. On the group’s Facebook page, they write that Occupy Museums is meant to “claim space for dialog and transparency through the physical presence of our bodies. It is to hold space that was previously inaccessible.” As occupiers, the group will “bring the General Assembly to the doors of the museum, to engage in a dialog about the relationships between the arts and capitalism.”

In the context of a struggle against the takeover of the art world by the wealthiest 1 percent, Sotheby’s seems like a slightly better target for the group’s ire than the Museum of Modern Art. Bringing the Occupy movement to the art world, however, will be complicated — there’s no arguing that art institutions are largely funded by the philanthropy of that same targeted 1 percent.

As for the art handlers union, their situation remains uncertain. After taking their protest to London for the British contemporary sales in earlier this month, the Teamsters are continuing their daily protests outside Sotheby’s Upper East Side location and negotiations are at a stalemate, but several negotiation sessions are scheduled over the next few months.

See the full announcement and protest schedule, published on the Occupy Museums Facebook page, below. Previously, Occupy Museums occupied MoMA and the New Museum, but stopped short of the Frick.

— Kyle Chayka

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This Thursday 10/27/11, Occupy Museums returns to MoMA!

Meet at 2:30 PM, Liberty Square, for an information-sharing assembly (under red sculpture) OR meet at 4:00 PM at MoMA.

We will be joined by the Art Handler’s Union, Teamsters Local 814, who have been locked out of their Sotheby’s union jobs for over three months now. Following Occupy Museums, we will march to the Teamsters’ picket line at the Sotheby’s evening auction, which starts at 6:00 PM on 1334 York Avenue.

Occupy Museums and the Teamsters Local 814 stand together in solidarity!

What is Occupy Museums?

We are artists, art lovers, and art workers! We live and love art and are committed to its growth. However, we see many museums in their current manifestations as key elements of a larger system whose funding structure and relationship to the market, disempowers artists, and alienates art from the 99%. Value is manufactured by false scarcity, propped up by the cult of celebrity and the parlor game of speculation. This undermines the potential power of art to be a much greater force in our society.

We believe that to Occupy is to claim space for dialog and transparency through the physical presence of our bodies. It is to hold space that was previously inaccessible. As Occupiers, we bring the General Assembly to the doors of the museum, to engage in a dialog about the relationships between the arts and capitalism.

This is only the beginning.

At its core, the Occupy Movement is about imagining and building a just and democratic future. It is generative not destructive. We are shifting collective consciousness. We are here to envision what the museum can be, what art can be, and how we can create a society that works for the 100%.

Schedule:

2:30 — Informational assembly at Liberty Square

3:15 — Occupy 4 train to MoMA

4:00 — General Assembly at MoMA!

5:00 – March or M31 Bus to Sotheby’s at 1334 York Avenue

5:30 — Stand in Solidarity with Teamsters Local 814

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