Arts and Labor Sends Letter to Frieze New York Panelists, Artists, and Gallerists

Arts & Labor, a working group founded in conjunction with Occupy Wall Street, has sent letters to panelists, artists, gallerists, and attendees who are participating in the second edition of Frieze New York, the tony art fair which opens its enormous tent at Randall’s Island Park on Friday, May 10, urging them not to attend, to refuse to participate, and to speak out against the fair’s use of non-union labor, which they say “breaks with the industry standard.”

The argument presented by Arts & Labor, which is in line with that of many of the unions — the carpenters’ union (NYC District Council of Carpenters) and the entertainment employee unions (IATSE Local 829, IATSE Local 1), among others — is that Frieze New York, for the second year in a row, has brought on Production Glue, a subcontractor that has hired non-union labor to build tents and walls, and move and install the art within the tent, among other duties. While last year, the protests against Frieze New York barely caused any of the art fair’s organizers to bat an eyelash, this year, the unions have already been appealing to City Hall for legislative change in art fair hiring practices in the city. And now, with Frieze New York only days away from opening, Arts & Labor is putting the pressure on participants.

In the letter they received, artists are urged to “consider speaking out publicly against Frieze’s unfair labor practices by making information about this issue available” in their booth and to tell Frieze New York organizers that they support organized labor. Fairgoers and workers at the fair are asked to “consider not attending the fair” and to contact Frieze and “demand they engage in fair labor practices.” To read the letter to artists, gallerists, workers, and fairgoers in full, click here.

The panelists, which include artist Joan Jonas, curator Douglas Crimp, musician John Maus, and novelists Ben Marcus, and Rachel Kushner, received a letter, which urges them to “to cancel your talk and refuse to attend the fair, and to make this choice public.” To read the letter to panelists in full, click here.

— Rozalia Jovanovic

(Image courtesy Arts & Labor.)