The scene at Manhattan’s Guggenheim Museum on pay-as-you-wish evening this Saturday was soggy. Throngs of damp visitors, having been undeterred by the spring rainstorm and block-long line, mingled on the spiraling ramps for the museum’s exhibit of Italian Futurist art. Suddenly, a bell clanged, and a moment later, thousands of colorful slips of paper fluttered down from the balconies like confetti. Looking up from the rotunda had the cheerfully surreal effect of being within a snow globe. Visitors looked mostly happy and confused, and snatched the bits of paper as they fell.
“Is this part of the show?” one woman asked her companion. “I have no clue,” the other replied.
The paper turned out to be false dollar bills, intricately illustrated by Occupy Wall Street-affiliated artist Noah Fischer. One side of the bill read, “No Sustainable Cultural Value,” above a sketch of the Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim soon to be built in Abu Dhabi. The other side was sketched with a protest scene, the red “Joie de Vivre” sculpture of lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park in the background. An image of the globe was wrapped in the question “What does an ethical global museum look like?” The upper edge read, “By the authority of sit is f*d up & bullst.”
The bills were flung over the balconies by an activist political group called GULF (Global Ultra Luxury Faction), an affiliate of the activist groups Gulf Labor and Occupy Museums. A few days before, the group launched a fake Guggenheim website, where it is hosting a design competition for a “sustainable” Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. GULF got significant press last month for a similar interruption, when it unfurled banners over the Guggenheim ramps painted with the words “1% Museum,” “Abu Dhabi” and “Wage Theft.”
*Also see http://youtu.be/z6VFtHGu49A
*Also see http://youtu.be/Y5Amjcq9sZM