“It’s time now, in the movement, to look beyond Wall Street and notice that a culture of economic inequality flows to all parts of our city, and all parts of our culture,” Mr. Fischer said.
After reading from a text, which called museums a “pyramid scheme” in which “the wealthiest one hundredth of one percent claim ownership of culture,” the Occupy Museums group opened the floor to supporters to speak. One woman noted that the New Museum had recently collaborated with a group called WAGE – Working Artists and the Greater Economy – to take on the issue of artist compensation in an exhibit called “Free.” She wanted to acknowledge the museum for paying artists fairly for their work in it. But she added, “This should not be an exception, but rather a rule.” She called upon artists to be brave and stand up to gatekeeper cultural institutions. Together, she said, “we are stronger than the threat of obscurity.”
At MoMA, the protest had been cordoned off by police, but at the New Museum they were unencumbered. Three police officers casually watched the proceedings, leaning on their squad car. Museum-goers, too, seemed to take the spectacle in stride (though the protester in a gorilla mask, a woman who said she worked at an art museum, drew a few double-takes). Some passersby stopped to listen. “It makes sense,” one 60-something man, a neighborhood resident, said of the group’s comments, before heading on his way.
Wealth? Here in this gallery? I'm shocked