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MJ#18(/issues/situationneverleavesourwakingthoughtslong1)
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index
Editorial(/issues/situationneverleavesourwakingthoughtslong/editorial)
TheseareStillOpenQuestions(/issues/situationneverleavesourwakingthoughtslong/thesearestillopenquestions)
RedVelvet(/issues/situationneverleavesourwakingthoughtslong/redvelvet)
TheTrialsofExileandTheProductionofArt:ConversationwithMohammadalAttar,ASyrianPlaywright(/issues/situation
neverleavesourwakingthoughtslong/trialsexileandproductionartconversation)
CounterHegemonicCartography(/issues/situationneverleavesourwakingthoughtslong/counterhegemoniccartography)
OnRadicalSelfInterest(/issues/situationneverleavesourwakingthoughtslong/radicalselfinterest)
TheLanguageofColdWar?(/issues/situationneverleavesourwakingthoughtslong/languagecoldwar)
SurvivalPropaganda(/issues/situationneverleavesourwakingthoughtslong/survivalpropaganda)
ThePigeonintheMachine:TheConceptofControlinBehaviourismandCybernetics(/issues/situationneverleavesour
wakingthoughtslong/pigeonmachineconceptcontrolbehaviourism)
IAmCrassula(/issues/situationneverleavesourwakingthoughtslong/iamcrassula)
DifferentShadesofWithdrawal:ConversationwithNikitaKadanandJoannaWarsza(/issues/situationneverleavesour
wakingthoughtslong/differentshadeswithdrawalconversation)
ArtsBoycotts:TheControversyovertheNineteenthBiennaleofSydney(/issues/situationneverleavesourwakingthoughts
long/artsboycottscontroversyovernineteenth)
NotesfromaBoycott(/issues/situationneverleavesourwakingthoughtslong/notesboycott)

Translation,Treason,Transfiguration:TheBiennalasanAgentofPoliticalConsciousness(/issues/situationneverleavesour
wakingthoughtslong/translationtreasontransfigurationbiennal)
OurLanguageIsEitherDatedorInaccurate:ConversationwithNtoneEdjabe(/issues/situationneverleavesourwaking
thoughtslong/ourlanguageeitherdatedorinaccurate)
ToSingapore,WithLove:IfYouCareTooMuchAboutSingapore,FirstItBreaksYourSpirit,ThenItBreaksYourHeart
(/issues/situationneverleavesourwakingthoughtslong/singaporeloveifyoucaretoomuchabout)
ThePoliceToldMeIShouldntPutonaShowLikeThat:ConversationwithKoyoKouohontheContestedIssuesof
Homosexuality,MediaandReligiousPowerinAfrica(/issues/situationneverleavesourwakingthoughtslong/policetoldme
ishouldntputshow)
RevisitingNegrita:ConversationwithLilianaAngulo(/issues/situationneverleavesourwakingthoughtslong/revisiting
negritaconversationliliana)
TheBecoming(/issues/situationneverleavesourwakingthoughtslong/xingchengbecoming)
Contributors(/issues/situationneverleavesourwakingthoughtslong/contributors)
Colophon(/issues/situationneverleavesourwakingthoughtslong/colophon)

NotesfromaBoycott
MariamGhani,GulfLaborWorkingGroup
ExhibitionRoom
GulfLaborisagroupofartists,writers,architects,curators,andotherculturalworkerswhoaretryingtoensurethatworkersrightsare
protectedduringtheconstructionofnewculturalinstitutionsonSaadiyatIslandinAbuDhabi,UAE.Afterletterwritingandmeetings
withtheGuggenheimin2010producedinsufficientchange,weinitiatedapublicboycottoftheGuggenheimAbuDhabi(GAD)in2011.
Almosttwothousandculturalworkershavesignedontotheboycott,agreeingnottosellworkto,acceptcommissionsfrom,or
participateineventsonbehalfoftheGAD.
Likemostlongtermboycotts,theGulfLaborcampaignhasundergoneanumberofshiftsandhasdeployedarangeofdifferenttactics
overtheyearsfollowingitspubliclaunch.Somesignatorieshavedroppedout,whileothershavejoinedin.Ourworkinggroupwhich
isresponsiblefororganizing,negotiating,andmakingpublicstatementshasarotatingmembershipopentoanyoneparticipatingin
theboycott.Thatmembershiphaschangedovertime,whichnaturallyinflectsthedecisionsmadebytheworkinggroup.Atsome
moments,wehaveengagedinintensivebehindthescenesdialogueswithboththeGuggenheimandtheirpartnersinAbuDhabi.At
othermoments,wehavewithdrawnfromconversationsthatseemedtoproducenotangibleresults,andconsideredhowwemight
changethedynamic,byinterveninginotherwaysorarenas.

GulfLaborsmostvisibletacticalshiftcameinfall2013,whenwelaunchedthe52Weekscampaign.Everyweekforayear,weare
releasingoneormoreartistsprojects.TheseprojectscallattentiontosomeaspectoftheconditionsofworkersonSaadiyatIsland,the
politicalcontextthatenablestheirsituation,andtheproblematiccompactbetweenthewesterninstitutionsbuildingonSaadiyatand
theirpartnersinAbuDhabiortheymakelinksbetweenthesituationoftheworkersonSaadiyatandsimilarstrugglesbyother
migrantsandworkersinotherplacesandtimes.52Weeksrepresentsamovefromthestrategicuseofartworks(withholdingthem,or
imposingconditionsontheirsale,productionandexhibition)asanactivisttactic,toanattempttoapplythesamekindofpressure
throughtheproductionanddistributionofartworksthatdirectlyaddressorenactthatactivism.
52WeekswasinitiallyconceivedasameanstoexertconstantpressureontheGuggenheim,itschiefEmiratipartnerTDIC(Tourism
Development&InvestmentCompany),andtheotherWesterninstitutionsimbricatedinconstructionprojectsonSaadiyat(theLouvre,
theBritishMuseum,andNewYorkUniversity).52WeeksalsoallowsGulfLabortoconnectoureffortsvisvisSaadiyatIslandto
relevantissuesandparallelactivistprojectsoutsideSaadiyatfromtheWorldCupstadiumconstructioninQatar,totheglobalization
ofuniversitycampuses,tothestrugglesofmigranttomatopickersinFlorida,throughtheprojectsproducedbyadiversegroupof
artistsandwriters.52Weeksadditionallyopensaspacefordirectactionstobeperformedasweekswithintheongoingcampaign,by
newlyformedaffinitygroups(suchastheGlobalUltraLuxuryFactionorG.U.L.F.).Theflexibilityofthisformatpotentiallybroadens
GulfLaborspurview,withoutsplittingthefocusofitscentraldemands.

GulfLabor,posterannouncingthelaunchof52Weeks,2013.

FaridSarroukhandMahaTraboulsiincollaborationwithWalidRaadforWeek9,IfFIFAdid...,poster,2013.

SantiagoMazatlforWeek37,FarmworkerJustice,postercreatedinsolidaritywiththeCoalitionofImmokaleeWorkersinFlorida(ciw
online.org/about,lastaccessed22August2014),2014.

AndrewRossandMTL(NitashaDhillonandAminHusain)forWeek10,NODEBTISANISLAND,
triptychwithmultimediacomponents(http://www(http://www).
thinglink.com/scene/465544492976439298,lastaccessed22August2014),aprintablePDF,anda
solidarityinitiative,2013.

GlobalUltraLuxuryFaction(G.U.L.F.)forWeek20,Isthisthefutureofart?,Frontofflyer
droppedduringFebruary22ndactionattheGuggenheimMuseum,NewYork(http://www
(http://www).youtube.com/watch?v=3WUW_Ftyaw,lastaccessed22August2014).

G.U.L.F.,documentationofMarch29thactionatGuggenheimMuseum,NewYork.Fakedollar
billsweredroppedintotheatriumduringtheItalianFuturismexhibition.Afake
globalguggenheim.comwebsiteconcurrentlylaunchedaRFP(Requestforproposal)for
sustainableandethicalmuseumdesigns(https://www(https://www).youtube.com/watch?
v=LHphhnZhtNY,lastaccessed22August2014).
Whilesomeofthe52Weeksartistsperformorcallfordirectactions,otherstakeamorelaconic,analytical,orabstractedapproachto
highlightingtheironiesandcontradictionsofthegrandprojectofSaadiyatIsland(literallytranslated,theIslandofHappiness).One
weekmightproposenewarchitecturalstandards(seewhobuilds.orgfordetails),whilethenextmightlaunchanactivistTwitterbot,and
thenextmightpresentanentryfromanencyclopediaorlexicon.Thetonecanbeplayfulorelegiac,reflectiveorsardonic.Assessing
thecampaignfromthetwothirdsmark,itseemstomethat52Weeksanditsmanybrilliantcontributorshavebeguntoreimaginewhat
agrouplikeGulfLaborcanbeanddohowanactivistprojectbasedinaboycottmightservebeyondthatboycott,withoutabandoning
it.52Weeksisareminderthataboycottcanandshouldbethebeginningofalargerconversation,ratherthanameanstoshutdown
alldialoguearoundanissue.

JohnJurayjforWeek32,30UntitledMen,posterwithportraitsofthethirtyBritishMuseumtrusteesprintedonvellumwithburnholes,
2014.

PedroLaschforWeek14,OfSaadiyatsRectangles&Curves,orSantiagoSierrasOneSheikh,TwoMuseumDirectors,Three
Curators,OneUniversityPresident,TwoArchitects,andOneArtistRemuneratedtoSleepfor30Daysina13x14footWindowless
RoomwithSharedBathroomandNoDoor,poster,2013.

LynnLoveandAnnSappenfieldforWeek11,50Celsius,pagelayoutfrom2010SupplementtotheNewEmiratiBritannica,Third
Edition.

HansHaackeforWeek5,IPaid...,poster,2014.

JimGoldbergforWeek16,AkimaandArif,photosandtext(http://gulflabor.org/2014/week16
jimgoldbergakima(http://gulflabor.org/2014/week16jimgoldbergakima)andarif,last
accessed22August2014)fromatriptoBangladeshin2007.

MattGrecoandGregSholetteforWeek7,SaadiyatIslandWorkersQuartersCollectibles,3D
printedobjectsandpackaging,shopdroppedintheGuggenheimNYCgiftstoreinOctober
2013(videoathttps://www.youtube.com/(https://www.youtube.com/)watch?v=MMc8KsNwtpA,
lastaccessed22August2014).PhotosbyKarinCintron.

SarahFarahatandAaronHughesforWeek34,LaborofArt,ArtofLabor,adownloadable
organizingtoolkit(http://static.squarespace.com/(http://static.squarespace.com/)
static/50d3fa2ee4b0361e83376698/t/538f48f6e4b0
4cfd38730b17/1401899254528/Gulf%20Labor%20Action%20Tool%20Kit
Printout%20Pamphlet.pdf,lastaccessed22August2014)andTwitterbotcampaign
(#GulfLaborAction),2014/

AnnaStumpforWeek19,MigrantLaborDidNotExistintheWonderlandofKnowledgeEncyclopedia,1938,gouacheandcollageon
paper,2013
Overthepastyear,theconversationaroundculturalboycottsintheartandacademicworldsappearstobeonceagainapproaching
somekindofcriticalmass.RenewedpressaroundGulfLaborsboycottfollowedboththe52Weekslaunchinthefallandthefront
pageNewYorkTimesrevelationsaroundtheNYUAbuDhabicampusinthespring.Thecarefullynegotiatedartistwithdrawalsfrom

theBiennaleofSydneyinprotestofmainsponsorTransfieldsinvolvementwithwidelycriticizedmigrantdetentioncampsresultedin
thewithdrawalofTransfieldschairmanfromtheboardoftheBiennaleandthereturnoftheboycottingartiststotheshow.Thecurrent
editionofMANIFESTA1itselfhasbeenthetargetofacalltoboycott,becauseofitslocationinSaintPetersburgandthemanifold
challengestofreeexpression(fordissidentsandnonRussians,alsofreedomofmovement)inthecurrentpoliticalandculturalclimate
ofRussia,includingthesocalledhomosexualpropagandalaws.ThepublicprogramofMANIFESTAincludesselfreflexive
discussionsonthesociopoliticalcontextofbiennialsandthedistinctionsbetweenmakingartpoliticallyandmakingpoliticalart,as
wellasengagementanddisengagement,toechotherecentminiconferenceWhatNow?:Collaboration&CollectivityinNewYork
copresentedbyArtinGeneralandtheVeraListCenter.
TheBoycott,Divestment,andSanctions(BDS)campaignagainstIsraelicompaniesandinstitutionscomplicitintheviolationof
PalestinianrightsreceivedafreshjoltofcontroversywhentheAmericanStudiesAssociationvotedtoendorseBDS,andAmerican
politiciansseizedtheopportunitytodenounceprofessorswhodaretotakeleftwingpoliticalstands.Morerecently,theCreativeTime
exhibitionLivingasForm,whichisasurveyofsociallyengagedartpractices,wastouredbyIndependentCuratorsInternational
throughtheirExhibitioninaBoxprogram,andtraveledtotwovenuesinIsraelincludingtheTechnion,auniversitydeeplyembedded
intheIsraelimilitaryindustrialsettlementcomplexbeforenotifyingtheparticipatingartists,someofwhomareBDSsignatories.
CreativeTimeandICIhavebothstatedthattheydonotparticipateinanyculturalboycotts,becausetheybelieveitismoreimportant
toengagethantodisengage.Therearesomecontexts,however,wherethelinebetweenpresentingengagedworkinordertoshiftthe
limitsandpossibilitiesofthediscourse,andallowingthatworktobeusedtopaperoverrealproblems,becomessofinethatitcan
sometimesvanishentirely.
ThequestionraisedbyCreativeTimeis,nonetheless,attheheartofeveryboycottdilemma.Canagivensituationbechangedmore
byengaging,orbydisengaging?Theanswermaybedifferentforeveryperson,foreverygovernment,foreveryinstitution,forevery
situation.Forsomepeople,boycottwillalwaysbeadirtywordwhetherbecauseofareflexivelyantilaborstance,orbecauseof
harshexperienceonthewrongendofeconomicsanctions.Forothersperhapspeoplelikeme,whogrewupinboycotting
households,alwaysavoidingsomethingorother(whetheritwasChileangrapes,Israelihummus,orclothesmadewithprisonlabor)
theboycottisjustanotherbitintheactivisttoolkit,orreally,justanordinaryfactoflife:partoftheendless,everydaystruggletolive
ourethics.

RawiHageforWeek25,Carnival,2014posterwithexcerptfromthe2012novelofthesamename,insixdifferentlanguages.

JohnJurayjforWeek32,30UntitledMen,posterwithportraitsofthethirtyBritishMuseumtrusteesprintedonvellumwithburnholes,
2014.

PabloHelgueraforWeek36,Attheveryleast...fromtheseriesArtoons,2010.

ThomasHirschhornforWeek2,Banners,photocopiesandtape,2009.Publishedinconjunction
withthetextMyGuggenheimDilemma(fulltextathttp://gulflabor.org/2013/week2
(http://gulflabor.org/2013/week2)thomashirschhornmyguggenheimdilemma,lastaccessed
22August2014).
InthetextpublishedbyThomasHirschhornforthesecondweekof52Weeks,MyGuggenheimDilemma,theartistassertsthatthe
realdilemmaofaculturalboycottliesinthecontradictionbetweenthepoliticsofgoodintentions,thegoodconscience,the
engagementoftheartistandmybeliefandconvictionthatArt,asArt,hastokeepcompletelyoutofanydailypoliticalcauseinorder
tomaintainitspower,itsartisticpower,itsrealpoliticalpower.Iftherealpoliticalpowerofartliesinmaintainingaspacethat,in
Hirschhornsformulation,canresistthesimplificationsofpoliticalidealismandrealism,thenwhyusearttoenactrealworldpolitics?
Perhapspreciselybecausewhencultureisdeployedforpoliticalpurposesasitoftenisbyautocraticregimesthatcloaktheir
autocracywithperformancesoffreedomtheweavebetweenaestheticsandpoliticsbecomessocomplexthatthespaceofartis
requiredtounpickit.
Hirschhornstextalsobringsupanothercriticalpoint.Inthelastline,hesaysMysignaturefortheboycottofGuggenheimAbuDhabi
willmakesenseifIhavetopayapriceforit.AsthetextwasoriginallyalettersentfromHirschhorntoNancySpectorandRichard
ArmstrongaboutaproposedexhibitionattheGuggenheimBilbao,thediscussionofpayingapriceisquiteapt.Yetthenotionofpaying
areal,personalpriceforparticipationinaculturalboycottisnotwidelydiscussedthesedays.Itseemsmorefashionabletodescribe
joiningwhatHirschhornhimselfcallsafancyartistssboycottaseitheranessentiallymeaninglessgestureofsolidarityjustanother
esignatureonanotherpetitionor,fortheorganizers,assomesortofesotericcareermove.Butiftheboycottistosucceed,theprice
mustbereallostincome,frayedrelationships,acertainreputationfortroublemakingandsigningmustmeanthatoneisactually
willingtopaythatprice.Fewersignatorieswhohaveseriouslyweighedwhatitmeanstosignaremorevaluablethanmoresignatories
whosignwithoutweighingtheconsequences.
Ultimately,aboycottshouldbeatacticoflast,notfirst,resort.Publicboycottsshouldbecalledonlywhenprivatenegotiationproves
eitherimpossibleorfruitless.Furthermore,aboycottshouldbeappliedonlywhenaboycottislikelytoproduceresults.Thatistosay,a
culturalboycottwillworkonlyifthecreativeworkbeingwithheldhassignificantandimmediatevaluetotheinstitutionorgovernment
beingboycotted.Ifthatgovernmentorinstitutiondoesnotinfactneedculturalproductsforaspecificpurposeinthisspecificmoment,
culturalworkershavenoleveragewiththatgovernmentorinstitution,andaboycottwillnotwork.Likewise,iftheboycottdoesnot
includeasignificantportionofthemostvisibleculturalworkersnecessarytotheimmediatepurposeorprojectofthegovernmentor
institution,theboycottwillnotwork.Apublicboycottshouldnotbecalleduntilenoughorganizationhasbeendonetoensurea
minimumofconsensusaroundthegoalandnecessityoftheboycottinthecommunitymostimportanttoitssuccess.Ifthedemand
behindaboycottisvagueordiffuse,theboycottwillnotwork.Inalongtermboycott,however,itispossiblethatthegoaloftheboycott
maydevelopovertimeasthesituationandrelationshipschange,fromonecentraldemandintoaseriesofmorespecificorinterrelated
demands.InthecaseofGulfLabor,ourspecificdemandswithregardstoSaadiyathavenotchangedwearestillseekinguniform
andenforceableprotectionsforthehumanrightsofallworkersontheislandbutovertimewehavedevelopedasecond,lessspecific
goal:bringingtheconversationaroundlabor,migrationandculturalcapitalfromthemarginstothecenterofculturaldiscourse.

JaretVaderaforWeek30,BlueSkies,WhiteWalls,BrownBodies,poster,2014.

MaryamMonalisaGharaviforWeek21,theybuiltforeternity,acrylicandinkjet,2014.

HendalMansourforWeek23,FistoftheDay,silkscreenprint,2014.

Iamwritingthesenotesfromamomentthatmaybethebeginning,orthemiddle,ornearlytheendofalongboycott.Untiltheboycott
ends,wewillnotknowhowtonarrateexactlyhowitprogressedfromonestagetothenext.Wewillnotknowifwesucceeded,or
failed,orreachedsomeagreementwhereeveryoneinvolvedfelttheywonalittleandlostalittle.Themostrecentdevelopment,the
involvementoftheILOatthegovernmentlevel,givessomehopethattheboycottmayberesolvedinawaythatsatisfiesallsides.Yet
atthisstagewestilldonotknowwhichmoveswillleadwherewecanonlyhopethatexperienceandprinciplewillserveasgood
guides.
Ourexperiencesofar,however,suggeststhattheboycottdilemmaofengagementversusdisengagementissomethingofafalse
dichotomy.BywhichImeanthatdescribingparticipationinaculturalboycottasdisengagement,andrefusaltoparticipateinaboycott
asengagement,canbeadrasticoversimplification.NotonlybecausealongtermboycottsuchasGulfLaborsactuallyinvolvesas
muchnegotiationwithaswithdrawalfromtheboycottedinstitution,butalsobecauseaculturalboycott,whileenactingphysicalor
economicwithdrawalfromaparticularspace,simultaneouslyopensaparallelspaceforcriticalengagementwiththeissuesmotivating
theboycott,anddialoguewithalltheplayersinvolved.Onemightevencallitengagementbydisengagement.
Nomatterhowtheboycottitselfends,GulfLaborwillhaveopenedthespaceforanewconversationaboutlabor,migration,and
privilegeintheartworld.Inlargepart,thisisdueto52Weeks:totheshiftintacticsitrepresented,thecollectiveenergyitgenerated,
andespeciallytotheslants,tangentsandconnectionsopenedbyvariouscontributors.

1.

Editorialnote:SeealsoSarahJosephstextArtsBoycott:TheControversyovertheNineteenthBiennaleofSydney,includedinthisissue.

ArtsBoycotts:TheControversy...(/issues/situation
neverleavesourwakingthoughtslong/artsboycotts
controversyovernineteenth)

index
Translation,Treason,...(/issues/situationnever
(/issues/situationleavesourwakingthoughtslong/translationtreason
never
transfigurationbiennal)
leaves
ArtsBoycotts:TheControversy...(/issues/situation
our
neverleavesourwakingthoughtslong/artsboycotts
waking
controversyovernineteenth)
thoughts
Translation,Treason,...(/issues/situationneverleaves
long
ourwakingthoughtslong/translationtreason
1)
transfigurationbiennal)

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