Above is a video published by Human Rights Watch on Youtube, on the 9th February 2015. Their description: “Serious concerns about workers’ rights have not been resolved for a high-profile project in Abu Dhabi that will host branches of the Louvre and Guggenheim museums and a campus of New York University (NYU).”
Last week Andrew Ross, an NYU professor who is outspokenly critical of the labour practices in Abu Dhabi, was denied entry by the UAE. NYU had insisted that it could guarantee full academic freedom to all staff and students visiting NYU Abu Dhabi. The questions raised are whether the institutions of Louvre, Guggenheim and NYU are able to protect their academics, employees, and artists’ freedom. This especially in the light of the unresolved labour abuse issues which Ross was so critical of, and which have been the subject of many protests by activists and artists alike.
Gulf Labour is “a coalition of international artists working to ensure that migrant worker rights are protected during the construction of museums on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi.”
GULF LABOR WORKING GROUP LETTER TO GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM
Subject: UAE Travel Ban on Prof. Andrew Ross
March 18, 2015
Richard Armstrong, Director, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation
Nancy Spector, Deputy Director, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
A few days ago, NYU Professor and Gulf Labor member Andrew Ross was prevented from traveling to the UAE to conduct research on labor matters. We assume that you are well aware of this situation by now. We have yet to hear the Guggenheim’s public statement about this disturbing event. Gulf Labor urges the Guggenheim to issue an unambiguous statement condemning the action and urging the government of Abu Dhabi to live up to “upholding freedom of expression as it relates to art and other creative practices,” as Richard Armstrong has recently stated.
Moreover, and as Richard Armstrong also asserted, if the “Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will be a beacon for artistic free expression” then it surely cannot stay silent in the face of official UAE government action of banning academics and others from entering the UAE. Such actions clearly dim if not extinguish the beacon of free expression the Guggenheim pledges to be.
Gulf Labor Working Group