Posted by: Dan Beucke on October 21, 2011 at 3:36 PM
As the Occupy protesters spread out, the targets of their rage become increasingly specific. Planned protests today forced House Majority Leader Eric Cantor to cancel a speech at the Wharton School of Business. Later, sign-holders marched out front of the News Corp. annual shareholders meeting in Los Angeles (right). On Thursday protests shut down a Citibank branch in Washington, D.C. And earlier this week, crowds chanted outside Sotheby’s auction house and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
Conservative politician and media outlet, check. Bailed-out bank, check. Temple of the fabulously wealthy, check. But what do museums have to do with income inequality? The offshoot group Occupy Museums posted a manifesto that explained:
The game is up: we see through the pyramid schemes of the temples of cultural elitism controlled by the 1%. No longer will we, the artists of the 99%, allow ourselves to be tricked into accepting a corrupt hierarchical system based on false scarcity and propaganda concerning absurd elevation of one individual genius over another human being for the monetary gain of the elitest of elite. For the past decade and more, artists and art lovers have been the victims of the intense commercialization and co-optation or art. We recognize that art is for everyone, across all classes and cultures and communities. We believe that the Occupy Wall Street Movement will awaken a consciousness that art can bring people together rather than divide them apart as the art world does in our current time…
Let’s be clear. Recently, we have witnessed the absolute equation of art with capital. The members of museum boards mount shows by living or dead artists whom they collect like bundles of packaged debt. Shows mounted by museums are meant to inflate these markets. They are playing with the fire of the art historical cannon while seeing only dancing dollar signs. The wide acceptance of cultural authority of leading museums have made these beloved institutions into corrupt ratings agencies or investment banking houses- stamping their authority and approval on flimsy corporate art and fraudulent deals.
Cantor earlier this month referred to “growing mobs” of Occupy Wall Street protesters, before elaborating to say they were “justifiably frustrated” with the economy. His talk, titled “A Fair Shot at the American Dream and Economic Growth,” was scheduled for a group of 250 Wharton students. When Cantor’s office learned that 500 to 1,000 protesters planned to show up, and the first 300 people in line would be let in, it canceled.