Two weeks after a Washington protest group affiliated with Occupy DC shut down the Air and Space Museum, some protesters are heading to New York’s cultural institutions for a demonstration. Occupy Museums will demonstrate at the Museum of Modern Art, the Frick Collection and the New Museum on Thursday evening against the “cultural elitism” that they say the museums perpetuate.
According to Noah Fischer, the organizer of the protest:
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.
Occupy demonstrators in New York hosted their own exhibition of protest art last week, featuring some controversial displays such as the burning of legal tender. Shepard Fairey, the creator of the famous Obama “Hope” poster, has also created Occupy-themed work. The New York museum protests aren’t the first to target an art museum: An Occupy group in Vancouver set up camp in front of the city’s art museum last week.
Targeting museums might be considered a misstep for Occupy. Though museum exhibitions drive the market for art collectors, the art likely would be off-limits to the 99 percent because it would be displayed exclusively in the homes of the 1 percent.
Hyperallergic blogger Hrag Vartanian argues that the entire institution of art can be seen as elitist:
Contemporary art people like to think that they create art for the masses but in effect will laugh at work that is populist or appeals to a mass audience in the way of a Thomas Kinkade or Peter Max. You can dismiss mass opinions as potentially uninformed or uneducated but that’s, well, elitist. Who gets to decide what goes into a museum of the 99%? That’s a bigger question I’d love to know the answer to.