Art Protest Groups Join Forces for Guerrilla Ribbon-cutting Favorite 



Apr 14 2015


Whitney Museum

Last night, The Illuminator (please see external sources) was in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District to project mayday messages on the facade of the soon-to-be-opened Whitney Museum, while a group of two dozen protesters supported by 23 sponsoring organizations, launched a guerrilla inauguration for the “fracked gas line museum.”

The event at the corner of Gansevoort Street and Tenth Avenue started with a two-part 10 minute projection by The Illuminator, and it featured both familiar slogans (“1% Museum”) and messages unique to the Whitney (“Whitney, The Finest Collection of 20th-century American Art in the World, Now Featuring a Brand New Pipeline!”). The intention of the projections was primarily to draw attention to the location of the museum atop a Spectra Energy fracked gas pipeline that transports energy from Pennsylvania to Manhattan — the projections also included images of previous pipeline protests at the site, Hurricane Sandy (which flooded the area around the new Whitney), and ominous explosions.

After the planned video program concluded, the group then crossed the street and continued their ad hoc inauguration right off the museum’s steps. They unfurled a symbolic ribbon, read prepared statements by Occupy Museums, a solidarity statement by Liberate Tate, and others, and then offered the large decorative scissors to Frida Kahlo, who symbolically cut the ribbon. During the program, the organizers also presented an award to Susan Rubin of Chappaqua, New York, for her continuing fight against another Spectra Pipeline in upstate New York.

Last night’s ceremony was only the latest in a series of symbolic event that have been taking place over the course of the last year and a half as a global network of art protest groups, including G.U.L.F. (Global Ultra Luxury Faction), Occupy Museums, Guerrilla Girls, Liberate Tate, People’s Climate Arts, Not an Alternative, The Yes Lab, Peng Collective, and many others, have been working hard to highligh the connections between the art world and its complicit acceptance of the status quo, no matter how immoral or unethical it may be. Occupy Museums has been particularly engaged in raising awareness about the Spectra Energy gas pipeline under the Whitney Museum, and last May they organized a theatrical tour of the area
[which attracted a big group of predominantly tourists, who listened intently to their message] featuring narrators playing the roles of famous artists to convey the dangers the new Whitney Museum could face.

...At a recent community board meeting, a Whitney Museum representative said ["Although the Spectra pipeline does not cross directly onto the Museum’s property, we followed the progress of the work because of its proximity to the site. Governmental regulators, who oversaw and monitored the pipeline’s construction, are responsible for ensuring that the pipeline’s ongoing operation meets all applicable standards and requirements."] to a concerned New Yorker who asked about the Spectra pipeline. Noah Fischer says the Whitney Museum has not budged on the issue one bit, and it worries him that people aren’t asking more question. “This kind of inauguration by the people, which is unrelated to the official one is so important, because [the pipeline] is a problem and if the official line of the museum as it opens is to not talk about it then we need to open it in a completely different way. It is a perfect picture of how invincible the 1% feels with their money and business strategies, because a lot of people are making money off Spectra. Natural gas was sold to New York as a really clean alternative, and its dirtier than coal in terms of its overall impact on the climate,” he says.

Fischer’s frustration was shared by many in attendance, including Susan Rubin, who lives 10.5 miles (~17km) away from Indian Point Energy Center, and she’s terrified by the prospect of the Algonquin gas pipeline expansion project traveling next to the nuclear power plant.

“We’ve all lost our values and we think money matters more than health or safety or our future. We need to get back to basics. If you look at what happened at San Bruno, California, it’s insane … 1,000 foot flames,” she says, referring to an infamous gas line explosion in 2010 that killed eight people and devastated an area of a suburban neighborhood. “I don’t know if the first responders down here [in New York City] are prepared for a fire of this proportion. I know where I live, next to Indian Point, there’s no money going to get those firemen more prepared. This is a huge issue, and it doesn’t make it into the news … when you start to learn about it you can’t go back to sleep, so I’m just trying to wake everybody up that I can.”

...The video link provided contains snippets from the night’s guerrilla inauguration...

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