Activists from various arts and activist groups, including Occupy Museums, Occupy the Pipeline, Sane Energey Project, Liberate Tate, Peng Collective, The Yes Lab, Guerrilla Girls, People’s Climate Arts, and others held an artful pre-opening protest at the Whitney Museum. (See www.WhitneyPipeline.org for more information.) The protest was against the Spectra energy pipeline that runs through New Jersey, under the Hudson River and across the West Side Highway, terminating in a vault beneath the yet-to-open Whitney Museum.
Artist-activist Kim Fraczek reports that the goal of the artful protest was to “engage the public to ask questions about fossil fuels, our future and what roles our institutions should play in leading us to a renewable future rather than succumbing to more fracked gas.” She went on to say “we are working toward a public forum to engage the Whitney on having a conversation about our future in energy, institutions and their role in public service.”
“’I’m sure that most of the people that will attend the receptions for the opening of the Whitney have no clue that the pipeline is there,’ said Clare Donohue, program director at Sane Energy Project, a grass-roots group that has been fighting the Spectra project. The event on Tuesday, she added, was to draw attention to the pipeline and to the fact that, should anything go wrong, ‘the artwork is at risk.’”
“Organizers of the demonstration posted an open letter to the Whitney at Whitneypipeline.org, asking, in part, why the museum came to be situated above “fossil fuel infrastructure,” and whether there would be any exhibitions dealing with the environment, energy and corporate financing as a result. ‘Today we are asking: How can a museum that literally covers up the dirty fossil fuel industry be a beacon for the future of art and culture?’ the letter read.
The Times described the protest writing: “The protest had a theatrical flair, complete with a printed program, a bugler and Frida Kahlo, a pseudonymous founding member of the Guerrilla Girls, a group of feminist activists. She came decked out in her ceremonial gorilla mask.” Gothamist described the event writing “environmental activists staged their own pre-opening ceremony for the celebrated institution.” The opening included a ribbon cutting, video and more. Hyperallergic wrote:
“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!”).”
Fraczek writes that a “follow up event will be a theatrical walking tour of historical 10th Avenue in NYC which was nicknamed “Death Avenue” when trains used to strike and kill pedestrians. The Spectra Pipeline currently runs up 10th Avenue, which is why our tour is called “The Secrets of Death Avenue”. It’s a real hoot if you are in NYC on May 2-3, come on the tour. All of the artwork from the Whitney will be brought to life to tell their story of the pipeline under their new home, which opens on May 1st.
This article originally appeared at Popular Resistance.