The exhibition has invited as participants the collective Gulf Labor Coalition, which strives to ensure that workers’ rights are protected when contemporary art, precarious labor, and global capital intersect. Coalition members include artists, writers, architects, curators, and other cultural workers. The Coalition’s contribution to this year Art Biennalewill take the form of a public report in a series of plenary sessions dedicated to its investigations of labor conditions in the Persian Gulf and South Asia. Gulf Labor Coalition’s current focus is the ongoing construction of new cultural institutions on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi, UAE. But whether engaged in direct action or streaming critical imagery, the group’s practice takes place in a public context that pivots on the imaginative and tactical leveraging of aggregated cultural and social capital.
Most recently Gulf Labor completed 52 Weeks, a year-long campaign (October 2013 to October 2014) in which artists, writers, and activists from different cities and countries contributed a work, a text, or an action each week that would highlight the coercive recruitment and deplorable living and working conditions of migrant laborers in Abu Dhabi. Because the Coalition’s focus on migratory and hazardous labor extends to similar conditions around the globe, they are constantly generating new research and interventionist campaigns.