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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

[Updated] A recap of Saturday night's protest at the BMW/Guggenheim Lab

[Photo by Steven Hirsch]

On Saturday night, I posted some photos by Bobby Williams of the "Let Them Eat Cake/Eat the Rich/No Comfort Zone street party." (The comments section is still smoldering.)

In any event, here are some links that offer more of a narrative of what happened that evening. Bob Arihood has posts from the three stops on the tour: the Economakis Dream Mansion ... the BMW Guggenheim Lab ... and Mars Bar.

Goggla has a nice summary here. Including video.

Marty After Dark was around for the Mars Bar portion here.

Gothamist had a summary post here.

From a distance anyway, the most interesting part of the evening came when the group — 25 strong or so — arrived at the BMW/Guggenheim Lab near closing time. I've heard several variations of what happened. This isn't everything that happened, just a brief summation.

Several people spoke out about the history of class warfare in the East Village and why the BMW/Guggenheim Lab is a self-congratulatory project for a few and doesn't address the needs/talents of the community at all, as Goggla put it. A sober LES Jewels read a poem. Unfortunately, at this time, there wasn't much of an audience, save a few Lab administrators and curators.

[Photo by Gil Robichaud]

Rob Hollander, who arrived just after the demonstrators entered the space, described the reaction this way: "I would not call it 'friendly,' but maybe 'acquiescent.'" Those in attendance said that the Lab curators stuck close by to prevent the Guggenheim from inciting an incident that might have brought them ugly press.

According to witnesses, the only time things got heated occured when John Penley lit a cigarette. One administrator reportedly yelled at Penley to put out the cigarette; that the Lab is on Parks Department land and smoking is illegal in city parks. Several other people in the group also lit cigarettes. One of the curators was said to whisper something in the administrator's ear. She then left the immediate area.

And, thanks to Goggla, we have some video. (She has more here.)

I asked Penley on Sunday for his thoughts on his reception to the Lab/Community Center.

"The management was angry and and didn't listen to what we said. They were typical of people in authority who, when confronted, ignore you but look pissed off since they couldn't call the cops, which I asked them to do because the publicity would be bad for them. They let it go. The workers loved it."

As Rachel Pincus reported for Gothamist:

"The Lab itself greeted the protest with a mixture of appreciation and utter annoyance, sympathizing with its cause but finding its aggressive tone objectionable. 'This space is meant for dialogue,' said Lab team host Kristian Koreman, who has roots as a squatter in Rotterdam. 'If they had acted in a way where they wanted an answer to their questions, we would have answered.'"

I followed up with the press contact that I had for the Lab. "As quoted in Gothamist, the Lab is about dialogue – of all kinds," said Eleanor R. Goldhar, deputy director and chief of global communications. "The protesters have a point of view to express which we respect. We also appreciate the courtesy they showed while engaging with staff and visitors at the Lab."

Friday, August 5, 2011

Street party protest tomorrow night will include stop at the BMW Guggenheim Lab

John Penley passes along word that, after tomorrow's show in Tompkins Square Park, there will be a "LET EM EAT CAKE/EAT THE RICH/ NO COMFORT ZONE street party" starting at 8 p.m.

First stop: the Economakis Dream Mansion on East Third Street near Second Avenue.

"This street fiesta will feature poetry by LES Jewels, music by Hank who plays on the street and others TBA. Afterwards we will go the the Mars Bar for beer. The Mars Bar is closed so it will be street. F the developer Donald Capoccia we will roast and eat him with bbq sauce."

Updated: In the comments, Penley notes that the protest will include a stop at the BMW Guggenheim Lab.

[Photo from the July 2008 protest outside the Economakis Dream Mansion]

Saturday, August 6, 2011

At the 'Let Them Eat Cake/Eat the Rich/ No Comfort Zone street party'

First stop tonight for John Penley and company — the Economakis Dream Mansion on East Third Street...

...then it was on to the BMW Guggenheim Lab ... where the group busted inside as the gates were closing... and LES Jewels read a poem...


The Mars Bar...

We'll have more tomorrow... all photos by Bobby Williams.