For $2,500, Brooklyn artist invites 1% to take home complaints of the 99%
An Armory Show attendee examines Sebastian Errazuriz's Occupy Chairs in New York.
March 9th, 2012
11:03 AM ET

For $2,500, Brooklyn artist invites 1% to take home complaints of the 99%

Sebastian Errazuriz is at it again, making political statements with his art. This time, the target is the 1% - of which he may be a member when the art exhibit is through.

The Chilean-born artist used placards from the Occupy Wall Street movement as his muse and painted some of the movement's slogans onto wooden fold-out chairs. The acrylic paint messages include, "Hungry? Eat a Banker," "Kill Corporate Greed" and "Too Big to Fail is Too Big to Allow."

"The artist wishes to support the 99% by inviting collectors (representing the 1%) to purchase the complaints as art or furniture, thus introducing the ideas of one group into the homes of another and at the same time getting the rich to support the cause of the 99%," a news release states.

There are eight Occupy Chairs, and 10 of each design. The eight designs are on display at the Cristina Grajales Gallery booth at the Armory Show, an annual modern art fair in Manhattan that began Thursday and runs through the weekend.

Though Errazuriz, 34, doesn't shy away from bold statements - such as, say, planting 1,100 crosses under the Brooklyn Bridge to highlight the number of deaths in New York each week - his latest endeavor made him nervous.

"I honestly didn't know if the 1% would buy the Occupy Chairs or feel attacked and insulted," he said. "The other gallery people looked at us like, 'What the hell are (they) doing bringing protest signs to an art fair focused on collectors who are obviously all 1%?' "

He noticed, however, that the union workers setting up the booths had a markedly different take. They were calling their buddies over, "grinning happily, fishing out their phones and taking snapshots of the chairs," Errazuriz said.

Though many of Errazuriz's projects focus on the "dichotomies of life and death," he has made his share of political statements. In 2006, he planted a magnolia tree at midfield of Chile's National Stadium where dictator Augusto Pinochet tortured and killed political prisoners in 1973. A year earlier, he made a coat out of teddy bears as a statement on the comeback of fur on fashion runways.

The Occupy Chairs were inspired by placards from the Occupy Wall Street movement, the artist says.

He’s also created furniture and sculptures and designed clothing, including sexy dresses made of latex gloves or zippers.

Last time we checked in on Errazuriz in 2010, he was highlighting the U.S. military suicide rate by turning the cinder-block wall outside his Brooklyn studio into an art fixture. The public art display demonstrated how many troops had been killed in combat versus how many took their own lives.

Of his latest project, Errazuriz said he was surprised by the popularity of the Occupy Chairs. On the first day of the Armory Show, he sold a dozen of them. The price tag? A hefty $2,500 apiece.

"I was hoping to be able to tempt a few collectors to take the complaint signs home. I never expected them to become a great sale," he said.

The news release about his exhibit says that Errazuriz is donating a portion of the proceeds to the Occupy movement, but he won't disclose if he will donate 99% or succumb to his own greed and give 1%.

Pressed on the question Friday, Errazuriz told CNN that it was more a matter of soul searching than a marketing gimmick.

"Leaving the percentage of the donation a mystery was to question my own motives and gauge my own temptation, depending on the amount sold," he said.

He concedes that his decision got a lot tougher after sales surpassed his expectations - to the tune of $30,000 in one day.

"I figured if I sold one or two, donating most of the money seemed easy. Now that the amounts are higher, the temptation naturally gets a lot stronger, and I start getting a glimpse of what the 1% probably feels."

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Filed under: Art • Chile • Economy • New York • Occupy Wall Street • Protest • U.S.
soundoff (353 Responses)
  1. Chris Romano

    He's going to give a "portion" of the profits to the 'occupy" movement. Anything less than 50% would NOT be paying his fair share.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • DeeNYC

      he WAS going to, but since it's so much money greed set in.

      March 9, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dean

      The artist should give the 99% just 1%...and pocket the rest. Let the 99% earn their own money.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eliott C. McLaughlin

      Actually, he said he was gauging his greed and temptation, doing a little soul searching if you will. I don't think he is going to make public how much money he donated to the movement.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Goya

      Now I know why 'artists' starve. 🙂

      March 9, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. The truth

    This helps no one. People like this are incredibly frustrating.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  3. The Bob

    I hate the whole 1% and 99% crap. I am no where near being in your so called 1%, but don't you dare consider me to be a part of your lazy, crybaby so called 99% either. All polls and percentages usually come with a certain margin of error, so I guess you can condiser me the "+/- 5% margin of error".

    March 9, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • George

      Bob, you're an idiot. I'd love to make you cry, and show you a margin of error.

      March 9, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • A Bob

      You're not a margin of error – just an error

      March 9, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • AlKedda

      I guess no one ever heard of the word 'Boycott'... Rather than boycott a product that makes the 1% so wealthy, they would rather complain about being the 99%... I'm with you Bob. Some people just need to get a life and then get a job.

      March 9, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Bob

      "Bob, you're an idiot. I'd love to make you cry, and show you a margin of error."

      I'm not quiet sure what that means. Could you please explain yourself? Whatexactly does making me cry have to do with a margin of error?

      March 9, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chop

      Your an idiot, Labowski. Do what your parents did and get a job, sir!

      March 9, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Brandon

    I consider myself part of the 99% (I'm working poor; working at a convenience store 36 hours a week as my only job) but I fail to see how giving 50% is his 'fair share'. He did have to front the money for the exhibit and he should have a right to make a profit off of it.

    Having said that, I too would like to see him donate a substantial contribution to the occupy movement. Even just 10 grand would be a great contribution.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Trey

      "He did have to front the money for the exhibit and he should have a right to make a profit off of it."

      But he made it off "our" backs right? So he should have to give most if not all to OWS. After all, he wouldn't have made it if there was no OWS protest. He doesn't need all of that money anyway, OWS needs it more.

      March 9, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  5. stujordan

    I pray everyday that a plague will wipe out everyone save myself and my kin. When will the day ever come?

    March 9, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • redrabbit90

      me too!! Consider me kin please!

      March 9, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wes

      So you want everyone in the world (include all of your friends and distant relatives) to die? That means in order to save the human race, you and your "kin" will be forced into incest. Ohhhhh, now we see your agenda...

      March 9, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • JJC

      Just waiting to mate with your kin huh? Sounds like you have issues sir.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • SP00N MAN

      There is a group for you to join. It is called the Westboro Baptist Church.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Charlie

    I'm so tired of all this class warfare BS. Be happy with what you have. You can't take it with you. Love your friends and family while you can. That's all that matters. Soon you will be gone.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Brian

    "I'm so angry, I made a sign!" I love it. CNN newsworthy? Probably not but kinda neat none the less.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Charlie

    Kill corporate greed? But individual greed, evidenced by stealing from corporations, is ok?

    March 9, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charlie's Angel

      Where does the article say that? Anyway personal greed doesn't automatically equate to stealing from corporations

      March 9, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kurt

      You forgot Government greed as well. Nature abhors a vacuum and the government already has enough greed. Instead of complaining about corporate greed, people need to stop giving their dollar to them (that's right, quit buying those iPods, etc). If we end up with (more) government greed, just try not giving them the dollar they want – but your congressional representative is not rich by being kind.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  9. SP00N MAN

    Will the occupiers sue him for plagiarism?

    March 9, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Bob

      That would require actually doing something.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  10. SP00N MAN

    ...mostly saying "hooray for our side"...

    March 9, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  11. DeeNYC

    "Now that the amounts are higher, the temptation naturally gets a lot stronger, and I start getting a glimpse of what the 1% probably feels."
    Now I guess he understands why working class people hate OWS. They're complaining because they have no money or jobs.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Working class, and I'm part of the Occupy movement. What you're saying only happens because people don't understand what is going on.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Bob

      Dave, please explain to all of us what the occupy movement is doing since we don't understand what is going on. What is the movements agenda? What are they really fighting or against? ("Corporate Greed" is a very general and sweeping term) What are the next steps the movement is taking to reach their goals? What is their ultimatium if their goals/requirements are not met?

      March 9, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  12. AlKedda

    Get a life people!
    Quit complaining about being the 99%... It's good to be the 99%. You love being the 99%... It's why you're called a 'consumer'. Don't make me crack the whip on you.

    March 9, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  13. momoya

    Brilliant!. I hope he keeps 99% as an example of what happens when revolution occurs.. The disenfranchised, once enfranchized act like the 1% were before the overthrow.. It's human nature.

    March 9, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  14. waterman

    I respect the 1-percenters who buy this art.

    March 9, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Coke

    Hope somebody sets the exhibit on fire.

    March 9, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • chris

      lol

      March 9, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wha???

      Amazingly myopic and false. Our nation has much more than 1% rich. We also don't have anywhere near 99% poor. There are actually a huge number that fit nicely in-between. It seems the middle class truly have no argument in this fight. We just get to watch both sides be ridiculous.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
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