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. MIT

    $2500??

    Ridiculous! You could make one yourself for $20!!!

    March 11, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  2. migeli

    Some of the rich have outgrown their usefullness when they use wealth generated by American consumers and take their operations to Communist countries so they can pay slave wages to children.Then they callthe 99 percent freeloaders who are looking for a socialist handout.Diabolical!My local paper used to have 20 pages of jobs listed.Now there is half a page.But posters here blame the unemployed for their predicament.Americans have always been the hardest workers in the world. In some countries workers get 13 weeks of paid vacation Dont be trying to B.S. that America is full of freeloaders looking for socialist handouts.When the wealthy get too wealthy they give plenty of hsndouts to undeserving brats who get their own reality shows then they start dynasties and soon enough we have royalty.Pay your fair share percentage wise thats all we ask and maybe this will remain a great democracy.How much money do the wealthy need to corrupt our system if they haven'already?Too much money in the hands of a fewis a far greater evil than a little bit of help for your fellow American!

    March 11, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      Yeah, I'm sure all those Chinese people that never had a car before or food security are really upset about being exploited. Every country that is wealthy today started the same way by selling cheap labor, including this one. In the end we benefit with a higher standard of living by being able to buy those Chinese made products and the Chinese get to see their economic opportunity expand exponentially.

      March 11, 2012 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • T

      Earlier you said you are envious of the rich – this comment seems to make you a liar – it is full of jealousy. As far as outgrowing their usefullness you should look in a mirror.

      March 12, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • T

      sorry that should read "not" envious.

      March 12, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Brian Macker

    That sign reading "1% rich 99% poor" pretty much sums up how stupid these particular protesters were. They live in a different country than the one I do for sure.

    March 11, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ron

      Really it's 1% rich.. 9 % doing alright and 90% ranging from not so well to poor.

      That's the reality. Rush Limbaugh even said it... "Did you know if you make 50K you're in the top 10%?" I happened to be listening that day.. I'm thinking he was trying to get his listeners to think "hey we're "rich" too!" ... but my thoughts went to "wow 90% make less than 50K..... I wonder what the 25% mark is then?"

      March 12, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  4. migeli

    You don't necessarily have to be poor to protest against greed.If your living on social security which is not a "hand-out"and your bank is charging you 12 dollars a month to use your own money in a checking account that's greed.When.

    March 11, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mr. Bankerman

      Since when did banking become a right? Last time i checked it was a service provided by a for-profit company. Don't like the cost? find a cheaper alternative (credit union/non-profit). I am still upset that I have to pay my housekeeper... i thought i had a right to a clean house.

      March 12, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • SC

      Don't forget the IRS taxes you on social security. It's income.

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

      SS requires us to bank. Because our pension check is direct deposited you see; we have no choice. The best one can do is shop around for the best bank deal.

      March 12, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • James

      Not to mention that even if you had a paper check, you'd still need to cash it, and most banks will charge you to cash a check unless you have an account.

      March 12, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • What?

      Then find a better bank. Its your fault you are with a bank that is charging you $12. YOu said yourself you can shop around for the best bank deal, so stop complaining and shop around. Many backs if you use direct deposit they will wave the fees anyway. You can always join a credit union too and pay no fees. Stop complaining and do something. I shopped around and I am with a bank with 0 fees and no minimum balance.

      March 13, 2012 at 9:40 am | Report abuse |
  5. migeli

    You don't necessarily have to be poor to protest unfairness and greed.Those who live on a tight budget and can't afford a minimum deposit must pay 12 dollars a month at some banks to use their own money in a checking account.Then if you are 2 cents short when you write a check you get charged a 35 dollar overdraft feebecause your bank did not tell you they are now charging 2 dollars for a balance inquiry at ATMs and you are overdrawn.The wealthy do not get ripped off like this while the CEO of this bank makes 25 million a year.The poor and middleclass pay taxes that go to subsidize oil companies who are making billions and theCEOs of those companies make 125 million a year.Whats not to undrstand about the 99 percent?Are they all just"bums in the park"? Bums don't use their energy protesting. People with work ethics do.Unless you're "filthy rich"you ought to be out there with them because chancesare you're getting screwed too.

    March 11, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. lefty avenger

    The top 1% aristocratic oligarchy are totally amused at all the useless protesting we the 99% have undertaken. The Rich prance and shimmy while we all struggle. Being a working person who barely gets by is so darn cute to these hedge fund bankers, of course they're going to buy this low level hipster art!

    March 11, 2012 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
  7. migeli

    Ill bet you got a sizable chunk from your parents, and 99percent of people are not crying out in rage like you do if you lose a nickel of your probably undeserved inheritence.

    March 11, 2012 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Frank

    Hopefully after 2012 election season this hateful 99 to 1 thing will end. Its nothing more then stereotyping people by the actions of a few. Its the same line of thinking that leads to racism and bigotry. This group would have garnered a lot more support if they had aimed their protest at specific corrupt and dishonest actions of those with power in government and business.

    March 11, 2012 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • migeli

      I agree.

      March 11, 2012 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Franklin

      I agree, if they had directed their anger at the wasteful bailouts and the too big to fail mentality of Washington DC they would be way ahead of the game. Instead chanting "You Have, We Want" marching down Wall St, makes them look like selfish, petulant, spoiled children that are not willing to work hard to get ahead.
      The protest never appeared to have an organized message or effort, it should have been directed at the current administration to be effective.

      March 12, 2012 at 9:13 am | Report abuse |
    • TSB8C

      A 1%'er sings my check each week. Thank God for those that build industries, take the risks, and create the jobs – like mine.

      March 12, 2012 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  9. migeli

    Who would believe that the majority of people in this country want everything free? Only some disconnected fool whose only connection to people is on his yacht or at the golf course.Don't try to tell us the 1 percent built this country because they didn't.It was the millions of hard working Americans who are now being robbed by banks and crooks in government and multinational corporations.The only whining I see is from greedy individuals who benefited fromm thgreat system we used to have here.Free nothing.Most of us paid taxes.Some people have loopholes and government handouts that dwarf anything the little guy gets.Example-Miss Bachman. 250,000 dollar farm subsidy.

    March 11, 2012 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rasheed

      100% built this country. Self initiative was once a hallmark of the US worker, remember when?

      March 12, 2012 at 1:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Franklin

      This country was not built by any group of people. It was and effort by everyone in every walk of life, rich poor and everyone in between. Attempting to delineate between rich and poor is what socialist, marxist and communist countries have done for years and it never worked. Causing class warfare is a recipe for internal destruction. President Obama takes his private jet to vacation with private jet owners in Martha's Vineyard and then condemns them is solid proof that he does not want the country united. If he wants to tax the rich more than put forward a bill that would actually pass, if he wants to cause class warfare than continue putting forward crap that will never fly and publicly condemn the rich at every opportunity. This man has no intention to unite the country, it does not suit his agenda!

      March 12, 2012 at 9:23 am | Report abuse |
    • tp16

      "Most of us paid taxes" – acutally, the opposite is true.

      March 12, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rasheed

    This 99 and 1% garbage is well over-played now. I'm a 99 percent person and know many many others naturally who are too. We do work, but we don't blame or envy the rich in the sense that they are holding US back. The 1 percent came from the 99 in most cases. I don't want my company's top boss to be a 99 percent person. If he is then where's my motivation to strive? In fact let's call the big boss of average medium large company a 5 percenter or 9 percenter. Where would the wealth distribution stop if the 1% were suddenly taxed even more. Then there would be a call for the 2 and then 3 percent. Either way it leads to more of the b.s. greed than this occupy movement is claiming goes on already. It is socialism to the unblinded. And to the informed of those unblinded, socialism is a precursor to communism. I'm a different kind of liberal, a classical liberalism student. Modern "progressive" liberalism is toxic, ironically backwards.

    March 12, 2012 at 1:21 am | Report abuse |
    • migeli

      I'm not against the rich nor do I envy the rich.There are plenty of good rich job creators and great Americans.I am against those who are persistently blaming the unemployed for being unemployed.Same people who got those tax cuts to create jobs for AmericansThat would have been fine but it didn't work did it?They took that money and stuffed it in Swiss and Cayman Island bank accounts or outsourced jobs toChina and India.Very smart of them and good for poor Chinese and Indians,but that was not the deal.Then they have the nerve to post that if you don't have a job it's your fault.I'sure you know that most unemployed Americans are anxious to have a job and get rich too.That's what this country is all about. The American Dream.Anyone can make it if given the chance.There may be some freeloaders in this country but most people want what you want.I resent those partly responsible for this mess calling everyone else freeloaders and crybabies because that's not so.Is it? You must have friends out of job struggling to find one.Are they freeloaders. Looking for a handout?That'sall!

      March 12, 2012 at 2:47 am | Report abuse |
  11. Rasheed

    If you don't like your wages, or feel your company's top executives are cruely underpaying you, you have the right to work elsewhere. Unless they are stealing money or illegally obtaining their higher pay scale, there's no productivity to wallowing in envy. And then to those who are complaining and yet not even working.....

    March 12, 2012 at 1:29 am | Report abuse |
  12. Mike

    Biggest issue is who the hell pays $2,500 for that? Modern art in general irritates me as it takes the skills of a 5 year old with a box of colored pencils to create, however this is even more pathetic. If you think thats a cool statement and want chairs like that I will make them for anyone and only charge the bargain price of $500 a piece. The only people I can think would pay for that are all the rich hippsters whose mom and dads worked hard to make a good living and they turn around and 'rebel against society" b/c they think its cool.

    March 12, 2012 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  13. biggerballz

    let me guess she's yet to sell one of her "art works" glad she made "news"

    March 12, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  14. migeli

    You're so right Mr Bankerman and I hope everyone follows your reccomendation.

    March 12, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Aaron

    I think it interesting that this is actually considered "art"

    March 12, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
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