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. marsmotel

    I still do not understand why I make alot of money and work my butt off, that I am some bad guy to these people. I work hard to make this money, it is not given to me, I do not have greed. This is for my family. This needs to stop, you can't go on job interviews hanging out on Wall street!

    March 9, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Vassago

      March 9, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Snazzy

      Your hard work is commendable, but I bet you a buffalo nickel that there are people that work a hell of a lot harder than you and don't make enough to feed their family. As reported last week, the income for those who make over $500,000 rose over 17% last year. The income for the middle class rose just over 1%. That doesn't even cover the cost of inflation. I work hard for what I have too, but it doesn't put me in a position to ignore the facts. I don't think people realize how dangerous this trend is for our economy.

      March 9, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • thx

      most if not all of the occupy protesters were employed

      March 9, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • me

      You have to make over $380k per year to be in the richest 1%. Is your family really going to be in that bad a shape if you have to pay more than 15% in taxes? Do you think people making less than 1/10 of your salary should bare the costs of bailing out your too-big-too-fail company next time it destroys the economy?

      March 9, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jordan

      I don't think you're a bad guy. I just think that you should pay at least the same tax rate as a struggling blue-collar family.

      I also think that your line of work is bad if it involves hostile takeovers of profitable companies to sell the assets and close the businesses, or if you engage in deceptive practices against uninformed consumers (like hawking payday loans and obscuring the fees in long fine print).

      If you don't do any of those things, and if you agree that you should contribute your fair share to the nation that protects your ability to profit for yourself and protects the welfare of the consumers of your products, then I commend you on your hard work.

      March 9, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Duke5343

      I have been POOR, my parents were poor, lived in shanny town WWII & after, they worked hard, gave us kids what theycould and build up to a middleclass, taught their 3 kids to work hard, 2 did & one became a Liberal looser, my sister and I work very hard & Saved and invested to live in top 30% & the OWS and rest of lazy poor can kiss by BOOT – it is my money NOT THEIRs or lazy poor on Uncle Sams Plantation or any DUMB Liberal wanting to take it

      March 9, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Duke5343

      SNAZZY- I dont CARE as long as they are NOT taking from me to give to the POOR

      Freedom is NOT Equality- there is NO SUCH Thing as equality – survial of the fittest

      March 9, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • marsmotel

      My company is small, I don't take a salary, I work off commissions. There are no hostile takeovers and I pay more than you think in taxes. Try about 33% in Philadelphia. Your facts are wrong. 15% is what I get taxed on after I already paid taxes on it at the 33% and then invest it and take it out for another investment and then I get taxed again for 15%. It is called capital gains. I am not sure you understand how this all works. Yes, is the system broke, I think so. I get taxed like everyone else. I am not the bad guy.

      March 9, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Truth

      I hear people complain they don't make enough money for the work they do all the time. My reply is always the same, what are you doing about it. 99% of the time I either get silence or more complaining, very rarely does someone actually say something they are doing to improve their situation. There's the problem in a nutshell many, many people today think its someone elses job to improve their situation, not theirs. When I was in the Navy I had Sailors come up to me all the time and say, "I wish I made what you Officers make" or "I wish I ate on plates instead of trays" My response is basically the same, if you want the pay and perks become an Officer. Their reply is always the same, "I don't want that level of responsibility" or something like "Thats a lot of hard work". Bingo, again the problem and solution in a nutshell. For those who still do not get it, quit whinning and start doing. If it does not work try again and if you keep failling take a long hard look at what you are doing, you are doing it wrong.

      March 9, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • the jaysus

      hate to break it to you mars, but you probably don't make enough to be 1%-er

      March 9, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • marsmotel

      I am not going to discuss how much I make, but I do not have to work anymore if I did not want to but I do because I am not lazy. I am 37 as well. Is that enough for you!

      March 9, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • me

      The 15% tax rate refers to the carried interest loophole which allows the salaries of private equity and hedge fund employees to be taxed at the long term capital gains rate. The "Wall Street" in occupy wall street refers to how people in the financial industry use loop-holes to avoid paying taxes. If you are paying 33%, then you probably do not work in that industry.

      March 9, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aces Full

      Top 1% pay 40% of federal income taxes
      Top 10% pay 75% of federal income taxes
      Bottom 47% pay 0% of federal income taxes
      80% of people who do pay taxes have an “effective” tax rate below 15%
      Top 7% pay 68% of all money donated to charities
      The idea that the rich are not paying their “fair share” is ridiculous, it is a thinly veiled attempt to elicit an emotional response by blaming someone else, the "rich" (this time).

      March 9, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • me

      The problem is that the federal income tax hardly pays for anything. The federal income taxes are only 6% of GDP but government spending is 24% of GDP. The government gets most of its money from payroll taxes and borrowing.

      March 9, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • DUh

      Guys – you are grossly mistaken with the tax rate. Those people who make 315K get taxed at 35% or higher, the 15% capital gains tax is a tax that is on money made from investments which that person already was taxed 35% on. So in summary capital gains is a tax on revenue made by money you invested after the income tax.

      Now apply that to a person like candidate Romney, Romney doesn't have a job, however if continues to make money off of investment his trust makes on his behalf. If he were to buy P&G stock, that pays a divined of about a $.50 quarterly for each individual stock you own. So if you own 100 shares then you get 50 dollars. So if Romney were to buy 100,000 shares, using money he made and was taxed 35% on, then he would $50,000 quarterly and annually $200,000. That $200,000 is then subject to capital gains taxes because it was a return on a investment that he made on money he was already taxed on.

      This country need a lesson in finance and so does our president. Especially when he makes blanket statements about how much money makes you rich, because living in Manhattan KS and Manhattan NY are two very different costs of livings.

      March 9, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • me

      DUh – look up "carried interest" on google or wikipedia. Mitt Romney pays 15% on all his income from his regular job at Bain. He continues to pay 15% on his pension. This is the tax rate for people who work in private equity and hedge funds.

      March 9, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • j

      You aren't the 1%. Quit kidding yourself. Nobody cares about who you are or what you do.

      March 9, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. latuya83

    This guys is laughing all the way to the bank, like most Democrats who malign the rich while getting rich themselves. That's why the 99% are where they are you bunch of sheep.

    March 9, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  3. yahmez the mad

    This is to art what dubstep is to music.

    March 9, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  4. There are no artists only talented liars

    The only reason this art sells is the creator is probably one of the most talented bullsh!t artists around. Spew a pile of lies about how if you read between the lines, and look at all the symbolism, and the hidden metaphorical subtext and people will part with their money thinking that the piece is more then just laziness.

    March 9, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • KKDenver

      It's over your head too

      March 9, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Not The Bob

      Its so over your head. You just dont get it, its so deep! The meaning and the subtly and the hyperbole (if you havent noticed that the new 99 cent word in comment sections). You just dont get it and yes and my farts dont stink either! They smell like sunshine dust!

      March 9, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • There are no artists only talented liars

      @KKDenver, I am sooooo glad you are such an expert on art that you skillfully explained it all in such a way that everyone can understand and enjoy the piece as you can. You must be a museum curator with your in depth knowledge and understanding of art. I take my hat off to your wisdom since in your opinion I could not begin to understand the complexities of attempting to make a profit out of protesting. Thank you for opening my eyes.

      Brought to you by the People for Hyperbole and Sarcasm

      March 9, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Keepthemout

    not over my head....just dumb

    March 9, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • KKDenver

      it's clever and provocative, sorry it's not the "Married with children" type of product you feel you can digest.

      March 9, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Snazzy

      Mistaking your opinion for fact is....well.....also dumb.

      March 9, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Bob

      Mistaking someone elses option as a statement of fact is....well....also dumb.

      March 9, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Snazzy

      Bob, it was stated as a fact. It's a verbiage thing. Work on the reading comprehension.

      March 9, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Bob

      Actaully when talking about art in this manner it is all optinion. Not a reading comprehension thing at all.

      March 10, 2012 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
  6. KKDenver

    You sure can tell which of these posters is a republican. They have absolutely no understanding of why something is considered art.

    March 9, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • There are no artists only talented liars

      Attack faster, you have not flooded the comments with enough of your wisdom!

      March 9, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • marsmotel

      You are a complete moron to put that Republicans do not know art hen they see it. I get it dude! My art collection is pretty intense. I am not sure you know what art really is.

      March 9, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • KKDenver

      Sorry... they don't

      March 9, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • marsmotel

      I am a Republican. I know art. I own art. I create art. What does a political party have to do with being educated in art?

      March 9, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      Art is something so moving every person can see it, Trash that is called art and can only be seen as art by a select few is still trash. The Mona Lisa is Art these signs are trash, Its the Emperors new clothes all over again.

      March 9, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • phil

      KK, by you throwing out that comment shows that perhaps you yourself are confused but the notion of "Art" as anyone should know that Art is 100% completely subjective. It is up to every indivdual to decide what is art. Ask yourself, if you were in a park, and stepped over the "art" mention in this article, would you think, "Hey, I just stepped over art," or would you think, "Hey, I just stepped over a sign?" Art is also contextual.

      March 9, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  7. KKDenver

    Those decrying this are the same who don't understand Pollack or Christo.

    March 9, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • There are no artists only talented liars

      Do tell!

      March 9, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • phil

      Not true...well, not true for all. I studied Art History for years and make a living as an Artist. I've done conceptual Master studies. And I love Pollack and I love the notion of painting of the sake of painting. I understand the concepts with great pain and stake my reputation on creating intriguing concepts. However, this stuff is lazy both visually and conceptually. Sebastian is not always this lazy but his stuff this time around reeks of being situationally capitalisitc. I'm all about not be a starving artist, but call an onion, an onion, and not an apple.

      March 9, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Keepthemout

    wrong.....Democrat who lives in Austin....obviously i'm over your head. Snow must be getting to ya

    March 9, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • KKDenver

      it is actually

      March 9, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jovee

    It amazes me to see how many working class people malign the occupy movement. They should be the ones most behind it. Then again, if you enjoy getting screwed over but want the chance to be the one who does the screwing eventually then I see where you might like it. Wall Street essentially caused the economic collapse and changed the laws to suit their own needs. They made millions while most struggle to make rent, and most of them did no jail time.

    March 9, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      Working class people for the most part are conservative, The OWS is a Liberal movement funded by the Democratic party and Our present administration is 100 percent behind it, The OWS was disappointing that the average man didnt get behind there movement in the fall, And they will be equally disappointed in the Spring when the democratic party fires this group up again, But when A movement like the OWS fails to get followers and fails to gain momentum it will turn violent, Then you will truly see who is behind this movement, By that I mean How the Govt responds to this movements violence?

      March 9, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Kevin Roberts

    If you're poor you deserve it, if you're rich you deserve it. Plain and simple.

    March 9, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jordan

      I take it you also consider the "home economics" portion of your GED to qualify you as an economics expert.

      Look, I can make up mindless and non-factual drivel too: "If you're handicapped, you deserve it. If you're not, you deserve it. Plain and simple."

      My false statement there is equally as valid as yours. Sure, some people, like conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer, may be handicapped due to their own mistakes (Google him), but many if not most have done nothing to deserve their predicaments and work hard to overcome them.

      Most poor people in this country are fully employed or have been laid off in the recession. They often work far harder than the rich, who, by the way, most commonly earn their money through inheritance. Now, I know many wealthy (and several undeniably rich) people who made their money through hard work and ingenuity, and I fully support that and hope to do the same. But that doesn't mean those who haven't reached the American dream deserve to fail. And it doesn't mean that those who have won extraordinary riches deserve a capital-gains tax break.

      March 9, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jordan

      To clarify, I think the vast majority of handicapped individuals had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with their physical situations (I believe most are merely genetic), and I'm not certain there's anyone in the world who "deserves" to be handicapped, including Charles Krauthammer.

      I can't let the cheap level of discourse in the comments sections make me equally hateful.

      March 9, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  11. James V. Freeman

    A most unoriginal charlatan mocking a good cause; take it from a real artist. I grew up witnessing art schools churn out hundreds of issue/installation "artists" just like him since at least the '80's. He would be nothing if not for someone in the N.Y. art mafia propping him up. His website is loaded with contrivances of famous controversial non-art from the past.

    March 9, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Bob

    Occupy protestors are morons that can't do math.

    March 9, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  13. phil

    I am an artist in the "99%", and this people, is what I consider lazy art both visually and conceptually and situationally pathetic. However, I thought his Occupy Chairs was clever but not the he intended it. I see it as people who sit around all day, need chairs; although him charging $2500 nulifies that notion. Because of the 1% who pretend to be 99%, I'm sure he enjoys the capitalization of his $2500 per chair. Functional Art sure can be a good thing.

    March 9, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  14. hah

    i agree with everyone here

    March 9, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • phil

      I agree 100% with nothing you've stated.

      March 9, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ronald

      I really love "I'm so angry, I made a sign". I am going to make a piece of art somehow with that quote as the centerpiece (I think the artist could have done better with a great idea).

      I hate the idea of the 99%...nobody said all these clowns could speak for 99% of the population. I'm not in the 1%, but certainly the 5%, and I'm not like you people. I am the 95th percentile...nothing more, nothing less.

      March 9, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  15. ATLmatt

    this is offensive

    March 9, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • brian2432

      Since when did 99% of the population become bleeding heart, anti-capitalism, anarchical, lazy liberals?

      March 9, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Regis990

      @brian2432 Since when did FOX News lovers come to CNN for there news?

      March 9, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • 23 from texas

      I am not a billionair... but I sure dont want to be a part of this 99% crowd. A bunch of whiners. They are not interested in the betterment of society. If they were they wold be less vocal and more succesful. The game is not rigged against anyone, but rather, hard work is rewarded by success. Life is not fair and nobodies success will look the same. At the end of my life I refuse to look back and say I didnt get what I wanted because those people had too much. I want to do ALL I CAN to better myself. What others do is up to them. Now stop whining about it. Grow up people!

      March 9, 2012 at 9:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • lefty avenger

      To brian2432: We the 99% became socialist left wing rebels about the same time the top 1% became neo-fascist oligarchy aristocratic exploiters and nazis.

      March 11, 2012 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tesla

      @ leftyavenger: gotta love all the 10 dollar words being thrown around by the college kids that don't actually mean anything. hey, buddy: Nazi was the name for the German National Socialist Party. And mindsets like those of occupy was how they took over and murdered 6 million jewish people.

      See, i can invoke godwin's law, too. The 1% as you call them are not fascists, otherwise you wouldn't be allowed to vote. Stop voting for ineffectual politicians, and bring in someone else. And, perhaps most important, do this at every level of government, from your city council to the president of the united states. If you're really the 99%, you should have no trouble voting in the best of the best, and by a landslide, too.

      March 12, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jorge Sanchez

      @brian2432: When did it become a crime to be rich?

      March 13, 2012 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
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