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. GeorgeBos95

    This is hilarious. Some people might decide to purchase the art as a reminder of what a circus the OWS crowd has been, and how they were a temporary zit on the butt of the cities they protested in.

    OWS is dead. Oh wait, no it isn't ... they're just disorganized ... and ignored.

    And irrelevant.

    March 9, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuy

      OWS is so irrelevant, yet you're still talking about it. Cool story.

      March 9, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • J.R.

      You are 100% correct George. OWS was a pathtic joke that failed miserably. The fact that somebody is making money off the movement itself is beyond hilarious.

      March 9, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • lefty avenger

      To GeorgeBos95: You are a top 1% aristocratic oligarchy corporate sympathizer. You're day will come.

      March 11, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
  2. brown

    Hahahaha!

    You finally understand your station in life!

    Keep on re-electing them!

    March 9, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Bill, Bloomington Il

    How about this one? the 99% doesnt exist. Not much humor in it now that I see it in writing.

    March 9, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      All pigs exist. I exist. Therefore, I am a pig.

      March 9, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Steve

    "TOO BIG TO FAIL" is on the part of the chair where you sit. LOL

    March 9, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  5. sp2011

    It really is not the top 1% . It is the top 0.01 % like in the middle ages. Things have not really changed in that sense. A lot of the bottom half of the 1% have to work seriously hard for the money and see so much of it siphoned away in taxes.

    March 9, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • cameron

      the bottom 49% dont pay Federal Taxes

      March 9, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  6. GeorgeGray

    How about "If the pay is low, the answer's no." If workers had been requiring a living wage, there wouldn't have been any mortgage loan defaults, now would there?

    March 9, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      Can you give me a dollar amount on what is a "living wage"? The mortgage loan default were also brought about by people being able to take out these loans that did not have the means to repay them due in part to Clinton getting the Glass Steagal Act repelled.

      March 9, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • GeorgeGray

      The minimum wage in Australia is $15.51. I suggest a minimum wage of $20.00 for anyone over 21. This should do, for a start.

      March 9, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • T

      Good idea, gg, but then it would have to be raised again so people could afford the rise in prices and services. You pay for services or skills required to do the job – this would mean engineers right out of college would have salaries above $100K. You believe that a fast food server or car wash attendent (thats what I did when I was in high school – $1.65/hr but I got a 3 cent discount on gas so it only cost me $0.32/gal) should be paid $20/hr? You think the economy is bad now. I'm sure it sucks making $10/hr, but you don't deserve a 100% raise.

      March 11, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • What?

      Workings are getting a living wage. People just don't know how to live within their means. Everyone wants, wants, wants. They want the fancy car and the giant TV, If you make poor choices you have to live with them. If you took out a mortgage on a a house that was too big and too expensive fo ryou its your own fault that you are getting forclosed on. When I went for my mortgage they told me I could get a much bigger and more expensive house than I was comfortable affording. I scaled it down and lived within my means, payed of debt and things are gravy. But then again, I was also able to live off of $7.00/hr when I first got out of college. I was even able to live off of $20,000/year for several years before I got a real job. Its called managing your money and living withint your means, not trying to live like you have money and blaming everyone else for your problems.

      March 13, 2012 at 8:38 am | Report abuse |
  7. john

    this guy is a big opportunist fake! he is exploiting a cause that is out to help the victimized masses... NOT the artist. he is a second rate artist who is as greedy as the 1%.

    March 9, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Steve

    99% = poor? Uh, did someone redefine poor while I wasn't looking?

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

      I guess the theory is, if the 1% richest people were forced to share equally with the rest, we would all be living like them. I forget who came up with the idea. Some German guy, funny name, Marx or something.

      March 9, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • lefty avenger

      Yes Steve, America turned into a Banana republic while you were snoozing.

      March 11, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Lydia

    I want one! Where can I buy it? I went to the gallery's site, but there was no info.

    March 9, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. guest

    The 99% Poor is a fraud. The reality is that no more than 10% is poor in this country and while only about 5% are considered really rich there are about 85% that are doing pretty well and are nothing like poor.

    The 99% is a group of 10% unemployable people that are not able to find work because they have no useful skills. Period.

    March 9, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • What?

      Or they are just being too lazy and "protesting" to go find a job.

      It appears what they want is socilism/communism, because that worked out so incredibly well for other countries in the past.

      March 13, 2012 at 8:41 am | Report abuse |
  11. qad

    This is not art. It's white chairs with black words on it. What a waste of show space and media attention.

    March 9, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Non Sense

    LOL: I read the sign 1% rich 99% poor. Truly, I do not understand why we poor money into our educational system to create this kind of intelligence. I remember the first time I saw a truly poor country. I realized in all my travels here in the states I had never truly seen a poor person. I had seen people who could not take care of themselves but I had never seen one with their full faculties with less than even those who walk our streets homeless. In fact, many of those who are homless here walking with their full carts and clothes would be viewed as well off by the truly poor in some of these countries. I am not recommending things are as they should be but I do recommend some people might think and understadn that it is all relative and that they are not honored to be classified as the poor in this world. Such thoughtlessness does not play well around the world. We just look like the wealthy spoiled brat.

    March 9, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  13. woodrow

    This all started with complaints about tax inequality. Now far as I can tell, we still have tax inequalities. People who make more money than me, actually pay less tax. There is nothing fair about this to the people who are paying more tax. Everybody should pay the same tax! I'm sick of the discrimination and pandering. It's unfair in every way.

    March 9, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. MM

    See...why do we not have 0% unemployment. Obama could just give everyone without a job a jumbo magic marker and free coreboard and...heck...undercut this guy and charge only $2,000.00.

    March 9, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  15. tamarinds

    Vastly overpricing a cheaply-made product? How is that dumb? I would imagine that selling a single one of these things would make the artist a net profit on the whole thing. Good for him–American ingenuity at its best. Hopefully he does something good with the money.

    March 9, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • ForGoodOfAll

      I agree! I think others are just jealous that they did not think of such a clever and cheap way to make lots of money.

      March 9, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      I can tell Sebastian Errazuriz has the right stuff to leave the 99% club and join the 1% ers. Making money off cheap signs and not paying the Occupiers for their clever sayings. Damn, im just upset that I ddn't think of it.

      March 9, 2012 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
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