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. P.J.


    Reminds me of European imports, about the same value.

    March 10, 2012 at 4:06 am | Report abuse |
  2. Why Use Facts

    Since he is against the 1% and how they you loopholes and deductions to not pay their "fair share" of taxes, he better not deduct the money he donates to OWS when he files his taxes.

    March 10, 2012 at 6:23 am | Report abuse |
  3. bob

    screw the 99%

    March 10, 2012 at 7:14 am | Report abuse |
    • johnharry

      well said

      March 10, 2012 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      Oooch !!

      March 10, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Me

      yes! screw the 99%

      March 10, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  4. The Bob

    The "Im so angry I made a sight" really sums up OWS. They are angry, they really dont know why and they arent doing anything about it. I am still waiting for someone to explain to me what OWS is about. What are they against? What is their agenda? What do they wish to accomplish? What is the ultimatum if they continue to be ignored and laughed at? What are they? This whole "corporate greed" thing is not specific at all. Someone please explain this to me. I dont want the google this or look up that non answer. I dont this OWS knows what it is doing other that taking in thousands of dollars in donations. Where is this money going anyway?

    March 10, 2012 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
    • The Bob

      I guess I should point out I typed sight instead of sign before some troll does.

      March 10, 2012 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
  5. little hippo

    so what are you if you make below $50,000/yr? upper poor?

    March 10, 2012 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      Lower Middle ?

      March 10, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lee S


      March 10, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  6. little hippo

    i will in no way pretend to understand economics or the whole 1% vs 99% issue.

    March 10, 2012 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
  7. Whats_Up

    I think it is great that one can be creative and an entrepreneur ...hope they remember to file the correct IRS forms and pay their fair share.

    March 10, 2012 at 9:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Your point is valid but you sound rather dismissive. I wish you and others who have not struggled to start a business could understand how difficult the government makes it. Forms, regulations, fines, audits and penalty notices without end. Large corporations have the bureaucracy to handle such; they just pass the costs on to consumers (us). But small business just starting out have limited resources, and it's a shame to see so much devoted to simply complying with overly-complex legislation of every form...

      As for paying one's fair share, it's my belief that entrepreneurs in general pay the taxes they owe. It is the ultra-wealthy that can afford fund managers and other advisers to exploit tax shelters we hear so much about. Entrepreneurs are in general busy just keeping their businesses alive, their customers happy, and employees employed. Yet, entrepreneurs making as little as $350K are representative of the 1%. Warren Buffet and other billionaires are rare, and the carried interest they earn that is taxed at only 15% are alien to most entrepreneurs like me, whose income is taxed at the current highest marginal tax rate of 35%. I believe most people in the "1%" pay this 35% rate, and the outliers like Warren Buffet should not confuse the issue. If you want hedge fund managers to pay 35% on their carried interest I can respect that position, but if you then imply the 1% are not paying their fair share I'll point out that you're committing a logical error known as "association fallacy": simply because a few "1%" individuals (i.e. those with carried interest) pay far less than the top 35% rate, you conclude that most pay a lower rate – when in fact the opposite is true.

      March 11, 2012 at 4:48 am | Report abuse |
  8. Pac-Man

    I am in the 99% and I don't consider myself poor. I live a very comfortable, happy life. I think these OWS people are the other 1%.

    March 10, 2012 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Me

      I am not poor. I have money and am very comfortable.

      March 10, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. brown

    Stop complaining ! It was YOU who couldn't be bothered to VOTE.

    March 10, 2012 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  10. Peikoviany

    Gay men have been telling straight women what's beautiful for years. Makes just as much sense. Or as little.

    March 10, 2012 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  11. brown

    The American electorate is insane. You don't deserve America!

    March 10, 2012 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
  12. trollol

    Well, it's obvious isn't it? This wanna be artist is TROLLING!

    March 10, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ed

      Awesome comment! It made me lol and starts my Saturday off on the right foot. Seriously. Funny.

      March 10, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mario

    It's really sad and pathetic that some people are defending the greed and selfishness of the %1 and attacking the 99% just because they want respect and responsibility.

    March 10, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      I am in the "1%". How can you paint me and all others in my cohort as "selfish and greedy"? You don't know me. Does my income status deprive me of dignity in your eyes, or of the presumption of innocence?

      March 11, 2012 at 4:51 am | Report abuse |
  14. Spence

    The 99% is a fraud. They are really less than 10% of the people that are unemployable, weak, intellectually stunted and just an embarrassment of lazy and useless people. For thousands of years people that prepared themselves to hold jobs got jobs. It's not a perfect system, but for the most part it works. People that are sitting around lazy, or people that are socially retarded have always been the town drunks, or meaningless people that are a burden on their families. These are the people that make up the so called 99%. They are just the trash that has always been at the bottom the barrel in the world.

    March 10, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Me

    The so called 99% ... grow a damn brain.

    March 10, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
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