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. Me

    Even if everyone was given the same amount of money within 5 years there will be 1% rich and the so called 99%.

    March 10, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  2. chaz1

    Sadly, as long as that 1% controls our government, the 99% won't be making much headway anytime soon. Those with the money and the power aren't easily going to give it up. It'll take a lot more than tents and signs to force change.

    March 10, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hammer

      Keep believing the crap that comes out of your mouth.

      March 10, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      It'll require hard work, dedication, and persistence. Imagine that ...

      March 10, 2012 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jon

      The problem is the majority of the 99% aren't smart. Which is why America needs the 1%. Not that I am encouraging a ridiculous monetary disparity. I'm just stating, it's a good thing that states like Kansas and Missouri have no real effect on the 1% or the nation.

      March 10, 2012 at 11:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Lee S

    So 99 percent of ppl are struggling with in foodlines with no money and one percent are living large? Im not wealthy by any standard, but do ok. And money isnt everything. Not everyone can drive a mercedes/BMW and have a huge house, fact of life. Maybe you can have one or the other, but you have to WORK for it. All I see is a bunch jealous babies, who got caught up in something that has already passed and is still lingering like a fart in message boards like this one, that are envious of ppl that work hard for their quality of life. I know tons of people that dont have executive jobs that make a killing. Get over it.

    March 10, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • .

      Careful, Lee.... they'll send you to a "re-education" camp when they take over.

      Just like Pol Pot did in Cambodia.

      March 10, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boes73

      An intelligent post – definitely not from an Occupier.

      March 11, 2012 at 12:11 am | Report abuse |
  4. david bird

    If you are upset that you are not part of the 1% get off your lazy butts and get a job. If after getting a job you are still not part of the 1% oh well, at least you tried. I am no where near being a 1%er, I do not gripe about it nor do I protest. To many of the 99%ers want everything handed to them instead of working for it. Liberalism and Political Correctness are to blame. All 99%ers should go home and support their families and quit worrying about what someone else has, and start worrying about what they have. I have better things to worry about then trying to keep up with the Jones's.

    March 10, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anne

      you missed the whole point. alot of people do work hard for the money. alot of companies they work for, they don't provide health insurances, no high hourly rate, etc... I have seen enough. I have clients working very hard at the food markets for 8 long years but they only work part time. THey always ask for more hours or full time positions. Companies refuse to give them full time positions because they do not want to provide health and dental insurances. Store managers and CEO makes alot of profits for themselves. Imagine that they work at arond 8 to 9 dollars per hour and can not afford to see doctors. They get sick and miss work. Come on, lee. Think about it... they do work thier ass off for years and not get what they need. Store owners are greedy.

      March 10, 2012 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ron in calif

      Ann's reply to you demonstrates the ignorance of the 99 era People who choose to work in grocery stores and stay in those jobs have only the, selves to blame. I worked in a grocery store and a gas station and a factory in my early years. I learned that if I was to do well in life I needed to do something to improve myself. I am now 65 and about to retire as part of the 1 percent.

      March 10, 2012 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • What?

      Working at the food markets for 8 long years? I worked at a food market when I was 17. If you are an adult working at a food market part time as your only source of income for eight years you have no one to blame but yourself. You really need to look for a new job. If you campare my salary from 8 years ago I am making over 300% more now than I did then. BUT I worked my behind off, taught myself new skills (because I couldnt afford any more school), applied for new jobs, worked for promotions, etc. Its not their fault, its your fault if you dont succeed and move ahead.

      March 13, 2012 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
  5. .

    What a bunch of useless morons.

    March 10, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Sickandtired

    A 'MODEST" home for 600K?

    March 10, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  7. ArchieDeBunker

    NO! NO! NO! You guys have got it all wrong! The 1% is the brats protesting on Wall Street (and other places) because they went out and got a Liberal Farts degree (they did that because the classes are easy and don't require rigorous thinking like Chemistry or Physics or Math) and now can't find a job! That's what the 1% means. The 99% are the normal people who understand that you have to get a GOOD education and prove yourself before you can join the Success in America club. The 99% also understand that life is better under Capitalism than it will EVER be under the Socialism that is being stuffed down our throats by Our Dear Leader, Comrade Obama and the Democrat Socialist "I'm-smarter-and-more-sophisticated-than-you-because-I'm-a-Liberal-Democrap regime.

    March 10, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Edith DeBunker

      Stifle yourself, Archie. You do realize your rant is 1% opinion and 99% BS, right?

      March 10, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      From your post, I can tell you didn't waste any time taking classes in the liberal arts or humanities. The giveaways were your poor writing, lack of coherence, and inability to understand political or economic systems.

      March 10, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
  8. bl4ck0utsUn

    1% of the worlds population controls 40% of the worlds wealth. Corpraite elite who contribute nothing to society, trading in commodities, futures, and money and debt, or running mega corps that poison the enviroment, and our culture, only existing to house these creatures from 9a-5p. The 99% are the laborors creating products, services, contributing to society, culture! The 1% laugh at the 99% because they don't understand the struggle to survive, not one that doesn't include lying, stealing, and cheating yourself to the top! I hope the 1% enjoying sitting on the ideologies of the 99%. I also hope the paint is a contact contagion! LOL

    March 10, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • bjeff68

      Let me see if I can paraphrase that: "I am an utter failure. Clearly if I can't make it to the top doing next to nothing than no one can. Somehow those at the top must have cheated to get there. waaaaaah"

      March 10, 2012 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ron in calif

      Have you ever heard of Bill Gates or Steve Jobs...they changed the world. They started companies that have provided millions with high paying jobs. There are more examples. So get real,

      March 10, 2012 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
  9. adam

    Maybe once the ( 99% ) crowed is willing to give up their iphones, facebook and twitter the rest of us will take them more seriously.

    March 10, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Vince

    I see that CNN is still pushing this class warfare crap.. They try to come at it from many different angles..now with 'art'..

    March 10, 2012 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Texas Coyote

    If anyone asks yet again, why the OCCUPIERS (OCCUPY is a worldwide permanent protest movement for justice and more equity for the working class) all over the United States and World are protesting. Listen up!“You control our world. You've poisoned the air we breathe, contaminated the water we drink, and copyrighted the food we eat. We fight in your wars, die for your causes, and sacrifice our freedoms to protect you. You've liquidated our savings, destroyed our middle class, and used our tax dollars to bailout your unending greed. We are slaves to your corporations, zombies to your airwaves, servants... to your decadence. You've stolen our elections, assassinated our leaders, and abolished our basic human rights as human beings. You own our property, shipped away our jobs, and shredded our unions. You've profited off of disaster, destabilized our currencies, and raised our cost of living, while lowering our wages. You've monopolized our freedom, stripped away our education and have almost extinguished our flame. Now you (international and domestic corporations) are trying to cripple/sabotage the internet by making our U.S. Congress create and pass SOPA/PIPA type legislation to end our ability to communicate and/or protest online effectively!! We are hit...we are bleeding... but we ain't got time to bleed. We will bring the giants to their knees and you will witness our revolution! WAKE UP AMERICA! SUPPORT OCCUPY!

    March 10, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boes73

      Listen up! You cut and paste to repeat the same message. You are constantly whining. You poison the minds of the gullible. You are now a nuisance. Support Occupy Go Home!

      March 11, 2012 at 12:08 am | Report abuse |
  12. lu

    Before just American people . Now all this people from poor country no education come to USA and become a poor country. Don't blame the Rich people blame the media class them let this happen .

    March 10, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Ron in calif

    What. Is cool about this story and this guy is that it shows that a little initiative can make you money. The rest of the OWS whiners could learn from this. Get up off your keister and do something....anything!

    March 10, 2012 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
  14. M in Oz

    The purpose of the artwork is for him to make money for HIMSELF. I.e. he is using the 99% and the 1%.

    March 10, 2012 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mark

    I'm not so upset by the fact that alot of the 1% have more money than I could ever imagine. What does upset me is the excess that they live in. Even with donating money and the such I just can't understand why someone should have multimillion dollar homes cars in the costs of the hundreds of thousands while the people the 99% that make up the backbone of their companies can't even get full time hours and benefits. I'm not upset that they are rich they did earn it atleast most of them I would hope to assume. All im saying is help your lower class workers out!

    March 10, 2012 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boes73

      Now you want to tell people how they should spend their own money???

      March 11, 2012 at 12:09 am | Report abuse |
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