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. Say What

    1% Rich, 99% poor – I would personally consider the top 20% to be well-off. I understand there is a rather unnecessary distribution of wealth, but if life was meant to be fair we'd all be the same size and shape.

    March 10, 2012 at 11:42 pm | Report abuse |
  2. migeli

    Not all but much of the"one percent"has robbed and victimized the rest of this country, buying congress and the supreme court,not paying their fair share of taxes,outsourcing the good American jobs and hiring illegal immigrants to do their housework.They are the ones posting here that you are all looking for a hand out and that it's your fault you can't be one of them.Most of the finger-pointers probably inhereted a "handout " from dadda or the would know what odds the rest of you struggle against when "they themselves"are the ones stacking the deck against you.

    March 11, 2012 at 1:12 am | Report abuse |
    • jose

      Another crybaby. Jump off a high cliff - you would be doing the country a favor.

      March 11, 2012 at 1:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Really?

      The rich pay the overwhelming majority of all tax revenues in this country. How is paying enough income taxes to cover their own per-capita government costs PLUS enough to cover at least 500 other Americans government costs every year considered NOT paying their "share"? That is what the 1% do every year on average, according to IRS data.

      March 11, 2012 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Maty

      But the rich also pay far less, percentage wise, based on their own income. Bush-era tax cuts lopped a 1/2 million dollars off the taxes a those making over $10 million per year, but only $75 off the taxes of those who earn $50 k per year. That small percentage of people you say payed most of the taxes also earned 68% of the income in this country.

      March 11, 2012 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • T

      Maty – go back to school and study percentages. $50,000 X 0.015% = $75 ; $1,000,000 X 0.015% = $15,000 This is why you find this so unfair? Of course wealthier people save more on taxes when rates are lowered, this will happen everytime that the % are the same. If a person makes $1M on dividends, salary, or interest (with no deductions) they will pay $350K in Federal taxes (35% rate); a person making $50K (with no deductions) will pay $12.5K (25%).

      I'm all for a flat tax rate of 18-20%, on everything including capital gains, no deductions that EVERYONE pays. This of course will anger 48% of the people that don't pay taxes, but they should contribute too. The US would take in more taxes than any year in the past.

      March 11, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff

      T, maybe you should go do some studying on your own. You have your tax rates wrong.

      March 11, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  3. migeli

    Which country Switzerland where Romney keeps his money?

    March 11, 2012 at 3:29 am | Report abuse |
  4. Braden Duke

    I vote we get rid of tax breaks, tax exemptions, and tax credits and go for equality! Everyone is wanting equality. If they want it so much lets make everyone pay taxes. Make a Flat tax for all! Oh wait wait wait, we don't want to pay taxes we just want the 1% hard working evil "Rich" to pay for the "99% Poor" peoples benefits. Wake up America! Americans are not poor! Travel the world then tell me if were "99% Poor." Push Equality!

    March 11, 2012 at 6:11 am | Report abuse |
  5. funny

    He should photograph a fat banker smoking a cigar, reading the wall street journal; place that in a gallery and market that to the 99% 😉

    March 11, 2012 at 6:21 am | Report abuse |
  6. .

    What a bunch of useless, misguided idiots.

    March 11, 2012 at 8:24 am | Report abuse |
  7. Joe

    Another "artist" who most likely can't draw a stick figure so dupes people into thinking scribbling on a beach chair is "art".

    March 11, 2012 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
    • "Part of the 39.89%

      My thoughts exactly.

      P.S. My # isn't random, go to 'Educational_attainment_in_the_United_States' in Wikipedia, right side, table next to the 2nd & third paragraph.

      March 11, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Peach

    The 1% would only purchase one of these chairs is to have a laughable conversation piece. Duh.

    March 11, 2012 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
  9. Johhn

    Everyone should stop going to the movie theaters and renting movies as they are all in the top 1%...... will you do it.... didn't think so.

    March 11, 2012 at 9:51 am | Report abuse |
    • tacc2

      Better yet, pirate them.

      March 11, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • "Part of the 39.89%"

      As one going to make uplifting films, even big $ ones, I hope most can support those movies that catch your interest. For goodness sakes, in Redbox they only cost a little over $1!!! The so called "1%" is the American dream, if you have the Communist dream then go to China,I'm sure they'd welcome redistributing YOUR money there.

      P.S. My # isn't random, go to 'Educational_attainment_in_the_United_States' in Wikipedia, right side, table next to the 2nd & 3rd paragraph.

      March 11, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  10. FG

    Mr. Errazuriz, are you a hyprocrite or not, time will tell....I'll watch for the donation.

    March 11, 2012 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  11. Joe One

    99%er's.....let's go back to when we were in high school together. When we took the same classes. It was important for me to get an A. Important for me to show up every day and try hard so I could be whatever I wanted. Important for me take out a loan and go to college and do my best by making good decisions. It doesn't a 1%er to know what jobs pay well and require commitment and hardwork and also include sacrifices. It also doesn't take a 1%er to know what the "easy" route looks like, as well as those sacrifices. It comes down to choice.... you can make whatever you want happen. I bust my ass everyday and weekends and make huge family sacrifices to earn a paycheck. I'm a nice guy, but I'm doing this for me, not you and all the others crying with their hands out, sitting back and complaining when you should be doing something about it. I hope they fixed that pothole in front of your house that I paid for...... you're welcome by the way. "how many 99%ers does it take to change a light bulb?" ...... "none, don't worry, the 1%ers will do it for you"

    March 11, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • migeli

      They didn't fix the pothole because the crooks who run the city put your money in their Swiss bank account.I'm part of the 99percent and worked all my life.I resent 1percent bankers charging me 12 dollars a month to use my money in my checking account.How much greed do the 99percent have to put up with so guys like you don'accuse them of worthlessness and wanting handouts?

      March 11, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe One

      Migeli, I agree with your view. Hopefully you can see a bit of my frustration as well. Pretty sure there is a group of "hardworkers" on both sides with the same views. And don't feel alone – they didn't fix the pothole on my street either.... I did it myself when I realized they weren't coming.

      March 11, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Part of the 39.89%

      Joe One, your words are close to poetry. ;] I also believe STRONGLY in the individuals CHOICE. One must make the choice to work hard, then I think one had the right to the big reward for that hard work. the other side is if you make the choice to dink around, then you deserve not to get a "trophy for participation" but get your little to none reward for your 'work'. Then sadly there's the middle, where in an imperfect but much caring world one may not always get their right to hard work, they WILL get it eventually (just be patient & longsuffering). Hope we all don't let the few ruin it for the most.

      P.S. My # isn't random, go to 'Educational_attainment_in_the_United_States' in Wikipedia, right side, table next to the 2nd & 3rd paragraph.

      March 11, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  12. migeli

    The shifty one percent outsourced millions of jobs to China with their tax cuts and then they hire their stoodges to accuse the rest of you as worthless hand out seekers who want to live off those fortunate enough to be spared from their greed.Those lucky enough to have a job should at least keep their mouth shut
    while others suffer.

    March 11, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  13. migeli

    Joe One Thanks. I think we are all getting frustrated. This was always the greatest country on earthh and now many people are out of work through no fault of their own.Yes there arsome free-loaders. But I believe most Americans want a decent job and a decent life.We don'have to turn against each other to do that.We need to get rid of corruption in government and bring the jobs back here.

    March 11, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  14. MotoJB

    Who's going to buy that crap or even put it on their wall if it were free??

    March 11, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Steven A.

    The phrase, "let them eat cake" comes to mind.

    March 11, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
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