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Storming the Wall: Who is building the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi?

Gulf Labor Artists at Roskilde Festival

July 1 – 7, 2018

For the third year in a row, the big Nordic music event Roskilde Festival has invited CAMP to be an 'equality partner' and curate projects during the festival focusing on 'equality.' This year, CAMP is partnering up with members from Gulf Labor Artist Coalition.

Storming the Wall: Who is building the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi? entails participatory happenings led by Gulf Labor artists Todd Ayoung (Trinidad and Tobago/US), Doris Bittar (Lebanon/US), and Melissa Smedley (US). The artists will engage festival guests into events, projects, and games that have built-in elements of humor, transgression, and resistance to reveal the plight of migrant labor, particularly within the building and maintenance of cultural institutions.* 

About Gulf Labor


Ayoung, Bittar, and Smedley will premiere four projects: 

  • Red Light – Green Light, a game whose pace is determined by a domineering leader. During the game, the players are equipped with different identities and have to challenge the 'king.' If they are caught in the act, they will be deported. Time & Place: July 1, 3–6 pm in City East at Equality Stadium.
  • Trackless Shoes engages festival guests in creating footwear that disguises its tracks on sand to mirror migration into the US. A model of the US Mexico border wall will be invoked to determine 'winners or losers.' The event is conceptualized to make festival guests identify with people crossing the US border in pursuit of work. Time & Place: July 2, 10 am–12 pm in City East at Equality Stadium.
  • Ululation Choir entails learning about ululation, and performing it throughout the festival. Festival guests will learn how to ululate, i.e. making loud sounds with throat and tongue, to form a choir of loud sounds. Ululation is used throughout the Middle East and Africa to express joy or protest. Festival guests is encouraged to ululate when participating in koncerts and protests both during the festival and afterwards. Time & Place: July 3, 10–11 am in City East at Equality Stadium.
  • Join The People's Decolonization March and march with Gulf Labor banners. The march engages participants in a protest against unequal pay and modern slavery. Time & Place: July 4, 7–8 pm at Equality Walls.

    After the march, the banners will be on view at ArtZone/Gloria stage until July 7.

Storming the Wall engages in solidarity for those whose lives are caught in between. 


The project is realized with financial support from CAMP and Foreningen Roskilde Festival

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*The artwork presented at Roskilde Festival for CAMP are by Gulf Labor members Todd Ayoung, Doris Bittar, and Melissa Smedley:

Gulf Labor is a coalition of international artists working to ensure that migrant worker rights are protected during the construction and maintenance of the Guggenheim's new franchise museum on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Artists should not be asked to exhibit their work in structures built on the backs of exploited workers. Those working with bricks and mortar deserve the same kind of respect as those working with cameras and brushes.

Melissa Smedley is an artist, writer, and educator currently based in Salinas, California. Since 2010, Smedley has been operating The Department of Homeland Inspiration, serving as the “The Art Ranger” sharing, discovering, curating “found art” images from daily life.

Doris Bittar, originally from Lebanon is an artist, educator, writer, and community organizer. Bittar is the current chapter president of the San Diego American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, and co-director and founder of Teach and Learn Literacy, a literacy program bringing English to new Syrian refugees. She teaches art at California State University, San Marcos.

Todd Ayoung is an interdisciplinary artist originally from Trinidad, W.I. currently living in Ithaca, NY. He teaches studio art at Pratt Institute and Parsons, The New School, NYC. Ayoung has worked with many art collectives, including REPOhistory (founding member), GODZILLA, an Asian Pacific Islander artist network (steering committee), Interim Sites: An Urban Arts Initiative, Alien Abduction Collective (founder), AoCB (artist of color bloc).