September 6, 2018

Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art Preview Opening Met with Protest

LONDON, ENGLAND—A protest organized by the Justice for Cleaners campaign disrupted the first day of the press preview for the new Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art, José da Silva reports for The Art Newspaper. The group of Goldsmiths students, staff, and alumni strung a banner reading “Who keeps the white cube white” at the entrance to the art center and handed out leaflets outlining the mistreatment of cleaning staff and poor labor practices of ISS, the company that services Goldsmiths, University of London’s properties. Justice for Cleaners seeks to bring cleaning in-house and for Goldsmiths not to renew its contract with ISS next month.

A spokesperson for the school said, “Goldsmiths respects the right to peaceful protest and acknowledges the concerns expressed by some students and staff about the terms and conditions of cleaning staff. We are currently involved in discussions with cleaners and their recognized trade union UNISON. Our cleaning contracts are due for renewal this autumn and one of the options we’re looking at is taking this important work in-house.”

Artist Mika Rottenberg, whose exhibition inaugurates the new £4.5-million space, issued a statement supporting the protest, noting Goldsmiths CCA staff’s support for the Justice for Cleaners campaign and its relevance to her work. “I hope that the protest will help make visible the hidden labor and fragments of vital energy and exploitation that are embedded in everything we consume and produce,” Rottenberg wrote. “I urge Goldsmiths management to change their policy and hire the cleaning force in-house as the valuable Goldsmiths employees they are, providing them with fair and gainful working conditions.”

Protests are expected to continue through the press preview and public opening on September 8.

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