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Occupy Wall Street Group Impersonates Whitney Museum In A Press Release [Update]

The Arts & Labor Working Group sends out PR as the Whitney, promising all kinds of future changes for the museum. It's actually the second time they've done this. [Updated below.]

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Occupy Wall Streets Arts & Labor Working Group has elicited some head-scratching from art-world people who received a press release, ostensibly from the Whitney Museum, announcing the Whitney's decision to close its doors so that its workers can skip work for OWS' May 1 "general strike."

The release reads in part:

Whitney Museum to Close for May Day; Announces Governance Changes, Special Addition to 2012 Biennial Programming

In response to overwhelming demand, the Whitney Museum will close its doors on May 1 so that artists, museum workers, and patrons will be able to join the “day without the 99%” and general strike planned for May Day. By taking this action, the Museum acknowledges the labor performed not only by the artists in our exhibitions, but also the labor of everyone who cleans our building; sells tickets and checks coats; guards, handles, maintains, and conserves the art; curates and programs our exhibitions; and educates our public. The Museum also respects the wishes of the artists included in the ongoing 2012 Biennial, who have strongly expressed their demand that the museum either cover or remove their works from the exhibition during this time. The Museum supports their call to cease business as usual and to take art into the streets on this historic day.

Also promised: a break with the Whitney's two major corporate sponsors, Sotheby's and Deutsche Bank, lowering the price of admission, and "to reopen on May 2 a wholly changed institution." The Whitney will be closed on May 1 anyway, because it closes on Tuesdays.

The press release is hosted on a website built to mirror the Whitney's but is not a Whitney production. It was apparently made by occupiers and is actually the second press release sent out by the Arts & Labor group under the Whitney's banner, according to the museum's press office.

The Arts & Labor group didn't immediately return a request for comment.

Update 6:31 p.m.: Arts & Labor denies making the press release. A representative of the group wrote to BuzzFeed, "Arts & Labor did not produce this press release but we are sympathetic to its sentiments, many of which echo our own open letter to the Whitney."

This Guardian story attributes the prank to "anonymous cultural workers."

Correction: this post has been corrected to reflect that the fake press release was not hosted on the Whitney Museum's website.

Rosie Gray is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, D.C. Gray reports on politics and foreign policy.

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