The idea behind Occupy Museum’s current project, Occupy Your BFF (Bloomberg Family Foundation) at Momenta Art, was to take financial information that already exists in the real world and showcase it in an art gallery. There’s print-outs of the Bloomberg Foundation’s I-990s, a video showing Michael Bloomberg’s living room, and charts documenting economic disparity in the States—all the type of stuff that can be found online. “The information is engaging in a way that could only occur in an art gallery,” Occupy Museums organizer Imani Brown told us. All this sounds pretty basic to us, but Occupy’s target of choice—Bloomberg—has become a serious issue, giving rise to suspicion surrounding the recent departure of a Momenta Art board member.
That board member, we were told, left due to a conflict of interest stemming from his wife’s relationship to Bloomberg. Board member Laurence Mascera fits that profile. He has served as Director at Barclays Capital and Chief Administrative Officer of Broadpoint Gleacher, and his wife, Carol Mascera, has worked in the legal department for Bloomberg since January of this year. He left the board prior to Occupy Museum’s latest discussion panel “Big Philanthropy and the Bloomberg Family Foundation: Whom does it benefit?”, to be held this Friday, October 5th.
This whittles Momenta Art’s board to only non-dues-paying members. Understandably, board members have opted not to comment on the current shake-up.
The biggest possible irony in all this could be that Momenta Art makes no attempt to cover up the fact that their organization receives funding from the Bloomberg Foundation. That fact shows up in the vinyl lettering outside Momenta Art’s front door, and it’s mentioned on a cardboard sheet in the gallery tacked up by Occupy Museums.
“We didn’t want to hurt Momenta,” Occupy Museums’ Noah Fischer told us over the phone. “We felt like it was our job and role to bring that information to the forefront.”
Momenta Art co-founder Eric Heist extended an invitation to Occupy Museums after seeing their set-up at the Berlin Biennale. That invitation would not seem out of place for the decades-old organization focused on promoting artwork that deals with social engagement.
All told, Momenta Art will recover: board turnover is inevitable for any non-profit. This would have happened eventually, and if not with Bloomberg, then another foundation. Non-profit members are fickle as the wind, but here’s hoping Momenta Art’s next wave of new recruits will support the organization’s goals.