Nan Goldin and 12 others members of PAIN, the activist group she founded to combat the opioid crisis, were arrested during a demonstration in front of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office in Manhattan, New York, this Wednesday (August 28).
According to ARTnews, protesters carried signs that read “Governor while you wait New Yorkers die” and “Cuomo lies, people die!” Arrests were made when protesters blocked the entrances of the site.
The protest intended to raise awareness of the number of overdose deaths related to opioid and prescription drug addictions that kill approximately 130 people in America every day. Goldin, who has spoken openly about her struggles with drug addiction in the past, called on the governor to open overdose protection centers that allow users to take drugs in controlled environments, under the supervision of medical officials.
Writing on Instagram, a statement from PAIN reads: “Thirteen people, including @nangoldinstudio, put their bodies on the line and were arrested to show that too many people have been lost and it's time for the Governor to make a real change. SAFE CONSUMPTION SAVES LIVES. TAKE ACTION NOW.”
Despite Cuomo speaking openly about opioid deaths, the protesters maintain that he has not pursued enough concrete actions to combat the issue. Earlier this year, Cuomo revealed a series of initiatives for drug-addiction treatment but he is yet to support overdose protection centers.
Founded in 2017, Goldin’s PAIN group has been focusing their direct action at the Sackler family, who – despite providing significant donations to institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Sackler, the Tate and the Louvre – own Purdue Pharma, the manufacturers of epidemic-linked opioid drug Oxycontin. In the last year, the group staged a ‘die-in’ protest at the Sackler wing of the Metropolitan Museum. Their actions have resulted in many museums, including the Met and the Lourve, to say they will no longer be accepting Sackler donations.
More protests and direct action is currently being planned by the group.