Yorkshire Sculpture Park Challenges Border Controls With Email Exhibition

Artists from the Middle East are invited to send in their work electronically.

Muhammad Saleh Rosramzada and Wrya Budaghi, Our-Finger-Hasn‘t-Got-Ink-Yet. Performance documentation from 2010, Manchester UK. Photo courtesy ArtRole.

Where government bureaucracy builds barriers, art can try to break them. An upcoming exhibition at Yorkshire Sculpture Park asks artists from the Middle East, for whom it can be difficult or impossible to obtain a travel visa, to create work that can be sent by email.

The open call for “Beyond Boundaries: Art by Email” suggests the formats of “photography and film…sculpture files that can be 3D printed, performance by instruction and other creative responses.” The Art Newspaper reports that 60 proposals were received, which will be narrowed down to a final 14 for the exhibition, which will take place in January 2017.

While the online format might seem like a net art initiative, the show is actually more political than technological in nature. It also called for “work that not only shares the realities of current situations in various countries such as Iraq, Syria, Iran, Palestine but also the resilience, hope, and creativity of artists throughout the region, whatever their circumstances.”

The Yorkshire institution is not used to working so digitally, but now they’re going all the way. Installation artist Azar Othman Mahmood will participate in a virtual residency, incorporating social media and public video chats.

In 2010, Mahmood attempted to enter the UK from Iraqi-Kurdistan on the occasion of an exhibition of his work in Manchester. He was denied a visa on the grounds of not being able to provide valid bank statements. Iraq has no banking infrastructure, and many citizens use only cash, as reported by the Independent.

Beyond Boundaries: Art By Email” will be on  view at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park from January 7-January 29, 2017

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