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Letter from Documenta Curators to Institutions in the UAE

July 2, 2015

HE Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman, Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Richard Armstrong, Director, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, New York, NY, USA.
William Mack, Chairman, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York, NY, USA.
John Sexton, President, New York University, New York, NY, USA.
Al Bloom, Vice Chancellor, New York University Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Carol Brandt, Associate Vice Chancellor, New York University Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Manuel Rabaté, Directeur Général, Agence France-Muséums, Paris, France.
Jean-François Charnier, Directeur Scientifique, Agence France-Muséums, Paris, France.
Jean-Luc Martinez, President-Director, Musée du Louvre, Paris, France.
Neil MacGregor, Director, British Museum, London, UK.
Sheikha Hoor Al-Qasimi, President, Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah, UAE

We write to you today as the current and former Artistic Directors of Documenta, the most widely visited and respected periodic exhibition of contemporary art, held since the end of World War II in the German City of Kassel. Documenta has marked the most significant moments in the history of Modern and Contemporary Art since the mid twentieth century, and prides itself for its research-oriented approach and for having a particular focus on the relations between art and society at large. It has contributed to processes of civil society building and democratization around the world through its presentation of great and concerned works of art. Continue reading

CIMAM supports barred artists, asks involved museums to respond

The International Committee for Museums and Collections of Modern Art (CIMAM) has issued a statement in support of Walid Raad, Andrew Ross and Ashok Sukumaran, who were all denied entry to the UAE. CIMAM is an organisation of over 400 museum representatives from 63 countries, and is the author of among other guidelines, a code of ethics for museums.  

Their statement in full:

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Gulf Labor Statement on Two More of its Members Being Denied Entry to the UAE


Guggenheim, New York and Abu Dhabi
Louvre, Paris and Abu Dhabi
New York University (NYU), New York and Abu Dhabi
Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA), Abu Dhabi
Sharjah Art Foundation (SAF), Sharjah
Art Dubai, Dubai
Salama Bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation, Abu Dhabi

This week artists Ashok Sukumaran and Walid Raad were denied entry to the UAE on grounds of “security”. This comes after NYU professor Andrew Ross was similarly barred from flying to Abu Dhabi in March. Given Sukumaran and Raad’s history of vital and sustained engagement with the country and region, invited or celebrated by many of you addressed in this letter, the only possible reason to suddenly have three such integral parts of our art and academic community denied entry, must be their involvement with the Gulf Labor Coalition.

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Artist, Gulf Labor member Walid Raad denied entry to and deported from the UAE

Statement from Walid Raad:

Dear friends,

On May 11, 2015, I was denied entry to the UAE at Dubai airport. At Immigration in the Arrivals Terminal, UAE officials pulled me to the side and escorted me to a waiting room. Immigration officers came back two hours later to inform me that I was being denied entry for “security” reasons. I was escorted to the Departures Terminal, where other officials re-arranged my travel back to the US. My passport was confiscated for the 24 hours I was in the airport. An airport employee escorted me to my departure gate on May 12, and handed me my passport before I boarded my return flight. I was not harassed. I was not threatened. In fact, it was all a simple immigration formality. What stayed with me where the words spoken in Arabic “they are expelling him” and “for security reasons.” Three days later, these words continue to anger and sadden me.

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Guggenheim in Venice is occupied


Since about 10 am this morning, the dock outside the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice has been occupied by a number of art groups protesting the Guggenheim’s inaction in preventing worker abuse in Abu Dhabi.  The venue has been closed for visitors.  Live updates are on Hyperallergic.  And #GuggOccupied

Tonight in Venice, the Guggenheim Foundation will host the official dinner for the USA pavilion, which it owns.

Update: Guggenheim has agreed to meet with protestors.

G.U.L.F. Occupies Guggenheim, Museum closes rather than talk

May Day ActionAt noon today, a group of artists and activists including members of the Gulf Ultra Luxury Faction unfurled a large parachute and dropped thousands of On Kawara-influenced flyers marking May Day 2015, in the atrium of the Guggenheim Museum,  while demanding to meet with a member of the institution’s board of trustees to discuss the labor conditions at its Abu Dhabi site.

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