Statement by Artists of the 12th Sharjah Biennial

Please find below the statement issued by the participating artists of the 12th Sharjah Biennial in support of fellow artists Ashok Sukumaran and Walid Raad, who were recently denied entry into 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
Art Dubai, Dubai
Salama Bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation, Abu Dhabi

And all other cultural institutions working in the UAE

As artists participating in the Sharjah Biennial 12, we collectively voice our support for fellow artists Ashok Sukumaran, who was recently denied multiple applications for an entry visa to the U.A.E., and Walid Raad, who was denied entry and deported by the U.A.E. border authority from the Dubai airport on May 11, 2015. Both artists have produced and presented work in and related to the U.A.E. for many years and were invited to be guest speakers at the Biennial’s March Meeting. Raad was denied entry to the U.A.E. for reasons of “security.” We believe his interdiction, as well as Sukumaran’s visa denial, are related to their work within the Gulf Labor Artist Coalition, as was the case with NYU professor Andrew Ross, also a member of the Coalition, who was also denied entry to the U.A.E. in March 2015.  The Sharjah Biennial has been an important space for cultural exchange and dialog over the past 24 years, and the Sharjah Art Foundation has played a crucial role in fostering a community of artists in the broader Middle East, South Asian, African and Asian regions. As participating artists in Sharjah Biennial 12, we deeply regret that this year’s March Meeting could not include Ashok Sukumaran and Walid Raad, two important participants in this community.

We feel that the work done by the Gulf Labor Artist Coalition is important and that transparency and dialog are essential to ensure that globalised cultural institutions like the Guggenheim, the Louvre and NYU are expanding responsibly, sustainably and without labor exploitation. Artist visa and entrance denials constitute a rupture in transparency and dialog that can only result in a polarisation of positions, and justify our concern about the working conditions on the construction sites of institutions with whom we work. We recognise that such visa denials and the restriction of border-crossing privileges are not exclusive to the U.A.E. They systematically occur and are on the rise at all Schengen state borders and in North America as well. We, the undersigned international artists and cultural workers, who are active members of a broader art community that includes the Sharjah Biennial, as well as the Guggenheim, the Louvre and NYU, have a responsibility to voice our concern over increasing measures by states to restrict mobility on the basis of citizenship, ethnicity, political critique and cultural production.

We echo the call made by the Gulf Labor Artist Coalition asking cultural institutions in the U.A.E. to stand together against the recent developments of visa and entry denials and deportations, and to urge authorities in the U.A.E. to lift entry restrictions for Ashok Sukumaran, Walid Raad and Andrew Ross, so that they may pursue their positive role within the regional and international community of concerned artists and researchers.

Abraham Cruzvillegas
Ahmad Ghossein
Asuncion Molinos Gordo
Ayreen Anastas
Babak Afrassiabi
Basel Abbas
Beom Kim
Byron Kim
Cinthia Marcelle
Danh Vo
Damián Ortega
Entissar Al Hamdany
Eric Baudelaire
Fabrice Taraud
Faustin Linyekula
Gary Simmons
Haegue Yang
Hassan Khan
Iman Issa
Jac Leirner
Jawshing Arthur Liou
Joel Lokossou
Lala Rukh
Kit Lee
Kristine Khouri
Leonor Antunes
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye
Mark Bradford
Maryam Kashani
Michael Joo
mixrice (Jieun Cho & Chulmo Yang)
Nasrin Tabatabai
Nikhil Chopra
Rayyane Tabet
Rasha Salti
Rene Gabri
Rheim Alkadhi
Rigo 23
Rirkrit Tiravanija
Rodney McMillian
Ruanne Abou-Rahme
Sarah Rifky
Taro Shinoda
Uriel Barthélémi
Virginie Dupray
Xu Tan

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