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Art By Email

7 January–5 March 2017 Bothy Gallery

Due to political situations and immigration conditions it can be difficult to invite artists from outside the UK to work at Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP). Beyond Boundaries: Art by Email, a collaboration between YSP and ArtRole, gives a platform to those who can’t physically visit the Park and celebrates the notion that ideas and art can travel even if people cannot.

Responding to an open call, artists across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have submitted artwork via email for inclusion in the exhibition. The artists were given the brief to not only share the realities of current situations in various countries such as Iran and Iraq but also the resilience, hope and creativity that thrives throughout the region, often despite the circumstances.

Art by Email brings together the voices of 16 artists from five MENA countries, selected by ArtRole Chief Executive Adalet R. Garmiany and YSP Senior Curator, Dr Helen Pheby, and includes photography, film and performance. An abstract sculpture by the Iranian artist Sahand Hesamiyan, the instructions for which were submitted via email, will be 3D printed during the exhibition.

A powerful photograph, by Younes Mohammad, depicts what the Iraqi artist describes as “a Yezidi refugee with his pillow, between thousands of other refugees, in an unfinished construction field. He sleeps in a different place every night. No one was expecting such a huge number of refugees so the KRG local government started to place them in schools, streets and even unfinished construction sites.”

Turkish artist, curator and academic Baris Seyitvan’s digital print Isimsiz, translated as ‘Anonymous’, shows the artist suspended in sky, held up by five helium balloons. A photograph of the artist’s installation Every Stone Wants to be Free, a helium balloon tied to a brick, also features in the exhibition.

Through photographs of individuals from Iraqi Kurdistan’s military forces standing in front of images from popular culture, documentary photographer Zardasht Osman shows the sacrifices made for land and nation, so that the next generation might live freely. As Osman says “Deciding to live freely like a westerner needs sacrifices. To know the meaning of freedom is to know the limits of it, and the boundaries of it should not be crossed. Life is tied with freedom, if we don’t have freedom, we don’t have life either.”

Egyptian-born visual artist Mai Al Shazly’s video installation Undercurrents, two films at a right angle to one another, shows the relationship between resistance and non-resistance: an active aggressor in combat with a passive enemy alongside a calm blue fish-filled ocean, the bubbling soundtrack continuous despite the adjacent assault.

The exhibition also includes a photograph of a performance by multi-disciplinary artist Azar Othman. For Peoples Questions in a City, the Iraqi Kurdistan-based artist collected opinions from the public on current affairs, including plans for their city, their environment and their culture. Individuals’ thoughts were written down on paper and publicly displayed in the heart of Sulaymaniyah City. To coincide, Othman is YSP’s first virtual Visiting Artist. Visitors can become part of the project and help to build a sense of YSP by sharing their photos, thoughts and experiences of the Park using #ForAzar. The artist will also take part in a virtual conversation with YSP’s Helen Pheby on 21 January 2017.

The artists featured in the exhibition include: Mai Al Shazly, Egypt; Sabr Dri, Iraqi Kurdistan; Fathi Hawas, Egypt; Sahand Hesamiyan, Iran; Hamid Jamal, Iraqi Kurdistan; Mohamed Khalid, United Arab Emirates; Younes Mohammad, Iraqi Kurdistan; Shadi Noyani, Iran; Awder Osman, Iraqi Kurdistan; Zardasht Osman, Iraqi Kurdistan; Azar Othman, Iraqi Kurdistan; Wahby Rasool, Iraqi Kurdistan; Shawnm Raza, Iraqi Kurdistan; Burhan Sabir, Iraqi Kurdistan; Bnar Sardar, Iraqi Kurdistan; and Baris Seyitvan, Turkey.

NOTES TO EDITORS

This exhibition has been conducted in partnership with ArtRole, an international arts organisation dedicated to building a cultural bridge between the Middle East and the rest of the world. YSP is very grateful to Adalet Garmiany, Chief Executive and Founder of ArtRole for his continued and genuine collaboration. YSP would also like to thank all of the artists for sharing their artwork, to Emily Riddle for undertaking research, to Caspian Arts Foundation and Asia House for their support and to GoPrint3D for their kind sponsorship.

ArtRole is an international contemporary arts organisation dedicated to building a cultural bridge between the Middle East and rest of the world by facilitating artistic dialogue, exchange and mutual support. It works to establish harmonious connections through the medium of art and art education. ArtRole was founded in 2004 by British artist of Kurdish-Iraqi origin, Adalet R. Garmiany, Since its inception ArtRole has worked to develop an annual programme of activity in Iraq, the UK, the USA and across Europe. This has included international artist exchanges and residencies, exhibitions, performances, presentations, film screenings, music and literature festivals, human rights and environmental conferences, workshops and new media projects. ArtRole has created a platform in Iraq for hundreds of international and local artists, activists, curators, academics, journalists, playwrights, diplomats, writers and politicians, and worked with over 80 arts institutions worldwide to address the hope and needs of emerging generations by raising awareness of current global art and culture trends. As this region has been isolated for many years ArtRole acts as a conduit between the Iraqi war zone and surrounding countries and the rest of the world, to acknowledge and celebrate diversity and cultural difference within a framework of shared human values. ArtRole believes it is vitally important that artists, academics, arts and culture professionals, and students, as well as the wider public who live in conflict zones, have direct communication channels to experience, challenge and contribute to what is happening globally in terms of arts and culture. artrole.org

Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) is the leading international centre for modern and contemporary sculpture. It is an independent charitable trust and registered museum (number 1067908) situated in the 500-acre, 18th-century Bretton Hall estate in West Yorkshire. Founded in 1977 by Executive Director Peter Murray, YSP was the first sculpture park in the UK, and is the largest of its kind in Europe, providing the only place in Europe to see Barbara Hepworth’s The Family of Man in its entirety alongside a significant collection of sculpture, including bronzes by Henry Moore, and site-specific works by Andy Goldsworthy, David Nash and James Turrell. YSP also mounts a world-class, year-round temporary exhibitions programme including some of the world’s leading artists across five indoor galleries and the open air. Recent highlights include exhibitions by Not Vital, KAWS, Bill Viola, Anthony Caro, Fiona Banner, Ai Weiwei, Ursula von Rydingsvard, Amar Kanwar, Yinka Shonibare MBE, Joan Miró and Jaume Plensa. More than eighty works on display across the estate include major sculptures by Ai Weiwei, Roger Hiorns, Sol LeWitt, Joan Miró, Dennis Oppenheim and Magdalena Abakanowicz. YSP’s core work is made possible by investment from Arts Council England, Wakefield Council, Liz and Terry Bramall Foundation and Sakurako and William Fisher through the Sakana Foundation. YSP was named Art Fund Museum of the Year in 2014. ysp.co.uk

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