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Sharjah Biennial Artists Pen Open Letter in Support of Artists Denied Entry to UAE

Mostafa Heddaya reports at Artinfo that participants in the twelfth Sharjah Biennial have issued an open letter to cultural institutions and authorities in the United Arab Emirates expressing their support for artists Ashok Sukumaran and Walid Raad, who were both recently denied entry to the country after attempting to travel there for a conference associated with the biennial. Both artists are members of Gulf Labor, an activist group concerned with workers’ rights on Saadiyat Island in the UAE.

The letter was signed by forty-four of the fifty-five biennial artists and collectives and includes the follow statement, “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.” The signatories also “urge authorities in the UAE to lift entry restrictions for Ashok Sukumaran, Walid Raad, and Andrew Ross.” A full list of signatories and the entire open letter can be read here.