June 20, 2017

#ideasforawall #undoingwalls

Illingworth Kerr Gallery at Alberta University of the Arts

Richard Wilson, proposal for #ideasforawall (detail), 2017. Courtesy the artist.

"I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me..."
Donald Trump, June 2015

#ideasforawall: an invitational exhibition in the form of a call to “vendors”
#undoingwalls: an open digital archive and resource platform
Curated by Lorenzo Fusi

Launch of a good neighbor billboard campaign in partnership with the 15th Istanbul Biennale

#ideasforawall: exhibition

The Illingworth Kerr Gallery at the Alberta College of Art + Design (ACAD) in response to the recent solicitation issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office Customs and Border Protection in the Federal Business Opportunities website is inviting artists to imagine a prototype wall structure to be placed “in the vicinity of the United States border with Mexico” as advertised in the relevant call to vendors available under the category Design-Build Structure (Solicitation Number: 2017-JC-RT-0001).

Over 20 artists were initially invited to reflect on the meaning and implications of this solicitation, and imagine possible alternative scenarios for the future of this wall specifically and, generally, to reflect on border control walls (their functionality or use, as well as their symbolic meaning) at this historical juncture. The intention of the project was to infiltrate the thinking and interrogate the logic and political intentions underpinning this call to vendors, starting from the actual design of the structure, that is to say by challenging the meaning of border control walls from their inception and conception to execution.

We started this project by posing a set of questions. Can a “dysfunctional” wall structure be imagined so as to question the original intentions of the Federal Government? Can a “welcoming” and useful wall be created, one that serves the communities that it is meant to separate and proposes an alternative solution to human segregation, when it comes to issues such as immigration and asylum? Can this prototype wall structure become the site where counter-narratives are inscribed and resistance takes place? Can we play the system from within the system but according to its own rules? Can a wall become a conduit as opposed to a divide by rethinking its structure? Can we imagine a wall that is intentionally permeable? Or even a self-destructive wall that conjures against its own intentions?

The proposals sent electronically by the invited artists will be physically on view at the Illingworth Kerr Gallery between July 14 and September 16, 2017 as part of the #ideasforawall exhibition. The project proposals will be also published in a newly created digital platform that serves both as the catalogue of the show and archives future submissions under the hashtag #undoingwalls.

#undoingwalls: website and open call
We would now like to extend our invitation to any artist who is interested in submitting their idea for undoing the US-Mexican wall (or any other border wall in existence or to come) and thus contributing to our open archive and dedicated resource platform The collection of new proposals is ongoing and there is no deadline for submitting your contribution. The new website launches on the opening day and it is to be considered a “continuous work in progress.”

Confirmed artists: Felipe Arturo, Kutluğ Ataman, Kader Attia, Monica Bonvicini, Tania Bruguera, Luis Camnitzer, Mark Clintberg, Dora García, Shilpa Gupta, Richard Ibghy & Marilou Lemmens, Daniel Young & Christian Giroux, Runo Lagomarsino, Opavivará!, Lucy and Jorge Orta, Elena Mazzi, Adrian Paci, Raqs Media Collective, Nedko Solakov, Monika Sosnowska, Richard Wilson, Carla Zaccagnini

The 15th Istanbul Biennial, curated by Elmgreen & Dragset and entitled a good neighbour, contributes to the exhibition with the international billboard project realised through collaborations with multiple cultural institutions worldwide displaying a curated selection of photographs by Lukas Wassmann. The project is collaboration between curators Elmgreen & Dragset, graphic designer Rupert Smyth, and artist Lukas Wassmann, questioning the ways in which neighbourhoods have changed all around the world. The Illingworth Kerr Gallery is proud to partner with the Istanbul Biennial for this campaign that will be on view across Calgary between mid-August and the end of September 2017.

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