WANG Chen, “The Sin Park (still)” (2019), video (image courtesy EFA Project Space)

This morning (Tuesday, April 21), news broke that President Trump is planning to “temporarily suspend immigration to the United States.” The announcement was made by the President late Monday night via his personal Twitter account, which he has used to voice both his own personal — and often factually incorrect — views, along with official US government policy decisions since taking office in 2017, and offered no legal justifications for the decision.

In this climate — let’s not forget his widely rebuked attempts to brand COVID-19 as a “Chinese virus” artists from a variety of backgrounds have found themselves in increasingly vulnerable positions. The racist vitriol from the White House has combined with a nose diving economy, the closure of most museums and art spaces, and a dearth of exhibition and employment opportunities for the near future. Enter the Immigrant Artist Biennial (TIAB), which since 2019 has been gathering steam for its inaugural edition HERE, TOGETHER. Established by Katya Grokhovsky, an immigrant herself who works as an artist, curator, educator, and organizer, TIAB was meant to kick off at venues across New York City this March, including the Brooklyn Museum, EFA Project Space, and NARS Foundation gallery.

Yet while the ongoing pandemic has thrown a wrench into those initial plans, TIAB has quickly rebounded, adapting elements of planned programming into forms that accommodate the need for social distancing, such as virtual studio visits with participating artists like daàPò reoEsperanza Cortés, and Qinza Najm, and a slate of timely virtual roundtables, including next Wednesday’s (April 22) discussion, “Artists Respond To Anti-Asian Racism, Xenophobia, And Immigrant-Bashing In The Time Of COVID-19,” co-hosted with EFA Project Space. A description of the event offers some further insights into TIAB’s guiding ethos:

In response to an extreme anti-immigrant sentiment, coupled with a global rhetoric of exclusion, discrimination, and the closing of borders, The Immigrant Artist Biennial calls for urgent unity, visibility, and criticality, by facilitating a platform for cultural exchange.

Co-moderated by Grokhovsky and EFA Operations Coordinator HC Huynh (who is also an artist), the roundtable will include introductions from artists WANG Chen, Gyun Hur, and Tina Wang, followed by an open discussion. Participants will be invited to “share their experiences, fears, and hopes” and virtual breakout rooms will be enabled for more intimate conversations.

Immigrant artists looking for visa-specific advice can also turn to the ongoing Visual Artists’ Immigration Clinic, launched by the Center for Art Law earlier this year. Cognizant of the lengthy, costly, and difficult process that many visa applicants and asylum seekers already face — latest comments from 45 aside — the center will be co-hosting another edition of their low-cost clinic with TIAB and EFA Project Space on Thursday, April 23. Registered participants will gain insights into the O-1 visa application process via a presentation and individual consultations with a volunteer lawyer — all for just $10.

Interested? There are still a few slots available, so don’t wait to sign up! (Registration is required for both of these events.)

When: April 22, 7–9pm (roundtable discussion), April 23, 6–8pm (immigration clinic)
Where: Online, via Zoom

See the Immigrant Artist Biennial website for more details.

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Dessane Lopez Cassell

Dessane Lopez Cassell is a New York based editor, writer, and film curator, as well as the former reviews editor at Hyperallergic. You can follow her work here.