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Free Admission

If All Relationships Were to Reach Equilibrium, Then This Building Would Dissolve


6 May 2016

A new exhibition at Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (mima) explores the subject of migration on Teesside and elsewhere, bringing together documents, artefacts and artworks made by Middlesbrough-based asylum seekers and refugees as well as British and international artists.

Many individuals fleeing Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa, parts of the Middle East and other regions arrive in Teesside, the population of which has long been formed by people from elsewhere, and the heightened ‘migrant crisis’ across Europe has accentuated the situation.

If All Relationships Were to Reach Equilibrium, Then This Building Would Dissolve explores an alternative perspective to the media’s often negative representation of migrants in recent times, by showcasing thought-provoking paintings, films, texts, objects and archival materials.

Contributors and artists include the Collection of Investing in People and Culture, Right to Remain, Babi Badalov, Chto Delat, Burlesque Design, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Isabel Lima, Stephanie Misa, and Zanny Begg & Oliver Ressler, among others.

The exhibition shines a light on the recent headlines around housing conditions for asylum seekers in Middlesbrough. A heated and emotional media debate has ensued around the topic, something which Director Alistair Hudson believes “has become a distraction from the urgency of the problem”.

Senior curator Miguel Amado added: “We have developed this exhibition in collaboration with charities that work with Middlesbrough-based asylum seekers and refugees. It is part of an ongoing process of relationship building with local communities and organisations. This partnership working enables us to understand the questions and issues and devise collective, creative solutions to target them, while also demonstrating our commitment to maintaining a social function at the core of our mission.”

As a key element of the exhibition, parts of the gallery operate as a centre for service provision, learning and debate. Free resources include a suite of computers with Internet access, a food bank, workshops, readings and awareness-raising sessions, and activities for making and convening such as a communal weekly lunch, art classes and ESOL courses.

The exhibition’s title is a piece by artist Liam Gillick, a text he originally proposed as part of his commission for the Home Office’s new Westminster headquarters in the early 2000s. According to the organisation’s website, the Home Office is the government department responsible for immigration, counter-terrorism, police, drugs policy and related science and research. Gillick’s expression suggests that in a world in which all people are truly equal, or at least treated equally, the Home Office would not need to exist.

If All Relationships Were to Reach Equilibrium, Then This Building Would Dissolve opens Saturday 11 June and is on view until Sunday 18 September.

 

Refugee image

‘Refugees Welcome’ sign. Undisclosed location, North East England, 2016. Photograph: Miguel Amado


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