The acclaimed British artist Marc Quinnwill introduce Our Blood, an upcoming not-for-profit public art installation at The New York Public Library, at a panel discussion during this year’s Immigrant Heritage Week, organized by the New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. Taking place at The New York Public Library on April 18, 2019– where the project will later begin its global tour – Quinn will discuss Our Blood in conversation with Fatuma Musa Afrah, founder of United Action, e.V., newcomer/refugee and award-winning women and human rights activist, and Sally Susman, co-chair of the Board of Directors for the International Rescue Committee (IRC), the project’s global charity presenting partner. Mark Thompson, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of The New York Times, will moderate the discussion, focusing on how the project raises awareness of and funds for the global refugee and migrant crises, as well as the power of art to inspire social change. The panel discussion will be introduced by David Miliband, president and CEO of the IRC.
Debuting in 2021, Our Blood (formerly titled Odyssey) will be the first monumental public artwork presented on the iconic plaza of The New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building since its opening in 1911. Comprising two large-scale, identical cubes of blood contributed by more than 10,000 resettled refugee and non-refugee volunteers, Our Blood is Quinn’s expression of our shared humanity. Quinn’s use of blood as a material has been a prominent element of his artistic practice for nearly 30 years since Selfin 1991, a series of self-portrait sculptures using 10 pints of Quinn’s own blood, frozen in the form of his head. Our Bloodis the first time Quinn will work with the blood of other people, choosing this material for its conceptual and material significance.
Our Bloodwill be housed in a transparent pavilion, mirroring the outline of a refugee tent. The pavilion’s design – by renowned architect Norman Foster and The Norman Foster Foundation – is inspired by the nearly 68.5 million people fleeing from political and ethnic conflict, violence, and disasters globally. OurBlood is a public invitation to contemplate their flight for safety and survival, with 100% of the proceeds from the project benefiting causes that directly address the global refugee and migrant crises.
In addition to the project’s sculptural elements, all Our Blood participants are invited to share their personal stories, whether as a refugee or someone who stands with refugees. Our Blood will feature a video installation of these narratives, becoming a visual archive of collective activism on the issue. The video archive will also be available at ourblood.org. Following its debut at The New York Public Library, Our Blood will begin its international traveling exhibition, on view in cities around the world.
To date, Our Blood participantsinclude prominent refugees Angok Mayen, Clemantine Wamariya, George Okeny, and Gulwali Passarlay and passionate supporters such as Paul McCartney, Anna Wintour, Mandy Patinkin, and Andrew Solomon, among many others.
“The ongoing migrant crisis is one of the greatest humanitarian tragedies we have ever witnessed—every two seconds, someone flees their home due to conflict or persecution. As a result, I feel compelled to make an artwork that addresses the issues and, ultimately, helps many of the millions of people who have suffered on account of displacement,” Quinn said.
"As activists, we fight for inclusive, peaceful, united and loving communities for all people, regardless of their appearance, religious background or country of origin,” said Fatuma Musa Afrah. “I am so inspired, encouraged and moved by Our Blood because it connects the theoretical and practical parts of our fight for the equality of all human beings.”
“The world is in the midst of the greatest humanitarian crisis of our lifetime – 68.5 million people fleeing from crisis and conflict,” said Sally Susman, co-chair of the Board of Directors of the International Rescue Committee. “Now, more than ever before, action, compassion and engagement are needed to ensure the world’s most vulnerable are not forgotten. Art serves as an influential medium that builds bridges, sparks conversations and changes perceptions.”
"Circumstance is the only thing that separates families with stability from those in need of refuge. What this installation will symbolize is our common humanity," said Bitta Mostofi, commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs. "This year's Immigrant Heritage Week, we're glad to partner with Marc Quinn, NYPL and IRC to promote art's wondrous power to bring these simple truths to the forefront.”
Fifty percent of the proceeds raised by Our Bloodwill be donated to the International Rescue Committee, the project’s global charity presenting partner and one of the world’s largest organizations dedicated to providing aid to refugees. The remaining proceeds will go to additional refugee organizations and programs selected by an advisory board and trustees of Quinn’s charity, Human Love. This includes emergency aid on the frontline, integration initiatives throughout the world, programs with The New York Public Library and many other projects to be confirmed.
Free and open to the public, the Our Blood: A Social Sculpturediscussion will take place April 18 from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.at the Celeste Auditorium, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, The New York Public Library. 2019 Immigrant Heritage Weekis a city-wide celebration of the collective immigrant heritage of New Yorkers and runs fromApril15 to21.
To attend the April 18 event at The New York Public Library, the public should register by email to . For more information on Our Blood, visit . Follow Our Blood and related public programs on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, with the hashtag #ourblood. For more information on Immigrant Heritage Week visit .