Letter(s) to the Deans

Friday May 21 update:

Regarding my initial requests, here’s how SAIC has responded:
1.) Make a public announcement sent to all students and the community addressing the current situation including specific details of the vandalism and the Institute’s official response to the event. SAIC sent an email from the dean’s office 72 hours after the crime, and only after my email was sent. I had to call the communications director to follow up and 2 hours later noticed the email in my inbox.This email from the dean’s office did not urge people with information on the crime to step forward. That email from security was sent 1 week after the vandalism was committed on May 18, 2010, again only after I inquired about why this was delayed.
2.) Begin and complete a thorough investigation into the vandalism I have yet to receive any follow up, or an official interview by the School’s security regarding details of the crime and their investigation.
3.) Provide security and surveillance for the installation starting immediately and throughout the MFA show Again – this did not start immediately, security was posted beginning on Saturday during the public staining event and I have noticed a guard posted the last time I was there
4.) Provide the necessary labor and time to replace the installation and vinyl lettering along with immediate and sufficient compensation for the materials involved with the installation Dean Wainwright responded to this initial request immediately and mentioned the other 4 points needed to be discussed
5.) Commit to future plans and actions that adequately protect works that take political, social and artistic risk There’s been no details or response to this request

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On May 17th (2 days after the public staining event), I sent the deans and upper admin the following email titled, “Your absence was noticed”

Dear ALL DEANS and Everyone Else in Power at SAIC,

As you know, last week my MFA Thesis Project was defaced.

Your presence from my event on May 15th was noticeably missing. Not one person associated with upper academic administration appeared at Saturday’s public dialogue about the crime and its effects on our communities. Other than faculty  (whom i personally invited), my performance department led by Faith Wilding (arranged ahead of time), James Britt (who i also invited), and the gallery staff (who were required to be there) — not one of you came. I had hoped that in the least some one from the Student Affairs Office would make an appearance since their mission is to promote and foster a healthy atmosphere for students to prosper. Let me be very clear – NOT ONE OF YOU came. No Deans and Division Chairs came. No Dean Wainwright (but at least you wrote me ahead of time telling me you may have child care issues). No Kitty Ross, Dean of Graduate Studies. No Paul Coffey, Associate Dean of Academic Administration. No Peter Gena, Graduate Division Chair (at he was on my crit pane!). No Joan Livingstone, Dean of Undergraduate Studies. No Beth Wright, Undergraduate Division Chair.  Not  one body from the Student Affairs Office.

I had hoped that SAIC was not just another academic institution but one who is a leader of visual culture. I thought this was a place made of caring and socially conscious individuals who would in the least stand by my side in the face of this heinous criminal act.

And by the way, since no one has emailed or called to inquire, the event went well in terms of reclaiming the wall with the public’s help. There was a strong dialogue about hate crimes and other issues related to institutionalized racism. Your absence was noticed and many people had private conversations with me on the matter!

And please don’t write me with excuses and reasons. Everyone has places to be. The point – is NOT ONE person from upper academic administration came to support or has even written or called with…in the least…words of support about the event (other than the initial public statement from the dean’s office which went out 72 hours after the crime). If there were any other kind of crime on or near campus – we would be alerted immediately by phone, text, and email. The criminal act of defacement to my work was obviously not treated with the same kind of seriousness by SAIC even though this criminal act is currently being investigated by the Civil Rights division of the Chicago Police Department.

And still there is no notice to school to urge students/staff who may have info on the crime to come forward.

Your absence speaks to an apathy and lack of seriousness I had not expected from people in power at a place of learning and growth. I am deeply disappointed and embarrassed to be a student affiliated with SAIC.

Lip service is not enough in the face of this kind of violence. I need you to act behind your words and uphold the mission/vision of SAIC.

Sincerely,

Student # 2192586

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On May 12th at 2:46am – I sent the following email titled “the defacement of my work” to the deans, upper admins, and department chairs of SAIC. No one reached out to me after the incident except for my department chair and gallery staff.

To whom it may concern at SAIC,

On Tuesday May 11 at 12:30pm my friend and I came to view my installation titled “1700% Project: Otherance” and found the wall installation defaced with caricatures and a word bubble that was not part of the installation or original performance. The word bubble was strategically placed around the wall text that reads “Kill all Arabs.” This is obviously an intentional act of hate related vandalism. The person(s) used the stains & materials left in the space for the defacement. There is no invitation for anyone to interact with the materials. The work has statements on the wall plate, takeaway brochure & the wall itself indicating the work is about “hate crimes.” I have filed a report with the local police department and with SAIC security officers.

The official and required waiver signed by me and all the other participants of the Sullivan Galleries for the MFA show does not have official language addressing what a response to vandalism involving hate crime to our installations should be.  I would also like to add that any clause inserted into the waiver does not exempt the school and the Sullivan Galleries of responsibility and accountability for hate crimes committed and expressed on its property.  Accidental or non-accidental material damage is not what is at fault.  There is no law in the United States that protects against hate crimes, especially those that are potentially racially motivated.

I request that the school immediately:
1.) Make a public announcement sent to all students and the community addressing the current situation including specific details of the vandalism and the Institute’s official response to the event.
2.) Begin and complete a thorough investigation into the vandalism
3.) Provide security and surveillance for the installation starting immediately and throughout the MFA show
4.) Provide the necessary labor and time to replace the installation and vinyl lettering along with immediate and sufficient compensation for the materials involved with the installation
5.) Commit to future plans and actions that adequately protect works that take political, social and artistic risk

It has been 5 business hours and as of now, one full day since the gallery and the Institute’s administrators and professors have learned of the incident.  There is only nine days left until the show closes, and ten days until the graduation reception that is going to held at the gallery.  I felt the need to write this letter as I have yet to hear from a single person from the institute.  Though I might add that I have contacted the State Attorney’s office , Lisa Alvarez, as well as several news outlets since my official press release on the incident. I recently gave an interview to NPR’s Worldview about the “1700% Project” and its relevance to the contemporary Muslim world and will do a follow up since this heinous crime.

Images of the defaced property can be viewed here:
https://1700percentproject.wordpress.com/2010/05/09/documentation-of-1700-project-iterations/

This is not just an attack on me as an artist, this is an attack on multiple communities to which the work speaks for.
I expect your prompt and swift response to my letter.

Sincerely,
Anida Yoeu Ali

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