Youngblood member Zhu Yi recently published a book named “Alien of Extraordinary Ability”, edited by another Youngblood Kim Davies. The book is a collection of Zhu Yi's short plays that have been performed between 2008-2015, but WHAT A STRANGE TITLE, isn't it?
“Alien of extraordinary ability” is an alien classification used by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. The United States may grant a non-immigrant visa to an alien who is able to demonstrate “extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics.”
Inspired by the experience of her friends' and her own in struggling with such a visa, Zhu Yi is planning a party/event tributes to her fellow international artists in America. And here is a small but important favor she wants to ask you – a photo:
“I put together the book while I was endlessly collecting supporting materials and waiting in the limbo for this visa, called O-1. I was so lucky to have support from numerous peers, mentors, patrons, and friends in all kinds of ways. And I'm forever grateful.
But during that process, I also realized that even though O-1 is a mountain that almost every international artist in America has to climb over and over, it's rarely heard of or understood in the wider community, as if the O-1 visa is a secret (and expensive) religion among the international artists, too boring, complicated and irrelevant to bring up in a conversation with any American. And that makes our visa applications and careers even harder. And gradually, the burden becomes a stigma, especially when an artist's talent is not approved by the immigration office through their mechanical evaluation system.
On May 31, 7pm, a party will be held at Dixon Place under the theme of "Alien of Extraordinary Ability". It's a celebration for the releasing of the book, and also a tribute to my fellow foreign artists in the US.
And here I have a request.
If you yourself, or any friends of yours, are working in art and entertainment industries in the US and have ever applied for,
are applying for,
will apply for,
have been granted,
have been rejected,
have been granted and are renewing,
or have been rejected and are applying again for -
an O-1 visa,
I humbly ask you to send me 1-2 working photos of yours/his/hers, along with information of name, profession, and nationality. I will make a slideshow of those photos and present it at the party. And I will not ask for or indicate anyone's visa status, because no matter it's an approval, a rejection, or pending, the scrutiny an artist must stand up to are the audience, the critics, the market, and time, instead of the immigration office.
With your help, I hope to raise awareness about how common it is to apply for such a visa, what a vulnerable position that the current visa policy has put international artists in, and how important it is to support people who have to deal with this visa, because as you will see in those photos, we are not strangers but part of the community.
The "working photos" can be a photo of you in a rehearsal, giving a performance, receiving an award, writing in a cafe... or simply an art piece of yours. You can send them along with the information to: firstname.lastname@example.org