Rebelling Against Borders, One Artist Is Painting Over Immigration Papers

Merve Iseri hopes her work "will make people step back and see that humanity is one race."

Have you ever stood slumped-shouldered in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles, letting your desire to reclaim a state ID before your lunch break is over fizzle into a vague hope that you’ll make it out of the maddening experience unscathed?

We’ve all experienced the downsides of bureaucratic organizations at one point or another. But imagine what it would feel like if your life depended on waiting in those never-ending lines and cracking the codes of those puzzling forms.

In a bold, vibrant statement against the muddy, headache-inducing process of immigrating to a new country, artist Merve Iseri painted fluid strokes of bright blues, greens and pinks across the rigid boxes that comprise pages of paperwork. Her project draws on personal experience; Iseri immigrated from Turkey to England and wanted to speak out against the cumbersome process.

“The series reflects my feelings and reaction towards the bureaucracy of immigration, which is a process focused on separation of individuals. There are so many titled application forms for 'different' types of human profiles, first selecting the right application form to fill in, then filling boxes for at least 30 pages,” Iseri said in an email exchange with The Huffington Post. “These policies are defined from 1,000 feet above, where people are diminished to statistics and numbers. When you zoom into the human experience, the reality is much more different.”

In stark opposition to her frustrations with immigration paperwork is Iseri’s expressive brushwork -- fluid streams of teal and blue wash over the boxed-in categorizations. Of her color choices, Iseri said, “It was intuitive […] hopefully my work will make people step back and see that humanity is one race.”


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