What is Our Blood?
Our Blood is a major public artwork by British contemporary artist Marc Quinn, created in collaboration with refugees to change the lives of those impacted by the global refugee crisis. Our Blood is a collaborative sculpture that channels creativity into lasting change, making not just a statement, but more importantly, an impact. The sculpture consists of two substantial, identical cubes of frozen human blood – one composed of donations from 5,000 resettled refugee volunteers and one composed of donations from 5,000 non-refugee volunteers.
What will Our Blood do?
Our Blood will increase awareness of the global refugee crisis and raise funds to benefit refugees. At its core, Our Blood is a direct challenge to the divisive conversations that separate “us” from “them.” It both tells refugees’ personal stories and creates a physical monument – a space in the public realm for engaging with the artwork and its meaning. Our Blood is supported by a global network of advocates who are donating their blood – and voices – to the project, including prominent refugees, such as Angok Mayen and George Okeny, as well as non-refugees, like Anna Wintour, Paul McCartney and Arizona Muse, among many others.
Our Blood will also raise funds for refugees. Our Blood is entirely not-for-profit and aims to generate around $30 million or more through the sale of the artwork and other fundraising initiatives including Quinn’s 100 Heads project. The International Rescue Committee (IRC), one of the world’s largest refugee-focused NGOs, will receive 50 percent of the project proceeds (after direct costs of fundraising). A group of expert advisors (including refugees) will give advice on distributing the rest of the money Our Blood raises to other refugee programmes.
How did you determine that the project will raise $30 million?
Marc Quinn Studio estimates that 250-500 people will be interested in donating $25,000 in order to donate their blood to the non-refugee cube, which has the potential to raise $6 million before the artwork is on display. With this in mind, Marc Quinn Studio referenced the sales of past artworks and used prior fundraising experience to inform its total estimate of $30 million through additional donations and fundraising and merchandise sales.
How did Marc Quinn come up with the idea for Our Blood?
Marc Quinn is one of the leading artists of his generation. His sculptures, paintings and drawings explore the relationships between art and science, man and nature, the human body, and the perception of beauty. Quinn makes art about what it is to be a person living in the world – creating portraits about humanity.
When Quinn came up with the idea of Our Blood, he was moved not only by the plight of refugees but by the divisive conversations that separate “us” from “them.” In recent years, the global spread of nationalism and xenophobia has fueled fear and demonization of refugees. But the global refugee crisis is one of the greatest humanitarian tragedies we have ever seen, and every two seconds, a person is forcibly displaced due to conflict or persecution. Quinn’s artwork will make an impact and confront the divisive tide surrounding this global crisis by reconnecting people conceptually and literally.
Why is the artist using blood?
Our Blood builds on a series of sculptures made by Quinn using his own blood since 1991. Each of these sculptures, named Self, is a self-portrait and uses 6 liters of Quinn’s own blood, frozen in the form of his head. Our Blood is the first time Quinn will work with the blood of other people, choosing this material for its conceptual and material significance. Our Blood demonstrates that refugee and non-refugee blood is the same, making it a vehicle for helping people affected by the migration crisis by confronting the divisive conversation surrounding refugees and raising money for refugee support.
Additionally, the spectrum of volunteers who are eligible to donate to Our Blood is much broader than for standard blood donation. While we fully support blood donation for medical reasons and will encourage our donors and exhibition visitors who are eligible to do so, we believe the use of blood donations from groups that are typically prohibited from doing so for medical purposes – refugees; those with a history of cancer, HIV and other diseases; and some members of the LBGT community – furthers our message of inclusivity.
When will Our Blood be displayed?
Our Blood will debut in New York City – a city built on immigration and the ideals of freedom, acceptance and diversity – at the New York Public Library, which has long served as an educational resource and safe haven for refugees. Although recent developments in the U.S. threaten the position, New York City is a metropolis that has historically welcomed refugee communities from around the globe. It is a city that seeks to epitomize freedom, acceptance and equality. As host city to the United Nations headquarters it is also a meeting place for the world. The exhibition, which will consist of two cubes of frozen blood in bespoke refrigeration units housed in a pavilion designed by renowned British architect Norman Foster, will be unveiled in 2022.
What will the exhibit be like?
At each exhibition, refugee and non-refugee guides – indistinguishable from one another, except through interaction – will be present and engage with guests. Our Blood will also provide a video platform for self-expression and storytelling. Using public spaces and outdoor media, each host city will become virtually populated with the stories of blood donors to help spread awareness for the project and the refugee crisis.
Why did the artist choose New York Public Library to debut Our Blood?
The New York Public Library has been an essential provider of free books, information, ideas, and education for all New Yorkers for more than 100 years. As an index of history, culture and knowledge and an educational hub for refugees the New York Public Library is the perfect location to premiere Our Blood. Together, NYPL and Our Blood can educate, raise awareness and inspire individuals to think differently about the history of immigration, the current migration crisis and how we can help shape the future.
How is Our Blood funded?
Quinn is raising the funds necessary to make the artwork and the project happen, which are separate from the fundraising proceeds that will go toward the IRC and other refugee-supporting organizations. Project funds will come from philanthropists, benefactors and in-kind partners as the process is underway. Quinn will not receive any financial benefit from any aspect of the project.
To help raise funds to realise the ambitious Our Blood project, Quinn has also conceived 100 Heads, a significant series of not-for-profit sculptures. The series comprises one hundred concrete portrait busts of refugees living today. (link to website)
Where did the name Our Blood come from?
Quinn was inspired by Homer’s Odyssey, which is the story of a journey. As such, Quinn’s Our Blood is a sculpture about migration and refugee journeys, past, present and future. Quinn is interested in learning about where refugees have come from, as well as where they are going – their hopes, dreams and aspirations as forces beyond their control compel them to make new lives in foreign places.
How is Our Blood impacted by Coronavirus?
The Coronavirus pandemic or COVID-19 continues to spread globally and has reached countries with weak health systems which are less prepared to combat the disease. Vulnerable populations, especially refugees and those living in crisis will be hit the hardest by this outbreak. Organisations, like the International Rescue Committee, already on the front lines of providing aid to people living in crisis, are rapidly ramping up their response to the outbreak. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, Our Blood has been able to make a donation to the brilliant Help Refugees charity, an exceptional organisation working with partners on the ground to support refugees facing Coronavirus across the globe. This donation was made alongside our ongoing support of Our Blood’s global charity partner, IRC.
Our Blood’s physical events are of course postponed given the current global situation. We have launched a 100 Heads website to highlight and sell the new artworks being created and are continuing to fundraise and raise awareness of Our Blood online.
How will Our Blood raise awareness for the refugee crisis?
The core idea of the artwork is to connect people, both conceptually and literally, using the most fundamental element of humanity: blood. Our Blood is a work of art but also a project making a bold statement about equality and humanity. Through its public display and the involvement of prominent refugees such as Angok Mayen and George Okeny, as well as prominent non-refugees, like Anna Wintour, Paul McCartney and Arizona Muse, among many others, Our Blood will garner attention for the refugee crisis and the basic idea that we are all connected by our humanity. Ultimately, its goal is to increase awareness of the global refugee crisis and raise funds to benefit refugees, but if Our Blood changes the perception of just one person toward refugees, it will have succeeded.
How will Our Blood raise money for refugees and where will the funds go?
Our Blood is entirely not-for-profit and aims to generate around $30 million or more, through the sale of Our Blood, double donor pledges, website donations, unique artwork sales, fundraiser events and galas, limited edition prints and merchandising. We aim to raise this money to support refugees through organizations like the International Rescue Committee and Human Love, a charity created by Marc Quinn specifically for this project. All of the proceeds will go toward supporting refugees – 50 percent (after direct costs of fundraising) will be donated to support IRC’s essential programming, and the other 50 percent will be distributed to refugee-focused initiatives determined by Marc Quinn’s charity, Human Love. A group of expert advisors (including refugees) will give advice on distributing the rest of the money to other refugee programmes.
Why is Quinn doing this?
Quinn is creating this artwork because he sees it as a way that he can use his position and privilege as a well-known artist to help in some way those affected by the greatest humanitarian crisis today’s society has seen. The project is 100 percent for charity – all money raised from ticketed events, merchandise sales, and final purchase of the artwork will go to charity and Quinn’s intention is that it will be distributed to a range of organizations that support refugee causes. Quinn is not making any money from this work of art.
What is Human Love?
Human Love is a UK charity established by Marc Quinn to enable the realization of Our Blood and facilitate Quinn’s broader charitable efforts. Human Love’s board of trustees and a group of expert advisors (including refugees) will identify a range of charitable, refugee-focused initiatives as beneficiaries of 50 percent of the funds (after direct costs of fundraising) Our Blood raises through the full sale price of the artwork and all the proceeds of the fundraising events.
What is the IRC’s involvement in Our Blood?
The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping restore health, safety, education, economic well-being and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. IRC has teamed up with Our Blood as the project’s nonprofit partner. With 50 percent of all proceeds made from Our Blood going to the IRC, the funds raised will support and benefit their annual programming, which in 2017 alone helped nearly 23 million people access primary health care, reached an estimated 2 million people affected by the hunger crisis, provided 1.14 million children with schooling and other education opportunities, provided safety and shelter to over 130,000 children and more than 116,000 women and girls. Together, IRC and Our Blood will help change the world.
What is the Norman Foster Foundation’s involvement in Our Blood?
The Norman Foster Foundation promotes interdisciplinary thinking and research to help new generations of architects, designers and urbanists anticipate the future. The renowned British architect and his Foundation have teamed up with Our Blood to collaboratively design and execute the structure that houses the Our Blood sculptures. The pavilion design comes from the word <
What is the New York Public Library’s involvement in Our Blood?
The New York Public Library has been an essential provider of free books, information, ideas, and education for all New Yorkers for more than 100 years. Given NYPL’s history as a knowledge and educational hub, Marc Quinn Studio has partnered with the library as the first location to premiere Our Blood. Together, NYPL and Our Blood can educate, raise awareness and inspire individuals to think differently about the history of immigration, the current migration crisis and how we can help shape the future.
Who are the blood donors?
Blood donors are both refugees and non-refugees, including actors, business leaders, writers, chefs, singers, scientists, models, historians, humanitarians and more. There will be 10,000 blood donors in total, half of which are members of the refugee community and half of which are non-refugees.
How is Our Blood recruiting refugee donors?
Quinn is working with charitable organizations worldwide and representatives from the refugee community to make refugees aware of the project, its objectives and how they can help make it happen. Quinn will do this initially through targeted outreach by refugee community representatives engaged on this project, then supported by a dedicated website and online video content (produced with the involvement of early adopter refugee “ambassadors” for the project).
What if I want to give blood for medical purposes?
Our Blood encourages everyone healthy enough to give blood medically to do so. During the exhibition we plan to run a number of blood drives in each city. We will work with local and national blood transfusion services like the American Red Cross (US), NHSBT (UK) and DRK (DE) to achieve this goal. If you would like to give blood to your local blood bank and donate a symbolic amount of blood to Our Blood then please enter the blood ballot as usual. Once we contact you about visiting your region let us know if you have given blood within a month of the upcoming Our Blood donation, we will then take a smaller amount.
For further information on giving blood visit:
American Red Cross https://www.nhsbt.nhs.uk/NHSBT
Who are the non-refugee donors?
Quinn will seek three groups of non-refugee donors: advocates, individuals who donate $25,000 or more, and members of the general public who enter a selection system by donating $1 or more.
Donors to the non-refugee cube are people who do not consider themselves immediate refugees. They are settled citizens who wish to participate in Our Blood and are contributing for charitable and artistic purposes. Broadly speaking, these donors will likely be or consider themselves a resident, a national and/or citizen of that country. What the non-refugees will all have in common is a wish to donate in an act of solidarity. Their participation is important for the concept of the artwork.
Why two cubes of frozen blood? What do they signify?
The two frozen cubes of blood are meant to demonstrate the basic idea that we are all connected by our humanity. Despite being different in so far that one contains the blood of refugees and one contains the blood of non-refugees, there is no visible difference. The exhibit will point to the idea that negative conversations and misconceptions are what divides us – ultimately encouraging us all to embrace one another and work for equality around the world.
Who are the celebrity donors involved with Our Blood? How did they get involved?
A portion of the blood donors, who represent the project’s early adopters and advocates, are opinion formers and influencers drawn from a range of fields. Along with giving their blood, these volunteers are using their social influence to raise awareness for the need to support refugees and the project.
Our Blood is supported by a global network of advocates who are donating their blood – and voices – to the project, including prominent refugees, such as Angok Mayen and George Okeny, as well as non-refugees, like Anna Wintour, Paul McCartney and Arizona Muse, among many others. Click here to hear these advocates tell their stories alongside other refugees and non-refugee donors. You can visit our website at Bloodcube.org to hear these advocates tell their stories alongside other refugee and non-refugee donors.
How can people who are interested in the project get involved?
There are several ways for people to get involved in Our Blood and support refugees. Both refugees and those who stand with refugees are invited to give blood, although we ask that those who stand with refugees make a monetary donation to secure their place in a raffle that will determine our non-refugee blood donors. We also ask those who aren’t able to donate blood to consider making a monetary donation. Our Blood is a 100 percent not-for-profit, charitable artwork that wouldn’t be possible without the generous contributions of those interested in raising awareness for the global refugee crisis and supporting the refugee community through essential organizations like the International Rescue Committee and Human Love.
For those who are unable to donate blood or money, we will also be looking for volunteers in each exhibition location to be present at the artwork throughout the day. Those interested in getting involved in some way can visit our website, Bloodcube.org, to learn more.
I would like to know the value of the Donor Rewards so I can calculate the tax benefit of my donation?
- Copper Reward has a value of $20.
- Bronze Reward has a value of $50.
- Silver reward has a value of $100.
- Gold Reward has a value of $150.
- Platinum Reward has a value of $500.
- Double Donor has a value of $2,500.