VISA = YES
POST OFFICE ARTS JOURNAL X TEMPORARY ART REVIEW
For recently graduated international art students, the OPT (Optional Practical Training) visa presents a challenging way to remain in the United States. The visa offers a year renewal for maintaining a job in the field that you studied, but fails to acknowledge that, in the case of studio (or post-studio) artists, relevant paying positions very well might not exist. The rare administrative position becomes the expectation; actually maintaining one’s practice becomes a naïve dream.
Lian Tsai, a Taiwanese national living in the U.S. since 2008, found obtaining even one of these administrative positions next to impossible after graduating from the Maryland Institute College of Art in May 2015. In September, Tsai moved into the collectively run, live/work project space Penthouse Gallery without plans for how to handle her quickly approaching October 1st deadline.
After a series of conversations between Tsai and Kimi Hanauer (a member of the Penthouse collective), the two settled on a curatorial project that would have Penthouse Gallery hire Tsai as its new Gallery Manager. Hanauer wrote a letter of hire for Tsai’s visa agent and the two quickly received notice that Tsai’s visa had been extended by one full year. As part of the contract the two wrote in this project that one of Tsai’s initial responsibilities was to organize Penthouse’s October opening. “Penthouse Gallery Presents: Lian Tsai,” documented the visa process, celebrated Tsai’s newly acquired OPT visa, and recorded the occasion of her continued residency in the United States through a durational performance performed by Tsai. Read on.