International News Digest

AUGUST 5

Die Welt sat down with Tate Modern director Chris Dercon to discuss the museum’s recent successes. Dercon, who was previously the director of Munich’s Haus der Kunst, insisted that Tate Modern’s impressive visitor numbers—the museum sees five million visitors per year—is the product of a mission to render art accessible to everyone and to convert the venue into a meeting place for the public. Die Welt rightly pointed out that the museum has not pandered to popular taste by programming “fun art orgies,” but rather continues to focus on an inclusive curatorial approach that is flexible to both its art and audience, avoiding the consequences of what Dercon calls “rigid venues.” Die Welt went further, suggesting that Tate Modern’s latest “Tanks” project is evidence that Dercon is keenly aware that people don’t wish to see abstractions about the body politic, and would rather experience live presentations in which the politics of others’ bodies are included in the curatorial design.

The Neue Zürcher Zeitung published an article about the elusive imposter architect Antonio Cardillo, who fooled top architecture publications into believing he had constructed several wondrous buildings. Wallpaper, the design magazine, was the first to give the ambitious thirty-eight year old attention, labeling him in 2009 as one of the thirty most talented young architects. This was based entirely on falsified and fictitious locations, structures, and commissioners. In a 2010 issue of H.O.M.E., the architect went as far as to invite people to visit a building he supposedly constructed in Barcelona. It was architect and publicist Peter Reischer who examined the photos and declared them fakes in Falter. Later, the publication Der Spiegel followed up with a lengthy investigation. For what it’s worth, Cardillo seems to feel that he has been completely blameless, and presented his fakery as an art project of sorts. While questioning his artistic claim, the NZZ did agree that a deplorably high number of architecture writers haven’t actually seen the buildings they report on.

Monopol noted that Ellen Blumenstein has been appointed curator at Kunst-Werke in Berlin. Blumenstein, thirty-six, has previously worked with the venue in 2005, curating the exhibition “Regarding Terror” on the Red Army Faction with Felix Ensslin, son of one of its members. She is also part of the curators’ collective known as the Office, with which she has worked on several projects in Berlin. In addition, she was the curator of the Icelandic pavilion at the last Venice Biennale. Gabriele Horn, director of Kunst-Werke, told Monopol, “We are delighted to have gained, in Ellen Blumstein, an internationally renowned curator who is also strongly anchored in the art scene of Berlin.”

International News Digest

JULY 30

Artist and curator Nicolaus Schafhausen was appointed the new director of Kunsthalle Wien this past June, and Der Standard sat down with the Düsseldorf native to discuss his new role at the institution. Schafhausen began by debunking the “mean curator myth,” stating, “I had no negative experiences with curators when I was an artist. I also don’t know any artists who see curators as adversaries.” He suggested, “You actually enjoy more freedom today in a well-established kunsthalle than in a big contemporary art museum. So, in fact, the work is almost more exciting.” He also stressed that he doesn’t wish to kowtow to sponsors in the process of designing his exhibitions, but will instead focus on “narrow societal issues.” As for specifics about future exhibitions, he remained tight-lipped.

Possibilities are not quite as endless for German citizen Nils Jennrich, an art shipper who has been detained by the Chinese government for the past three months on smuggling accusations. The thirty-two year old has been charged with acting as an accessory to customs fraud due to a failure to report the accurate value of imported art objects, reports Der Standard. According to Integrated Fine Arts Solution, the company that employs Jennrich, the accusations are complete nonsense. Monopol reports that Jennrich’s mother has gone on record to state that she believes her son has become a martyr to the Chinese government's attempts to punish big art collectors and wealthy Chinese who wish to avoid taxes. The German ambassador in Beijing, Michael Schaefer, has visited Jennrich twice in jail, which many read as a sign that the German government doubts the validity of the charges.

The Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto is the subject of a retrospective at Kunsthalle Bielefeld, and, accordingly, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung has run a profile on the prolific architect. Fujimoto is the student of a specific ecological point of view that relies on natural structures’ innate complexity, rather than practical design divorced from its organic roots. He said, “Today we are able to think about ever more complex relationships in simple, but, at the same time, deep ways, without having to simplify them as the architects of modernism did. I always refer to a forest: A forest looks simple from the outside, but if you get lost inside you will discover a complex depth.” The show, which consists of 130 models curated by Friedrich Meschede, highlights the fragility and naturalism in his designs, even as half of Fujimoto’s projects never leave the draft phase. But the architect himself says, “I was skeptical of whether one could succeed in bringing into harmony the very practical needs and local interests with conceptual reflection on architecture—now I have the hope that we might develop a totally new understanding of architecture.”

In Beijing, the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art has received instructions to censor an artwork—instructions which came not from China but from the Indian government. “Indian Highway,” a show of contemporary art curated by Julia Peyton-Jones and Hans Ulrich Obrist that showcases more than two hundred works by twenty-nine artists, had already traveled to Oslo, Lyon, and Rome, before reaching the Ullens Center last month. According to The Hindu’s Ananth Krishnan and Sandeep Dikshit, the show includes a 2003 video by Tejal Shah, I Love My India, which focuses on the 2002 riots in the Indian state of Gujarat. According to the paper, India’s Ministry of External Affairs contacted exhibition organizers to have the work taken down due to its “politically controversial overtones.”