International News Digest

SEPTEMBER 1

Bremen Kunsthalle has reopened its doors to visitors but sans masterpieces. After being closed for two and a half years for $47 million in renovations, according to Der Standard, the collection of works, dating from the last 600 years has been loaned out. Fortunately for visitors, admission will be free until the collection is on view. In the meantime, James Turrell has made a site-specific light installation, which spans over several floors of the building, including the roof. Works by the Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist also occupy a room. The first exhibition of the season will be “Edvard Munch––Rätsel hinter der Leinwand” (Edvard Munch—Mysteries Behind the Canvas) which opens on October 15.

Le Monde reports that the president of the Château de Versailles, Jean-Jacques Aillagon, has resigned from his position. Aillagon has served as president for four years and before that was France’s minister of culture. In a note given to the press, he states: “I will leave the establishment with the regret of moving away from you all, whose qualities and devotion I have appreciated over the past four years. For this reason I will use the next weeks to express my gratitude and esteem. Before the end of my mandate I also plan to reassess what we have accomplished together and, above all, adjust the important projects that will make demands on the establishment in the next years. I wish for this to prove useful to my successor whose nomination by the président de la République is imminent.” Suggestions for a possible new president include former journalist at Le Point and current Nicolas Sarkozy advisor Catherine Pégard, who is fifty-seven.

Speaking of uncertain futures, the Kunstverein Hamburg seems to be teetering on the precipitous edge of finances. Come September, the space is unsure how it will be able to pay, in full, its rent and salaries while still funding upcoming exhibitions. The head of the kunstverein, Florian Waldvogel, explains to Monopol that the institution gets a yearly subsidy of $680,000, however, almost half of this goes to pay rent. Minus the rest of the cost of maintenance, the museum is actually starting off the year with a deficit of $71,000. While the Kunstverein receives grants, many foundations are restricted from giving money to the same institution on a yearly basis. In effort to raise money, the museum will organize two benefit auctions this year to sell works by artists such as Georg Baselitz, Thomas Demand, Jörg Immendorff, and Daniel Richter. Although, Waldvogel worries about the message this will send artists as well as the fact that it does not solve the structural problems. The benefit auctions will take place September 13 at Kunstverein Hamburg and October 14 on occasion of Contemporary Art auctions at Sotheby’s London.

Artist Cindy Sherman and the Canadian cosmetics company M·A·C have collaborated on a line of products designed by the artist herself reports Monopol. Sherman will also star in the advertising campaign, which will feature the artist in three distorted roles: trash brunette, Botox victim, and clown. None of these roles may new for Sherman to embody in her work, but the ads represent a departure for the brand, but not significantly so since the brand has employed spokespersons such as Ru Paul. The limited edition line will include lipsticks, eye shadow, powder, and fake eyelashes and will be available in October.

Update, September 12, 2011: Metro Pictures, Sherman’s New York gallery, has released a statement regarding the artist’s involvement with the fall line for M·A·C noting that Sherman, “has no other association with the products or the company. Cindy has a long history of doing projects of interest to her that involve the fashion world, including Marc Jacobs, Balenciaga, Chanel, and Comme des Garçons, but she has never agreed to develop, promote, or endorse any product.”

MAC has since corrected their press materials and issued a statement clarifying Sherman’s participation: “Last month we introduced M·A·C Fall Color, with photographs by Cindy Sherman using the products from the collection. This is the extent of her involvement with the collection. We have updated all press materials to clarify that Cindy Sherman did not collaborate in the development of the makeup.”

Christoph Schlingensief’s utopian vision for an opera village in Burkina Faso, where a stage, rehearsal space, school, hospital, hotel, church, and large communal kitchen, would be constructed for the community to produce work and live within was grand and commendable but as Kerstin Eckstein and Michael Schönhuth of Der Zeit see it, perhaps not fully planned through. The theoretical gesamtkunstwerk was initiated before the late Schlingensief’s death and has since been taken on by his wife, Aino Laberenz. Yet it is struggling to meet the late artist’s somewhat opaque vision. In March 2011, following FESPACO, the Goethe Institut organized a series of conversations in Ouagadougou about the project. Schönhuth and Eckstein point out that it may have been more beneficial to have representatives from neighboring villages or members of the local cultural scene rather than art experts and curators who knew Schlingensief. Furthermore, in a place with no tradition or concept of opera, but rather a tradition of suspicion towards bourgeois European cultural elites, it may be hard to find community support for the project. While Schlingensief was careful to avoid the clutches of neocolonialism through irony, self-accusation, and exaggeration, he also fell into the discourse of wanting to be healed and purified by what he called Africa’s “purity and originality.” Schönhuth and Eckstein acknowledge that this opera village has been conceived of in an entirely different way than Schlingensief’s earlier projects, and that in these beginning stages of its construction and development it must work with a large network of local initiators and actors to sustain itself. However, they seem to see that this process is underway with the help and moderation of the Goethe-Institut. Only time will tell.