International News Digest


Nadim Shiban has been named director of the Museum of Islamic Art in Jerusalem, Haaretz reported. He’ll be the first Arab director of the museum—and, for that matter, any major museum in Israel. Trained as a lawyer and social worker, Shiban served a decade as the director of the projects department of the Jerusalem Foundation, and also managed the department of culture for five years. Said Shiban, “The world got used to thinking that Islam is only bad, and I want to make beautiful Islam the lever to improve relations in Israel and the region.” He also called the museum management “brave” in its decision to name an Arab to the leadership role.

Hate calls and even death threats have been directed at organizers of an art show in Bucharest featuring works by Roma artists, reported Deutschlandfunk. Before the show opened at the Museum of the Romanian Peasant, a nationalist member of the Romanian Parliament brought it to the attention of his more right-wing constituents, deeming it an “irresponsible insult” to Romanian culture and claiming that exhibiting Sinti and Roma artists promoted homosexuality. The German radio station covering the story interviewed Berlin Gallery director Moritz Pankok, who represents George Vasilescu (a Roma artist who’d contributed work to the show). The name of Pankok’s gallery, Kai Dikhas, means “place of seeing” in Roma, and Kai Dikhas focuses on representing Roma and Sinti artists from around the world. “For many people, it’s a provocation that Sinti and Roma artists make their own contemporary art,” he said.

A businessman based in the United Arab Emirates has come forward with around $165,000 for the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, the second edition of which will take place this year. According to the New Indian Press, T. V. Narayanan Kutty—a group founder and chair of the IAL Group, based in Dubai—not only gave the amount, but also has been identified as a long-term patron for the biennale in an official statement. The biennale had drawn much of its funding from the Kerala government, and had also struggled with its share of financial woes (and logistical problems) in its last edition, according to Pravasi Mathrubhumi, to the point that certain works were only partly installed when the festival opened in 2012.

Düsseldorf art consultant Helge Achenbach has been detained in jail for the past two months, as prosecutors’ investigations into his fraudulent practices have turned up new victims, Monopol reported. The Viehof family, which owns Vibro, has filed suit, as has the widow of the Aldi chain-store heir Berthold Albrecht. Achenbach is said to have inflated the prices of works in order to bring in higher commissions. The Viehof brothers cite a specific piece by Georg Baselitz, for which they say they overpaid about $1.3 million. According to media reports, Albrecht’s widow, who was first to bring charges, filed a civil suit alleging around $26 million in damages.