February 20, 2018

Artist in Singapore Given Six-Month Jail Term for Stalking Woman

Artist Chun Kai Qun.

Artist Chun Kai Qun was recently ordered to spend six months in jail for stalking and harassing a woman, reports Julee WJ Chung of Art Asia Pacific. Chun pleaded guilty to the offence, which took place in 2016 between November 3 and December 2. He also harassed the woman throughout most of last year.

Chun met the woman in 2015. They became friends. Chun, however, wanted more out of the relationship, despite being turned down by her numerous times. He then began following her as many as four times a month, from her workplace to her home. He would also send her sexually explicit emails up to seventeen times a day. “I think proximity hurts and it’s fun and damn psycho to keep writing. A little weird erotic in a way” said Chun in one of his messages. “I see your soul. I don’t see anything else. I am attracted to it like a science experiment reaction.” He also created twelve different email accounts to evade the woman’s spam blocker, and contaced the woman’s colleagues at work, trying to tarnish her reputation.

The woman filed a magistrate’s complaint in July 2016. In October of that year, Chun agreed to cease all contact. But the following month, he started up once more, sending her a barrage of emails. The woman sent police all the messages she received from him.

Chun’s lawyer, Sunil Sudheesan, originally tried to get him a three-month sentence, claiming that his client was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, and that the emails were a  “misguided attempt at managing [his] tensions.” The prosecution, however, wasn’t buying it. Chun’s sentence has been deferred to March 12.

February 20, 2018

Arts Professionals Launch Petition to Reinstate Beatrix Ruf as Stedelijk Museum Director

Beatrix Ruf. Photo: Robin de Puy.

More than one-hundred artists, curators, and other arts professionals are calling for the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam to reinstate former director Beatrix Ruf, who stepped down amid controversy over her management of the institution in October of 2017. Among those rallying to her defense are artists Marina Abramovic, Laurie Anderson, Philip Glass, and Richard Serra, and museum directors Bart Rutten, the head of the Centraal Museum in Utrecht, and Jacqueline Grandjean from Amsterdam’s Oude Kerk.

Ruf joined the Stedelijk after Ann Goldstein stepped down from the helm of the museum in 2014, but resigned last year after she was criticized by the Dutch media for her lack of transparency in regards to her handling of donations received by the museum as well as a private advisory business she continued to manage after beginning her directorship. The Netherlands daily NRC Handelsblad also alleged that under her leadership, the exhibitions presented at the museum had ties to galleries that Ruf worked with regularly.

When she announced her decision to resign, Ruf said in a statement that it was due to “speculation in the media” and that she was trying to protect the museum’s reputation. A few weeks later she claimed that the whole situation was a “misunderstanding” and that her activities outside of the Stedelijk were approved by the institution’s board. Several investigations have since been launched to determine if Ruf’s and the board’s actions violated the museum’s mission.

petition demanding Ruf’s reinstatement had 315 signatures as of Tuesday, February 20. A group of creatives also paid for a full page ad in the Saturday edition of the Amsterdam daily Het Parool, titled, “Call Back Ruf.”

February 20, 2018

Idrissa Ouedraogo (1954–2018)

Idrissa Ouedraogo

Idrissa Ouedraogo, the Burkinabé filmmaker whose 1990 familial drama, Tilaď (The Law), received the Cannes Jury prize that same year, has died, writes Christopher Vourlias of Variety. The president of Burkina Faso, Roch Marc Christian Kabore, said that the country “has lost a filmmaker of immense talent,” who “truly contributed to turning the spotlight on Burkinabé and African cinema beyond our borders.”

The artist was a student in Russia before moving to Paris, where studied at the renowned Institut des hautes études cinématographiques. In 1985, he graduated from the Sorbonne with a degree in film studies. After his schooling, he came back to Burkina Faso and created Yam Daabo (The Choice, 1986) and Yaaba (Grandmother, 1989). The latter, about a young man who falls in love with a much older woman believed to be a witch, was awarded the FIPRESCI Prize in Cannes in 1989. Ouedraogo also worked in the theater—he directed a version of Aimé Césaire’s 1963 play, The Tragedy of King Christophe, at the Comédie-Française in Paris.

The artist directed nine feature films. Among them are Karim and Sala (1991), Le Cri du cœur (The Heart's Cry, 1994), and La Colčre des dieux (Anger of the Gods, 2003). He has also directed eleven short films, and spent the last several years working in television. According to the Ouedraogo’s longtime friend, Keith Shiri, the artist, who had not made a feature in more than a decade, was looking forward to a return to filmmaking after a fruitful teaching stint at the Ouaga Film Lab, a film academy in Ouagadougou. “He was about to come back again,” Shiri said. “All of a sudden, he’s gone.”

February 20, 2018

Peter Gorschlüter Appointed Director of Germany’s Museum Folkwang

Peter Gorschlüter. Photo Axel Schneider.

Curator and art historian Peter Gorschlüter has been named the new director of the Museum Folkwang in Essen, Germany. Gorschlüter has served as the deputy director of the Museum of Modern Art (MMK) in Frankfurt since 2010. He succeeds Tobia Bezzola, who became director the Museo d’arte della Svizzera in Lugano, Switzerland, in January 2018, and will assume his responsibilities on July 1.

Expected to serve an eight-year term, Gorschlüter said, “It will be exciting to manage the Museum Folkwang, with its impressive history and collection, during a time when museums must reposition themselves internationally in the face of social, technological, and artistic developments. The Folkwang ideal is utterly crucial for a museum of the twenty-first century—and a challenge I am looking forward to as much as I am to working with the museum’s staff and the city of Essen.”

Born in Mainz in 1974, Gorschlüter studied art history and media theory at the Karlsruhe College of Art and Design. He held curatorial positions at the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf from 2002 to 2007 and the Tate Liverpool from 2008 to 2010, and cocurated the 2010 Liverpool Biennial and the photography triennial RAY in Frankfurt am Main in 2015 and 2018. In 2005, Gorschlüter cofounded Passenger Books, a small publishing company. Since he joined the Museum of Modern Art in Frankfurt, he has organized numerous exhibitions showcasing the works of photographer Rineke Dijkstra; artist and theorist Hélio Oiticica; book- and installation-artist Jewyo Rhii; artist and filmmaker Fiona Tan, and fashion designer Kostas Murkudis, among others.

Commenting on the appointment, Mayor Thomas Kufen said, “I am certain that with his expertise, Peter Gorschlüter will contribute to a revitalization of the museum. Museum Folkwang is a real drawcard for our city, with a profile that extends well beyond the confines of our region. I think this international reputation is in good hands, and at the same time, I am convinced that the people of Essen can look forward to some new directions under this new leadership.” 

February 20, 2018

Judy Blame (1960–2018)

Judy Blame

Chris Barnes, the punk fashion legend who rechristened himself Judy Blame after running away to London when he was seventeen years old, has died, reports Alice Newbold of Vogue UK.

In true punk style, Blame made something from nothing, crafting jewelry from trash scavenged from the polluted River Thames. He was the cofounder, with John Moore, of the House of Beauty and Culture in Dalston, a gathering place for artists such as photographer Mark Lebon, fashion designer Christopher Nemeth, and musician Richard Torry. Blame was a key figure in London’s New Romantic scene, and hosted a night at the storied gay London nightclub, Heaven, where he dallied and posed with some of London’s finest, among them Leigh Bowery and Steve Strange.

Blame shaped the look and feel of iconic British fashion magazines The Face, BLITZ, and i-D as a stylist and art director. He was also a consultant and collaborator with numerous fashion designers, including Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons, Gareth Pugh, John Galliano, and Marc Jacobs and Kim Jones at Louis Vuitton. At the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, Blame had his first major solo exhibition, titled “Judy Blame: Never Again” (2016), a retrospective of the artist’s jewelry, collages, notebooks, clothing, fashion editorials, and miscellaneous objects.

“Punk rock—that was my training,” Blame once said to Ted Stansfield of Another Man. “Whatever I’ve done, I’ve had to pick it up and work it out for myself. And because I wasn’t trained, I haven’t got that baggage. Training can hold you back.”

February 19, 2018

Chinese Official Calls for US to “Severely Punish” Man who Stole Terracotta Warrior’s Thumb

View of “Terracotta Warriors of the First Emperor.” Photo: The Franklin Institute.

An American man has been charged with breaking off and stealing the left thumb of an ancient Chinese terracotta warrior that is one of ten on loan to the Franklin Institute of Philadelphia from the Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Center. Michael Rohana absconded with the thumb after posing for a selfie with the 2,200-year-old statue at an ugly Christmas sweater party held after-hours at the museum on December 21. The statues are currently on display until March 4 for the museum’s “Terracotta Warriors of the First Emperor” exhibition. After the institution noticed the missing digit on January 8, they involved the FBI, who arrested Rohana five days later after finding the thumb in a desk drawer.

“We call on the American side to severely punish the person who committed this destruction and theft of mankind’s cultural heritage,” a representative from the Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Center told the Beijing Youth Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Youth League, on Sunday. Rohana, who is twenty-four, was charged last week with theft of an artwork from a museum, concealment of the artwork, and transportation of stolen property before being released on bail.

“As a result of this incident, we have thoroughly reviewed our security protocol and procedures, and have taken appropriate action where needed,” the museum told the Courier Post after acknowledging that “standard closing procedures” went unfollowed the night of the theft. 

In 1974, more than eight thousand life-sized terracotta sculptures depicting soldiers from Qin Shi Huang’s army were unearthed by farmers in Xi’an. The army, buried between 210 and 209 BC to defend the Chinese emperor in the afterlife, has since become a major point of pride for the country. The Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Center has offered to send experts to the US to repair the statue, which is estimated to be worth $4.5 million, and is currently reconsidering its loan policy.

February 19, 2018

Art Collective Crowdfunds to Buy Theater to Support Female-Led Work

Theater Royal Haymarket in Westminster, England. Photo: Wikipedia.

Following the wave of sexual harassment allegations that have rocked the arts world, the women’s theater collective known as Bossy has launched a Go Fund Me campaign in hopes of buying the storied Theater Royal Haymarket in Westminster, England, and turning it into a female-led playhouse. The collective started in 2016 as a support system for women in creative fields, and now has a Facebook group of more than 15,000 members.

“We are a female led arts initiative campaigning for a female led arts space,” Bossy said in a statement. “In response to unequal representation and the lack of safe spaces for women to explore what is going on around them. Capturing the recent surge of female energy and global unrest, and in the wake of #timesup, #metoo, #blacklivesmatter—and a whole host of intersectional activism worldwide. We have come together as a collective with a desire for change, to support and instigate shifts in the terrain and to do so through the powerful platform of the arts.”

While the asking price to lease the theater is not public, the campaign is seeking $4 million. As of Monday, February 19, the group raised $15,000 from five-hundred people. Arnold Crook, chair of Louis I Michaels Ltd., which holds the lease, told Elle Ayres of The Guardian that it’s “one of the most beautiful theaters in the world” and it had been his “life pride” for nearly forty years. He added, that now it is “time to hand over the reins to the next generation of dream makers.” Natalie Durkin, the founder of Bossy’s Haymarket campaign and the head of operations at Women’s Radio Station, noted that Haymarket, which once premiered plays by Oscar Wilde, currently doesn’t have any female management. “With the representation of women in theater being so low, it became apparent [among members] that this had hit a nerve,” she said.

If the campaign fails to raise enough funds, all of the money that was donated will go toward creating a female arts festival that will be held in London. Many theaters in the city have already offered to participate if the bid is unsuccessful.

February 19, 2018

National Sawdust Reveals Winners of Inaugural Competition for Female and Non-Binary Composers

National Sawdust, an artist-led, nonprofit performance space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, has named Emma O’Halloran, X. Lee, and Kayla Cashetta the winners of its first Hildegard Competition, which recognizes emerging female and non-binary composers. They will each receive $7,000 and coaching from National Sawdust artistic director Paola Prestini and curators Angélica Negrón and Du Yun. Their works will also be recorded and then performed by the Refugee Orchestra at the arts space this spring.

“Social equality does not happen naturally—it must be forged,” Prestini, said in a statement. “For the music field to create the most vibrant and relevant new work, today’s institutions must elevate women—and other underrepresented voices—to positions of prominence, and provide platforms for their work to be experienced. I believe this initiative will have positive ripple effects within the artistic community for many years to come.”

February 19, 2018

Original Picasso Print Stolen from Milwaukee Gallery

Pablo Picasso, Tolero, 1949. Photo: DeLind Fine Art Appraisals LLC.

An original 1949 print by Pablo Picasso was stolen from an art appraisal and brokerage firm in downtown Milwaukee, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. On Friday, art appraiser Bill DeLind said his business partner Michael Goforth noticed the print—which is worth an estimated $35,000 to $50,000—was missing from DeLind Fine Art Appraisals. The gallery, which does not have surveillance cameras, had kept its doors unlocked.“It just walked off the wall,” DeLind said. DeLind has contacted the Milwaukee Police Department as well as museums and galleries across the country in case the theif attempts to sell the artwork. 

The work, titled Tolero, is one of thirty editions, and was signed by Picasso in green crayon in the lower right corner. DeLind had been hired to sell the etching, and called the theft “an unfortunate disaster.”