Merce Cunningham's Company Faces Fund-Raising Challenges

In June, Merce Cunningham announced an initiative called the Living Legacy Plan that would safeguard his work and provide for a smooth transition of assets in the event that he should no longer be able to serve as leader of his New York–based dance company. It was an innovative move in a career marked by innovation. But with Cunningham’s death Sunday, his foundation finds itself in the difficult position of having to fund the eight-million-dollar plan as it goes into effect, David Ng of the Los Angeles Times reports.

The Cunningham Dance Foundation said Monday that it has raised approximately $2.5 million toward the $8 million goal, with most of the money so far coming from lead gifts from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Nonprofit Finance Fund. “While Merce was alive, we had the luxury of time to raise the money. Obviously, the effort is even more urgent now,” said Allan Sperling, a Cunningham Foundation board member and chairman of the legacy committee. Tambra Dillon, the Cunningham Foundation’s director of institutional advancement, said, “We have several large financial prospects pending, and we’re confident that we will reach our goal.”

Cunningham’s Living Legacy Plan provides for a two-year international tour followed by the closure of the dance company. Those cities that are already on the company’s schedule will be absorbed into the final tour. After the company’s closure, dancers, musicians and other staff members will continue to receive compensation and career-transition resources for a limited period, provided that the eight-million-dollar fund-raising goal is met in time, according to company leaders. The plan states that all the company’s assets will be transferred to the Merce Cunningham Trust, which will serve as the custodian. The trust, which was founded several years ago, will continue to administer the performance rights for the dances that Cunningham created during his life. In addition, the company will create a series of “dance capsules”—digital packages containing complete documentation of Cunningham’s repertory work. The company said it has just begun working on the capsules and hopes to have ten completed by June 2010. The Cunningham Foundation said it will take three or more years for the entire legacy plan to be completed. The foundation operates on a budget of approximately five million dollars a year, with half the money coming from donors and half from performance revenue.

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September 26, 2017

Guggenheim Museum Pulls Work from Exhibition Following Protests by Animal Rights Activists

Sun Yuan and Peng Yu’s Dogs That Cannot Touch Each Other. Photo: Galleria Continua, San Gimignano, Beijing, Les Moulins, Habana

After a video expected to appear in the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York’s upcoming exhibition “Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World,” which opens on October 6, sparked protests and widespread criticism from animal rights activists, the institution has decided to remove the work as well as two others from the show.

The controversial piece, which was the initial focus of the public outcry, Dogs That Cannot Touch Each Other, 2003, consists of a seven-minute video clip of a performance in which eight American Pitbulls aggressively charge each other while on treadmills at a museum in Beijing in 2003. Even though the dogs are not able to touch one another, activists are arguing that the work is an example of animal cruelty, which has no place in art.

The other two works include A Case Study of Transference, 1994, a video of two pigs with several markings, including Chinese characters, that have been stamped on their bodies having sex while on exhibit, and Theater of the World, 1993, which was intended to be the show’s signature piece. The work would have featured hundreds of insects and reptiles in an enclosed octagonal space. Over the course of the exhibition, the creatures would prey on and eat each other.

September 26, 2017

New York Foundation for the Arts to Expand Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program

Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program in New York in 2015. Photo: Judy Cai

The New York Foundation for the Arts has announced that it was awarded a two-year grant from the Ford Foundation in support of the expansion of its Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program. The initiative will now connect 144 immigrant artists with mentors and strengthen immigrant artist communities in the cities of Detroit; Newark; Oakland, California; and San Antonio by using the NYFA’s program in New York as a model.

“At a time of crisis and uncertainty for immigrant families and children, artists can be powerful leaders for social change,” said Margaret Morton, one of the foundation’s program officers. “The Ford Foundation is proud to support the expansion of the Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program to embrace artists and amplify their voices.”

Established nearly ten years ago by NYFA executive director Michael L. Royce, the Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program has provided close to two hundred New York City–based immigrants with mentorship, community, and exposure for their work. The New York program has been funded by the Deutsche Bank since 2007.

September 26, 2017

Marko Daniel Leaves Tate to Head Barcelona’s Joan Miró Foundation

Marko Daniel.

Marko Daniel has been named the new director of the Joan Miró Foundation in Barcelona, Spain, reports Vanessa Graell for El Mundo. Citing Daniel’s knowledge of the artist’s work and of Catalan, Spanish, and international art and culture, as well as his “competence in fiscal management,” the foundation’s board unanimously approved the appointment. He will take up the post in January 2018.

Daniel succeeds Rosa Maria Malet, who will retire after leading the foundation since 1980. She will continue authenticating Miró’s work at the request of the estate’s administrators, the Association pour la Défense de l’œuvre de Joan Miró, and will become a new member of the foundation’s board of trustees.

An expert in contemporary Chinese and Catalan art, Daniel had joined the Tate Modern as curator of public programs in 2006, and held this position at both Tate Modern and Tate Britain since 2011. During his tenure, Daniel cocurated the exhibition, “Joan Miró: L’escala de l’evasió” (2011–12), which also traveled to the Joan Miró Foundation and the National Gallery in Washington, DC.

September 25, 2017

Nicola Trezzi Named Director of Center for Contemporary Art Tel Aviv

Nicola Trezzi.

The Center for Contemporary Art Tel Aviv announced that Nicola Trezzi has been appointed its new director and chief curator. He will take up the post at the beginning of 2018. Founding director Sergio Edelsztein will remain at the institution during the transition and then stay on as the chairman of the board.

Trezzi has been head of the MFA program at Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem since 2014. Prior to that he was US editor of Flash Art International and curator at the Prague Biennale Foundation. He also co-curated exhibitions held at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, the Center for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw, and the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art in Peekskill, New York, among others, and was one of the cofounders of Lucie Fontaine, an artist-run space in Milan.

“After twenty years of growth, along which we grew from a tiny cultural operation to a vibrant institution leading the contemporary art scene in Israel, we find that Nicola Trezzi is the right person to take the CCA to the next stage, finding for it the right place in the international art scene and in the challenging local cultural and political reality,” Edelsztein said in a statement.

September 25, 2017

Loring Randolph Named Frieze Art Fair’s Artistic Director of the Americas

Loring Randolph. Photo: Hannah Whitaker.

Loring Randolph has been named the Frieze art fair’s artistic director of the Americas. She will play a major role in shaping the strategic goals and content of Frieze New York. She will also act as a liaison for galleries, collectors, and curators located throughout the Americas.

Randolph comes to Frieze from the Casey Kaplan gallery in New York, where she was partner. There she cultivated the gallery’s program; maintained client, curator, and artist relationships; organized gallery exhibitions and solo exhibitions at institutions; and oversaw the production of numerous publications.

“Loring will bring dynamism and new perspectives to her role as Artistic Director (Americas), I am thrilled to welcome her to the Frieze team and I am really looking forward to working with her on Frieze New York,” said Victoria Siddall, the director of Frieze Fairs. “As a former exhibitor, Loring brings an invaluable perspective that will help us continue to improve all aspects of what we do for our exhibiting galleries, whose groundbreaking presentations are the core of the Fairs. She also brings experience and expertise in the New York art world and the Americas that will continue to grow our partnerships with galleries, museums, collectors, and artists across the region, as well as to engage with our community in the city.”

September 25, 2017

Marian Horosko (1925–2017)

Marian Horosko. Photo: Beverly Glen Studio

Marian Horosko, a ballet dancer and historian who danced with the Metropolitan Ballet and the New York City Ballet, died on September 11, writes Neil Genzlinger of the New York Times. She studied at the School of American Ballet and the Juilliard School. When she was at the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, she was a soloist. But when she came to City Ballet she mostly performed character roles. She stopped dancing in the early 1960s, but wrote for Dance Magazine, where she was the education editor, writing articles on how dancers should take care of themselves and pieces such as “Teachers in the Russian Tradition.”

Horosko consulted and produced on dance programs for radio and television. She was also a film curator for the Lincoln Center Dance Collection. In the 1980s, she created a group called Danse Coalition, which took on the problem of disappearing rehearsal spaces in Manhattan due to exorbitant rents. She was also a cofounder of the Performing Arts Center for Health in New York, a clinic dedicated to the physical and mental well-being of practicing and retired dancers. “We want to be able to help dancers to get help, and get it right away, from doctors who won’t just tell them to ‘stay off their feet,’” she said in an interview with the New York Times in 1982. In 1987 Horosko published The Dancer’s Survival Manual: Everything You Need to Know About Being a Dancer … Except How to Dance, inspired by her work with dancers at the clinic. A second edition of the book was put out in 2009 with the new subtitle, Everything You Need to Know From the First Class to Career Change.

“Marian Horosko was compellingly sensible and humane in her writing on dance, glamorous yet pragmatic, with an encyclopedic passion for the art,” said Jennifer Dunning, a former dance critic for the New York Times. “To spend even a brief time in her company was to be charmed and fascinated by the way her mind worked and the way, after a ballet debut at twelve, she never stopped exploring dance.”

September 25, 2017

Berlin’s Volksbühne Theater Occupied by Activists

The Volksbühne Theater.

A group of activists calling themselves Dust to Glitter are occupying Berlin’s Volksbühne Theater to protest the gentrification of the city, writes Dorian Batycka of Hyperallergic. “We are doing this action because rising rents are making it increasingly difficult for artists to live and work in Berlin,” said Sarah Waterfield, one of Dust to Glitter’s organizers. The gathering started at the theater on September 23, early in the day. By that evening, about 3,000 people came together as word about the protest spread through social media.

Dust for Glitter is planning a number of initiatives for the theater over the next few months, including a “People’s Stage,” a “parliament of the homeless,” and an “anti-gentrification center.” The group will also stage a production of B61-12, a piece centered around the occupation. The title of the work refers to a type of nuclear explosive.

The appointment of Chris Dercon, the theater’s current head and former director of the Tate Modern, has upset many. He took over for Frank Castorf, who pushed for a more experimental and rigorous mode of theatrical production during his twenty-five year tenure as the theater’s director. Berlin’s Senator for Cultural Policy, Klaus Lederer, initially refered to Dercon’s hiring as a “mistake,” characterizing it as something that would make Berlin a host to a “neoliberal art scene and jet-setter attitude.” But in a recent posting on Facebook, he supported Dercon, and said that the protestors were impeding upon the theater’s work, which was “not progressive.”

Dercon reportedly met with the protestors and affiliated groups already. No official word on their specific demands, however, has been announced.

September 25, 2017

Puerto Rican Art Institutions Close in Wake of Hurricane Maria's Devastation

Puerto Rican officials ordered tens of thousands of people to evacuate the area near the Guajataca Dam in Quebradillas, Puerto Rico, which was severely damaged by Hurricane Maria and is now in danger of collapsing. Photo: AP

Hurricane Maria, the most powerful storm to hit Puerto Rico in more than eighty years, flooded streets, downed trees, caused landslides, and left almost the entire island without power as it moved through the US territory on Thursday, September 21.

According to Danica Coto of the Associated Press, the hurricane was a category four when it struck Puerto Rico with 155 mph winds. Forty-year-old tourism company operator Adrian Pacheco said, “I think people didn't expect the storm to reach the point that it did. Since Irma never really happened, they thought Maria would be the same.”

While Irma knocked out power to at least one million Puerto Rican residents, Maria caused an island-wide outage, nearly destroying its energy grid, and, according to the New York Times, resulted in at least ten deaths. Engineers are also warning about the potential collapse of the 90-year-old Guajataca Dam in the Northwest corner of the island, which could burst at any moment, prompting the government to evacuate neighborhoods nearby.

September 24, 2017

Nicole Eisenman Sculpture Defaced Again at Skulptur Projekte Münster

Nicole Eisenman with her work Sketch for a Fountain in the meadow alongside Promenade at Skulptur Projekte Münster. Photo: David Velasco.

Artist Nicole Eisenman’s sculpture at Skulptur Projekte Münster has been vandalized once again, this time with swastikas and other graffiti, according to a report by Artnews. Last summer, her piece in the exhibition, Sketch for a Fountain, 2017, a plaster and bronze fountain with four figures, suffered the beheading of one its figures, a defacement which was part of a series of several attacks on works in the exhibition last summer. Police are still investigating this new incident.

On her private Facebook page, Eisenman considered this crime in the context of the recent rise of the AfD—the far-right Alternative for Germany political party—ahead of the upcoming German election. The team behind Skulptur Projekte Münster today released a statement about the second act of aggression against this particular piece, as well as the graffiti discovered on a nearby statue of eighteenth-century feminist poet Annette von Droste-Hülshoff: “We are deeply disgusted by such a violation and understand this as an attack against the values of the work.” They further noted: “Both artworks were exposed to a fascist form of violence, a violence that homo-, trans-, and intersexual people have to face in real life everyday in many places…We express our solidarity with people of any color or sexual identity and we strongly condemn the murderous propaganda of all right-wing parties.”

For more on Skulptur Projekte Münster, see Benjamin H. D. Buchloh’s take on this exhibition, the Fifty-Seventh Venice Biennale, and Documenta 14 in the September issue of Artforum.