Fire Destroys Nearly 2,000 Hélio Oiticica Works

O Globo’s Eduardo Fradkin reports that nearly two thousand works by Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica (1937–1980) were destroyed Friday in a fire at the house of his brother, César Oiticica, in Rio de Janeiro. Hélio Oiticica’s brothers were responsible for the artist’s estate, the Projecto Helio Oiticica; César Oiticica estimates that 90 percent of the collection was lost. The works were being temporarily housed at César Oiticica’s home because of a dispute between the Oiticica family and the Centro Municipal de Arte Hélio Oiticica over unpaid fees for the lending of the works to a retrospective that opened in April 2009.

In 2007, Tate Modern and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston staged major exhibitions of Oiticica’s work. The fire also destroyed all the pictures and film negatives in the house made by José Oiticica, Helio and César’s father and an important Brazilian photographer.

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August 23, 2017

University of Arkansas to Establish Arts School with $120 Million Gift

University of Arkansas student.

The University of Arkansas has received an historic $120 million gift from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation, the philanthropic enterprise launched by the family of late Walmart founder Sam Walton. The donation will support the establishment of the state’s first art school. In a statement, the university said this will “transform access to art in Arkansas.”

The School of Art will offer graduate programs and degrees in art history, art education, and graphic design, with an emphasis on American art and art of the Americas; support students financially with scholarships, grants, and internship opportunities; and partner with other institutions such as the Crystal Bridges, which was founded by the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation in 2005.

“The School of Art will shape a new generation of artists, historians, designers, and teachers with a unique understanding of the hope art can bring to communities,” said Alice Walton, chairwoman of the board of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. “The unparalleled access to meaningful American art will connect the heartland to the world.”

August 23, 2017

Jo Widoff and Lars Bang Larsen to Begin New Curatorial Roles at Moderna Museet

Lars Bang Larsen and Jo Widoff

Moderna Museet has announced some changes among its curatorial positions. Jo Widoff, who has served as an exhibition curator, will now be responsible for the museum’s international collection. Lars Bang Larsen, meanwhile, will begin work as an adjunct curator at the museum.

Widoff, a veteran curator, has already organized shows including “Turner Monet Twombly,” 2011, “Dance Machines,” 2013, “Life Itself,” and “Yayoi Kusama” (both 2016). Currently based in Copenhagen, Larsen has penned essays on Öyvind Fahlström, Palle Nielsen, and the artists involved in the publication Puss . A frequent contributor to Artforum, Larsen examined the history of Superflex in the magazine’s April 2014 issue.

August 23, 2017

Artist List Announced for 2017 Moscow Biennale

Moscow’s State Tretyakov Gallery

The list of participating artists for the 2017 Moscow Biennale, titled “Clouds ⇄ Forests,” has been revealed, reports Alex Greenberger of Artnews. The exhibition will focus on “a new eco-system formed through a circulation of ‘Cloud Tribes,’ who were born on the Internet cloud space, and ‘Forest Tribes’ who are born on cultural origins,” according to a statement released by the biennale’s organizers. “Clouds ⇄ Forests,” which will take place at Moscow’s State Tretyakov Gallery, will open on September 19 and run until January 18, 2018.

The artists in this year’s biennale are as follows:

August 23, 2017

MoMA PS1 Appoints Ruba Katrib Curator

Ruba Katrib. Photo: Josh Tonsfeldt

MoMA PS1 announced today that Ruba Katrib has been named curator. Currently a curator at the SculptureCenter in Long Island City, Katrib will begin her new role on October 15.

“As a longtime admirer of Ruba’s work, I am thrilled that she is joining the museum,” chief curator Peter Eleey said. “She is deeply engaged with artists here in New York and communities around the world, partnering closely with them to realize novel presentations of their work. As her inspired group shows suggest, she seeks connections between the conditions of life and the thicket of ideas and conversations that shape contemporary art, with a generosity that encourages audiences to share in her thinking.”

During her tenure at the SculptureCenter, which she joined in 2012, Katrib has organized more than twenty exhibitions and public programs featuring artists such as Cosima von Bonin, Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook, Jumana Manna, Anthea Hamilton, and Michael E. Smith. From 2007 to 2012, Katrib worked first as assistant curator and then as associate curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami. In 2010, she was awarded a curatorial fellowship from the Andy Warhol Foundation to support her research on artist-run educational platforms throughout Latin America that included a symposium and publication. Katrib is also a cofounder of the residency and contemporary art space Threewalls in Chicago.

August 23, 2017

Mayor Bill de Blasio Orders Review of Antebellum Monuments Scattered Throughout New York City

The monument to James Marion Sims located at Fifth Avenue and East 103 Street, across from the New York Academy of Medicine.

In the wake of the murderous alt-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia earlier this month—organized to protest the removal of a statute of Robert E. Lee, a Confederate and white supremacist icon—cities throughout the United States are working harder at clearing away pieces that commemorate figures and events associated with the Confederacy during the American Civil War. For instance, four Confederate monuments were “quickly and quietly” taken down under the cover of night in Baltimore shortly after the events in Charlottesville, as ordered by the city’s mayor, Catherine Pugh. Now Bill de Blasio, New York City’s mayor, has asked for a “ninety-day review of all symbols of hate on city property,” writes Aaron Short of Hyperallergic.

Indeed, there are a number of these monuments throughout the city, many of which were provided by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, an organization founded in 1894 in Nashville, Tennessee, the “outgrowth of numerous ladies’ hospital associations, sewing societies, and knitting circles that worked throughout the South during the War Between the States to supply the needs of the soldiers,” as per the group’s website. Among them: a pair of plaques commemorating Robert E. Lee in the Fort Hamilton neighborhood of Brooklyn that have already been uprooted by the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, and busts of two Confederate generals located in the Bronx Community College’s “Hall of Fame.” (Ruben Diaz Jr., the Bronx borough president, suggested sending the busts to the New York State Military Museum in Saratoga Springs, “where they could be presented in a historical context rather than venerated,” he said.)

But there are other symbols, unrelated to the efforts of the UDC, which have been in the city for ages and are now under scrutiny, such as a large statute of J. Marion Sims, located at Fifth Avenue and East 103 Street, across from the New York Academy of Medicine (Sims is considered the “father of modern gynecology,” but he performed operations and experiments on black women who were slaves), and a sidewalk plaque honoring Philippe Pétain, a Nazi collaborator, installed along the Canyon of Heroes on Broadway in the Financial District. There are also two streets in the Fort Hamilton army base, named after Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee, that Congresswoman Yvette Clarke is pressuring the US Army to rename: “The time has come for the Army to remove from Fort Hamilton and other military installations the disgraced names of men who waged war against the United States to preserve the evil institution of slavery,” she said.

August 23, 2017

Documenta 14 Cancels Franco Berardi’s Auschwitz on the Beach Performance Following Outcry

Franco “Bifo” Berardi.

Documenta 14 organizers have decided to cancel a performance by Italian activist and media theorist Franco Berardi after the work caused public outrage. Critics of the piece, titled Auschwitz on the Beach, argue that the parallel it draws between the plight of refugees and the Holocaust is offensive. The performance was scheduled to take place on Thursday, August 24, at 8:30 PM.

A statement published on Documenta 14’s website reads: “In response to the violence and volume of complaints and disparaging remarks received during the last week, we have decided to cancel Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi’s performance. We respect those who might feel offended by the title of Berardi’s poem. We don’t want to add pain to their grief. However, we don’t want to simply accept these accusations nor abandon discussion and critical thinking. On the contrary, we need to activate the dispositive of the Parliament of Bodies to host all voices and encourage dialogue.”

The piece will be replaced by a poetry reading and discussion about Europe’s migration crisis. For the new event, “Shame on Us: A Reading and Discussion,” Berardi will read a poem that inspired the original work. In defense of Berardi’s work, Documenta 14’s artistic director Adam Szymczyk, said, “In its magnitude and systemic nature of state-orchestrated destruction of an entire race, the Holocaust remains a singular manifestation within human history. . .The planned discussion and reading of Berardi’s poem within the Parliament of Bodies is a warning against historical amnesia, a call for an awakening of conscience and for collective action—and not an attempt to relativize the Holocaust.”

August 23, 2017

Artists Dye Prague’s Vltava River Red in Act of Protest

BOLT 958 pouring an unknown substance into Prague’s Vltava River to protest the commercial use of the Mánes exhibition hall. Photo: BOLT 958

After an unknown substance reddened Prague’s Vltava River last Monday, artist group Bolt958 took credit for coloring the river as an act of protest against the commercial use of the historic Mánes exhibition hall, located on the river’s bank, Monopol reports.

Built sometime between 1928 and 1930 by the Mánes Association of Fine Artists—an artists’ association and exhibition society named after painter Josef Mánes and founded in 1887—the Functionalist building complex is part of the Czech Foundation for Fine Arts. After the city landmark underwent a roughly $7 million renovation in 2014, it has been rented out to commercial businesses. Currently, the gallery has been transformed into a makeshift gym after being rented out by Reebok.

Angry over this use of the exhibition space, Bolt958 decided to pour an unidentified substance into the river that turned it bright red. “Mánes is bleeding, and starting to sink,” the group wrote on Facebook. ‎‎They added, “Mánes is supposed to serve artists, but it is currently dividing them.”

August 23, 2017

June Yap Named Curatorial Director at Singapore Art Museum

June Yap. Photo: National Arts Council, Singapore

The Singapore Art Museum announced on Tuesday, August 22, that independent curator June Yap will join the institution as its new director of curatorial, programs, and publications. She will assume her responsibilities on September 1.

In her new role, Yap will help shape the museum’s content creation and bolster its curatorial team as the institution prepares to undergo an extensive expansion and renovation project that aims to double its exhibition space and build state-of-the-art facilities.

“I have no doubt that Dr. June Yap’s coming in to lead SAM’s team of highly capable curators will take our research and programming of contemporary art into new territory,” said board chair Jane Ittogi.

August 23, 2017

African American Museum and Lynching Memorial to Open in Montgomery, Alabama

The Memorial to Peace and Justice, the United States’ first national memorial to the victims of lynchings is currently under construction in Montgomery, Alabama. Photo: the Equal Justice Initiative

A new museum dedicated to African American history and the United States’ first national memorial to the victims of lynching are currently under construction in Montgomery, Alabama, Erin Edgemon of al.com reports. Spearheaded by the legal rights organization known as the Equal Justice Initiative, the 11,000-square-foot-musuem, located on the site of a former auction and slave warehouse, is scheduled to open as early as 2018.

“We want to create an institution that allows people to experience directly what this history means and what it does,” EJI’s executive director Bryan Stevenson said in April. “In America, we don't talk about slavery. We don't talk about lynching. We don't talk about segregation. Our silence has left us vulnerable to new forms of bigotry and discrimination that we need to address.”

Called “From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration,” the museum will contain high-tech exhibits, artifacts, recordings, and films as well as comprehensive data on lynching and racial segregation. The institution will aim to connect the history of racial inequality and injustice to contemporary issues of mass incarceration and police brutality.