Jenny Holzer, Robin Rhode Among Recipients of VIA Art Fund Grants

Robin Rhode

The nonprofit VIA Art Fund has announced the recipients of its most recent grants, totaling $190,000. Four projects are being recognized: Jenny Holzer’s upcoming semi-permanent installation at MASS MoCA, Robin Rhode’s operatic commission for Performa 15, an upcoming show at the Underground Museum in Los Angeles, and a new site-specific outdoor sculpture for the 2016 season of High Line Art in New York.

Since its founding in 2013, VIA has awarded nearly $1.25 million in grants to twenty-five individuals and organizations. It was established by Bridgitt Evans and Lisa Schiff to bring together the support of US-based arts patrons.

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December 18, 2017

FotoFest Announces Details for 2018 Edition Focusing on India

Sandip Kuriakose, Interested, 2017. From the series “NPNR”.

FotoFest International has announced the forty-eight artists to be featured in the central exhibition for upcoming edition of the FotoFest biennial, which opens on March 10 and will run through April 22, 2018. Titled “INDIA: Contemporary Photographic and New Media Art,” the participating artists in FotoFest 2018 are all from India and the global Indian diaspora. Organized by lead curator Sunil Gupta and FotoFest executive director and cocurator Steven Evans, FotoFest 2018 will be one of the largest exhibitions of contemporary photography by artists of Indian origin to be presented in the United States.

The upcoming show will be the first time that FotoFest has focused so directly on South Asia. Recent editions have directed attention to artists from Latin America (1992), Korea (2000), China (2008), Russia (2012), and the Arab world (2014). The “INDIA: Contemporary Photographic and New Media Art” exhibition will be presented at three adjacent art spaces in Houston’s Washington Avenue Arts District, as well as in the galleries of the Asia Society Texas Center in Houston’s museum district.

In addition to the show of works, the FotoFest 20018 biennial will feature a number of related programs, including a two-day symposium on the subject of India, presented in partnership with Asia Society Texas Center and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; a film program, presented with the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; artist talks and tours; as well as family, literary, and culinary events.

The full list of exhibiting artists is as follows.

December 18, 2017

Artist Taken into Police Custody Over Mural Painted for the Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture  

Hu Jiamin working on his mural Timed Discrepancy, 2017, at the Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture in Shenzhen. Photo: Cao Yuxue.

Brady Ng reports at ArtAsiaPacific that a mural by the artist Hu Jiamin, created on site for the Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture in the Chinese city of Shenzhen, has been covered up by local authorities and that the artist and his wife have also been in police custody since Saturday after being removed by law enforcement from the exhibition’s main venue on Friday. The work, which the police have launched an investigation into regarding its display in the biennial, is titled Time Discrepancy, 2017, and depicts an empty blue chair in the foreground of a room that also features a traditional Chinese landscape, the latter of which appears behind red prison bars. Painted near the main venue’s entrance by the artist and his wife Marine Brossard, the chair in the piece was intended to be in memory of 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo—a Chinese dissident who was arrested in December 2008 and later sentenced to eleven years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power”—by referencing the fact that, due to Liu’s incarceration, he was unable to travel to Oslo to accept the honor and instead was represented at the official award ceremony by an empty chair placed on stage. Liu passed away on July 13 this summer from liver cancer at a heavily guarded hospital in Shenyang. 

The biennial opened last Friday, December 15, and while security personnel apparently did not interrupt Hu and Brossard when they were painting the mural, and, when asked about his work, the artist spoke of the subject matter freely, that night plainclothes police covered the mural with a large banner printed with a textual introduction to the exhibition and removed the pair from the premises. Hu Jiamin is a Chinese-born artist who holds French citizenship, and while it is still unclear whether the organizers were aware of the mural’s contents before Hu executed the work, those in charge of commissioning the project are also being questioned by authorities. Other political elements of the mural besides the reference to Liu Xiaobo could have triggered the police’s retaliation too, such as the security cameras that are painted in the corners of the room and the inclusion of Mao Zedong’s rallying cry, “Serve the People,” painted as faded text.

The Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism\Architecture is on view at multiple venues in Shenzhen through March 17, 2018.

December 16, 2017

Lincoln Plaza Cinema, New York’s Celebrated Art House Theater, to Close

The Lincoln Plaza Cinema. Photo: Byron Smith for the New York Times.

Lincoln Plaza Cinema, the renowned art house theater that has brought foreign and indie films to audiences in New York since it opened in 1981, will shutter in January. Located in the basement of an apartment building on the Upper West Side, the theater is operated as a partnership between Dan Talbot, the founder of the former New Yorker Films distribution company, France’s Gaumont Film Company, and the local real estate investment firm Milstein Properties, who owns the property. According to the New York Times, Milstein declined to renew the cinema’s lease. While there may be plans in the works to reopen a theater on the premises, the news of Lincoln Plaza Cinema’s closure has come as a shock to the film community.

The theater’s operators, Talbot and his wife, Toby, who have been married for sixty-eight years, are well known on the film circuit. Their tastes in movies and screenings of films as exclusive engagements before their wider release have drawn crowds to the theater for years. The couple is credited with introducing German directors Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Werner Herzog to American film buffs as well as a slew of other filmmakers. In an interview with Deadline, Toby said that she and her husband “did everything we could to ask for the lease to be extended.” She also alleged that Milstein refused to renew the lease because he “is looking to get everything he can. He’s looking to make money.”

Commenting on its decision to close the cinema, Milstein issued the following statement: “Milstein Properties built 30 Lincoln Plaza in 1978, we are long-term members of this community and have played a central role in nurturing this special theater. There is vital structural work needed to repair and waterproof the plaza surrounding the building that cannot be completed while the space is in use, and will begin now that the cinema’s lease has expired. At the completion of this work, we expect to re-open the space as a cinema that will maintain its cultural legacy far into the future.” According to the New York Times, it is uncertain whether the Talbots will be involved in the running of the venue should it reopen. A closing event for the cinema is being planned for January 21, 2018.

December 15, 2017

Joseph V. Melillo to Receive 2018 Bessies Presenter Award

Joseph V. Melillo. Photo: Jesse Winter.

The New York Dance and Performance Awards, known as The Bessies, announced today that Joseph V. Melillo, the executive producer of the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), is the recipient of the 2018 Bessies Presenter Award for Outstanding Curating. His accomplishments will be celebrated at the Bessies Presenters Gathering at La MaMa on Sunday, January 14, 2018.

“The Bessie committees wanted to recognize Joe Melillo for his visionary curation for more than three decades,” said Bessies executive director Lucy Sexton. “Joe has made sure dance has a place on the stages of BAM—from the grand Howard Gilman Opera House to the adventurous Harvey Theater to the intimate space at the Fisher. He has brought so many international choreographers to New York City and lifted up generations of American dance artists on the world stage. We are thrilled to be honoring him with this award.”

Melillo, who has been the executive producer at BAM since 1999, is responsible for its artistic direction. During his tenure, the academy has expanded its programming, increased its audience attendance, and launched initiatives such as The Bridge Project—a three-year series of international theater engagements—and DanceMotion USAsm—a cultural diplomacy and exchange program that partners with the US Department of State. Previously, Melillo served as BAM’s producing director, following a six-year tenure as founding director of the Next Wave Festival. Previously, Melillo served as BAM’s producing director and as founding director of the Next Wave Festival.

December 15, 2017

Lewis Manilow (1927–2017)

Lewis Manilow. Photo: the Chicago Sun-Times

Celebrated arts patron, Lewis Manilow died on Tuesday, December 12, at the age of ninety. He is remembered as an important supporter of cultural institutions in Chicago. Manilow helped establish the city’s Museum of Contemporary Art, where he endowed a curatorship position, donated a variety of works, and served as the president from 1976 to 1981. Kara Walker, Shirin Neshat, and Kerry James Marshall are just some of the artists whose works Manilow and his wife, Susan, have brought into the museum’s collection. He also contributed to major Democratic campaigns for former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, who awarded him the National Medal of Arts in 2000.

“Lewis Manilow was a driving force behind Chicago cultural anchors including the Goodman Theatre and Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art, a generous philanthropist, and dear friend,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. “Throughout my career, Lew challenged me to think fresh and new, read great books and question conventional wisdom.”

Manilow was born in an orphanage in 1927. He was adopted a year later by well-known Chicago developer Nathan Manilow and his wife Minette. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago, and then received a law degree from Harvard University. Shortly after graduation, he moved to New York City to produce Sean O’Casey’s play, Purple Dust. However, his wife told Bob Goldsborough of the Chicago Tribune, that he quickly realized this was not his path.

December 15, 2017

Printed Matter Cancels 2018 Edition of Its LA Art Book Fair

Printed Matter’s LA Book Fair, 2017. Photo: Printed Matter.

Printed Matter announced today that it will not hold the 2018 edition of its LA Art Book Fair. The organization cited the unavailability of the Geffen Contemporary at the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles and the sudden death of fair curator Shannon Michael Cane as the reasons for the cancelation.

“Over the years, the LA Art Book Fair has grown to become one of the art publishing world’s largest gatherings—a community-driven celebration of innovation and creativity, as well as a rich educational forum for engaging with all facets of art book publishing,” executive director Max Schumann said in a statement. “We are greatly disappointed that we are unable to mount the Fair in 2018.” He added that the fair will return in 2019 with “renewed energy.”

Founded in 2013, Printed Matter’s LA Art Book Fair welcomes approximately 40,000 book lovers, collectors, artists, and arts professionals over the course of its four days, and provides a full schedule of public programming that ranges from panel discussions, readings, sound performances, and interactive workshops to curated exhibitions. The event prides itself in its ability to host independent presses, commercial distributors, rare book dealers, university presses, zinemakers, leading gallery imprints, photo-book publishers and activist collectives—under one roof.

December 15, 2017

Major Funding Cuts Threaten Future of UK’s Towner Art Gallery

Towner Gallery.

The future of Towner Gallery, a leading regional UK arts space, is in jeopardy due to a proposed 50 percent cut in funding by the Eastbourne Borough Council (EBC). As Towner’s biggest stakeholder, EBC currently invests $818,000 every year.

EBC has proposed an initial reduction of $266,000 in April 2018 followed by incremental cuts in subsequent years. As a result of the proposed cuts, Towner’s board chair, David Dimbleby, said “We could lose six out of ten exhibitions a year, as well as our award-winning learning program, putting at risk everything that Towner stands for.” 

According to the BBC, the council said that this is the first time it has reduced financial support to the gallery. A council spokesman said that this year the council’s budget was also slashed by the government.

December 15, 2017

Dalit Matatyahu Promoted to Curator at Tel Aviv Museum of Art

Dalit Matatyahu. Photo: Tomer Appelbaum.

The Tel Aviv Museum of Art announced that it has appointed Dalit Matatyahu its new curator of Israeli Art. She will take up the post in May, when Ellen Ginton, who has been served as the institution’s senior curator of Israeli Art since 1987 retires.

Matatyahu said she was “delighted, anxious, and excited to take part in the processes of thought and definitions about Israeli art.” She added, “I believe in the power of the past and present art community to create a dialogue that begins with ‘self-appraisal’ and continues with action.”

Born in Jerusalem in 1969, Matatyahu has worked as an associate curator in the department of prints and drawings at the museum since 2010. She curated exhibitions such as “Yifat Bezalel: Tehilla” (2017), “Talush” (Rootless) (2016), and “Objektiv: Josef Albers, Oran Hoffmann” (2014).

Commenting on the appointment, Doron Rabina, the museum’s chief curator, said: “Dalit has a strong affinity to the written word and original perceptions of the visible. These will offer TAMA a fresh, fearless, and responsible touch with Israeli art.”

December 15, 2017

Caterina Avataneo Wins 2017 NEON Curatorial Award

NEON Curatorial Award 2017 winner Caterina Avateneo, with Whitechapel director Iwona Blazwick, NEON founder Dimitris Daskalopoulos, NEON director Elina Kountouri, and the 2017 judging panel. Photo: Rosie Kennedy. Courtesy: NEON and Whitechapel Gallery.

The Whitechapel Gallery in London has announced that Caterina Avataneo has won the 2017 NEON Curatorial Award, an annual prize established by the gallery and NEON, a non-profit organization in Athens, in 2012. The award recognizes curatorial excellence and gives each winner the opportunity to devise an exhibition proposal drawing from the D.Daskalopoulos Collection, which includes over five hundred contemporary artworks by 220 international and Greek artists.

Avataneo was selected for her exhibition proposal “And Yet They are Knocking at the Door,” which shares its title with a short story written by the Italian author Dino Buzzati in 1942. Bringing together works from thirteen artists, including Giovanni Anselmo, Mona Hatoum, Jenny Holzer, Cindy Sherman, Rebecca Warren, and Rachel Whiteread, the exhibition, which addresses notions of human existential anxiety, death, paradox, and fate, will be staged in the Hepworth Wakefield Gallery and will be accompanied by a publication.

Chaired by Nayia Yiakoumaki, curator and head of curatorial studies, at Whitechapel, the judging panel comprised Ben Eastham, dditor of the White Review; Nadia Schneider Willen, collections curator at Migros, Zurich; and Tina Sotiriadi, an independent curator at H+S Projects.