Korean Artists Petition Against Former MACBA Director

Bartomeu Marí

According to a report by Gareth Harris in the Art Newspaper, a campaign called petition4art led by Korean artists, curators, and cultural figures has launched several petitions protesting the appointment of Bartomeu Marí, the former director of the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, or MACBA, as the new director of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul. Their concerns about Marí’s appointment stem from his role in the censorship of an exhibition at the MACBA last spring called “The Beast and the Sovereign,” a debacle that led to his resignation and the resignation of several high profile museum curators and directors from the International Museum Committee’s Board.

The first petition was created last month and gained more than 830 signatures, including from the Seoul-based filmmaker Park Chan-kyong and the Berlin-based artist Haegue Yang, opposing Marí’s candidacy. After Marí’s official appointment in Seoul earlier this month, replacing the museum’s acting director Kim Jeongbae, a second petition was launched on December 3 and has amassed 450 signatures so far. A spokesperson for petition4art said that the ministry of culture in South Korea “must not attempt any kind of censorship… We also ask the new director for a public declaration of ethics where he states clearly his will to stand against any kind of censorship and control or pressure from the authorities.”

Marí has personally written to the petition4art group, saying he opposes “all sorts of censorship…I believe that the only way art can play a role in society is by being produced, presented and received in freedom, without impositions or restrictions,” and defended his initial decision to cancel the exhibition at MACBA by reasoning that exhibiting artist Ines Doujak’s work—depicting the former Spanish King Juan Carlos I being sodomized by the late Bolivian labor leader Domitila Chúngara—opened the museum’s board to legal action from the Spanish government for insulting the former monarch, whose “image is protected by law.”


June 28, 2017

Hammer Museum Names Erin Christovale Assistant Curator

Erin Christovale

The Hammer Museum announced today the appointment of Los Angeles-based curator and programmer Erin Christovale as assistant curator. As previously announced, Christovale will cocurate the Hammer’s biennial exhibition, “Made in L.A. 2018,” with Anne Ellegood.

“Erin Christovale is an exciting addition to the Hammer’s curatorial team,” director Ann Philbin said. “Her wide-ranging interests across film and other media will strengthen our ability to engage both new audiences and ideas. Erin has long advocated for under-recognized artists, and we’re pleased she will be working with us beyond ‘Made in L.A. 2018.’”

Christovale cocurated with Amir George the touring program of short films, “Black Radical Imagination,” which has screened both nationally and internationally in spaces such as MoMA PS1; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and the Museo Taller Jose Clemente Orozco. Among the recent exhibitions she’s curated are “a/wake in the water: Meditations on Disaster” (2014) at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, as well as “Memoirs of A Watermelon Woman” (2016) and “A Subtle Likeness” (2016) at the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives. Christovale was previously a curator at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery and is currently organizing the twenty-eighth anniversary of “Alternate Endings with Vivian Crockett” as part of Visual AIDS’s longstanding project, “A Day With(Out) Art.”

June 28, 2017

Family of Franz West Wins Court Battle Over Artist’s Estate

Franz West. Photo: Markus Roessle / Archive Peter Noever.

Franz West’s young children have won the battle over their father’s estate, writes Rachel Corbett of the Art Newspaper. A Viennese court ruled that the paperwork for the creation of the Franz West Private Foundation, established only days before the artist’s death, was missing language that is usually standard in such agreements, including a “statement of dedication” from the foundation that would underline its acceptance of terms. “They were done in the hospital, just two days before he died and just hours before he had to receive medication,” said the West family’s lawyer, Christoph Kerres. Now monies from sales and any remaining works from the artist’s estate, “worth many millions of euros,” said Kerres, will go to West’s children and their legal guardian, Benedikt Ledebur—provided the foundation chooses not to appeal the decision.

After the artist signed the paperwork on his deathbed, the organization claimed all rights to West’s assets and royalties, which would have gone to his children and wife, the artist Tamuna Sirbiladze, who died in 2016. Since the foundation’s creation, there have been abuses: Last June the Oberlandesgericht Wien, the higher regional court of Vienna, removed three members from the board of the West foundation for paying themselves excessive salaries—$560,000 during a five-month period in 2012, the year the artist died, and more than $900,000 in 2013.

If the foundation gets dismantled after the ruling, the Franz West Archive, launched in 1997, could become the only authenticator of the artist’s works. In the past, the archive has sued the foundation, Gagosian Gallery (the artist’s US representative), and Galerie Eva Presenhuber for selling photographs and furniture that belonged to West, as the archive owns the sole license to those items.

June 28, 2017

Norway Abandons Jonas Dahlberg’s Memorial to Victims of Utøya Massacre

Rendering of Jonas Dahlberg’s Memory Wound, a proposed memorial for the seventy-seven victims killed by gunman Anders Breivik in 2011.

After years of setbacks, the Norwegian government has decided to nix Swedish artist Jonas Dahlberg’s planned memorial to the seventy-seven victims of two terror attacks, which occurred on July 22, 2011. Residents of Utøya Island, where right-wing gunman Anders Behring Breivik killed sixty-nine adolescents attending a summer camp organized by the Norwegian Labor Party, launched a campaign against Dahlberg’s project shortly after it was selected through an international competition in 2014. They claimed his tribute, Memory Wound, which would cut away a roughly 131-foot-long and eleven-foot-wide section of land from the tip of Sørbråten peninsula, which faces Utøya Island, would hurt the environment as well as the community.

Dahlberg told Theodor Ringborg in a 500 Words for artforum.com in 2014 that “wounding” nature was the concept behind the work. The idea for the memorial was inspired by a trip to the site of the tragedy, where Dahlberg was taken on a tour of the facility and grounds where the camp was held. “Inside the buildings, there was evidence of what had taken place: bullet holes in the walls and floors stained with cleaning agents,” Dahlberg said. “Outside, however, nature had healed in a way that the building couldn’t. As if nature had moved on, what had once attested and bore witness had now been covered up. Considering the site for the memorial, I thought about possibilities of doing something that wounded nature to the point that it couldn’t heal—to do something that would obstruct its inevitable self-restoration, to do something which couldn’t be undone.”

Dahlberg also proposed taking the earth that would have been removed from the peninsula and using it to create a second memorial in Oslo, where Breivik had murdered eight other people after planting a car bomb earlier that same day. While the artist’s designs were widely well-received, local residents, who called the work “a rape of nature” and “a hideous monument” to the tragic events, filed a lawsuit against the state demanding that it shut down the project.

June 28, 2017

Berlin’s Silberkuppe Gallery Closes

View of “Win McCarthy: Mister,” 2017, at Silberkuppe.

Berlin’s Silberkuppe gallery has closed its doors. Founded in 2008 by Dominic Eichler and Michel Ziegler, Silberkuppe staged more than seventy exhibitions in its space on Keithstrasse 12. The gallery’s final exhibition was Win McCarthy’s “Mister,” which was chosen for a Critic’s Pick by artforum.com contributor Kristian Vistrup Madsen. In a statement, Eichler and Ziegler say they are “very grateful to everyone who has supported [us] in the last nine years” and “remain committed to art, in particular art [that] doesn’t shy from the political in all its guises.”

The gallery represented Gerry Bibby, Michaela Eichwald, Margaret Harrison, Tobias Kaspar, Heinz Peter Knes, Laura Lamiel, Janette Laverrière, Adam Linder, Thomas Locher, Fred Lonidier, Shahryar Nashat, Anna Ostoya, Anne Speier, and Phel Steinmetz.

June 28, 2017

Russian Artist Arrested for Wearing VR Headset in Moscow

Ekaterina Nenasheva being detained by police. Photo: Natalia Budantseva

Moscow-based artist and activist Ekaterina Nenasheva was arrested by authorities earlier this month for refusing to take off a virtual reality headset, which she was using to capture images of the city for her ongoing performance project “Between Here and There,” VR Scout reports.

Nenasheva has been wearing the VR goggles and walking around the city everyday since June 12 in order to document what daily life in Moscow looks like so that she can share the footage with psychiatric patients in clinics throughout the city. The artist had already visited Moscow’s subway, market, and old Arbat, Sadovy Ring Road, and the Crimean Bridge, among other places.

“‘In virtual reality one must not be in a public place. Here we have the real world,’ said police, grabbing me by the arms,” wrote Nenasheva on her Facebook page. She had been detained while exploring Red Square and was taken to a police precinct where she was interrogated about which reality she thought she was living in. The authorities accused her of being a danger to the public and then tried to force her to sign a form stating she was voluntarily admitting herself to a psychiatric hospital. When she refused, several people arrived to escort her to an institution where she explained her project to one of the doctors there. The psychiatrist told her that “he is also a creative person and writes poetry,” and does not see any reason to continue hospitalizing Nenasheva, but recommended that she should try “not to cross a certain line.”

June 28, 2017

Condo New York Opens Thursday

Cheng Ran’s The Bridge, 2016, will be on display in “A New Ballardian Vision” at Metro Pictures, which is hosting Shanghai's Leo Xu. Photo: Leo Xu

The inaugural edition of Condo New York, a large-scale collaborative exhibition, will kick off this Thursday, June 29. Its experimental format, which involves sixteen Manhattan galleries hosting young galleries from across the globe, aims to create a support system among emerging galleries by helping them gain exposure in a new city. Condo New York will run until July 28.

Vanessa Carlos, director of the Carlos/Ishikawa gallery in London, originally launched Condo in the UK in January 2016. Impressed with Condo’s pop-up gallery model and its emphasis on collaboration rather than competition, dealer Simone Subal approached Carlos about the initiative hoping to bring it to New York. Working with her friend and fellow gallerist Nicole Russo, the owner of Chapter NY, Subal managed to persuade sixteen New York galleries to participate by either sharing their spaces with visiting galleries or cocurating shows with them. “The initiative encourages the evaluation of existing models, pooling resources, and acting communally to propose an environment that is more conducive for experimental gallery exhibitions to take place internationally,” according to a statement issued by Condo.

In the past, the exhibition has involved more than sixty galleries across twenty-three London spaces, including the Sunday Painter, Arcadia Missa, Southard Reid, and more. For New York’s first iteration of the initiative, the participants include Andrew Kreps Gallery hosting What Pipeline (Detroit), Metro Pictures hosting Leo Xu (Shanghai), Bodega hosting Croy Nielsen (Vienna), and Off Vendome hosting Freedman Fitzpatrick (Los Angeles).

June 27, 2017

Art Gallery of Ontario Appoints Four New Curators

From left: Julie Crooks, Alexa Greist, Wanda Nanibush, and Caroline Shields.

The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) has appointed four new curators: Julie Crooks, assistant curator of photography; Alexa Greist, assistant curator of prints and drawings; Wanda Nanibush, assistant curator of Canadian and indigenous art; and Caroline Shields, assistant curator of European art.

Stephan Jost, the Michael and Sonja Koerner director and CEO of the museum, said, “The four areas in which Alexa, Caroline, Julie, and Wanda will work are all central to the vision for the future of the AGO. Whether they are cornerstone collections, such as European or Canadian art, or growing areas of focus such as Indigenous art or photography, each of them brings an exceptional and diverse range of experiences to their work here.”

Crooks received her Ph.D. from the department of history of art and archaeology at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies. She is a cocurator of the “Of Africa” project at Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum, where she was given a Rebanks Postdoctoral Fellowship to research the involvement of black and African audiences with the museum’s African gallery, as well as the history of black people in Canada via photography.

June 27, 2017

New York’s MoMA Receives $50 Million Gift

New York’s MoMA.

New York’s Museum of Modern Art announced today that the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation has made a gift of $50 million in support of the museum’s ongoing renovation and expansion project, which will add fifty thousand square feet of gallery space, allowing the museum to reconceive the presentation of its collection and exhibitions.

In honor of the Cohens’ generosity the museum will create the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Center for Special Exhibitions, MoMA’s largest contiguous gallery. Located on the sixth floor, the Cohen Center will have an adaptable floor plan and will be used to regularly present large-scale exhibitions.

“Steven and Alex Cohen are incredible philanthropists, whose longtime generosity to the museum exemplifies their deep commitment to sharing the art of our time with the widest possible audience,” said MoMA director Glenn D. Lowry. “This gift will have an extraordinary impact on our ability to present exhibitions at a scale that is virtually unprecedented. I am also thrilled to have Steve as a new member of our board of trustees.”

June 27, 2017

Palais de Tokyo Names Artists for Its First US Exhibition with Expo Chicago 2017

The interior of the Roundhouse.

The Palais de Tokyo has announced the participating artists for “Singing Stones,” curated by the museum’s Katell Jaffrès, an offsite exhibition that will open in conjunction with the 2017 Expo Chicago art fair as part of the museum’s “Hors les Murs” (Outside the Walls) program, which organizes satellite exhibitions at various art events around the world. The show will be held at the Roundhouse, a former horse stable on the campus of the DuSable Museum of African American History in South Chicago, designed by Burnham and Root, and erected in 1881. “Singing Stones” marks the museum’s first staging of a show on US soil. French and international artists will be creating new work for the exhibition through a residency partnership with Mana Contemporary Chicago.

The participating artists in “Singing Stones” are Wilfrid Almendra, Thomas Teurlai, the Floating Museum Collective, Florian Pugnaire, David Raffini, Raphaël Zarka, Dorian Gaudin, Guillaume Leblon, Daniel G. Baird, Bouchra Khalili, Cauleen Smith, Lola Gonzàlez, and Andrew Schachman. “Singing Stones” opens on September 12 and runs until October 29. The fair begins on September 13 and ends on September 17.