MoCA North Miami Executive Director Fired

Babacar M’Bow

After being placed on administrative leave for several weeks following a sexual harassment complaint, the director of the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, Babacar M’Bow, has been fired from his post. According to a termination letter sent to M’Bow by interim city director Arthur Sorey, the allegations of sexual harassment as well as a lack of appropriate supervision over employees are cited as cause for dismissal. The decision was made on December 31 following an investigation into a complaint made by Tiffany Madera, the museum's outreach and programming manager.

Several employees apparently testified that M’Bow often used graphic and sexual language and innuendo to and around staff members, particularly women. Madera noted in her complaint against him that the director had commented on her sex life, discussed the size of his genitalia, and instructed employees they needed to “get laid.” Her complaint cited several incidents, including a museum staff meeting on December 8 where M’Bow allegedly told the museum’s assistant director, Alan Waufle, to take a female vendor out and “show her a good time.” Waufle called the woman a “skanky bitch,” which Madera objected to, and asserts that M’Bow then interrupted her and told her to stop using “feminist rhetoric.”

According to the city’s investigative report, Waufle also described multiple instances of the director using inappropriately sexual language. In his interview with investigators, M’Bow denied the allegations against him made by Madera and other members of the staff, saying “it is clear that the allegations are false; they are the reaction of an employee who thought I was going to fire her on Jan. 1…I am married to a feminist scholar, this complaint is not part of my intellectual development, I have strong feminist politics.” The city chief of staff Natasha Colebrook-Williams will lead the museum on an interim basis while Sorey and the city council begin an official search for a new director.


April 28, 2017

Lorie Mertes to Lead Miami’s Locust Projects

Lorie Mertes

Miami nonprofit exhibition space Locust Projects announced today that Lorie Mertes was appointed executive director. Currently the director of public programs at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC, Mertes will officially assume the position on May 5. She succeeds Chana Budgazad Sheldon, who said she is stepping down after eight years to pursue new opportunities.

“Lorie’s ingenuity and ambition will prove invaluable at a time when Locust Projects celebrates two decades of programming and looks towards implementing a strategic planning process to map our path for the years to come,” said board chair Debra Scholl.

Mertes will be responsible for overseeing Locust’s exhibition program, as well as annual programs such as Locust Art Builders, which provides artist-led instruction and resources to Miami-Dade high school students, and Locust Talks, a lecture series that hosts visiting directors and curators.

April 28, 2017

Vito Acconci (1940–2017)

Vito Acconci

Sculptor, performer, and video artist Vito Acconci, best known for his subversive Body Art in the 1960s and ’70s for which he did a number of controversial acts ranging from biting himself to masturbating under the floorboards of Sonnabend Gallery, has died at the age of seventy-seven. According to art dealer Kenny Schacter, the cause of death was a stroke.

Born in the Bronx in 1940, Acconci earned his bachelor’s degree from Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts, and his master’s degree in writing at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, in 1964 before returning to New York. Over the course of his career, he created a diverse body of work in poetry, criticism, performance art, sound, film and video, photography, and sculpture that often explored themes of the human body and the relationship between himself and the public space. In the 1970s he created works reflecting his interest in architecture, landscape, and furniture design, and in the 1980s he began making sculptures that required viewer participation.

Since his first solo show in 1969, at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Acconci has participated in numerous exhibitions. Retrospectives have been organized by the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, in 1978; the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago in 1980; and MoMA PS1 in Queens, New York, in 2016. He has also taught at several institutions including the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, Nova Scotia College of Art & Design in Halifax, San Francisco Art Institute, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and the School of Visual Arts in New York.

April 28, 2017

Berlin Biennale Announces Curatorial Team for Tenth Edition

Gabi Ngcobo

Gabi Ngcobo, the curator of the Tenth Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, has invited Moses Serubiri, Nomaduma Rosa Masilela, Thiago de Paula, and Yvette Mutumba to collaborate with her as the curatorial team for the exhibition. In addition, graphic designer Maziyar Pahlevan was tapped to create the visual identity for the biennial.

According to the biennial’s website, each member of the team has “ongoing, malleable, and open-ended research interests” and their creative output “continuously reflect historical and current shifts and their uneasy entanglements.” They have also worked previously with Ngcobo on various initiatives.

Opening on June 9, 2018, and running until September, the biennial “proposes a plan for how to face collective madness” by focusing on strategies of self-preservation, the act of dismantling dominant structures, and building from a non-hierarchical position.

April 28, 2017

Francesco Manacorda Joins V-A-C Foundation as Artistic Director

Francesco Manacorda. Photo: Michael James O’Brien

Dedicated to the development and international presentation of Russian contemporary culture, the V-A-C Foundation announced today that Francesco Manacorda was named its new artistic director. He currently serves as artistic director of Tate Liverpool, which he joined in 2012. Manacorda will take up the post in September.

“I have followed closely the developments of V-A-C Foundation since it was established in 2009 and have been a huge admirer of their risk-taking, rigorous, and experimental approach,” Manacorda said. “I am delighted to join the team in a moment of great expansion in Moscow and Venice that will cement V-A-C’s international reach and present incredible opportunities for artists from all over the world.”

While at Tate Liverpool, Manacorda’s term was marked by his focus on education. He created a new approach to programming at the institution, which integrated exhibitions, learning, and research by presenting monographic exhibitions of modern artists alongside solo shows of contemporary artists including Nasreen Mohamedi and Piet Mondrian, Maria Lassnig with Francis Bacon and Ella Kruglyaskaya, and Glenn Ligon alongside Jackson Pollock and Geta Bratescu.

April 28, 2017

Phillips Names Julia Roxana Heinen as Regional Director for Switzerland

Julia Roxana Heinen

Phillips has announced the appointment of Julia Roxana Heinen as a specialist and regional director for twentieth century and contemporary art for Switzerland. Heinen is currently the senior specialist for postwar and contemporary art at Bonhams in London.

“Switzerland has always been an important market for contemporary art and a home to many serious art collectors,” Cheyenne Westphal, global chairman of Phillips, said. “I am delighted that Julia has joined our team as part of our major global expansion as we work to provide clients throughout Europe the best service across all of the collecting categories in which we specialize. She will partner with Phillips’s senior executives in Europe, Asia, and the United States to further develop our global client relationships, focusing on delivering best-in-class services and engagement opportunities to today’s collectors.”

During her tenure at Bonhams, Heinen worked on auctions in London, New York, and Hong Kong, establishing an international client database for the auction house by focusing primarily on German and Swiss collectors.

April 27, 2017

Do Ho Suh Awarded Ho-Am Prize for the Arts

Do Ho Suh

Korean sculptor Do Ho Suh has been named the 2017 winner of the $275,000 Ho-Am Prize for the arts. Established in 1990 by Kun-Hee Lee, the chairman of Samsung, the annual prize honors Koreans who have made significant contributions to the fields of science, engineering, medicine, community service, and the arts.

Born in Seoul in 1962, Suh earned his bachelors and masters degrees in oriental painting from Seoul National University before relocating to the United States, where he continued his studies at the Rhode Island School of Design and Yale University. Suh is perhaps best known for creating colorful, translucent sculptures that reimagine his childhood homes in Seoul and his adolescence in the United States. In a statement issued by the prize, Suh was selected for his ability to “capture not only the real world but also the imaginary world, which encompasses the past and the present as well as the East and the West [via] the artist’s efforts to express his experiences of traversing different cultures, thereby elevating the status of the Korean art.”

In the February 2015 issue of Artforum, architecture critic Julian Rose reviewed an exhibition of Suh’s work at The Contemporary Austin. He wrote: “So many weighty themes are piled onto Do Ho Suh’s fabric sculptures, it seems remarkable that his diaphanous structures don’t collapse under their heavy load. History and biography, longing and belonging, migration and globalization—these are only a handful of the ponderous concatenations apparently called to mind by the artist’s works. Such associations are perhaps not surprising, given that Suh’s work addresses architecture, a perennially symbolic subject, and specifically the home—surely the most intensely symbolic of architectural spaces.”

April 27, 2017

Lauren Cornell Joins Bard Graduate Program as Director and Hessel Museum as Chief Curator

Lauren Cornell

The Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College has named New Museum curator Lauren Cornell director of its graduate program in curatorial studies as well as chief curator of the school’s Hessel Museum of Art. She will assume her responsibilities on July 1.

“Lauren’s innovative approach to curating and public programming will bring a new strength to the wide-ranging activities of the CCS and the Hessel Museum,” Tom Eccles, the executive director of Hessel, said. “Our recent expansion broadened our capacity for archival research and contemporary art scholarship, creating greater opportunities for the CCS students, the undergraduate programs at Bard, and visitors to the museum. Lauren’s expertise and collaborative spirit will carry forward the institution’s commitment to the analysis and advancement of art across the masters program and museum.”

As director of the graduate program, Cornell will be responsible for all aspects of the center’s academic structure, including curriculum and faculty development, directing research initiatives, and organizing the center’s artist-in-residence and curator-in-residence programs. As chief curator, a newly created position, she will oversee and organize the exhibitions program, symposia, public programs, publishing initiatives, and support development of the museum’s collections.

April 27, 2017

Esther McGowan Named Executive Director of Visual AIDS

Esther McGowan

Visual AIDS, a contemporary arts organization committed to raising awareness about HIV and AIDS, has announced that its executive director Nelson Santos has decided to step down from his role. Esther McGowan, the organization’s current associate director, will succeed him. She will take up the post on July 1.

“I am excited to see where this new change will bring me and Visual AIDS,” Santos said. “I am very proud to have been a part of the organization for the last seventeen years. My work at Visual AIDS has been the most rewarding time of my life. I am inspired by the courage, talent and generosity of so many artists and activists who I have been fortunate to meet, work with, and call my friends.”

The board of directors will celebrate Santos’s accomplishments and congratulate McGowan at its VAVA VOOM benefit on May 22. In a statement, the board said, “Esther’s experience, commitment and thoughtful guidance will ensure an exciting and impactful future for Visual AIDS.” Founded in 1988, Visual AIDS works to produce visual art projects, exhibitions, public forums, and publications while assisting artists living with HIV/AIDS.

April 27, 2017

Sotheby’s Holds First-Ever Modern and Contemporary African Art Sale

Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou, Untitled, 2012. From the series “Demoiselles de Port-Novo.”

Sotheby’s has announced that it will stage its first-ever sale of modern and contemporary African work. Taking place in London on May 16, the auction features pieces by more than sixty artists from fourteen countries across the continent, including Algeria, Ghana, Mali, Senegal, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Zimbabwe.

“The marketplace for modern and contemporary art from Africa has transformed dramatically over the past decade, but despite this long-overdue correction, there’s still a considerable way to go towards addressing the underrepresentation of African artists, who account for just 0.01 percent of the international art market,” Hannah O’Leary, Sotheby’s head of modern and contemporary African art, said.

O’Leary said that the auction was organized in direct response to the “exponential increase in market demand from collectors in Africa and the African diaspora, as well as international art collectors and influencers who are embracing art from Africa as exciting, innovative, and relevant.”