Preservation Project Uses 3D Printers to Fight ISIS’s Destruction of Heritage Sites

The Triumphal arch, a second-century monument erected by the Romans, in Palmyra, Syria before it was destroyed by ISIS.

#NewPalmyra, an online platform and data repository launched in October, is using unconventional means to fight against the architectural damage done by ISIS in the Syrian city of Palmyra: The group is collecting and publicly sharing data about the ancient city and its destroyed monuments.

On January 18, the virtual archaeologists released the digitally recreated cultural heritage monument, the Arch of Triumph, a Roman arch erected in celebration of a military victory over the Persians, which was destroyed by ISIS this fall.

“The Arch of Triumph is a symbol of the indestructible cultural spirit of Syria,” #NewPalmyra interim director Barry Threw said. “The free sharing of this symbol ensures that the memory embodied in it can never truly be destroyed.”

The #NewPalmyra community plans to have 25,000 active printers in 160 countries working in support of its project to preserve Syrians’ rich history by 3D-printing versions of the arch. The printers are encouraged to document their creative process and submit their models by January 22 to be included in an exhibition at the Taipei Contemporary Art Center the following day.

The two-thousand-year-old city, described on UNESCO’s website as “one of the most important cultural centers in the world,” was seized by ISIS last year. Other Palmyran architectural treasures decimated by ISIS include the Temple of Bel and the Temple of Baalshamin.

#NewPalmyra was initiated by Bassel Khartabil, a Syrian activist and open source developer who works to make Syria’s history accessible to the world. He started virtually reconstructing Palmyra in 2005. The project was put on hold when he was arrested in 2012 for unknown charges but Barry Threw and fellow activists revitalized the project in October.

The exhibition will close on January 31 and all models and work from the show will be released into the public domain under a Creative Commons Zero 1.0 license.


October 27, 2016

Anne Imhof to Represent Germany at 2017 Venice Biennale

Anne Imhof, Aqua Leo, 1st of at least two, 2013. Left: Neila Bin Mohahmed Hadj Yahia, Erika Landström, Carolina Cortese, Eva Kruijssen, Olga Pedan, Anne Imhof. Photo: Nadine Fraczkowski

Anne Imhof has been selected to represent Germany at the fifty-seventh edition of the Venice Biennale, which will be held from May 13 to November 26 in 2017. Susanne Pfeffer, director of the Museum Fridericianum in Kassel, will curate the pavilion.

Born in 1978, the Frankfurt- and Paris-based artist is known for works that explore the history of performance. In 2015, her work DEAL premiered at MoMA PS1; this year, her three-part work Angst played to much acclaim across three separate venues: the Kunsthalle Basel, the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, and the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal as part of La Biennale de Montréal. Last year she won the biennial Nationalgalerie Prize for Young Art. Imhof has been working on “a spatially as well as temporally expansive work” for the pavilion since May.

In the October 2013 issue of Artforum, art historian Victoria Camblin discusses Imhof’s first institutional solo exhibition, “Parade,” held at Frankfurt’s Portikus: “Minimal, task-based, multidisciplinary, and liberated from the constraints of mastery and technique, Imhof’s choreography is nevertheless private, as community-specific as it is democratizing.”

October 27, 2016

Donald A. Moore Elected Chair of ICA London

The Institute of Contemporary Art London has announced that Donald A. Moore was elected chair of the council. He succeeds Alison Myners who led the institution for six years and introduced a new governance structure.

Myners said, “Donald has been an outstanding council member for five years and vice chair. His wide experience across the cultural and business worlds will be invaluable to the ambitious plans we hold for the ICA and bring an exceptional level of support to [Stefan Kalmár] as he shapes the institute’s future.” Kalmár will start his term as director of the institute on November 23.

Moore is chair of Morgan Stanley Group Europe and has been a managing director at Morgan Stanley since 1986. He sits on the international council of Tate and the photography acquisition committee of Tate Modern. Previously, Moore has been a trustee at the National Gallery, London, and a member of the advisory board of the London Symphony Orchestra as well as a member of the corporate board of Carnegie Hall. He joined the ICA council in 2011 and became deputy chair in 2015.

“The ICA has gone from strength to strength under Alison and [Gregor Muir]’s leadership and I am looking forward to working with Stefan and council to take this important institution to the next level, ensuring its vital relevance as a leading voice within the culture of the twenty-fist century.”

October 26, 2016

Architecture Research Office Tapped to Renovate Rothko Chapel

Rothko Chapel

The New York–based Architecture Research Office has been selected to renovate Rothko Chapel—a windowless, octagonal-shaped building located in Houston, Texas that houses fourteen monumental panels created by American painter Mark Rothko.

Commissioned by John and Dominique de Menil, Rothko Chapel opened its doors in 1971. Since then, it has served as an interfaith and human rights gathering place that attracts around 55,000 people annually.

“For more than forty years, the Chapel has been a deeply moving experience of personal contemplation that furthers the Chapel’s mission of social action,” Stephen Cassell, partner at Architecture Research Office, said. “We feel enormous responsibility toward its future.”

The firm plans to improve the Chapel’s skylight, interior light baffle, electric lighting, and acoustics and will work with lighting design firm George Sexton Associates. ARO will also be charged with evaluating the layout of the site, which includes an outdoor plaza and a reflecting pool as well as several bungalows, in order to access whether any other renovations need to be carried out.

October 26, 2016

Michael Wellen to Join Tate as Curator of International Art

Michael Wellen

Tate announced today that it has appointed Michael Wellen as curator of international art. Wellen will focus on further developing the representation of art from Latin America in Tate’s collection and its exhibition program at Tate Modern. He will join the institution in December.

Wellen has served as assistant curator of Latin American and Latino art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston since 2011. He cocurated numerous exhibitions, including “Antonio Berni: Juanito and Ramona,” 2013–2014, and “Contingent Beauty: Contemporary Art from Latin America,” 2015–2016. Previously, Wellen worked as a researcher and writer for the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art in Austin and a lecturer at Rice University where he taught a “Latin American Art and Film Since 1960” seminar. Wellen earned his BA in history and anthropology from Rutgers University and his MA and Ph.D. in modern and contemporary art from the University of Texas.

October 26, 2016

David M. Rubenstein Elected Board Chair of Smithsonian Institution

David M. Rubenstein

David M. Rubenstein, cofounder of the Carlyle Group—a Washington D.C. based investment firm—has been elected chairman of the Smithsonian Institution board, Peggy McGlone of the Washington Post reports. He will succeed board of regents chairman John McCarter.

Rubenstein, who joined the board in 2009, said, “I love the museums, and I love the learning. It keeps me young.” In January, he donated $10 million to the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s capital campaign. The museum named its central exhibition space the David M. Rubenstein History Galleries in his honor. Rubenstein cochairs the Smithsonian’s joint fundraising campaign, serves as board chair of Duke University, and is a board member at several other institutions, including the University of Chicago, Lincoln Center, and the National Gallery of Art.

The Smithsonian also elected Steve Case, cofounder of AOL, as vice chairman and Risa J. Lavizzo-Mourey, president and chief executive of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, as the third member of its executive committee. They will start their three-year terms in January.

In addition to the appointments, the institution announced that it has reached its $1.5 billion goal for its first joint fundraising campaign, which kicked off in 2011, one year ahead of schedule. “It’s the largest, most ambitious campaign for a cultural organization in the world,” Smithsonian secretary Wayne Clough, said. “We are proud to work to keep the museums free for all Americans.”

October 26, 2016

Boca Raton Museum of Art Appoints Lanya Snyder Assistant Curator

Lanya Snyder

Florida’s Boca Raton Museum of Art announced today that Lanya Snyder was named assistant curator of their contemporary art and photography collections. Snyder will be responsible for collaborating with Kathy Goncharov, the contemporary art curator, and Marisa J. Pascucci, curator of collections, on the museum’s exhibition program.

A Bard College graduate, Snyder joined the institution in January and has been developing an annual photography forum in order to grow the museum’s collection of historical and contemporary photographs. Snyder said, “I look forward to working with my colleagues to create a meaningful dialogue between the community and the global art world.”

October 26, 2016

Nathalie Bondil Named Officer of France’s Order of Arts and Letters

Nathalie Bondil

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has promoted Nathalie Bondil, director general and chief curator of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, to Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters of France. She was initially recognized in 2008 when she was named a Chevalier (Knight) of the Order.

Jacques Parisien, chairman of the MMFA’s board of trustees, also announced that the institution has extended Bondil’s contract five years. “Since her appointment as director, the museum has achieved great success,” Parisien said.

Under Bondil’s leadership the MMFA has doubled its annual attendance to one million people, added two pavilions, increased community participation in programming by 207 percent in three years, and added 8,472 works to its collections.

Born in Barcelona in 1967, Bondil was raised in Morocco and is a citizen of France and Canada. She studied art at the École du Louvre and the Institut national du patrimoine in Paris, served as the Montreal Museum’s chief curator for seven years, and was appointed director there in 2007. Bondil was awarded the Médaille de l’Assemblée nationale du Québec in 2016, appointed a member of the Order of Canada in 2015, and currently serves as vice chair of the Canada Council for the Arts.

October 26, 2016

London’s Mayor Working to Secure Cost-Effective Studios for Artists

Artist Charles Jeffrey working in Somerset House Studios. Photo: Dan Wilton.

To fight against the city’s high rent costs, London’s mayor Sadiq Khan is setting up the Creative Land Trust. Made from a combination of private and public funds, it aims to ensure that people who provide spaces for artists to work can receive loans to buy their buildings and ensure that these spaces are invariably protected, writes Anny Shaw of the Art Newspaper.

Studiomakers, a group of philanthropists and entrepreneurs, are collaborating with Khan to fight gentrification and the city’s exorbitant rents by working with landowners and developers to keep existing studios while also creating new ones. According to the Greater London Authority, between 2014 and 2019, 3,500 artists are expected to lose their workspaces in the city. Said Khan, “Culture is in the DNA of the capital but we cannot be complacent. As property prices rise and new areas of the city grow, artists are finding themselves unable to put down roots here. I am committed to improving access to dedicated, affordable workspace so that the next generation of creatives are given the extra support they require to flourish.”

Khan’s announcement comes on the heels of the Somerset House Studios launch in central London, where 36,000 square feet of office space has been converted into more than thirty-five different kinds of studios for about one hundred artists. A team of architects, artists, fashion designers, and musicians—such as Larry Achiampong, Christian Marclay, and Katie Paterson—have occupied the spaces over the last several months. A number of them have even moved into Somerset House after being priced out of their old workspaces. Rents are being worked out according to the London average for studios. Somerset House will also offer residencies of up to two-and-a-half years, focusing on multidisciplinary artists who also choose to work collaboratively. An open application process for twenty-five new residents is starting today.

October 26, 2016

Venice’s Bevilacqua la Masa Foundation Elects New Leadership

Bevilacqua la Masa Foundation.

After protests and a petition by Venice’s artistic community following the city administration’s announcement that it would take over the historic Bevilacqua la Masa Foundation and act as the institution’s executive manager, the foundation’s new board held their first meeting on October 20, near Bevilaquca la Masa’s headquarters at Palazzo Tito, reports Exibart. The foundation’s new director, Michele Casarin, chaired the meeting, including three new board members: board president Bruno Bernardi, Valentina Farolfi, and Roberto Zamberlan.

As reported in July this year, the petitioners demanded that three members of the board of governors should be appointed by the mayor at “the designation of the provosts or directors of the three public educational institutions in Venice, which work in the field of contemporary art, art critique, curatorship, and management,” while including the Academy of Fine Arts and the Ca’ Foscari and IUAV universities–and this demand essentially has been met.

Bruno Bernardi teaches business management, cultural organization management, and accounting and analysis at the Venice University Ca’ Foscari. Since 2013, he has also served as director of the master’s program in creative development and management of cultural heritage–a collaboration between the Ca’ Foscari University and the Scuola Holden in Turin, and has been a member of the administration board of the Fondazione Musei Civici since 2015.

Valentina Farfolfi works as a consultant in public relations and has developed various projects within cultural, scientific, lifestyle, and publishing. While serving as consultant for the Altagamma Foundation, her tasks included collaborating with Codice Italia and executing initiatives such as FEST along with exhibitions on Charles Darwin and homo sapiens.

Roberto Zamberlan worked as a gallerist at Venice’s Santo Stefano Gallery until 2009, and worked with the Giorgio e Isa de Chirico Foundation in Rome. Zamberlan is known for his experience with organizing cultural events.