Cape Town Students Arrested after Burning Paintings Near Site of Protest

student at site of protest

A small group of students has taken paintings from the University of Cape Town’s dorms and lit them on fire, reports News24. The incident took place near the shack erected by protesters campaigning against the university’s lack of dorm space for students from poorer backgrounds.

According to Gerda Kruger, a spokesperson at the university, the act of arson occurred after school officials asked the students to move their protest and shack off the road. “They refused, and while we were still deliberating on what to do, a group entered the two residences on our upper campus, removed artwork from the walls, and set it alight in a fire.”

Police armed with stun grenades then showed up, dispersing the crowd and making arrests on the spot.


January 15, 2017

Martha Swope (1928–2016)

A “West Side Story” rehearsal in Jerome Robbin’s. Photo: Martha Swope Collection, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

Martha Swope, a photographer who chronicled the work of actors and dancers including George Balanchine, Martha Graham, and Jerome Robbins, died in New York on Thursday, January 12, at the age of eighty-eight, Sylviane Gold of the New York Times reports.

Swope was the first official photographer for the New York City Ballet and she documented a score of other companies as well. Since 1957, when Robbins invited her to shoot the rehearsals of “West Side Story,” Swope has photographed over eight hundred stage productions. Her work earned her a Tony for Excellence in Theater in 2004 and a lifetime achievement award from the League of Professional Theater Women in 2007.

Born in Texas in 1928, Swope studied at Baylor University in Waco before attending the School of American Ballet. She wanted to be a dancer, but switched career paths after Lincoln Kirstein, the general director of City Ballet and head of the school, offered Swope a job photographing the company's performances. Her career soared after one of her photographs published in Life magazine.

January 14, 2017

Outsider Art Fairgoers to Recite Obama’s Speeches Inauguration Weekend

President Obama’s farewell address. Photo: Brian Cassella

Manhattan’s Outsider Art Fair is launching a three-day event in celebration of Barack Obama’s term as president of the United States. For “The Barack Obama Readings” attendees are invited to read one of his speeches or recite one of his quotes during inauguration weekend, Jillian Steinhauer of Hyperallergic reports.

While many arts institutions are planning to participate in the “J20 Art Strike” on January 20, which calls for artists organizations to close in protest of “the normalization of Trumpism,” fair owner Andrew Edlin said, “we thought better to show up than shut down.” People can email the fair to sign up to read one of the fifty-six different passages that Edlin compiled or request to recite a passage of their own choosing between 3 and 5 PM each day of the fair. Participants will not have to pay the fair’s $20 admission fee.

Edlin said, “Doing something performative is in keeping with the fair’s spirit and is also a nod to other trailblazers who have reacted to controversial political times. ‘The Barack Obama Readings’ will give people an outlet to express themselves, sort of like in an old-style, public square kind of way.”

January 13, 2017

Artist Aye Ko Wins 2017 Joseph Balestier Award for the Freedom of Art

Aye Ko has won the 2017 Joseph Balestier Award for the Freedom of Art. The award, given by Art Stage Singapore and US Embassy Singapore from Myanmar, recognizes an artist or curator from Southeast Asia whose work exemplifies the ideals of liberty and freedom of expression, according to ArtDaily. A performance artist, Aye Ko took part in the student revolution and was involved in the underground movement for democracy. He was subsequently arrested in 1990 and was given a three-year prison sentence. After serving that time, he carried out his first performance piece at the Asia Topia Performance Art Festival in Thailand, followed by his second performance piece at Chaung Tha Beach in Myanmar. In 2008 Aye Ko and his colleagues founded New Zero Art Space.

Arahmaiani, of Indonesia, and Chaw Ei Thein, of Myanmar, also were named finalists of the prize.

January 13, 2017

Manchester’s $134 Million “Factory” Arts Center Gets Green Light

Design rendering of the Factory.

Manchester city council members have given planning permission for a proposed $134 million arts center designed by Rem Koolhaas, Mark Brown of The Guardian reports.

City council member Richard Leese said the Factory will “make Manchester and the wider region a genuine cultural counterbalance to London.” Former chancellor George Osborne pledged $95 million in state funds for the project in 2014.

The venue will be the first major public building in the UK designed by Koolhaas. Ellen van Loon, the Office for Metropolitan Architecture partner in charge of the project, said, “From classical opera and ballet to large-scale performances and experimental productions, Factory in Manchester provides the perfect opportunity to create the ultimate versatile space in which art, theater, and music come together: a platform for a new cultural scene.”

Manchester International Festival will operate the Factory, which will be built on the site of the former Granada Studios. The arts space will offer a range of art forms including dance, theatre, music, opera, visual arts, spoken word as well as multiple media and technologies.

January 13, 2017

Boris Mikhailov to Represent Ukraine at 2017 Venice Biennale

Boris Mikhailov, “Red” series, 1968-1975.

Ukraine’s ministry of culture has announced that photographer Boris Mikhailov will represent the country at the Fifty-Seventh Venice Biennale, which will be held from May 13 to November 26 in 2017. The Dallas Contemporary’s director Peter Doroshenko and assistant curator Lilia Kudelia will organize the pavilion.

The exhibition will feature the series “Parliament,” 2014–ongoing, which focuses on the current media landscape. In a statement, The Dallas Contemporary said, “Decomposition of the image in the presented photographs alludes to cyberbalkanization, the phenomenon of echo-chambers, and splintering of the media communities.” The pavilion will also include commissions from Ukrainian artists responding to Mikhailov’s work and the lineage of Ukrainian contemporary art.

Born in Kharkiv in 1938, Mikhailov has documented his native Ukraine for over four decades. In the September 2011 issue of Artforum, Michèle Faguet wrote, “Mikhailov’s unflinching view of an unpicturesque reality is infused with a fatalistic sense of humor that avoids the easy, exploitative tropes of victimhood often associated with documentary photo.”

January 13, 2017

Richard Prince Disavows Ivanka Trump Work in Protest of the President-Elect

Richard Prince’s Instagram series work depicting Ivanka Trump.

Artist Richard Prince announced that a work from his Instagram series depicting Ivanka Trump is “fake” and returned a $36,000 payment he received for the piece in 2014 in protest of President-elect Donald J. Trump, Randy Kennedy of the New York Times reports.

On January 11, the appropriation artist posted the image of Ivanka getting her hair and makeup done for a photo shoot on Twitter and said, “This is not my work. I did not make it. I denounce. This fake art.”

The artwork is part of a series for which Prince creates printed paintings of images he finds on Instagram. He often modifies the pieces by adding a comment to the bottom of each image using Instagram account name richardprince4. Prince was approached by an art advisor in 2014 who suggested that he add an image of Ivanka to his series. The artist said that he returned the money that the art advisor, whose name was not disclosed, paid for the piece. It is unclear whether Ivanka or someone else in the Trump family requested the work.

Prince said that he decided to disavow the work as a way to tell the Trump family that he does not want his works in their possession. “It was just an honest way for me to protest. It was a way of deciding what’s right and wrong. And what’s right is art and what’s wrong is not art. I decided the Trumps are not art.”

Joshua Holdeman, a former vice chairman at Sotheby’s, said that the work will most likely still be treated as a legitimate Prince piece and that his disavowal of it might even make it increase in value. Prince said that whether the painting’s market value is affected does not matter. His point was to publicly say, “I don’t want anything to do with your family.”

January 13, 2017

Authorities Detain Artist Tania Bruguera in Cuba

Tania Bruguera

Cuban artist Tania Bruguera was stopped by police while driving from Havana to Baracoa and detained for several hours on January 12, Laurie Rojas of the Art Newspaper reports. The activist was bringing humanitarian aid to the people whose homes were razed by Hurricane Matthew in October 2016.

The authorities told Bruguera and her passenger, Oscar Casanellas, that they needed to inspect the vehicle they were driving. They detained Bruguera and Casanellas and questioned them for six hours.

Bruguera, who lives and works in Havana, New York, and Chicago, has been involved in numerous confrontations with the Cuban police. She was arrested in January 2015 after organizing a performance in Havana’s Plaza de la Revolution and charged with incitement of public disorder, resisting arrest, and incitement to commit a crime. Bruguera was released a month later. In October 2016, the artist announced that she was going to enter Cuba’s 2018 presidential race and encouraged others to do the same in order to “build a different Cuba.”

January 13, 2017

Marc Porter Named Chairman of Sotheby’s Fine Art Division

Marc Porter

Sotheby’s announced today the appointment of Marc Porter as chairman of the Fine Art Division. He will be responsible for growing the auction house’s global specialist departments and advisory businesses as well as building upon its business development strategy at the global level. Porter will take up the post begins on January 17.

“With more than twenty-five years in the art market, Marc is uniquely suited to take on an important leadership role at our company,” Tad Smith, Sotheby’s CEO, said. “Coupled with his experience and excellence serving clients, his business acumen nicely complements our superb team of specialists around the world.”

Prior to joining Sotheby’s, Porter worked at Christie’s for over two decades serving in a variety of roles, including chairman and president of Christie’s America. During his tenure at the auction house, Porter launched a global private sales division, spearheaded online sales, and mediated a number of restitution cases. He currently serves as a trustee of the New York Botanical Garden and the National Museum of American Jewish History, where he is chair of the committee on exhibitions. Marc earned his bachelor’s degrees at the University of Pennsylvania and holds a law degree from Yale Law School.

Porter said, “Sotheby’s is at the forefront of many of the most dynamic changes happening in today’s art market, and the combination of our expansion into new services and capabilities, with established leadership and an outstanding and committed team, makes it a particularly exciting time to join.”

January 13, 2017

UK Parliament Member Tristram Hunt Resigns to Lead V&A Museum

Tristram Hunt

Tristram Hunt has announced that he will step down from his role as Labor MP for Stoke-on-Trent-Central after seven years to join the Victoria and Albert Museum as director.

V&A Chairman Nicholas Coleridge said, Hunt “has a highly compelling mixture of experience across public life, the arts, history, education, and academia, and knows our collections well from his writing and broadcasting. In addition, he is an informed and articulate leader and communicator on numerous facets of culture, both historic and contemporary, and I greatly look forward to working with him at the V&A.”

A historian, politician, writer, and broad journalist, Hunt is an expert on the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and Victorian urban history. He has authored several books including The English Civil War: At First Hand and Ten Cities That Made An Empire. As regular history broadcaster on BBC and Channel 4, Tristram has made more than a dozen series on subjects including Elgar and Empire, Isaac Newton, and the English Civil War. He is a lecturer at the Queen Mary University of London, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, a founder of the Stoke-on-Trent Literary Festival, and a patron of the British Ceramics Biennial. He also previously served as a trustee of both the Heritage Lottery Fund and the National Heritage Memorial Fund as well as a curator of the Mayor of London’s History Festival.

Hunt’s appointment has been approved by the prime minister and the secretary of state for culture, media, and sport. In his letter of resignation to members of his local party, he said, “The extraordinary privilege of serving in parliament has proved both deeply rewarding and intensely frustrating. As I enter a new role as a public servant, I will be leaving partisan politics behind me and will work impartially as a museum director.”