Nora Khan and Christiane Paul Given Thoma Foundation’s Arts Writing Awards in Digital Art

From left: Christiane Paul and Nora Khan

Alex Greenberger of Artnews has written that Nora Khan and Christiane Paul have been given the Thoma Foundation’s awards for art writing in digital art.

Khan, an emerging digital-arts writer and contributing editor at Rhizome, has been given $20,000; $5000 of which is a grant that will go towards a new project.

Paul, an associate dean and associate professor at the New School’s media studies department, as well as an adjunct curator of new media arts at the Whitney—whose new book, A Companion to Digital Art, is being released this week—has been given a $40,000 award; $10,000 of which is a grant that will go towards a new project.

Omar Kholeif, one of the members of the Thoma Foundation’s awards committee, in addition to being the Manilow senior curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, said “Their diverse practices as authors on digital art and culture complement each other beautifully; together they suggest a speculative future history for our joint field of practice—one that is inclusive and historically rigorous and generous to the community of digital art and art history more broadly speaking.”

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November 21, 2017

Photographer Sues Smithsonian and Artist Christo for Copyright Infringement

Gianfranco Gorgoni’s photograph documenting the installation of Running Fence. Photo: Gianfranco Gorgoni.

The artist Christo and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, are being sued by photographer Gianfranco Gorgoni for copyright infringement, writes Dan Duray of the Art Newspaper. Gorgoni claims he was not paid or correctly credited for his pictures of Christo’s Running Fence, a project by the artist and his wife, the late Jeanne-Claude, featuring an enormous fabric construction almost twenty-five miles long that ran through California’s Marin and Sonoma counties.

From 1972 until 1976, with Christo’s permission, the photographer documented numerous phases of the project, from start to finish, as “part of Gorgoni’s artistic practice of, in essence, making art by photographing art as it was being made by other artists,” according to the lawsuit. Christo, however, did not pay Gorgoni for his efforts. And Gorgoni never transferred the copyright for the images to the artist, which he says were created by him alone, sans Christo’s help. The photographer also states that he certified the ownership of his pictures in writing with Christo and Abrams (they were used for the 1978 book Christo: Running Fence, published by Abrams). Then, as alleged in the lawsuit, Christo “sold a series of materials to the Smithsonian related to Running Fence,” including “physical copies” of Gorgoni’s work. In the sale were also portraits Gorgoni took of the locals. And in 2010, a second book was published—with the Smithsonian—commemorating Running Fence, _concurrent with an exhibition at the museum that year. Gorgoni says the show and additional book were created without his knowledge or approval. The lawsuit also states that the book for the Smithsonian’s show did not name the photographer as a member of the group that helped with Running Fence. “What Christo and the Smithsonian did was use Gorgoni’s images—works of art themselves—in a book, exhibition, and film without even telling him, much less asking his permission. That Gorgoni’s copyrights were publicly registered and acknowledged by Christo himself in a book that Christo designed (and which the Smithsonian owned) is egregious,” said John Cahill, Gorgoni’s lawyer.

Gorgoni is seeking out a jury trial and payment for damages of up to $150,000. But the artist is not especially interested in getting paid, says his lawyer. “Although Gorgoni has been forced to file a lawsuit seeking damages and injunctions, this has never been about money for him. It is truly a case of principle,” said Cahill.

November 21, 2017

Oreet Ashery Wins Tenth Film London Jarman Award

Oreet Ashery. Courtesy: Goldsmiths University of London

Oreet Ashery’s film Party for Freedom, commissioned by Artangel, won the 2017 London Jarman Award. A combination of live performance and music with moving image, the work questions political polarities such as hippy liberalism and populism. The award includes a commission for Channel 4’s Random Acts and approximately $13,246 in prize money.

Ashery’s practice is often satirical, experimental, and collaborative. In her most recent work, Passing Through Metal, she merges death metal and knitting in a performance, and in her web series Revisiting Genesis, she evaluates the relationship between technology and death. She has been featured in exhibitions held at London institutions such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Freud Museum, the Institute of Contemporary Arts, and the Royal Opera House, and the Whitstable Biennale.

“Oreet Ashery is a fitting winner for the tenth Film London Jarman Award as her mercurial, ever-evolving work is nigh-on impossible to pigeonhole,” Adrian Wootton, chief executive of Film London and the British Film Commission, said. “She has spent her entire career pushing the boundaries of moving image as an art form, and it’s this questing restlessness of spirit that we set out to champion when the award was first established.”

November 21, 2017

Artistic Director of Documenta 14 Criticizes Handling of Exhibition’s Audit Report

Adam Szymczyk. Photo: Nils Klinger.

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, or PwC—the professional services firm hired to complete an independent audit of Documenta 14 over its deficit of $8.3 million—the beleaguered quinquennial exhibition went over budget largely because of its additional site this year in Athens, writes Hili Perlson of Artnet. PwC reviewed the full report at a board meeting for the exhibition’s shareholders and parent company on November 15. It states that the show would have made a profit had Athens not been a part of the equation. Adam Szymczyk, the artistic director of Documenta 14, claims that PwC’s findings were not shared with him or Annette Kulenkampff, the CEO of documenta GmbH, and that he had to learn about the report through the media.

Szymczyk is upset over the way the meeting was orchestrated: “You can’t study and analyze a complex multipage document with financial details during the same meeting, you should debate it,” he wrote in an e-mail to Artnet. He also alleged that the board made up the controversy surrounding the exhibition, calling it a “controlled scandal” because Bertram Hilgen, the former mayor of Kassel (the city where the exhibition is held) and Documenta’s board chair, has been “constantly publicly attacked and defamed . . . without a clear and solid reason.”

Szymczyk also feels faulting Athens for the show’s problems is a matter of convenient scapegoating: “I think blaming ‘Athens’ for the trouble is an easy political excuse, opening the way to limiting the autonomy of any future documenta [exhibitions] through managerial ‘adjustments,’ thus undermining the fundamental premise of the project—its autonomy.”

November 21, 2017

Art History Prize for Teenagers Established in UK

Write on Art competition poster.

Write on Art is a new prize—sponsored by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art and the arts charity Art UK—aimed at keeping young people in the United Kingdom engaged with art history by writing about it, reports Gareth Harris of the Art Newspaper. The initiative comes a year after A-level art history courses were dropped from the national curriculum by the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance exam board (although Pearson, another board, created a new A-level for art history, which started in September).

Those who want to enter the competition are asked to “choose a work from the Art UK website and persuade readers to take a closer look.” There will be two categories for the award, based on age: one for fifteen- and sixteen-year-olds, and another for seventeen- and eighteen-year-olds. The submission deadline for the first year is February 26, 2018. Winners will receive a cash prize of about $660.

Among the jury are Jackie Wullschlager, an art critic at the Financial Times; Gabriele Finaldi, the director of the National Gallery in London; and the artist Jeremy Deller, who said of the award: “Art history is the study of power, politics, identity, and humanity, and we should be doing all we can, with projects like this, to get as many young people as possible excited by art history and involved in it.”

November 21, 2017

Germany Appoints New President of Commission on Nazi-Looted Art

Hans-Jürgen Papier. Photo: Tobias Klenze.

Hans-Jürgen Papier, a law professor at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and a former president of Germany’s constitutional court, has been appointed the new president of the country’s advisory panel on Nazi-looted art, writes Catherine Hickley of the Art Newspaper. Papier replaces Jutta Limbach, who died last year.

Papier provides “great experience in handling complex issues” and the well-honed legal skills necessary to “strengthen the work of the advisory panel in both the national and international context,” said German culture minister Monika Grütters. Founded in 2003, the commission oversees claims where museums and claimants cannot agree on a settlement.

November 20, 2017

Artist Organizing Alternative Havana Biennial Released on Bail

Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara. Photo: Orlando García García

Artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara was released from police custody on Thursday, November 10, after he paid a $1,000 bail fee, Cubanet reports. He was accused of illegally receiving construction materials, including bags of cement and sand, at his home in Old Havana. The date of his upcoming trial has yet to be determined.

Otero Alcántara was arrested by authorities on November 6, only a few hours before he was expected to hold a press conference on the Alternative Havana Biennial, which he began organizing after the thirteenth edition of the state-sponsored Bienal de la Habana was canceled due to a lack of funds as a result of Hurricane Irma. His partner Yanelys Nuñez Leyva had also been detained but was released after a few hours.

An online petition demanding that the artist be freed immediately was launched by Tania Bruguera on November 8. Signed by nearly five hundred people, the document alleged that the Cuban government has a history of shutting down cultural events that benefit locals while ensuring that venues popular with foreign tourists remain open.

After the artist was transferred to Vivac penitentiary center, located on the outskirts of Havana, he was subjected to a series of interrogations. He said that he was not allowed to make a phone call and was not provided with basic hygienic supplies such as toothpaste and soap.

In a statement published by the Havana Times, Yanelis Nuñz Leyva thanked everyone who participated in the campaign for Otero Alcántara’s release and stated that they were committed to planning the Alternative Biennial, which is slated to open in May 2018.

November 20, 2017

Performa Names Kemang Wa Lehulere as 2017 Malcolm McLaren Award Winner

Kemang Wa Lehulere, I Cut My Skin to Liberate the Splinter, 2017. Photo: Paula Court

Performa, the New York–based performance art biennial, announced that artist Kemang Wa Lehulere has won the fourth edition of the Malcolm McLaren Award. Presented last night at the conclusion of Performa 17, the prize recognizes artists who stage “an innovative and thought-provoking performance” during the course of the exhibition. South African vocalist Vuyo Sotashe accepted the award on the artist’s behalf.

“Performa 17 has been an utterly exhilarating biennial,” founder and chief curator RoseLee Goldberg said. Every work has been a powerful call to activism through the most visually dazzling means, showing us how artists use their extraordinary talent as probes to consciousness. We are all better human beings for the work that we have experienced.”

The award was established in 2011 to honor Malcolm McLaren. Wa Lehulere received the prize for his work I Cut My Skin to Liberate the Splinter, 2017. Performed at the Connelly Theater, the piece comprised found objects, which served as musical instruments that performers played while acting out movements from children’s games. It also included a song composed by the artist. Past recipients of the award include Ragnar Kjartansson, Ryan McNamara, and Edgar Arceneaux.

November 20, 2017

Turkish Activists Denounce Ban on LGBTI Events in Ankara

Participants in the March Against Homophobia and Transphobia organized by Kaos GL on March 20, 2012, Ankara.

Human rights groups are up in arms after the Turkish capital city of Ankara imposed a ban on all LGBTI cultural events, Kareem Shaheen reports in The Guardian. The order came one week after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan described empowering gay people as being “against the values of our nation.” Activists have condemned the move as illegal and discriminatory.

Citing threats to “public order,” the Ankara governor’s office issued the ban on Sunday, November 19. It also released a statement declaring that it would restrict the presentation of films, plays, exhibitions, panels, and other events in an effort to protect “public order and public health and morals.” The office’s announcement comes just days after the government prevented a festival on German-language gay films from taking place.

This prohibitive measure is only the latest development in a series of attempts by the president’s Justice and Development (AK) party to curtail the activities of Turkey’s LGBTI rights movement. The annual Istanbul gay pride parade was canceled for the third year in a row, due to security concerns, and last week Erdoğan condemned his main political opposition bloc, the Republican People’s party (CHP), over a plan that would supposedly introduce a “gay quota” for employees in a local municipality.

November 20, 2017

Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation Relocates and Names New Managing Director

The Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation in Paris.

The Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation in Paris is relocating from the Montparnasse district to a larger space in the Marais, and has appointed François Hébel as its new managing director, Anna Sansom reports in the Art Newspaper. The announcement follows director Agnès Sire’s decision to focus more on the organization’s artistic direction and exhibition program.

Hébel, who will join the foundation later this month, has served as the director of Magnum Photos in Paris, the head of Les Rencontres d’Arles photography festival, and the director of Foto/Industria, the Italian photography fair in Bologna.

The foundation’s new location on rue des Archives, not far from the Centre Pompidou and the Musée National Picasso, is due to open next October. The nearly 3,000-square-foot building is a converted garage and has more floor space than the institution’s previous digs, allowing for a larger area for research and double the number of annual exhibitions, from three to six.