Worker Who Fell Through Rodin Museum Ceiling Receives $7 Million Settlement

Entrance to Rodin Museum

After he fell thirty-eight feet through a glass ceiling that shattered at the Rodin Museum in Philadelphia, engineer Phani Guthula has reached a $7.25 million settlement with defendants in a lawsuit he initiated, according to Julie Shaw in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Guthula was inspecting the museum’s lighting fixtures when he moved onto a glass area which failed to bear his weight. The museum had recently finished a nine-million-dollar renovation.

Guthula is receiving a $4.75 million settlement from AlliedBarton Security Services, which does security for the building. He will get an additional $2.5 million from the other defendants, including the museum. According to his attorneys, Guthula “suffered femur, hip, pelvic, rib, and elbow fractures and other traumatic injuries,” Shaw writes, and he spent over forty-five days in the hospital.

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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. The work, a combination of live performance and music with moving image, 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 work is often satirical, experimental, and collaborative. In her most recent work, Passing Through Metal, Ashery 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 institutions such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, Freud Museum, Whitstable Biennale, ICA and the Royal Opera House.  

“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 do an independent audit of Documenta 14 over its deficit of $8.3 million—the beleaguered quinquennial exhibition went over its budget largely because of its additional site this year in Athens, Greece, 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 never 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 said in an email 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, have 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 the art-history A-level was 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- to sixteen-year-olds, and another for seventeen- to eighteen-year-olds. The deadline for submission 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 the 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 $1,000 bail, 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 because of Hurricane Irma. His partner Yanelys Nuñez Leyva had also been detained but was released a few hours later.

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 also said that he was not allowed to make a phone call and was not provided with basic hygenic supplies such as toothpaste and soap.

In a statement published by Havana Times, Yanelis Nuñz Leyva thanked everyone who participated in the campaign that fought 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 its namesake, 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 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 which declared 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 also 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 this year, on security grounds, and last week Erdoğan condemned his main political opposition bloc, the Republican People’s party (CHP), for 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, previously 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 space 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, enabling the foundation to create a larger space for research and double their number of annual exhibitions from three to six.

November 20, 2017

Dallas Museum Curator Resigns Following Allegations of Inappropriate Behavior

Gavin Delahunty.

Gavin Delahunty, the senior curator of contemporary art at the Dallas Museum of Art, resigned on Saturday, November 18, citing accusations of “inappropriate behavior.” In a statement released by the museum, Delahunty said: “Today I am announcing my resignation as the Hoffman Family Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at the Dallas Museum of Art, effective immediately. I am aware of allegations regarding my inappropriate behavior, and I do not want them to be a distraction to the Museum or to my colleagues. I offer my deepest apologies to those who have been affected by my behavior. I will be taking this time to spend with my family.”

Commenting on Delahunty and his abrupt departure, former museum director Maxwell Anderson, who led the institution from 2012 to 2015, told Dallas News that, “Gavin elevated the DMA’s stature in the art world considerably, and his departure will be a great loss. But in the end it’s how we live our lives that matters most, and he now has to address that.”

Before Delahunty joined the museum in 2014, he served as the head of exhibitions and displays at Tate Liverpool from 2010 to 2014. During his tenure at the Dallas museum, Delahunty spearheaded the exhibition “Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots” (2015–16) and organized “Truth: 24 Frames Per Second,” which is currently on view until January 28, 2018.