Thousands of Museum Professionals and Scientists Sign Petition Against Construction of Oil Pipeline in North Dakota

Native American protesters demonstrating against the Dakota Access Pipeline being built in North Dakota. Photo: Reuters

More than 1,200 museum directors, curators, archaeologists, anthropologists, academics, and experts have signed a petition to prevent the Dakota Access Pipeline from encroaching on Native American ancestral grounds in North Dakota.

In a letter addressed to the Obama administration that was released today, the petitioners state: “We stand with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and affirm their treaty rights, tribal sovereignty, and the protection of their lands, waters, cultural and sacred sites, and we stand with all those attempting to prevent further irreparable losses.”

The Obama Administration has temporarily halted the construction on the pipeline. In a statement made on September 9, the Department of Justice declared that the US Army Corps of Engineers will not authorize construction on the pipeline along the land bordering or under Lake Oahe until it can reassess whether the project is legal under the National Environmental Policy Act. The department also highlighted the need for sweeping reforms regarding the way in which infrastructure projects that affect Native American tribal views and lands are carried out.

Suzan Shown Harjo, who is Cheyenne and Muscogee, president of the Morning Star Institute, and a recipient of a 2014 Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor, said that the pipeline “first violated existing religious freedom, cultural rights, historic, environmental and archaeological laws by failing to consult with the Standing Rock and other Sioux nations, and most recently by denying descendants access to their sacred place and enforcing the ban with attack dogs and other weapons.” She added, “Native people and supporters urge official actions to stop this shameful, illegal project permanently.”


December 13, 2017

Jane Panetta and Rujeko Hockley to Curate Seventy-Ninth Whitney Biennial

Rujeko Hockley and Jane Panetta. Photo: by Scott Rudd.

The Whitney Museum of American Art announced today that Jane Panetta and Rujeko Hockley, members of the Museum’s curatorial staff, will co-curate the next edition of Whitney Biennial, opening in May 2019.

“Jane and Ru are two of the most compelling and engaged curatorial voices of our moment, with broad and sensitive instincts for artistic and cultural relevance,” Scott Rothkopf, the Whitney’s deputy director for programs and chief curator, said. “They are both passionate champions of emerging artists, while their more scholarly projects have shown keen insights about making history feel alive in the present. I’m delighted to see two more Whitney curators put their mark on our signature exhibition.”

Panetta is currently an associate curator at the Whitney, who she joined the museum’s curatorial department in 2010. Most recently, she has organized solo presentations of the work of Willa Nasatir and Njideka Akunyili Crosby as well as the group exhibition “Fast Forward: Painting from the 1980s” (2017). Prior to joining the Whitney, Panetta spent several years in the Museum of Modern Art’s Painting and Sculpture Department. Hockley joined the Whitney’s staff as an assistant curator in March 2017. She has co-curated a number exhibition including “Toyin Ojih Odutola: To Wander Determined with Melinda Lang,” which is currently on view at the museum through February 25, 2018, and “An Incomplete History of Protest: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1940–2017,” which is on view until summer 2018. Hockley also serves as a member of the Museum’s Emerging Artist Working Group. Previously, Hockley was an assistant curator of contemporary art at the Brooklyn Museum, where she co-curated “We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965–85” (2017).

December 13, 2017

Hugo Boss Prize Announces 2018 Shortlist

Simone Leigh, Untitled I (Anatomy of Architecture Series), 2016, mixed media, 30 1/2 x 11 1/2 x 10".

Six finalists have been announced for the Guggenheim Foundation’s 2018 Hugo Boss Prize. They are artists Bouchra Khalili, Simone Leigh, Teresa Margolles, Emeka Ogboh, Frances Stark, and Wu Tsang. The recipient of the prize will receive $100,000 and a solo exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. The winner will be announced next fall, and the exhibition will take place in 2019.

“The Hugo Boss Prize remains a cornerstone of the Guggenheim’s contemporary programming, and we are thrilled to highlight the work of these six deserving artists, who are working at the vanguard of contemporary art practice, exploring urgent social issues, and providing new artistic vocabulary through which to examine personal and universal themes,” said Nancy Spector, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s artistic director. “We are pleased to join with Hugo Boss in this long-term commitment to celebrating the most important and impactful artists of their time.”

December 13, 2017

Twenty-First Sydney Biennale Reveals Participating Artist List

Director and CEO of the Biennale of Sydney Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker and artistic director Mami Kataoka with artists Yasmin Smith, Tuomas Aleksander Laitinen, Koji Ryui, Khaled Sabsabi, Mit Jai Inn, and Rayyane Tabet. Courtesy: Ai Weiwei Studio.

The Sydney Biennale has announced that seventy artists will participate in its twenty-first edition. Titled “Superposition: Equilibrium & Engagement,” the Biennale opens March 16 and runs through June 11, 2018.

“The artists in the Twenty-First Biennale of Sydney have been chosen to offer a panoramic view of how opposing interpretations can come together in a state of equilibrium,” artistic director Mami Kataoka said. “The history of the people of Sydney collectively reflects the history of the world in the twentieth century, in particular the movements and migration of people and cultures away from conflict. My hope is that the artworks in this Biennale will serve as a catalyst for thought for all of us.”

The complete list of artists is as follows:

December 13, 2017

Christos Joachimides (1932–2017)

Christos Joachimides

The Greek-born German curator Christos Joachimides has died, according to art historian and curator Sir Norman Rosenthal for the Art Newspaper. “He was nothing if not a controversial figure in the world of art,” wrote Rosenthal, “who both divided opinion and seldom himself sought consensus on matters of aesthetic choices.” 

Joachimides studied in Heidelberg and Stuttgart in 1953 before making Berlin a more permanent home. He traveled quite a bit throughout the 1960s, spending time in Paris and Rome, where he befriended artists such as Jannis Kounellis, Pino Pascali, and Balthus. In Germany he was drawn to Joseph Beuys and Wolf Vostell, and became especially interested in the painters who showed at Michael Werner Gallery, including Anselm Kiefer, Markus Lüpertz, and A.R. Penck. Joachimides went on to work with Rosenthal at the ICA London. There, they curated two exhibitions together: “Art into Society, Society into Art: Seven German Artists” (1974), where Beuys created a series of daily performances over the course of a month, which ended up becoming the piece Directive Forces, 1974–77; and a festival of contemporary Greek culture, “Eight Artists, Eight Attitudes, Eight Greeks” (1975), organized after the fall of Greece’s military junta. The latter show included Kounellis’s art—its first appearance in the UK. Joachimides also collaborated with Sir Nicholas Serota on an exhibition called “13⁰E: Eleven Artists Working in Berlin” (1978), an exhibition organized through the Whitechapel Art Gallery, which was staged in Germany. At the Royal Academy of Arts in London, Joachimides joined with Serota and Rosenthal on “A New Spirit in Painting” (1981), an exhibition that featured the work of German neo-expressionists such as Georg Baselitz and Kiefer. And at the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin, Rosenthal collaborated with Joachimides on “Zeitgeist” (1983) and “Metropolis” (1991), among other exhibitions.

“Those were Christos’s truly great days,” said Rosenthal of their time together. “He expanded our outlook on the world, indeed as Nicholas Serota wrote to me on learning of his death that ‘he expanded our lives and education.’” 

December 13, 2017

Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam Draws Record Number of Visitors for 2017

The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum has drawn a record number of visitors this year, making it the most visited museum in the Netherlands in 2017. Approximately 2,260,000 people were admitted to the institution over the last twelve months. And nearly 90 percent of its visitors, from more than 125 countries, rated their experience at the museum as either “very good” or “excellent.” Some of the museum’s most popular exhibitions in 2017 were “Prints in Paris 1900,” “The Dutch in Paris 1789–1914,” and “Van Gogh, Rousseau, Corot: In the Forest.”


December 13, 2017

Candice Breitz Urges Artists in National Gallery of Victoria Triennial to Join Protest Against Refugee Abuse

Candice Breitz, Love Story, 2017.

Artist Candice Breitz has changed the name of her artwork that will be displayed in the inaugural National Gallery of Victoria Triennial in protest of the institution’s employment of a security firm that has been accused of abusing refugees in Australia’s offshore detention centers, and she is asking other artists in the exhibition to do the same.

Asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat have generally been sent to either the island nation of Nauru or Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island, and then held in indefinite detention. Wilson Security, one of the companies that had been hired to monitor the camps, has faced intense public scrutiny since allegations emerged that its employees were involved in the sexual assault of women and children on the islands. Since the publication of more than 2,000-pages of incident reports, the company has been accused of lying about the conditions of the centers and the treatment of the refugees. The Manus Regional Processing Center on Manus Island was officially closed on October 31 by the Australian government after years of controversy dogged its existence, leaving its detainees and asylum seekers stranded with island locals.

In response to the NGV’s decision to hire Wilson Security, Breitz has temporarily renamed her seven-panel-video work, originally titled Love Story, as Wilson Must Go. The piece, which was previously on view in the South African pavilion at the 2017 Venice Biennale, features Alec Baldwin and Julianne Moore. The actors tell the stories of refugees in an attempt to use their celebrity status to make the migrants’ voices heard.

December 12, 2017

Art Matters Announces 2017 Grant Winners

Eve Fowler. Photo: Steven Perilloux.

Alex Greenberger of Artnews writes that Art Matters has announced its list of 2017 grant winners. Each artist and art collective will receive $7,500. “We are thrilled to support this extraordinary group of artists from across the US,” said Sacha Yannow, the director of Art Matters. “A diverse and expansive range of contemporary practice within various geographic and cultural contexts, their work engages justice and liberation issues and experiments with form. We feel their voices are important and through our funding, we hope to help amplify them.”

This year’s grantees are:

December 12, 2017

Paris’s FRAC Île-de-France | Le Plateau in Danger of Closing

View of “Pierre Paulin: Boom boom, run run,” 2017 at FRAC Île-de-France | Le Plateau.

FRAC Île-de-France | Le Plateau, part of the Fonds Régional d’Art Contemporain, a consortium of twenty-three exhibition spaces across France that are funded by the state and the regions where they’re located, is in danger of being closed, writes Ingrid Luquet-Gad of Les Inrockuptibles. The City of Paris is planning on cutting off financial support to FRAC Île-de-France. This action will greatly affect the Le Plateau site, at 22 rue des Alouettes in the city’s Belleville neighborhood, which has hosted exhibitions for a variety of artists, such as Ryan Gander, Charles Avery, Keren Cytter, and Cao Fei, since 2002.

On December 4, La Libération published an open letter addressed to Paris’s mayor, Anne Hidalgo, asking her to not cut the city’s budget for FRAC Île-de-France. The letter has been signed by dozens of artists and arts professionals, including Sophie Calle, Philippe Decrauzat, Haris Epaminonda, Sylvie Fanchon, Camille Henrot, Corey McCorkle, Hans-Ulrich Obrist, and Xavier Veilhan.

December 12, 2017

Documenta Artists Launch Petition Demanding New Supervisory Structure

Redistribution of books to visitors during dismantling of Marta Minujin’s Parthenon of Banned Books at the closing ceremony of Documenta 14 in Kassel. Photo: Mathias Voelzke.

More than two hundred artists who have participated in past exhibitions of Documenta signed a petition against the growing obsession over the show’s profits. “We are compelled to write to propose an improved structure for Documenta that does not prioritize revenue above all other priorities, and defends its future artistic and curatorial autonomy and progressive political mission,” the document reads.

Artists who participated in the most recent iteration of the exhibition have already written two open letters defending Documenta 14’s curatorial model, its former CEO Annette Kulenkampff and artistic director Adam Szymczyk, and the exhibition’s autonomy. Despite repeatedly voicing that Documenta should remain free from political interference, the recent controversy over Documenta 14’s financial deficit prompted Germany’s far-right AfD party to sue the exhibition over its alleged “misappropriation of funds and other offenses.” The artists have now outlined steps detailing how Documenta should move forward without compromising its mission.

The petition states that the exhibition needs to implement a new supervisory structure in order to retain its autonomy. It stresses that the quinquennial is opposed to Eurocentrism and should have the freedom to hold events outside of Germany. It also states that Documenta needs to reaffirm its commitment to fighting institutional racism and insurgent fascism—the petition is critical of the board’s silence amid recent attacks by members of the AfD. The artists also declare that Documenta should maintain its nonprofit status and continue to fund the Documenta Archive, Documenta Institute, and its public art program, organizing these institutions based on “the trajectory set by documenta 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14 that contributed to profound changes that impacted understanding of art in our age.”