Istanbul Removes Public Sculpture After Protests over Ottoman-Era Name

Ahmet Güneştekin, “Kostantiniyye,” 2016.

Hours after Kurdish artist Ahmet Güneştekin’s public sculpture consisting of large block letters spelling the word “Kostantiniyye”—the Ottoman-era name for the city—was installed in front of a popular shopping mall in Istanbul, people began protesting the work, resulting in the authorities’ decision to cover the piece with black plastic before removing it.

According to the Kurdish media network Rudaw, the sculpture, which was erected on Thursday, December 22, angered people because “Kostantiniyye” reminded them of the Byzantine Empire. More than one thousand people called the shopping mall to complain.

The protests over the work were partially incited by Alper Tan, the head of the TV channel Kanal A. He tweeted: “What does that mean writing KOSTANTINIYYE with big letters in Istanbul when the sensitivity of people is very high nowadays?” The appearance of Akit TV, an extremist TV channel, at the shopping center also caused outrage.

Critics of the piece called the artist a traitor and urged authorities to arrest him. Some people defended the work, claiming that it reflects the country’s history. As a result, Güneştekin has been the target of verbal abuse both in person and on social media.

Güneştekin was disappointed by the public outcry. He said, “The historic name of Istanbul ‘Kostantiniyye’ was altered by the Ottomans from the original name Constantinapolis, which was phrased by Prophet Mohammed, and was used as an official name of Istanbul by the Ottoman Sultans and the founder of Turkey Ataturk even until a decade after the Republic of Turkey was built.” He added, “It is very tragicomic when people are blaming you for not respecting the history, while they do not have any idea how rich our history has been.”

Güneştekin frequently explores Anatolian, Mesopotamian, and Greek mythology and history in his works. He has exhibited in New York, Venice, Amsterdam, and Monaco, among other cities. His next exhibition focusing on the legend of Dhul-Qarnayn will open in New York’s Marlborough Gallery on January 11.


March 24, 2017

Ibid Gallery Closes Its Central London Space

David Adamo’s installation at Finsbury Circus House in London.

According to Maximilíano Durón of Artnews, Ibid Gallery has announced that it is closing its central London space. Magnus Edensvard, who established the gallery in 2004, said that the traditional gallery model “feels outdated” since about 95 percent of transactions with its London client base are conducted at art fairs and other locations.

“In the last five or so years, the center of London has become the essential place to have a gallery,” Edensvard said. “[But] looking at the price points of a lot of the artists’ works we sell and also the frequency with which we met our clients at a gallery, we felt that the economy started to make less and less sense for a gallery like us.”

Moving forward, Edensvard said that Ibid would organize London exhibitions about four times a year. For its first project, it is partnering with HS Projects to present a site-specific David Adamo work in the Finsbury Circus House in Moorgate.

March 24, 2017

Lourdes I. Ramos to Lead California’s Museum of Latin American Art

Lourdes I. Ramos

The Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, California, has announced that Lourdes I. Ramos, currently executive director and chief curator of the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico in San Juan, has been appointed the institution’s new president and CEO. She is the first Latina to head the museum. Her tenure at MoLAA will begin on May 1.

“When we refer to the most exalted institutions of Latin and Latin American art, MOLAA is a mandatory reference,” Ramos said. “As a professional, to be able to contribute to and expand upon the artistic legacy and the vision of MOLAA, in a framework of strategic development, is a great responsibility. Nevertheless, it is a shared responsibility with all those visionaries who see the arts as the pinnacle of human expression and a unifying force that celebrates diversity and inclusion without regard to borders.”

Ramos has been at the helm of the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico for the past twelve years. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico, her master’s from Illinois State University, and her Ph. D. in fine arts at the University of Barcelona, Spain. She also participated in the museum leadership program hosted by the Getty Leadership Institute and is a certified fine art appraiser.

March 24, 2017

Amanda Hunt and Anna Katz Join LA MoCA’s Curatorial Staff

Amanda Hunt and Anna Katz Photos: Bryan Conley and Myles Pettengill

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, has announced new curatorial staff hires. Amanda Hunt was named director of education and public programs and Anna Katz was appointed assistant curator. Hunt began her post on March 1. Katz will assume her responsibilities on May 1.

“Amanda Hunt and Anna Katz possess the best qualities of the emerging generation of museum professionals: they each share a keen commitment to history; to the pressing social causes of our current moment; a belief in the knowledge produced by artists; and a commitment to making all of the above available to the general public. We are thrilled to have them join the growing ranks at MoCA,” chief curator Helen Molesworth said.

Hunt recently served as associate curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem and curator of “inHarlem: Kevin Beasley, Simone Leigh, Kori Newkirk, Rudy Shepherd,” a multi-site public art initiative in four Historic Harlem Parks on view through July 25, 2017 and Portland2014: A Biennial of Contemporary Art. She was a curatorial assistant for the Los Angeles pavilion for the Ninth Shanghai Biennale in 2012 and has worked at a number of galleries and institutions including nonprofit art space LA><Art; Whitechapel Gallery, London; Friedrich Petzel Gallery, New York; the Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco; and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Hunt holds her master’s degree in curatorial practice from California College of the Arts in San Francisco.

March 24, 2017

Shia LaBeouf Pulls Anti-Trump Work from Its Third Location

HeWillNotDivide.Us, 2017, at FACT Liverpool.

Artists Shia LaBeouf, Luke Turner, and Nastja Säde Rönkkö have removed their protest work, HeWillNotDivide.Us, 2017, after it incited illegal trespassing at the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology gallery in Liverpool where it was installed on March 22.

Consisting of a camera mounted under the words “He will not divide us” on the exterior wall of a building, the work was conceived as a participatory piece that would livestream footage of passersby repeating the phrase throughout the duration of Trump’s presidency. It originally opened at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, New York, on Inauguration day. However, safety concerns led the institution to cancel the exhibition. Labeouf and his collaborators moved the piece to El Rey Theater in Albuquerque shortly after, but pulled the plug for the same reason.

It was adopted by FACT gallery after the artist group decided it was too dangerous to continue presenting the piece in America since it was the target of “constant disruptions and hate-speech by far-right extremists.” After nearly two days in its new location, the Merseyside police were called to the gallery following reports that a group of men were trying to retrieve a flag emblazoned with the words “He will not divide us” from the roof of the gallery. The incident prompted LaBeouf, Turner & Rönkkö to take down the work.

March 24, 2017

Artist Jeffrey Beebe and BravinLee Programs Collaborate on Inflatable Trump Rat

Jeffrey Beebe, Trumpy the Rat Sketch, 2017.

John Lee of BravinLee Programs in Chelsea and artist Jeffrey Beebe have launched a Kickstarter campaign to garner support for an anti-Trump work—a fifteen-foot-tall inflatable rat equipped with an ill-fitting suit, a tie that’s too long, and a comb-over—that once fabricated will be loaned to protests across the nation.

According to the project statement, the Rat is meant to be an “enduring sign of resistance and ridicule” that will first be erected near the entrance to Trump Tower in Manhattan before it is shipped elsewhere. Lee and Beebe hope this initiative will “show how artists, art, and the creative community can play a meaningful role during these dark times.”

The campaign has already raised $4,000 of its $10,000 goal. If the donations surpass the project’s asking amount, Lee and Beebe have pledged to make as many rats as the funding will allow. They are also planning to establish the Public Display of Disaffection Political Action Committee, a group that will use art to make resisting the Trump administration more “visually engaging.”

March 24, 2017

Smith College Hires First-Ever Contemporary Art Curator

Emma Imbrie Chubb

Smith College Museum of Art in Massachusetts has appointed Emma Imbrie Chubb, a Ph.D. candidate and presidential fellow in the department of art history at Northwestern University, its first-ever curator of contemporary art. She will take up the post on July 10.

Director and chief curator Jessica Nicoll said, “The search committee was particularly pleased to offer the position to Emma Chubb, whose scholarship, curatorial experience, and expansive curiosity indicate the power of contemporary art to respond to current issues and to shape individual and public opinion around the issues of the day.”

The curatorial position was created following a gift from alum Charlotte Feng Ford, who said Chubb reminded her of why she is so passionate about collecting contemporary art. “Emma’s enthusiasm is exciting, and her ideas for the new curator’s position are inspiring. She will develop understanding amongst students and the community that will lead to many fantastic opportunities at the museum.”

March 24, 2017

Rachel Corbett Wins $10,000 Marfield Prize for Arts Writing

Rachel Corbett

The Arts Club of Washington, DC, has announced that Rachel Corbett has won the eleventh annual Marfield Prize, a national award recognizing arts writing, for her book You Must Change Your Life: The Story of Rainer Maria Rilke and Auguste Rodin (2016).

The Brooklyn-based writer will travel to DC in May for a brief residency, a public discussion on her book, and the celebratory Marfield Award dinner. During her stay, Corbett will also meet with local high school students and appear on Grace Cavalieri’s Library of Congress podcast, “The Poet and the Poem.” Corbett is editor in chief of Modern Painters magazine. Her writing has also been featured in several other publications such as the New Yorker, the New York Times, and the Art Newspaper.

The judging panel consisted of television and radio host Robert Aubry Davis, author W. Ralph Eubanks, and author and poet Matthea Harvey. Among the works shortlisted for the award were Jane Kamensky’s A Revolution in Color: The World of John Singleton Copley (2016); Alexander Nemerov’s Soulmaker: The Times of Lewis Hine (2016); Claudia Roth Pierpont’s American Rhapsody: Writers, Musicians, Movie Stars, and One Great Building (2016); and Paul Youngquist’s A Pure Solar World: Sun Ra and the Birth of Afrofuturism (2016).

March 24, 2017

Phillips Appoints Laurence Calmels as Regional Director for France

Laurence Calmels

Phillips has announced that independent art advisor Laurence Calmels will join the auction house as a regional director for France. Calmels will work to increase Phillips’s presence in France by supporting its business and development efforts and by cultivating networks of collectors and art dealers.

“With her significant experience and passion for engaging with clients and colleagues, and her intimate knowledge of the art world in France, Laurence is a welcome addition to our team as we look to grow our market share in this important market,” CEO Edward Dolman said. “Paris has always been one of the world’s most important cultural capitals and will become an increasingly important market for Phillips.”

Prior to becoming an art advisor, Calmels was a partner of the Paris-based auction house Calmels-Cohen. After becoming the youngest female auctioneer in France, Calmels was named a Commissaire-Priseur. During her time at Calmels-Cohen, she led several successful sales including the auction of André Breton and Jean Arp collections.

March 24, 2017

Christine Poggi Named Director of the Institute of Fine Arts at NYU

Christine Poggi

New York University has announced the appointment of art historian Christine Poggi, currently professor of art history at the University of Pennsylvania, as the new Judy and Michael Steinhardt Director of the Institute of Fine Arts. She will succeed Patricia Rubin who will step down from the role after eight years. Poggi will assume her responsibilities on September 1.

NYU President Andrew Hamilton said, “Her commitment to high academic standards will ensure that the Institute will continue to enjoy a reputation for excellence, and her demonstrable success at the University of Pennsylvania in encouraging cross-department collaborations and institutional partnerships is very much in line with the emphasis we put on such efforts here at NYU.”

During her tenure at the University of Pennsylvania, Poggi has served as chair of the undergraduate and graduate program; director of the program in gender, sexuality, and women’s studies; and, director of the Alice Paul Center for the Study of Gender, Sexuality, and Women. Poggi has authored a number of books including In Defiance of Painting: Cubism, Futurism, and the Invention of Collage (1992); and Inventing Futurism: The Art and Politics of Artificial Optimism (2009), which was awarded the Modern Language Association’s Howard R. Marraro Prize. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Fulbright Commission, Whitney Humanities Center at Yale University, National Endowment for the Humanities, among others as well as the University of Pennsylvania’s Abrams Memorial Award for Distinguished Teaching. Poggi earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Santa Cruz, her master’s degree from the University of Chicago, and her Ph.D. from Yale University. Her principal areas of study include modern and contemporary art and criticism, early twentieth-century avant-gardes, the invention of collage, and the rise of abstraction.