East London Gallery Accused of Racism and Alt-Right Values

A picture of LD50.

Anny Shaw of the Art Newspaper writes that the East London art gallery LD50 has been accused of promoting alt-right values. In a statement on the gallery’s website, its representatives say that art and culture have now become the exclusive provenance of the left, and that any viewpoints that may clash with leftist ideology are “now publicly vilified, delegitimated [sic] and intimidated with menaces.”

Many want LD50 shut down after a series of talks hosted by right-wing figures were organized at the space. Last summer the gallery had a “neoreaction conference,” with alt-right speakers such as Iben Thranholm (a Danish journalist and Christian who is an unremitting critic of European immigration policy), Peter Brimelow (an anti-immigration activist), and Brett Stevens (an editor at a far-right website based in the US who once applauded Norwegian mass murderer and racist Anders Breivik). The conference was followed up with an exhibition titled “Amerika,” which featured a cardboard dummy of Donald Trump and images of Pepe the Frog, a once innocuous internet meme that has been appropriated by the right.

Shut Down LD50 Gallery is a Tumblr blog that recently said the gallery “is using the cover of the contemporary art scene and academia to legitimize the spread of materials [that have drawn on fascist traditions] and the establishment of a culture of hatred,” and that LD50, “has been responsible for one of the most extensive neo-Nazi cultural programs to appear in London in the last decade.” Many artists have gone onto the blog to excoriate the gallery. LD50 has responded to criticism by saying “the role of art is to provide a vehicle for the free exploration of ideas, even and perhaps especially where these are challenging, controversial or indeed distasteful . . . Art should have exemplified this willingness to discuss new ideas, but it has just become apparent to us that this sphere now (and perhaps for the last few years) stands precisely for the opposite of this.”

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August 22, 2017

New York’s Village Voice Will No Longer Exist in Print

Peter Barbey

After more than sixty years in print, New York’s acclaimed alternative weekly, the Village Voice, will cease to exist as a paper edition, writes Benjamin Mullin of Poynter. Billionaire Peter Barbey, who bought the journal in 2015, said in a statement that the Voice “plans to maintain its iconic progressive brand with its digital platform and a variety of new editorial initiatives and a full slate of events that will include The Obie Awards and The Pride Awards.”

In June, after a breakdown in negotiations between the periodical’s management and its historic union, writers who’d previously written for the Voice—such Ta-Nehisi Coates, J. Hoberman, Molly Haskell, Hilton Als, Roberta Smith, and Deborah Jowitt—signed an open letter in July addressed to Barbey, accusing him of going against everything the progressive weekly stands for by not renewing its union contract. (In 1982, for instance, the Voice was the first private enterprise in the United States to offer domestic/same-sex partner benefits).

“The most powerful thing about the Voice wasn’t that it was printed on newsprint or that it came out every week,” Barbey continued in his statement. “It was that the Village Voice was alive, and that it changed in step with and reflected the times and the ever-evolving world around it. I want the Village Voice brand to represent that for a new generation of people—and for generations to come.”

August 22, 2017

Adam Pendleton Is One of Six New Trustees at Baltimore Museum of Art

Adam Pendleton.

The Baltimore Museum of Art has announced today that it is welcoming Adam Pendleton as well as six new business and community leaders to its board of trustees. The New York–based artist will join former financial analyst Heidi Berghuis, president and CEO of Global Policy Solutions Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, civil rights attorney Brooke Lierman, marketing executive David H. Milton, businessman Scott Schelle, and oncologist Wilma Bulkin Siegel as well as board chair Clair Zamoiski Segal, museum director Christopher Bedford, and forty other trustees in governing the institution.

“I am delighted by the enthusiasm, talent, and expertise that these new trustees bring to the Baltimore Museum of Art,” said board chair Clair Zamoiski Segal. “I know their commitment to the museum’s mission and vision will help us grow as an institution.”

August 22, 2017

Frost Art Museum Gifted Fifty-Seven Artworks from Univision Communications

Wifredo Lam, Pleniluna.

The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum announced today that is has received a major donation from Univision Communications Inc., the owner of Univision Network, a leading Spanish-language television network in the United States. The gift of fifty-seven artworks include serigraphs, paintings, and mixed media works by forty artists from Latin America and the United States, including Cundo Bermudez, Antonia Guzman, Wifredo Lam, and Rafael Soriano.

“This collection from Univision aligns naturally with our mission to inspire and propel Miami’s evolution as a cultural destination,” Frost director Jordana Pomeroy said. The museum will exhibit the works in the upcoming exhibition “Reflections of the Americas: New Acquisitions from the Collection of Univision,” which will open September 23 and run through January 3.

August 22, 2017

Gogol Theater Director Detained by Russian Authorities for Alleged Embezzlement

According to the Nataliya Vailyeva of The Independent, Russian theater director Kirill Serebrennikov, a vocal critic of President Vladimir V. Putin’s regime, has been detained by Russian authorities in St. Petersburg over the alleged embezzlement of about $1.2 million in government funding from the Gogol Theater, of which he is a director (the amount was reported earlier as $21,000). Charges for the crime have now been brought against him. Serebrennikov, who denied any wrongdoing, was in St. Petersburg working on a movie about a Soviet-era rock star prior to being taken in.

Many see the director’s recent troubles as nothing more than harassment by the Russian government. In July, his gay-themed ballet about Rudolf Nureyev was shut down by Vladimir G. Urin, the general director of Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater, for supposedly not being up to snuff. And earlier this month, his passport was confiscated by Russian authorities.

After a series of raids related to the embezzlement, a senior manager and an accountant from the Gogol Theater are in custody. Another manager is under house arrest. Russian news media reported earlier in August that the accountant testified against Serebrennikov.

August 22, 2017

London’s Grenfell Tower Considers Plans to Project Children’s Artwork on Condemned Building

Grenfell Tower after the fire. Photo: ChiralJon / Wikimedia.

Gareth Harris of the Art Newspaper reports that London’s Grenfell Tower, which caught fire on June 14 and killed eighty of the building’s residents, might feature artwork by children.

The building will be covered with scaffolding by the end of this month so that workers can safely dismantle parts of the structure. Michael Lockwood, Grenfell Tower’s site and remediation manager, met with nearby primary school children who said that looking at the tower was disturbing. “I asked them if they would like to come up with paintings of what they would like to see on the building,” said Lockwood. The images would then be projected onto the scaffolding.

The artist Khadija Saye and her mother, Mary Mendy—both of whom died in the blaze—were honored at a memorial service at St. Mary’s Church in London’s North Kensington neighborhood last month.

August 22, 2017

Yves Klein Work Inadvertently Damaged by Museum Visitor

A tweet of the Yves Klein work being repaired.

Yves Klein’s Pigment bleu sec (Dry Blue Pigment), a shallow wooden container filled with a mix of sand and the artist’s famous pigment, International Klein Blue, was accidentally damaged by a visitor at the Center for Fine Arts in Brussels on August 16, reports Victoria Stapley-Brown of the Art Newspaper. The visitor walked through the piece at “Theatre of the Void,” an exhibition of the artist’s work (that has since closed, on August 20) leaving footprints in the art and blue material on the gallery’s floors.

“Even though we have several safety measures (warning signs, a partial barrier, and a guard), the man was too fascinated [with the other work] to notice all of that,” said a museum spokesperson about the incident. Nonetheless, Klein’s piece was easily restored the day it was disturbed: Museum staff simply added more pigment and rearranged the sand. After the incident, another visitor tweeted a picture of the artwork being repaired, saying, “I came for the paintings. But I stayed for performance art.”

August 21, 2017

Alt-Right Politician Protests Kassel’s Acquisition of Documenta 14 Artwork

Olu Oguibe, Das Fremdlinge und Flüchtlinge (Monument for Strangers and Refugees), 2017.

Kassel city councilman Thomas Materner, who is a member of AfD—a xenophobic nationalist political group—has threatened to organize a wave of protests at Olu Oguibe’s Documenta 14 work, an obelisk dedicated to refugees, should the city choose to acquire it, Hessische/Niedersächsische Allgemeine reports.

Materner used language similar to the Nazi regime, who adopted the term “degenerate art” to describe modernist works, when he called the monument “ideologically polarizing, deformed art.” While discussing the acquisition of Documenta 14 artworks at a city council meeting, he said the AfD party will call for people to demonstrate in front of the piece “after each terrorist attack carried out by an immigrant.”

In response, Documenta 14’s artistic director, Adam Szymczyk, said he was “horrified” by Materner’s words about the piece. Titled, Das Fremdlinge und Flüchtlinge (Monument for Strangers and Refugees), the nearly fifty-three-foot work features a verse from Matthew 25:35, “I was a stranger and you took me in,” written in gold lettering in four different languages: German, English, Arabic, and Turkish. In a statement issued to Artnet, Szymczyk said, “I see no way how this quote from the New Testament should be read as divisive or controversial. It is simply human. In the history of the square, the reference to the difficult condition of being a stranger—or being taken for one, which is one and the same thing—appears as early as in Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s “Campagne in Frankreich 1792.”

August 21, 2017

Ramon Boixados Malé (1927–2017)

Ramon Boixados Malé.

President of the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation Ramon Boixados Malé has died. The foundation’s board of trustees and executive committee confirmed the eighty-nine-year old’s passing in a statement that was released on Saturday, August 12, which called his death an “irreparable loss.”

Malé joined the Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation as president in 1991. Under his leadership, he developed its reputation as a worldwide referential institution for the management and defense of the legacy of Surrealist painter Salvador Dalí. On July 20, in order to comply with a court order, after a woman claiming to be the artist’s daughter won the right to a paternity test, the foundation successfully exhumed Dalí’s body from his crypt below the theater and museum, which he designed, in his hometown of Figueres, Spain.

A successful businessman, Malé was president of Renfe, the national railways of Spain, from 1983 to 1985, and also served as the head of a variety of companies such as Ibermutuamur; Exel logistics (Iberia) Group, S.L.; and Cálculo y Tratamiento de la Información, S.A. He worked as the general coordinator for the construction of the Olympic Games of Barcelona from 1989 to 1992, and as the managing director of Vila Olímpica, S.A. from 1986 to 1992. He was a trustee of the Olympic Museum of Lausanne, and a member of the board of directors at Hewlett Packard Iberia, the Madrid Palace Hotel, Hotel Ritz Madrid, and Fecsa, among others.

August 21, 2017

Wang Bing Wins Golden Leopard Award at Seventieth Locarno Film Festival

Chinese filmmaker Wang Bing. Photo: Locarno Festival

Chinese director Wang Bing was presented with the prestigious Golden Leopard award at the Seventieth Locarno Film Festival last week in Switzerland, Je-Seung Lee of ArtAsiaPacific reports. He was honored with the top prize for his ninety-minute documentary film Mrs.Fang (2017), which tells the story of an elderly sexagenarian woman who lives in a small southern Chinese fishing village and suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. The work was screened at Documenta 14 in Kassel earlier this year.

Established in 1946, the Locarno Film Festival is one of the longest-running film festivals in the world. Wang Bing is the fifth Chinese director in the film festival’s history to receive a Golden Leopard. This year’s judging committee was led by French filmmaker Olivier Assayas.

In April, Wang Bing was awarded the third EYE Art and Film Prize in Amsterdam, and in 2012, he was honored with the Orizzonti Best Feature Prize for his documentary film Three Sisters (2012) at the Sixty-Ninth Venice International Film Festival. Wang Bing is best known for making works that experiment with narrative structures and telling Chinese stories that chronicle the lives of the poor and disenfranchised.