Museums and Theaters Launch Nationwide Series of Films from Countries Affected by Travel Ban

Asghar Farhadi, The Salesman, 2016.

A coalition of movie theaters, community centers, and museums in the United States are taking part in “The Seventh Art Stand”—a nationwide series of films, screenings, and discussions that will showcase works from countries that are affected by President Donald Trump’s travel ban.

Billed as “an act of cinematic solidarity against Islamophobia,” the Stand will take place in more than thirty locations in eighteen states this May. Organizers Richard Abramowitz, founder and president of Abramorama, a distributor of theatrical films, and Courtney Sheehan, executive director of the Seattle-based Northwest Film Forum, have partnered with a variety of institutions including the Arab American National Museum in Michigan, the Metrograph and Anthology Film Archives in New York, the Honolulu Museum of Art, and college campuses and theaters throughout the Midwest.

Among the films being featured are director Asghar Farhadi’s Oscar-winning The Salesman (Iran), Karama Has No Walls and The Mulberry House (Yemen), Fishing Without Nets (Somalia), and About Baghdad (Iraq). A short film program for youth as well as “Flight Path,” a narrative short film and media campaign to combat Islamophobia, will also be shown.

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March 27, 2017

Winners of 2017 Fredrik Roos Art Prize Announced

Josefine Östberg Olsson, Oskar Hult and Jonas Silfversten Bergman.

The Fredrik Roos Art Prize, awarding about $68,000 awarded to artists thirty-five years of age or younger and one of Sweden’s largest grants for artists, has been given to Oskar Hult, Jonas Silfversten Bergman, and Josefine Östberg Olsson. Each of the artists will receive a grant of about $23,000 and an exhibition will open at Moderna Museet Malmö of the three recipients’ work. They were selected from a shortlist of ten graduating art students and the jury comprised the Fredrik Roos Foundation, together with Daniel Birnbaum, Ann-Sofi Noring, and Iris Müller-Westermann from Moderna Museet.

Oskar Hult is a graduate of the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm, Jonas Silfversten Bergman is a graduate of the Umeĺ Academy of Fine Arts, and Josefine Östberg Olsson is a graduate of the Valand Academy in Gothenburg.

March 27, 2017

Robin O’Hara (1954–2017)

Robin O’Hara on the set of Gummo, 1997. Photo: Bruce Birmelin

Sixty-two-year-old film producer Robin O’Hara, best known for producing independent films such as Tom Noonan’s What Happened Was ..., 1994, died in Manhattan on March 14, William Grimes of the New York Times reports.

Born in Baltimore in 1954, O’Hara first studied drama as a teenager at the North Carolina School of the Arts. She continued her acting career by enrolling at New York University’s School of the Arts. In the 1980s she found work as a videographer for music videos before she began working as a video distributor. While completing an internship at the Kitchen, a nonprofit experimental performance space in Chelsea, O’Hara distributed works by artists Nam June Paik and Bill Viola. She also worked on the one-hour PBS special “Two Moon July,” 1986, which showcased new modes of presenting the arts for television. Made as a celebration of the Kitchen’s fifteenth-anniversary year, the special featured artists Laurie Anderson, Michel Auder, Bruce Conner, Philip Glass, Arto Lindsay, and Cindy Sherman, among others. O’Hara also produced a series of dance and performance videos for PBS’s “Alive From Off Center,” which aired from 1985 to 1996.

After collaborating with former Kitchen director of programming Scott Macaulay to produce What Happened Was ..., which won the Grand Jury Prize and the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at the Sundance Film Festival in 1994, O’Hara’s career picked up steam. O’Hara and Macaulay established Forensic Films and produced a number of works including First Love, Last Rites, 1997; Julien Donkey-Boy, 1999; The Chateau, 2001; and Off the Black, 2006. Among the other films O’Hara would produce are A Couch in New York, 1996; The Good Heart, 2009; and A Passion of Mind, 2000. She most recently served as executive producer of Damian Harris’s film Wilde Wedding, which is currently in postproduction.

March 27, 2017

Public Art Fund to Open Ai Weiwei Exhibition Spanning Several Boroughs Across NYC

Rendering of one piece in the multi-part Public Art Fund project “Ai Weiwei: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors.”

Public Art Fund has announced that starting next October the largest public art exhibition by Ai Weiwei, titled “Good Fences Make Good Neighbors” and comprising ten large installations featuring fences and many smaller works, will be spread across Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. Officially opening on October 12 and running through February 11, 2018, the sites for the project include Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art on Astor Place in Manhattan, the Doris C. Freedman Plaza at the southeast corner of Central Park, and JCDecaux bus shelters in Brooklyn.

The Public Art Fund’s director and chief curator since 2009, Nicholas Baume, said of the exhibition: “This is the most ambitious that we’ve undertaken since I’ve been here.” The title of the show itself is a reference to a line in Robert Frost’s 1914 poem “Mending Wall,” which repeats throughout the piece. Ai has stated that this work is a reaction to “a retreat from the essential attitude of openness” in American politics. “When the Berlin Wall fell, there were eleven countries with border fences and walls,” he said. “By 2016, that number had increased to seventy. We are witnessing a rise in nationalism, an increase in the closure of borders, and an exclusionary attitude towards migrants and refugees, the victims of war and the casualties of globalization.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio said of the upcoming show that it “serves as a reminder to all New Yorkers that although barriers may attempt to divide us, we must unite to make a meaningful impact in the larger community…New York City has long served as a gateway to the United States for millions of immigrants seeking better lives and has long benefited from their contributions and service in every neighborhood across the five boroughs. This expansive public art project that explores themes of freedom and the power of self-expression is a perfect symbol and reminder for all of us, especially in the current political climate.”

March 27, 2017

Former Director of the Guggenheim Foundation Criticizes Plans for Abu Dhabi Branch

Thomas Krens

Thomas Krens, the former director of the Guggenheim Foundation in New York, has spoken out about the foundation’s controversial plans to build a branch of the Guggenheim in Abu Dhabi, saying it should be postponed or downsized, Cristina Ruiz reports in the Art Newspaper. Krens himself brokered the original 2006 deal to create a Guggenheim museum there, based on a napkin drawing of a Guggenheim branch and a new Louvre, among other cultural institutions.

He stated on the podcast “In Other Words,” produced by the art advisory firm Art Agency Partners, that the project to establish the cultural complex on Saadiyat Island with five new museums was conceived at a time when “people were far more naive” and that it “could never have happened” today. He added: “The world financial crisis and the Arab Spring has changed the equation radically… it may not be such a good idea these days to have an American museum…with a Jewish name in a country [that doesn’t recognize Israel] in such a prominent location, at such a big scale.”

Krens also cited security concerns from the start: “One of the biggest concerns was security, because we were right on the edge of the Persian Gulf, and so everybody’s imagination was [about] water-borne terrorism—boatloads of explosives crashing into the museum and blowing it up.” The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi satellite was initially scheduled to open in 2012, but construction on the building itself has yet to begin. Of the four other museums planned for Saadiyat Island, only the Louvre Abu Dhabi, designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, is near completion. Krens also suggested on the podcast that local authorities have delayed construction on the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi until after the opening of the Louvre outpost in order to gauge local reaction: “The Louvre will open next year. In my view that’s a political calculation that essentially is testing the waters.”

In an article appearing in the October 2015 issue of Artforum, writer Andrew Ross—a vocal critic of human rights abuses experienced by migrant laborers in the Gulf—touched on Krens’s role in developing the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and Saadiyat Island.

March 27, 2017

Christie’s Cancels June Postwar and Contemporary Art Sales

Christie's in London

Following the closure of its London salesroom, Christie’s has, as of last Friday, canceled its June postwar and contemporary art auctions in London, Anny Shaw and Sarah P. Hanson report in the Art Newspaper. In a statement, the auction house says this year is “particularly busy” for collectors, with the Venice Biennale, New York sales scheduled for later in May, Documenta 14, and Art Basel all happening around the same time. Christie’s regularly scheduled impressionist evening sale will go ahead as usual on June 27.

Since Guillaume Cerutti was appointed chief executive last December, Christie’s has now closed their South Kensington saleroom in London—which hosts around sixty sales annually—reduced operations in Amsterdam, sent a former senior vice president to David Zwirner, and moved to open a flagship location in Los Angeles by next month.

Christie’s now plans to focus on its contemporary sales in March, which were moved from February this year to avoid a clash with Chinese New Year, and during Frieze in London on October 6. Meanwhile, rival house Sotheby’s says it has no plans to reschedule its June contemporary sales, while a spokeswoman for Phillips has only said that the auction house has not yet made a decision.

March 27, 2017

Vilma Gold Gallery in London to Close

Rachel Williams of Vilma Gold Gallery

After another recent closure of a London gallery, Vilma Gold Gallery has announced that it will close as well, Alex Greenberger of Artnews reports. Rather than the traditional gallery model, dealers Rachel Williams and Vilma Gold will be starting “a new model of collaboration” with its artists. Williams originally opened the space with Steve Pippett in 2000.

The gallery works with artists such as Charles Atlas, Trisha Baga, Rochelle Feinstein, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Josef Strau, Jennifer West, and Luther Price. Additionally, the estates of KP Brehmer and Stephen Dwoskin will remain overseen by the gallery.

Williams’s letter elaborating on the decision is as follows:

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.