Recipients of Russia’s 2017 Innovation Awards Announced

Leonid Tishkov’s “Look Homeward” (2016–2017) at the NCCA.

The honorees of Russia’s twelfth annual Innovation Prize were announced at an award ceremony that took place on Tuesday, May 30. Administered by Moscow’s National Center for Contemporary Arts, the major state-run art prize recognized artists and cultural figures working in seven categories.

Andrey Kuzkin received the Book of the Year award for his work The Right to Life (2016), which documents all of the actions and performances the artist carried out between 2006 and 2015; Vladimir Beresnev and Marina Pugin were selected for the Regional Project award for their visualization of an “alternative future” for Perm Art Gallery, which was forced to relocate numerous times; and Elena Kolovskaya, Alexander Manotskov, and Anastasia Tolstaya were recognized in the Educational Project category for organizing “Music for All,” which introduces the blind and visually impaired musicians to classical music.

Kirill Gluschenko won the prestigious New Generation prize for the exhibition “Beautiful Appearance of Our Everyday Life” (2016) held at a former factory building in Moscow. In addition, Leonid Tishkov, best known for his “Private Moon” series of photographs, took the Artist of the Year award for his exhibition “Look Homeward” (2016–2017) at the NCCA; Alexander Burenkov received the Curator of the Year award for his exhibition “Planned Obsolescence” (2016) at the Miltronic fitness club in Moscow; and “New Space Theater of Nations” received the Project of the Year award.

The jury comprised Marina Losha, Teresa Mavic, Alexander Borovsky, Caroline Bourgeois, and Vladimir Filippov.

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September 19, 2017

Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District Authority Appoints New Board Chair

Henry Tang Ying-yen


Henry Tang Ying-yen has been appointed the board chairman of Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA), writes Helena Halim of Art Asia Pacific. Tang starts his two-year term on October 1.

Tang, who helps run a large family knitwear business, worked as Hong Kong’s chief secretary from 2007 until 2011. He also served as the WKCDA’s first board chairman from 2008 to 2011. Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive, said, “Mr. Tang has this very unique experience of working in the government and in the private sector. . . . I have every confidence that under Henry’s leadership, the WKCD project will be brought to new heights.”

Tang will have much to take care of, once he steps into his new role, such as securing additional funding for the district’s development and catching up on delayed construction projects. There has also been a great deal of controversy surrounding the WKCDA: In February, the authority was criticized over its “secret” collaboration with the Beijing Palace Museum to build a new branch of the institution in the West Kowloon district without any consultation from the public. The museum hid certain costs from the WKCDA until after a construction contract between the two parties was secured.

September 19, 2017

Germany Creates Database to Help Prevent Looting of Cultural Property

The Temple of Baal in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, destroyed by ISIS. Photo: Sandra Auger / Reuters.

The German government has created an internet portal to support the country’s Cultural Property Protection Law, according to Catherine Hickley of the Art Newspaper. The law, which came into effect in 2016, was enacted to protect German national heritage and put an end to the illegal trafficking of looted art and antiquities. The portal offers information on artists, museums, archives, and cultural property regulations for collectors. There is also material on cultural heritage regulations from sixty other countries, such as Egypt, China, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Dealers say German law protecting cultural property is made up severe regulations that are perhaps the toughest in the world. Any antiquity available for purchase in Germany requires an export license from the object’s country of origin. The law also mandates that exporters of cultural goods beyond a certain age and value need to have an export license from one of Germany’s sixteen states. Monika Grütters, Germany’s culture minister, says the law is one of her most significant achievements, especially in light of the ancient sites being looted and destroyed by terrorists in Syria and Iraq.

The new portal is accessible here. English and French versions of the site are in the works.

September 19, 2017

New Lower East Side Gallery Will Focus on Women Artists

Art dealer Sara Kay.

Hilarie M. Sheets of the New York Times reports that Sara Kay, who founded the Professional Organization for Women in the Arts in 2008, served as the director of White Cube London, and worked as a specialist in old master drawings at Christie’s for twenty years, is now starting a gallery on New York’s Lower East Side that will focus on women artists. The Sara Kay Gallery will open on September 28, 2017 in an 1890 townhouse on Four East Second Street—a space that used to house Rivington Arms.

Kay says she plans on creating a “conversation among artworks from different genres.” The gallery’s inaugural exhibition, “A Limitless Vision: The Collection of Audrey B. Heckler,” will feature works by a number of well-known outsider artists—such as Adolf Wölfli, Aloïse Corbaz, Madge Gill, and James Castle—alongside a work by Jean Dubuffet and ceramics by Picasso.

September 19, 2017

Banksy Raises $277,000 for Humanitarian Groups

Banksy, Civilian Drone Strike, 2017.


The proceeds from the sale of graffiti artist Banksy’s Civilian Drone Strike, 2017—a work that depicts three Predator drones dropping bombs on a framed illustration of a house and stick figures—will go to two humanitarian organizations: Campaign Against Arms Trade and Reprieve, writes Damien Gayle of The Guardian. The picture was auctioned off at the Art the Arms Fair, a five-day expo organized as part of a larger, two-week-long festival organized to counter the Defense and Security Equipment International arms fair, which ran concurrently with the protest events. The auctioning of Banksy’s piece brought in about $277,000.

“The arms fair is a moral abomination,” said Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade. More than one hundred protestors who tried to interrupt the delivery of goods to the arms fair were arrested.

In June, Banksy was in trouble with the British government for trying to sway the general election by offering a free print to anyone who did not vote for Tory candidates. “I have been warned by the Electoral Commission that the free print offer will invalidate the election result. So I regret to announce this ill-conceived and legally dubious promotion has now been canceled,” the artist said in a statement on his website.

September 19, 2017

Meredith Monk Awarded 2017 Gish Prize

Meredith Monk.

The trailblazing composer, singer, and interdisciplinary artist Meredith Monk has won the twenty-fourth Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize. She will receive approximately $250,000 and will be honored during a ceremony celebrating her achievements at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on October 26.

Established in 1994 through the will of legendary stage and screen actress Lillian Gish, known as the “First Lady of Cinema,” the prize recognizes artists from any discipline who have pushed the boundaries of an art form, contributed to social change, and paved the way for the next generation.

“I am humbled and grateful to receive the Gish Prize,” Monk said. “It’s exceptional for being a prize that a great artist decided to give to other artists, and even more special for the values that Lillian Gish expressed when she said it should recognize contributions to ‘the beauty of the world.’ I believe, as she did, that art can be a healing force, a source of light during dark times. With boundless admiration for her, and profound respect for the artists who received this prize before me, I am thrilled to have been chosen for this one-of-a-kind award.”

September 19, 2017

Bronx Museum of the Arts Appoints Klaudio Rodriguez as Deputy Director

Klaudio Rodriguez.

The Bronx Museum of the Arts has named Klaudio Rodriguez, formerly the curator at the Frost Art Museum at Florida International University in Miami, as its new deputy director. Rodriguez will be responsible for assisting in the management of staff and the implementation of the museum’s exhibitions and public programming.

During his tenure at the Frost Art Museum, Rodriguez worked closely with the museum’s director and development officer to build membership, develop new revenue sources, and fundraise. He also helped organize exhibitions of Uruguayan art, South American geometric abstraction, and video works by women artists, as well as “Narciso Rodriguez: An Exercise in Minimalism” (2016–17). Additionally, Rodriguez serves on the diversity and mentoring committees of the Association of Art Museum Curators and recently participated in the Getty Leadership Institute.

“I am thrilled that Klaudio is joining the Bronx Museum as deputy director,” noted executive director Holly Block. “The experience and expertise he brings will result in thought-provoking exhibitions and programs of local, national, and international significance, as well as new ways to more deeply engage with our community.”

September 18, 2017

Judy Baca To Expand Major Los Angeles Mural

Judy Baca, The Great Wall of Los Angeles, 1976, paint on concrete. Installation view, Los Angeles.

During last week’s slew of openings for the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative in Los Angeles, artist Judy Baca announced that her 2,754 foot-long mural, The Great Wall of Los Angeles, 1976, will be expanded in the coming years with new sections, according to a report by Jori Finkel in the Art Newspaper. Originally conceived in 1974, the mural was completed over five summers and employed more than 400 youths and their families, documenting California’s history up to the 1950s. Painted along a concrete wall of the Tujunga Flood Control Channel in the San Fernando Valley area of LA, Baca completed a restoration of the project in 2011 and is now planning to add hundreds of feet of new scenery to reflect recent history. The mural currently ends with images of Wilma Rudolph, who was an African American gold medalist Olympic athlete, and American Indian athlete Billy Mills, who won gold at the 1964 Olympics.

Baca stated that the next section of the mural will focus on images of radical protest from the 1960s. For example, the Olympic torch that Mills holds in the mural as of now will be altered so that it is shown falling into a circle that represents a generation on fire. Baca said of her intentions with the new imagery that “these semi-hippie, but not entirely hippie, my-generation people have fire in their chests and they are met by the Alabama hoses and the dogs, and yet they are people in total peace and calm recognizing they must stand for what they believe in…We’re hoping this is going to be an inspiration for the next generation.”

In collaboration with the Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC), which was founded by Judy Baca in 1976 and oversees The Great Wall, the artist plans to paint the additions indoors on a substrate and then transfer this material to installation outside. SPARC is now raising money for this next phase of the mural. Debra J.T. Padilla, the executive director of SPARC, noted “It costs about $600,000 a decade, and we have the 1960s, 70s, 80s and 90s to go”—in addition to the cost of a new studio for production of the piece’s extension.

September 18, 2017

Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art Announces New Director

Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy

The supervisory board of Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam has announced that Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy will serve as the public institution’s new director, starting on the first of next year. The previous director Defne Ayas, who has served since 2012, is leaving her position after having led the institution successfully for two terms of three years, the maximum for a director at Witte de With, according to the organization’s governance code.

Hailing from Mexico, Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy has been curator of contemporary art at the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros since 2011. Hernández Chong Cuy has also developed other exhibitions independently, including “The Neighbors” (2016−2017), an exhibition series at the Bronx Museum of the Arts in New York, and “Let’s Walk Together” (2016), a survey exhibition of Mario Garcia Torres at Museo Tamayo in Mexico City, a museum she also previously served as the director of, from 2009−2010. Hernández Chong Cuy was artistic director and chief curator of the ninth Mercosul Biennial in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 2013, as well as an “agent” of Documenta 13 (2012) in Kassel.

The outgoing director of Witte de With stated: “I am thrilled to see what we were able to achieve in the past six years, especially in the way we have become more of an open and inclusive place, and how we continued to be a site of excellence for exhibitions, while also transforming into a stage for global and national debate about the role of art and culture in society…I am grateful for the opportunity I was given here to work with some of the most generous and demanding artists, thinkers, and writers of our times. I will cherish this place and its people for the rest of my life. Sofía’s appointment aligns wonderfully with our ambitions to keep this center a continuously relevant one. She is someone who is conscientious and of uncompromising curatorial rigor, and, as such, the perfect person to lead this institution into the next, and possibly the most important, chapter of its evolution.”

September 18, 2017

Documenta 14 Artists Defend Exhibition in Open Letter

Documenta 14 artists and curatorial team prepare to perform Jani Christou’s Epicycle, 1968, at Athens opening of Documenta 14, Megaron, April 6, 2017. Photo: Mathias Völzke

Coming on the heels of the recent announcement that Documenta is in dire financial straits, and a letter from the fourteenth edition’s curatorial team responding to the situation, 212 of Documenta 14’s artists have now issued their own open letter defending the vision of the exhibition.

The letter can be read in full below.