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International News Digest

KAROLA KRAUS TO HEAD VIENNA’S MUMOK

Karola Kraus has been named the new director of Vienna’s Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig (MUMOK). As the Süddeutsche Zeitung reports, the forty-nine-year-old Kraus is currently director of the Staatliche Kunsthalle in Baden-Baden and will take up her new job in Vienna on October 1. She replaces Edelbert Köb who has led the MUMOK since 2002.

“Karola Kraus puts art at the center of her concerns und nurtures an intensive and appreciative dialogue with people making art,” said Austria’s minister of culture Claudia Schmied. A daughter of the German Grässlin collector family, Kraus started directing the Baden-Baden Kunsthalle in 2006. According to the report, the Kunsthalle has not yet begun its search for her successor.

THREE ARCHITECTS NAMED FINALISTS FOR PALAIS DE TOKYO REVAMP

Three architectural teams have been selected as finalists in a competition to revamp the remaining space inside the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. As Agence France-Presse reports, the French minister of culture Frédéric Mitterrand announced that Lacaton & Vassal, Philippe Rahm, and the agency ARM (Poitevin et Reynaud) were chosen from eighty-seven candidates proposing a project to change nearly 100,000 square feet in the building into a contemporary art center. The winner of the competition will be announced in mid-May.

BORN-AGAIN POLAROID?

Polaroid instant film is once again available after the production came to a halt in August 2008. As Le Monde reports, it’s not Lady Gaga being the creative director that has led to the film’s rebirth but rather the work of eleven employees of the old Polaroid factory in the Dutch industrial town of Enschede. On March 25, the website “The Impossible Project” began selling for $25 black-and-white film compatible with the SX70 Polaroid camera, the most popular and the most purchased model in the instamatic family. According to the report, other film will be made available in the coming months.

The Polaroid instant pictures lost favor with the rise of digital cameras. After the Enschede factory was closed down in June 2008, 1,200 people were left unemployed. During a “closing party” at the factory, a “pola” fan from Vienna, Florian Kaps, made a proposal to a former employee, André Bosman: create a start-up company, find money to buy the machines, and restart the factory. Kaps—who started two websites dedicated to Polaroid pictures—Polanoid and PolaPremium.com—had already tried to convince the company’s management to continue producing film, without any success.

Bosman and ten other former employees took on Kaps’s proposal and purchased equipment that had not yet been sold from the factory. Since some of the components were produced by other Polaroid factories—and were no longer available—the group had to invent a new formula for the film. The development of the images is not exactly the same as on older Polaroid films, at least according to the British Journal of Photography, although “the elements that made the Polaroid so popular with photographers remain.”

The Impossible Project hopes to produce three million films in 2010 and a maximum of ten million in the coming years—a far cry from the 120 million produced in Polaroid’s heyday. The films will be sold not only on the website but also in specialized sites, such as museum shops and art centers. New Yorkers will have a more direct supply. To celebrate the marketing of the new film, Impossible will open shop in New York on April 30 in a building that will also contain an exhibition space.

ELMGREEN AND DRAGSET’S MEMORIAL CRITICIZED

Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset’s Denkmal für die im Nationalsozialismus verfolgten Homosexuellen (National Memorial for the Homosexual Victims of the Nazi Regime) is once again the subject of heated debate in Berlin. Since being inaugurated in May 2008, the memorial has shown a film of two men kissing—a scene that will soon be replaced by two women kissing. But as the Süddeutsche Zeitung’s Jens Bisky reports, not everyone is happy with the change. According to critics, the new film presents a false image of history, since lesbians were not victimized by the Nazi regime.

The critics, who have signed an open letter to state cultural minister Bernd Neumann, include most of the major directors for Holocaust memorial sites, from Volkhard Knigge, who works at the memorials in Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora, to Gabriele Hammermann, the director of the memorial at Dachau. According to the signatories, there is no historical documentation for a “single case of a lesbian” persecuted by the Nazis for her sexual orientation. The letter calls for the historical-political error to be corrected.

Neumann rejected the criticism while noting that the government decision that led to the monument had called for “an enduring sign against intolerance, animosity, and ostracism of gays and lesbians.” Bisky seems to have another response for the critics. “Since the Holocaust memorial [sites] also do research, it’s now time to ask for an exhibition along with an academic conference about the persecution of homosexuals in the Third Reich.”

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