International News Digest


As reported earlier on, the French artist Zineb Sedira’s exhibition at the Musée National Pablo-Picasso in Vallauris, France, was closed down prematurely after the subtitles had offended former Algerian Muslim soldiers loyal to the French during the Algerian War. The initial report from Le Monde––that the museum reopened after the artist corrected the subtitles––proved to be incorrect. As Le Monde’s Michel Guerrin reports in an update to the story, the French state is taking legal action against the office of the mayor of Vallauris, Alain Gumiel, for closing the museum since the end of April. “The response (from the French State) is firm and it is rare,” writes Guerrin.

Although Sedira agreed to change the offending word collaborateur to harki in the work’s subtitles, the mayor Gumiel still decided to close down the museum––a move that appeased the veteran groups living in the city who had complained about the work. Now, the prefect for the Alpes-Maritimes region, Francis Lamy, has initiated administrative court proceedings to annul the closure. While the mayor stated that the museum was closed as a “security measure,” Lamy contends that the move was unnecessary since law and order were not threatened by the exhibition.


Vienna’s MAK will soon be unveiling a rarity: an exhibition of North Korean art. As Der Standard reports, the show is already being debated politically before the opening, which takes place on May 18. “Blumen für Kim Il Sung: Kunst und Architektur aus der Demokratischen Volksrepublik Korea” (Flowers for Kim Il Sung: Art and Architecture from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) features works selected with the Korean Art Gallery: one hundred oil paintings, ink drawings, and watercolors as well as thirty posters and architectural designs from the Communist country. The question on many minds––is the exhibition an exercise in propaganda or a criticism of dictatorship rule?––has been only indirectly answered by the MAK. “Art is the only social force that has the ability to transcend borders,” said MAK director Peter Noever in a press statement. The exhibition is “in no way to be seen as a political statement, rather solely as a unique opportunity for debate and discussion with the idealizing art of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which is barely known.” At least in the realm of art production, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea seems to be ending its international isolation.


Berlin’s renowned Jewish Museum––designed by the architect Daniel Libeskind––will soon be expanding. As the Süddeutsche Zeitung reports, Libeskind presented his design for the extension, which will be built inside the Blumenmarkthalle, a former flower market hall that stands across from the existing building. The design calls for three slanting cubes, which will house the museum’s educational services, among other things. The Blumenmarkthalle––a 1960s building that was briefly considered as a possible site for Berlin’s Kunsthalle––will remain largely intact and visible after Libeskind’s addition is completed. Construction is due to begin in August and will be completed by fall 2011. At a price of twelve million dollars, the German federal government will pay seven million dollars while the museum will pay the remaining five million dollars.


Last weekend, Europeans––from Paris to Moscow, from London to Metz––took advantage of nocturnal opening hours at more than twenty-five thousand institutions in forty countries. Initiated in Berlin in 1997, the event took hold in Paris as “Nuit blanche” in 2002 and has since become a multicultural festival. This year’s edition marks the first time that UNESCO is a sponsor, but the focus of “Nuit blanche” was Russia, where approximately thirty museums, mostly in Moscow, left their doors open until the wee hours of the morning. “There has always been a deep imaginary link between the night and the museum,” said French minister of culture Frédéric Mitterrand during a presentation at Paris’s Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature (Museum of Hunting and Nature). “In a way, the museum––often a silent and secret place––is not without affinity to the night.” In addition to this museum, Parisians could also visit the Musée du Quai Branly, the Musée d’Orsay, and the Centre Pompidou, which was open until 1 AM.