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International News Digest


Yvon Lambert is having second thoughts about keeping his collection of contemporary art in Avignon, France. As Agence France-Presse reports, the dealer is “seriously” contemplating taking back the 350 works because he believes that the city has not paid enough attention to them. The collection was given to Avignon ten years ago and is currently housed in the Hôtel de Caumont, an eighteenth-century building that belongs to the municipality. The center is co-funded by the city, the region, and the French state. According to Lambert, “the technical services of the city are catastrophic” and must be permanently redone.

“It was also planned to move the art academy Ecole des Beaux-Arts to allow us to expand,” said Lambert, “but these are promises that have not been realized.” The municipal council has recently considered an extra subvention of $60,000 and another change concerning the renewal of the agreement among the state, the collection, and the city.


Johan Holten has been appointed the new head of the Kunsthalle Baden-Baden. As the Süddeutsche Zeitung and Monopol report, the thirty-four-year-old Danish curator and art historian will take over from outgoing director Karola Kraus on April 1, 2011. Holten worked as a dancer, theater set builder, and an artist before completing his studies in art history and cultural studies at the Humboldt University in Berlin. Since 2005, Holten has been head of the Heidelberg Kunstverein, once of the largest museums in Germany.


There are countless copies of the Venus de Milo, but a contemporary art collector has just acquired an exceptional one. As Le Monde and Agence France-Presse report, the Swiss collector Uli Sigg––also the former Swiss ambassador to China––acquired a Venus de Milo made of panda excrement. The work––conceived by the Chinese artist Zhu Cheng and executed by children from the Sichaun province––was sold to Sigg for $46,000. It’s not the first time that animal excrement has been turned into a work of art or that Sigg has been involved with a controversial work. During the exhibition of his collection in Bern in 2001, the collector unleashed a scandal by showing a work by the artist Xiao Yu, who combined the body of a seagull with the head of fetus in formol.


The Berlin Biennial has put a new spin on the traditional relationship between politics and art. As the Süddeutsche Zeitung’s Kia Vahland reports, the biennial’s open call for artists asks potential participants to choose between eight political positions: right, left, liberal, nationalistic, anarchistic, feminist, “masculinistic,” or unpolitical. “Let us describe in a clear political way what we do as artists,” asks curator Artur Žmijewski on the form, which also gives artists the possibility to define their political position in their own words. But Vahland seems wary of the request. “A reminder: In the dictatorships of the twentieth century, oppositional artists precisely did not fight to be allowed to paint their political views on canvas and building walls,” writes Vahland who argues that both making art and thinking need the right to vagueness and multiple meanings. The seventh Berlin Biennial will run in spring 2012.