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International News Digest


The opening of Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum is facing a setback. Eurotopics cites the Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad, which reports that construction on the museum’s new building has stopped because the construction company filed for bankruptcy. According to the newspaper, the latest delay is nothing new because an impasse has been going on since 2004. “Delays, delays, nothing but delays,” notes the editorial, which lays blame with the city. “Now, construction work has stopped, and Amsterdam is launching into a new round of talks. There must be an end to this chaos, the Stedelijk is just too valuable.” The problem is becoming a generational one for Dutch art lovers. “The people want their museum back, as the steady stream of visitors to the interim exhibitions proves. But the works by heroes such as Malevich, Newman, and Pollock remain hidden away in the depots. Entire school years of Dutch teenagers are growing up without knowing a thing about the extraordinary collection of modern art in their country’s possession. Young artists, too, are in danger of becoming a lost generation.”


The site and the curators have been announced for ninth edition of Manifesta in 2012. As Monopol reports, the roving European biennial will take place in Limburg, Belgium and will be curated by Cuauthémoc Medina. The Mexican curator will head a team of curators who will be selected by him and by the Manifesta organizers. While there are no details about Medina’s plans, his proposal for innovative exhibitions models convinced the Manifesta organizers as well as his attention to the sociopolitical landscape throughout European regions. The choice of Limburg and the surrounding region will offer a chance to address the handling of cultural heritage and the search for European unity, among other themes. Manifesta, which began in 1996, takes places every two years in a new region of Europe.


The German pavilion at the next Venice Biennial seems to be getting an early start with an Internet project dedicated to the selected German representative, the late director and artist Christoph Schlingensief. As the Süddeutsche Zeitung reports, the pavilion’s curator, Susanne Gaensheimer, has organized a virtual online “scavenger hunt” to rouse interest in Schlingensief and his work. In the coming weeks, a website will be featuring continually-changing pages with biographical details and information about the multidisciplinary talent, who died last year during the planning stages of his contribution to Venice. Schlingensief’s initial plans for the German pavilion, which he sketched out during several working sessions, will also be documented on the website in the order that the artist developed them. The site, which at first glance looks like a colorful rag-rug with texts and photographs, will gradually be developed as the Venice Biennale approaches this June.


Some technical problems hounded the first online international art fair VIP (“Viewing in Private”), which featured 138 dealers from thirty countries selling their wares for a week in a virtual exhibition hall. Der Standard’s Anne Katrin Feßler offers an assessment of the debut fair. According to Feßler, some participating dealers were rumored to be preparing to ask for a refund from the fair initiator and New York dealer James Cohan. “The Chat function is the only thing that distinguishes the VIP Art Fair from a normal gallery website,” said Arne Ehmann, director of the Ropac gallery in Salzburg. Despite the problems, Ehmann would participate again if the Chat function worked, although the dealer believes that collectors are more likely to reserve favorites online than give out million-dollar amounts in online sales. By the halfway point in the fair, Ropac was able to avoid a loss by selling a work by the Iranian artist Rokni Haerizadeh for $19,000. While the virtual fair eliminated costs for transport and hotel, not all participating galleries were lucky enough to recoup the costs of their stands. In the first three days, VIP registered 91,476 logins, 4,305,629 hits, and 220,000 zooms from virtual visitors. And, according to privacy settings, dealers could see who was viewing their stand at any moment. As Feßler notes, in stark contrast to hits on a YouTube posting, the hits at a virtual art fair are not a measure of success.