Bartomeu Marí

Korean Artists Petition Against Former MACBA Director

According to a report by Gareth Harris in the Art Newspaper, a campaign called petition4art led by Korean artists, curators, and cultural figures has launched several petitions protesting the appointment of Bartomeu Marí, the former director of the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, or MACBA, as the new director of South Korea’s National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. Their concerns about Marí’s appointment stem from his role in the censorship of an exhibition at the MACBA last spring called “The Beast and the Sovereign,” a debacle that led to his resignation and the resignation of several high profile museum curators and directors from the International Museum Committee’s Board.

The first petition was created last month and gained more than 830 signatures, including from the Seoul-based filmmaker Park Chan-kyong and the Berlin-based artist Haegue Yang, opposing Marí’s candidacy. After Marí’s official appointment in Seoul earlier this month, replacing the museum’s acting director Kim Jeongbae, a second petition was launched on December 3 and has amassed 450 signatures so far. A spokesperson for petition4art said that the ministry of culture in South Korea “must not attempt any kind of censorship… We also ask the new director for a public declaration of ethics where he states clearly his will to stand against any kind of censorship and control or pressure from the authorities.”

Marí has personally written to the petition4art group, saying he opposes “all sorts of censorship…I believe that the only way art can play a role in society is by being produced, presented and received in freedom, without impositions or restrictions,” and defended his initial decision to cancel the exhibition at MACBA by reasoning that exhibiting artist Ines Doujak’s work—depicting the former Spanish King Juan Carlos I being sodomized by the late Bolivian labor leader Domitila Chúngara—opened the museum’s board to legal action from the Spanish government for insulting the former monarch, whose “image is protected by law.”