Earlier this year, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, a member of Russian Punk band Pussy Riot, was convicted of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” along with her fellow band members after they staged an anti-Putin performance in a Moscow cathedral. Now, family members say that Tolokonnikova has gone missing after a prison transfer. According to BuzzFeed, family members of the young woman say that they haven’t heard from her since October 21. She was transferred by train to an unknown destination after staging a hunger strike over “slavelike” conditions. Word has it that Tolokonnikova is going to a prison in Alatyr, near Mordovia, though no one knows for sure. Her father, Andrei Tolokonnikova, said, “There's no proof she's alive, we don't know the state of her health. Is she sick? Has she been beaten?” And her husband, Petya Verzilov, thinks that her disappearance is a political move: “This is basically the only way they have to punish Nadya,” he told BuzzFeed. “Let's cut her off from the outside world.”
Karin Higa, a specialist in Asian American art who spent nearly a decade and a half as a curator at the Japanese American National Museum, has died at the age of forty-seven of cancer, reports David Ng of the Los Angeles Times. Higa was recently named a curator for the Hammer Museum’s 2014 “Made in LA” Biennial but was forced to relinquish the post due to her illness. Recent notable exhibitions include a 2008 show at the Japanese American National Museum dedicated to the art of ikebana, or Japanese flower arrangement, and the 2006 touring “One Way or Another” at the Asia Society.
William Rudolph has been named curator of American art and Mellon chief curator at the San Antonio Museum of Art. The newly created position is made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation as well as an endowment from San Antonio philanthropist Marie Haff in honor of her late husband, Hugh Haff. Rudolph is currently curator of American Art and decorative art, and director of exhibitions, at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Said Rudolph: “The San Antonio Museum of Art is an ambitious museum. I’m excited to work with [director] Katie Luber and her team to bring dynamic art and programming to the city's diverse community.”
Robin Cembalest reports in Artnews that artist Adrian Piper has pulled her work out of “Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art,” an exhibition that’s currently up at the Grey Art Gallery. The monitor in the gallery that played video documentation of Piper’s canonic work, Mythic Being, 1973, in which she wore an Afro wig and wire-rimmed sunglasses and challenged public perceptions while navigating the streets of New York, had been shut off. Over the monitor, a note included parts of a letter from Piper that shed some light on her reasons for declining to participate. Wrote Piper: “I appreciate your intentions. Perhaps a more effective way to ‘celebrate [me], [my] work and [my] contributions to not only the art world at large, but also a generation of black artists working in performance,’ might be to curate multi-ethnic exhibitions that give American audiences the rare opportunity to measure directly the groundbreaking achievements of African American artists against those of their peers in ‘the art world at large.’”
The note also included a response from the show’s curator, Valerie Cassel Oliver, who wrote: “It is clear, that some experiences are hard to transcend and that stigmas about blackness remain not only in the public’s consciousness, but also in the consciousness of artists themselves. It is my sincere hope that exhibitions such as ‘Radical Presence’ can one day prove a conceptual game changer.”
Hugo Boss and the Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai, have announced artist Kwan Sheung Chi as the recipient of its biennial art award. Established in spring 2013, the prize carries a stipend of over $48,000. The other six shortlisted artists nominated by the award’s international jury of museum curators include Birdhead (Shanghai), Hsu Chiawei (Taipei), Hu Xiangqian (Beijing), Lee Kit (Hong Kong, Taipei), Li Liao (Shenzhen), and Li Wei (Beijing). An exhibition at the Rockbund will show several works by the seven finalists until December 8, 2013.
The New York Times' Doreen Carvajal took a recent look at the delays plaguing the ongoing renovation of the Picasso Museum in France. The renovation began in 2009; since then, the museum has had to repeatedly postpone its planned reopening date; construction costs in the meanwhile have doubled to nearly $70 million. Carvajal notes that critics are pointing fingers at museum president Anne Baldassari, with various French headlines auguring the museum’s pending “implosion” and “nervous breakdown.” In the process, the museum’s chief executive and five other staff members left in 2012, and reportedly complained about Baldassari’s leadership style.
Baldassari and her defenders, however, point out that she led the museum through an era of financial crisis and cultural funding cuts, even managing to raise $41 million for the renovation. And Baldassari suspects that her accusers wouldn’t be judging her so harshly if she were a man: “A woman in my position has to prove herself every day. There is always suspicion and controversy, and that’s difficult. The criticism of me is a reflection of general sexism.”
In a happier turn of events, the National Gallery of Zimbabwe has officially unveiled six prized artifacts that were recently recovered in Germany after being stolen from the gallery seven years ago, according to Yeukai Karengezeka in The Herald. In search of the pieces—which include four Shona headrests and two Tanzanian masks—the museum went so far as to engage the help of the Museum Security Network; Lilian Chaonwa, the gallery’s collections manager, then discovered the works for sale on the Internet.
The artifacts were offered by a Polish national who claimed that his father had acquired them while working in the country during the Rhodesian era. Citing the pomp that’s surrounded the unveiling of the returned works, executive director Doreen Sibanda said that the National Gallery “wants to [increase] awareness of how important these treasures are to the entire nation and how they should be safeguarded by local citizens.”
South Korea’s National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art is opening the doors to its new branch in Cheongju, a city about eighty-five miles south of Seoul. According to the Yonhap News Agency, the new three-story building, which has been under construction over the past two years, “boasts far better accessibility for Seoul citizens than the main branch in Gwacheon and is far bigger than the Deoksu gallery.” The museum will inaugurate its new outpost with a special exhibition featuring paintings, sculptures, photos, and new-media works by around fifty Korean contemporary artists.
Hats off to Julião Sarmento, who’s been named this year’s winner of the Casino da Póvoa art prize, according to Público. Sarmento will receive over $40,000, and his work will be exhibited at the Árvore gallery and featured in a monograph with contributions by critic Nuno Crespo. The Casino da Póvoa will also acquire a painting by the artist. The Museu de Serralves gave Sarmento a retrospective earlier this year, and he represented Portugal at the Forty-sixth Venice Biennale.
The American Academy in Rome is expected to name Mark Robbins, the current executive director of the International Center of Photography, New York, as its new president, reports Rachel Donadio of the New York Times. An architect and artist who has also been the director of design at the National Endowment for the Arts, Robbins was a fellow in design at the academy from 1996 through 1997. “I’m hoping to broaden people’s understanding” of the institution, said Robbins about his new role, adding, “for artists and scholars, of the continuing importance of Rome as a way of thinking about the contemporary world, but also for the wider public, internationally, to understand the American Academy in Rome as a center for thinking, arts, and creativity.” Robbins’s last day at the ICP is November 15.
The Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, has appointed Cathleen Chaffee as its curator, reports Annie Wang of Art in America. Chaffee previously served as the Horace W. Goldsmith assistant curator of modern and contemporary art at the Yale University Art Gallery since 2010. Prior to Yale, she held curatorial positions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Cleveland Museum of Art. Chaffee received her PhD in art history from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, and was awarded a 2008 Fulbright fellowship to Belgium in order to complete research on her dissertation. She received her MA from the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London, and completed her undergraduate studies at Ithaca College.
Kevin W. Tucker has been promoted to senior curator of decorative arts and design. Tucker is currently coorganizing the first retrospective of industrial designer Peter Muller-Munk at the museum. In 2010, he wrote the catalogue for “Gustav Stickley and the American Arts & Crafts Movement,” and cocurated various exhibitions at the museum, including “All the World’s a Stage: Celebrating Performance in the Visual Arts,” 2009, and “There and Back Again: Selections from the Graham D. Williford Collection of American Art,” 2005. “Kevin’s work over the last decade has firmly established the decorative arts and design program in Dallas as one of the finest of its type in the country,” said Maxwell L. Anderson, the museum’s director. “For his many efforts as a leader in his field, we are very pleased to recognize Kevin with this promotion.”