May 10, 2017

ACLU Files Complaint on Behalf of Artist Detained by US Border Patrol

Aaron Gach

The American Civil Liberties Union is taking action on behalf of artist Aaron Gach, who was detained and forced to turn his iPhone over to US customs and border patrol agents as he tried to reenter the United States after traveling to Brussels for an exhibition at the STUK House for Dance, Image, and Sound.

On February 23, as Gach got off his flight at San Francisco International Airport, he was directed to a secondary waiting area. His passport was taken from him and he was asked not to use his cell phone while he was interrogated about his reasons for traveling.

During the questioning, the agents repeatedly told the artist to surrender his cell phone stating that if he refused, Gach’s phone would be confiscated. After asking about his rights and why he was being detained, Gach handed over the phone because he was worried that the agents would also seize the rest of his belongings including his laptop if he chose not to comply. The agents told him they needed access to the device in order to complete their investigation. Gach said that his phone was out of his sight for approximately five to ten minutes. After the agents concluded their questioning, they escorted him to an exit.

May 10, 2017

Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker Named CEO and Director of 2018 Biennale of Sydney

Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker

Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker, who has held directorships at Seattle’s Frye Art Museum, the Museum Villa Stuck in Munich, and the Vancouver Art Gallery, has now been named the CEO and director for the upcoming Biennale of Sydney. “The selection committee unanimously agreed that Jo-Anne’s leadership skills and experience in directing large-scale international exhibitions and cross-disciplinary curatorial teams will be a tremendous asset to the Biennale of Sydney as it expands its domestic and international presence, strengthens its curatorial voice and builds commissioning partnerships nationally and internationally,” said Kate Mills, the Biennale’s chair.

Birnie Danzker has organized numerous exhibitions. While at the Frye, she aided in putting together “Young Blood: Noah Davis, Kahlil Joseph, The Underground Museum,” curated by artist Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes, “Genius / 21 Century / Seattle,” and “Mw [Moment Magnitude].” At the Museum Villa Stuck, she was the exhibition director for “The Short Century: Independence and Liberation Movements in Africa 1945–1994,” curated by Okwui Enwezor. And on May 14, 2017, the trustees of the Cornish College of the Arts Seattle will confer on her the honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts, honoris causa.

The twenty-first Biennale of Sydney is scheduled to run from March 16, 2018 until June 11, 2018.

May 10, 2017

Metropolitan Museum Submits Proposal to Charge Out-of-State Visitors Admission

Interior of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Robin Pogrebin of the New York Times reports that the Metropolitan Museum of Art has filed a proposal to charge out-of-state visitors admission—a gesture the museum was only mulling over last month. The museum is partially supported by state taxpayers and currently has a “suggested” entrance fee for all visitors. The matter of this fee, however, was resolved last year after a class action lawsuit was brought against the Met for displaying misleading signage that said paying full-price admission was “recommended”—wording, according to the suit, which seemed to obscure the museum’s real policy of “pay what you wish.” Under the museum’s new proposal, the “suggested” fee will only be made available to New York state and city residents.

The proposal will have to be approved by Mayor Bill de Blasio since the city owns the Met building. Asked for a comment on the proposal, New York’s commissioner of cultural affairs, Tom Finkelpearl, said, “We will review it carefully. The city is committed to working with the Met to ensure that its unrivaled collection and programming remain accessible to all New Yorkers.” Andrew G. Celli, a lawyer for one of the plaintiffs from the 2016 lawsuit, said, “The museum should be accessible to all people of every economic level. It is unfortunate that the museum’s leadership feels that it has to ration its availability. There must be a better way—and I urge the Museum’s leadership, and the city’s, to find it.”

The museum is doing what it can to handle its $15 million deficit, which has led to a hiring freeze, and a delay on building its $600 million modern and contemporary art wing, which was supposed to be completed by 2020 in time for the museum’s 150th anniversary. Currently, the Met’s “suggested” entrance fee for adults is twenty-five dollars.

May 10, 2017

Biennale de Lyon Releases List of Participating Artists for 2017

Installation view of Mike Nelson's, A7 route du soleil (A7 Road of the Sun), 2015, at the thirteenth edition of the Biennale de Lyon.

The list of participating artists for the fourteenth edition of the Biennale de Lyon, curated by the Centre Pompidou-Metz’s director Emma Lavigne, has been released. Titled “Floating Worlds,” the exhibition will explore “the legacy and scope of the concept of ‘modernity’ in the art of our time.” The Biennale will take place at La Sucrière and the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Lyon. “Floating Worlds” will open to the public on September 20, 2017 and run through January 7, 2018.

This edition’s artists are:

May 10, 2017

57th Venice Biennale, “Viva Arte Viva,” Opens Saturday

Sam Gilliam, Yves Klein Blue, 2017. At the 57th Venice Biennale. Photo: David Velasco.

The Fifty-Seventh Venice Biennale, titled “Viva Arte Viva” and curated by Christine Macel, opens to the public on Saturday, May 13, and will run until Sunday, November 26 at the Giardini and Arsenale venues. The Biennale has been open for previewing since yesterday, with a round of artists already weighing in for on the works that stood out to them.

Described by Macel as an exhibition “designed with artists, by artists, and for artists,” the biennial offers a range of viewpoints on the participants’ creative processes, with their studio practices taking center stage. Featuring 120 artists, 103 who are participating for the first time, “Viva Arte Viva” is divided into nine chapters or “Trans-Pavilions,” including the “Pavilion of Artists and Books,” in which viewers can immerse themselves in the artists’ workshop and learn the reasons why they make art; the “Pavilion of Joys and Fears,” which explores the artists’ relationships to their own existence; the “Pavilion of Earth,” where artists address issues such as the exploitation of the planet’s resources and make observations about the natural environment; and the “Pavilion of Shamans,” in which exhibitors consider the creative act through a spiritual lens.

Other projects that will be taking place include “Open Table (Tavola Aperta),” where the public can meet with artists and engage in conversation over lunch; “Unpacking My Library,” in which artists talk about books that impacted their views on art-making; and the “Artists Practices Project,” a series of short videos the artists made about their way of working in the weeks preceding the Biennale. During opening week, around twenty live performances will also be staged at the Giardini, the Giardino delle Vergini, and other venues around the city. The events will be filmed and published on the Biennale’s website.

May 10, 2017

Ed Halter and Rudolf Frieling Awarded $60,000 by Thoma Foundation

From left: Rudolf Frieling and Ed Halter.

Ed Halter and Rudolf Frieling have been awarded a total of $60,000 for their writing and scholarship in the field of digital arts from the Carl and Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation. Frieling will receive a $30,000 unrestricted award along with a $10,000 project grant, while Halter will be given a $15,000 unrestricted award and a $5,000 project grant. The jurors for this year’s awards were Michelle Kuo, Artforum’s editor in chief; Kathleen Forde, artistic director of Istanbul’s Borusan Contemporary; and Michelle Puetz, curator of collections and public programs at the Chicago Film Archives.

Halter, a longtime contributor to Artforum, is the founder and director of Brooklyn’s Light Industry, a venue for film and electronic art. With Hessel Museum chief curator and director of Bard College’s graduate program in curatorial studies Lauren Cornell, Halter edited the anthology Mass Effect: Art and the Internet in the Twenty-First Century (2015). In addition to Artforum, Halter has written for the Village Voice and 4Columns, among other publications. He is also a critic in residence at Bard.

Frieling is a curator of media arts at SFMoMA. Among Frieling’s most significant publications are Media Art Action (1997), Media Art Interaction (2000), and Media Art Net (2004–2005), all coauthored with Dieter Daniels. At SFMoMA, he published The Art of Participation: 1950 to Now (2008) and, most recently, Bruce Conner: It’s All True (2016) with Gary Garrels. Of the Bruce Conner exhibition Frieling organized with Garrels, Stuart Comer, Laura Hoptman, and Rachel Federman, critic Vince Aletti said in the December 2016 issue of Artforum: “It was all too much—but I kept going back for more. The show hit a high point immediately with a series of alarming witch’s-brew assemblages, barely held together behind torn stockings. But Conner, who clearly blissed out more than once, never let up, ricocheting between the many media (film, photography, drawing, construction) that the exhibition allowed to bleed into one another. The result was overwhelming and deserves to be on permanent display.”

May 9, 2017

Hundreds Protest Proposed Cuts to Arts Funding in San Diego

Barry Edelstein, artistic director of Old Globe Theater, addresses hundreds of arts advocates who demonstrated against planned cuts to the city’s cultural funding at City Hall. Photo: Nancee E. Lewis

Hundreds of arts advocates, artists, and politicians rallied against the proposed 31 percent cut to cultural funding in San Diego on Monday, May 8, David Garrick of the San Diego Tribune reports. Demonstrators demanding a reversal of the plan to reduce arts funding by $4.7 million convened outside of City Hall holding signs, which read “Smart cities are art cities” and “Make art not cuts.”

Speakers at the protest argued that cutting money for the arts would adversely impact the city’s educational programming, economy, and character. “If they cut the life out of arts and culture in this city, what’s going to be left is San Antonio with beaches and a nice zoo,” said Barry Edelstein, artistic director for Balboa Park’s Old Globe Theater. “We are standing up for the good people of San Diego to bring them a quality of life that matters.”

Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s office is defending the $10.4 million budget for the arts, stating that it is actually more than the city spent in fiscal year 2015. Funding for the cultural sector increased from $9.8 million to $12.3 million in fiscal year 2016, and to $15.1 million in fiscal year 2017. However, critics of the cuts claim that the additional funds are part of a five-year plan launched in 2012 to gradually increase arts funding from 5.3 percent to 9.5 percent of the city’s Transient Occupancy Tax.

May 9, 2017

Tina Rivers Ryan Appointed Assistant Curator at Albright-Knox Art Gallery

Tina Rivers Ryan

Scholar, educator, and regular Artforum contributor Tina Rivers Ryan has been appointed to the newly created position of assistant curator at Buffalo’s Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Ryan has worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New Museum, MoMA PS1, and the ICA Boston. She has also taught courses on contemporary art at MoMA, Pratt Institute, and Columbia University.

Janne Sirén, the Peggy Pierce Elfvin Director of the Albright-Knox, said, “We are delighted to welcome Dr. Ryan to the Albright-Knox. A talented scholar and dynamic educator, she will be an integral member of our curatorial department. At the Albright-Knox we explore the art of our time globally while engaging our community in new and innovative ways. We are a small, highly motivated cross-disciplinary team and we immerse ourselves in collaborations with pioneering artists. Dr. Ryan will play an important role in our pursuit of excellence in all our endeavors.”

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with and build upon the Albright-Knox’s permanent collection, which has long embraced the cutting edge, from the kineticism of the 1950s to the digital art of today,” stated Ryan.

May 9, 2017

British and American Musicians Released After Immigration Raid on Hong Kong Nightclub

From left: Henry Kohen, aka Mylets; Chris Collis and Henry Tremain of TTNG; Hong Kong legislator Tanya Chan, and Tim Collis of TTNG. Photo: Sam Tsang

After posting an undisclosed sum for bail, the British band This Town Needs Guns, or TTNG, and the American musician Henry Kohen, aka Mylets, were released from custody last night. Hong Kong immigration officials raided the indie nightclub Hidden Agenda the evening of Sunday, May 7, and arrested the musicians, reports Adam Wright of the South China Morning Post. The club was invaded by more than ten immigration and fifteen police officers—carrying riot shields and accompanied by dogs—because the musicians were suspected of breaching the conditions of their stay by performing without work visas. Mylets and TTGN are allowed to leave Hong Kong but must report back to immigration authorities on June 5. The club’s owner, Hui Chung-wo, along with one of his employees and an audience member, were also arrested but released yesterday. People working in Hong Kong illegally can be imprisoned for up to two years and fined about $6,400 if convicted. Employers could get up to three years in jail and fined up to nearly $50,000

In a statement on their Facebook page, TTNG said, “We have learnt that it is extremely difficult for musicians to thrive in Hong Kong. It requires an incredible amount of strength and passion to persevere. Hong Kong as we know, as an international city with freedom and diversity, should give greater room for creative works and performance to flourish.”

This is not the first time Hidden Agenda has been raided. Police and members of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department attacked the club in March, accusing the owner of hosting live music shows without an entertainment license. The Lands Department will not give the club a license, claiming that operating a live music venue from an industrial building goes against the conditions of Hidden Agenda’s lease.