February 26, 2017

Leigh Markopoulos (1968–2017)

Leigh Markopoulos. Photo: Jim Norrena, Courtesy CCA

San Francisco art critic, curator, and teacher Leigh Markopoulos has died, reports the San Francisco Chronicle’s Charles Desmarais. An automobile accident in Los Angeles was the cause of her death. Markopoulos contributed to the journal Art Practical, and served as chair of the graduate program in curatorial practice at California College of the Arts. She edited the book Great Expectations: Prospects for the Future of Curatorial Education (2016). Previously, she organized shows in London for the Serpentine Gallery and the Hayward Gallery, and she served as director of the Rena Bransten Gallery in San Francisco from 2005 to 2007.

College of the Arts president Stephen Beal called Markopoulos “a brilliant scholar, writer, and curator who was dearly loved by her students and colleagues.”

February 25, 2017

Syrian Cinematographer of Oscar-Nominated Documentary Denied Entry to US

Orlando von Einsiedel, The White Helmets, 2016.

Soon after last month’s report that Oscar-nominated director Asghar Farhadi would be prevented from attending the 2017 Oscars ceremony in Los Angeles due to Trump’s overreaching travel ban, CBS News reports that US immigration officials have prevented a twenty-one-year-old Syrian cinematographer named Khaled Khateeb—who worked on a short documentary film about his country’s ongoing civil war, titled The White Helmets (2016), which has been nominated for an Academy Award—from entering the US for the ceremony tomorrow.

Khateeb was scheduled to arrive today in Los Angeles on a Turkish Airlines flight from Istanbul, but he was not allowed in after officials reported finding “derogatory information” regarding Khateeb. Derogatory information is a broad category that can include anything from concrete evidence of connections to terrorist organization to mere passport irregularities. Asked for comment on the matter, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, Gillian Christensen, only said, “A valid travel document is required for travel to the United States.” Khateeb had been issued a visa to attend the ceremony, but Turkish authorities detained him this week, according to internal US government correspondence, and he was then required to get a passport waiver from the United States to enter the country. The correspondence indicated he would not receive such a waiver, but there was also no explanation for why Turkey detained Khateeb in the first place. Khateeb has said he is currently in Istanbul and has claimed he was not been detained.

The White Helmets, a British production directed by Orlando von Einsiedel, is nominated in the category of Best Documentary Short at the Oscars this year. Khateeb is one of three people credited for cinematography on the film, which focuses on the rescue workers who aid Syrians affected by the civil war. Many of the group’s members have been killed by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime, and the group was nominated for last year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

February 24, 2017

Lisson Gallery to Open Second New York Space

Lisson Gallery

London’s Lisson Gallery has announced that it will open its fifth location and second New York space this April, Nate Freeman of Artnews reports. The new 3,500-square-foot gallery will be housed at 136 Tenth Avenue.

The gallery’s director, Alex Logsdail, said that the idea for another New York location came about when artist Haroon Mirza inquired about finding a temporary space for a project that he thought was too small for the gallery’s 8,500-square-foot building on West Twenty-Fourth Street, which opened last year. “I started looking into it, and I realized we don’t have a space to show single-work exhibitions, or things that are a little more intimate. It was something that met the needs of a lot of our artists that make smaller work that we don’t exhibit all the time,” Logsdail said.

Mirza’s installation ããã – Experience, Practice, Ritual Remix, which consists of LED lights, an array of plants, and a video work that features found footage spanning the past fifteen years, beginning with the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, and ending with the election of Donald Trump, will inaugurate the space. The show will open March 3.

February 24, 2017

MoMA PS1 Names Jenny Sabin Studio Winner of 2017 Young Architects Program

Rendering of Jenny Sabin Studio's Lumen, 2017.

Jenny Sabin Studio’s Lumen has been selected as the winning design of MoMA PS1’s annual Young Architects Program. The immersive environment, an evolving design that changes in response to the people interacting with it as well as to heat and sunlight, will be constructed in the museum’s courtyard, opening on June 29.

Klaus Biesenbach, MoMA PS1 director and MoMA chief curator at large, said, “Lumen is a socially and environmentally responsive structure that spans practices and disciplines in its exploratory approach to new materials. Held in tension within the walls of MoMA PS1’s courtyard, Lumen turns visitors into participants who interact through its responsiveness to temperature, sunlight, and movement.”

Now in its eighteenth edition, the Young Architects Program has offered emerging architectural talent the opportunity to design and present innovative projects for a temporary, outdoor installation that provides shade, seating, and water. The architects must also work within guidelines that address environmental issues, including sustainability and recycling. Made of responsive tubular structures in a lightweight knitted fabric, Lumen features a canopy of recycled photoluminescent and solar-active textiles that absorb, collect, and deliver light as well as a misting system that will respond to visitors’ proximity.

February 24, 2017

Ren Hang (1987–2017)

Ren Hang, Untitled, 2013.

Beijing-based, self-taught photographer Ren Hang, known for his brazen and provocative nude portraits, has died at the age of twenty-nine, the British Journal of Photography reports. His photo assistant confirmed that the cause of death was suicide. While his works were internationally acclaimed, they were repeatedly censored in China. “I don’t really view my work as taboo, because I don’t think so much in cultural context, or political context,” Ren said. “I don’t intentionally push boundaries, I just do what I do.”

Over the course of the young artist’s five-year career, he exhibited works in more than twenty solo shows and seventy group shows in cities such as Antwerp, Athens, Beijing, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, New York, Paris, Tokyo, and Vienna. Ren also self-published seven monographs, including Ren Hang, Nude, Republic, and Son And Bitch, before the publishing company Taschen released a retrospective photobook of his compelling images earlier this year.

Born in Nong’ An—a suburb of Changchun, the capital of the northeastern province of Jilin—in 1987, Ren left for Beijing to study advertising when he was seventeen. Shortly afterward, he became interested in photography as a way to “relieve boredom.” The artist began by using a point-and-shoot camera to capture his friends, who became his models. Ren’s surreal images frequently depict nude men and women in sensual poses in urban and natural environments. In a 2013 interview with Vice, Ren discussed how he didn’t take photos with any particular plan in mind and was only inspired while holding his camera and looking at the models. “I feel the real existence of people through their naked bodies,” he said. “I like to portray every organ in a fresh, vivid, and emotional way.”

February 24, 2017

Paul Schimmel Leaves Hauser & Wirth

Paul Schimmel

Paul Schimmel will be leaving his role as director, partner, and vice president of Hauser & Wirth. Iwan and Manuela Wirth, cofounders and copresidents of the gallery, made the announcement today. Schimmel has headed Hauser & Wirth’s new downtown arts district complex in Los Angeles since joining the gallery in May 2013.

Schimmel was previously the longtime chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and has maintained a curatorial career extending back to the mid-1970s. (He wrote a Passages on Chris Burden, on the occasion of the artist’s death, in the September 2015 issue of Artforum.)

In announcing Schimmel’s departure, Iwan Wirth noted, “Going forward, Hauser & Wirth will continue building upon its longstanding, passionate commitment to Los Angeles with expanded programs, including an increasingly robust campaign of public events and community outreach activities, and an ever more dynamic schedule of exhibitions that celebrate our artists, and connections between California and the international scene.”

February 24, 2017

Lincoln Center Rejects Ticket Holder Wearing Anti-Trump Sign

Jenny Heinz holds up the sign she had affixed to her jacket when Lincoln Center turned her away from a performance at David Geffen Hall. Photo: George Etheredge for the New York Times

In November, Jenny Heinz, an avid performance goer, attached an eight-by-eleven sign to the back of her jacket that reads: “No! In the name of humanity we refuse to accept a fascist America!”

Earlier this month, Lincoln Center would not admit Heinz to a Budapest Festival performance at David Geffen Hall, because she refused to remove the sign from her jacket, Colin Moynihan of the New York Times reports. Despite wanting to attend the event, Heinz forfeited her ticket to keep the sign, saying it was a matter of “freedom of expression.”

While Lincoln Center did not directly address the incident, it released a statement that reads: “Lincoln Center’s founding mission is to bring the world’s greatest artists to the broadest possible audience. Every day we strive to provide an environment that cultivates the special and uninterrupted connection between a diverse array of performers and patrons, enabling a multitude of curated experiences for our 6.5 million annual visitors and artists.”

February 24, 2017

Greek State Assumes Control of Stavros Niarchos Cultural Center

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation handed over its Renzo Piano–designed cultural center, which houses the National Library and the National Opera House, to the Greek state in a ceremony on Thursday, February 23, Ekathimerini reports. The foundation also donated roughly $650 million to support the maintenance of the facility for years to come.

Prime Minster Alexis Tsipras welcomed the “generous donation” and also acknowledged the public’s unease over the fate of the center once it’s under state control by saying, “The concerns are very real. They are due to the fact that many Olympic facilities on which the people spent hundreds of millions remain unexploited, virtually in ruin.” He added, “However, it is not right to create the impression that the state and citizens are not in the position to keep this jewel, to make use of it and to make it into something even better.”

Tsipras brushed over several examples of missteps by both private and public Greek cultural institutions, including the Athens Concert Hall, which accumulated millions of dollars of debt, forcing the state to intervene. Director of the foundation Andreas Dracopoulos said that the center has already been “embraced” by Greeks and that 760,000 people have visited the space since it opened in 2016. President Prokopis Pavlopoulos added that if the state fails to manage the facility, it “will not be a breach against the donors but against culture itself.”

February 24, 2017

Marlborough Chelsea Rebrands and Merges New York and London Programming

Max Levai, principal director of Marlborough Chelsea, which has been rebranded as Marlborough Contemporary. Photo: Patrick McMullan

Marlborough Chelsea has announced that it is rebranding itself as Marlborough Contemporary and will coordinate programming between its New York and London spaces under the leadership of directors Max Levai and Pascal Spengemann.

“We are now an internationally aligned program, and Marlborough Contemporary represents the future of this legendary gallery,” Levai said. “This expansion opens up an exciting opportunity for connecting with new artists and expanding our audience.”

The gallery will also add to its staff by welcoming director Nichole Caruso, formerly of Wallspace Gallery and Lisa Cooley Gallery, as well as Leo Fitzpatrick, who will continue to oversee the adjacent Viewing Room gallery. Ed Spurr, formerly of Matthew Marks Gallery, will also join Marlborough Contemporary as a director in London.