MoCA North Miami Executive Director Fired

Babacar M’Bow

After being placed on administrative leave for several weeks following a sexual harassment complaint, the director of the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, Babacar M’Bow, has been fired from his post. According to a termination letter sent to M’Bow by interim city director Arthur Sorey, the allegations of sexual harassment as well as a lack of appropriate supervision over employees are cited as cause for dismissal. The decision was made on December 31 following an investigation into a complaint made by Tiffany Madera, the museum's outreach and programming manager.

Several employees apparently testified that M’Bow often used graphic and sexual language and innuendo to and around staff members, particularly women. Madera noted in her complaint against him that the director had commented on her sex life, discussed the size of his genitalia, and instructed employees they needed to “get laid.” Her complaint cited several incidents, including a museum staff meeting on December 8 where M’Bow allegedly told the museum’s assistant director, Alan Waufle, to take a female vendor out and “show her a good time.” Waufle called the woman a “skanky bitch,” which Madera objected to, and asserts that M’Bow then interrupted her and told her to stop using “feminist rhetoric.”

According to the city’s investigative report, Waufle also described multiple instances of the director using inappropriately sexual language. In his interview with investigators, M’Bow denied the allegations against him made by Madera and other members of the staff, saying “it is clear that the allegations are false; they are the reaction of an employee who thought I was going to fire her on Jan. 1…I am married to a feminist scholar, this complaint is not part of my intellectual development, I have strong feminist politics.” The city chief of staff Natasha Colebrook-Williams will lead the museum on an interim basis while Sorey and the city council begin an official search for a new director.

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August 25, 2016

New York’s MoMA Promotes Ron Magliozzi to Curator in the Department of Film

Ron Magliozzi

New York’s Museum of Modern Art has announced that Ron Magliozzi, who joined the institution’s staff as supervisor of MoMA’s International Film Study Center in 1979, has been promoted to curator in the department of film.

Magliozzi, who specializes in collections research, development, and acquisitions, has served as associate curator since 2011. During his tenure at the MoMA, Magliozzi organized over fifty film series and gallery exhibitions, including “100 Years in Post-Production: Resurrecting a Lost Landmark of Black Film History,” 2015, a show organized around the discovery of the earliest surviving footage for a feature film with a black cast, Bert Williams’s Lime Kiln Club Field Day (1913). The previously unidentified, 101-year-old footage was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry and earned Magliozzi the 2014 Film Heritage Award from the National Society of Film Critics.

Rajendra Roy, chief curator of film said, “Ron Magliozzi is a visionary collections and exhibitions curator whose work has resulted in historic discoveries and some of the most popular exhibitions in MoMA's history. More than a million people have experienced his work through exhibitions such as ‘Pixar: 20 Years of Animation,’ ‘Tim Burton,’ and ‘Quay Brothers: The Pharmacist's Prescription for Lip-Reading Puppets.’” She added, “Ron has been an essential part of the department for many decades and it is thrilling to see him step into this new leadership role.”

August 25, 2016

McNay Art Museum Receives $1 Million Donation from G.A.C. Halff Foundation

Marie Halff with Bill and Liz Chiego.

McNay Art Museum has announced that the G.A.C. Halff Foundation has gifted the institution $1 million to establish an endowment for the acquisition of American art.

Marie Halff, former museum trustee and trustee of the G.A.C. Halff Foundation, announced the donation at an event honoring museum director William Chiego’s twenty-five years as leader of the institution. Chiego, the second director of the museum in its sixty-two year history, will step down from his position in September.

“My wife Liz and I are touched that she would make this gift announcement on behalf of herself and G.A.C Halff Foundation cotrustee, Tom Edson, at the tribute event in our honor,” Chiego said.

Rich Aste, former managing curator for arts of the Americas and Europe and curator of European art at the Brooklyn Museum, will succeed Chiego as third director.

August 25, 2016

Ai Weiwei Is Banned From the Yinchuan Biennale due to his “Political Sensitivity”

Ai Weiwei

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei said his work will not be included in the inaugural edition of the Yinchuan Biennale, which is scheduled to run from September 9 to December 18, because of his “political sensitivity.”

The artist, who was listed as one of the biennial’s participating artists earlier this year, wrote on Instagram, “Censorships in communist regions have been present since the existence of the power. Yet it still comes as a surprise to me for an ‘international art biennale,’ with over a hundred international artists and a foreign curator participating, to remove a single artist for the reason of defending human rights and freedom of speech. This shows what we face is a world, which is divided and segregated by ideology, and art is used merely as a decoration for political agendas in certain societies.”

Ai Weiwei claimed to receive a “vague letter” from Xie Suzhen, the art director of MoCA Yinchuan, stating that the decision was made by “higher officials.” Curated by Bose Krishnamachari, curator and cofounder of Kochi-Muziris Biennale, “For an Image, Faster Than Light” was supposed to exhibit work by Ai Weiwei alongside eighty international artists, including Anish Kapoor, Basir Mahmood, Danie Mellor, Liu Wei, Mao Tongqiang, Santiago Sierra, Song Dong, and Yee I-Lann. Krishnamachari said the biennial will explore spiritual and social consciousness, political narratives, and critical global engagement.

Ai Weiwei said, “China is trying to develop into a modern society without freedom of speech, but without political arguments involving higher aesthetic morals and philosophies, art is only served as a puppet of fake cultural efforts.” He added, “Therefore I am happy not to be a part of that effort as a political decoration. I believe the real effort we should make, is in defending freedom of speech for our humanism. Only by doing so, art is worth making.”

August 25, 2016

Parrish Art Museum Names Corinne Erni as Curator of Special Projects

Corinne Erni

The Parrish Art Museum has announced that Corinne Erni, who spearheaded the New Museum’s biennial IDEAS CITY and cofounder of ARTPORT_making waves, a curatorial platform on art and climate change, was appointed as curator of special projects. She will take up the position on September 1.

Director Terrie Sultan said that Erni’s “high level of expertise in engaging multiple and diverse audiences and fomenting interdisciplinary collaborations will enable the Parrish Museum to fully embrace its mission as a center for cultural engagement.”

Erni has twenty years of experience working as a museum professional. During her tenure at the New Museum, which she joined in 2010 as a project manager, Erni helped produce IDEAS CITY, a New York City–based biennial arts festival that has held global conferences in cities such as Istanbul and São Paulo. She established ARTPORT_making waves in 2006 and has served as codirector through 2016. The curatorial platform’s key projects include ARTPORT_Satellite—artist interventions with George Steinmann, Barthélémy Toguo, and Olafur Eliasson at the United Nations 2015 Climate Change Conference in Paris; “(Re-) Cycles of Paradise,” a traveling exhibition on gender and climate change at United Nations Climate Change Conferences in Copenhagen and Mexico; and Cool Stories for When the Planet Gets Hot, a biennial competition for short art videos on global warming with screenings of finalists’ editions and educational programs worldwide that began in 2009.

August 25, 2016

Italian Museums to Donate Ticket Sales to Earthquake Rescue Operations

A sixteenth-century St. Augustin church in Amatrice that was damaged from the 6.2 magnitude earthquake that struck central Italy on August 24. Photo: Emilio Fraile

According to Hannah McGivern of the Art Newspaper, Italian museums and archaeological sites will donate all the profits made from their ticket sales on Sunday, August 28, to the rescue efforts underway in Central Italy after yesterday’s 6.2 magnitude earthquake devastated several towns, killed at least 241 people, and injured hundreds.

Culture minister Dario Franceschini urged Italians to “go to museums in a sign of solidarity with the populations involved in last night’s earthquake.”

The crisis unit of the Italian culture ministry said that “after the first emergency phase, which must be concerned with saving lives and assisting the affected populations,” the government start to work on stabilizing severely damaged cultural sites. The ministry will meet with the Carabinieri military police’s art squad today to discuss a preservation strategy for the countless heritage sites in the regions of Lazio, Umbria, Le Marche, and Abruzzo.

August 24, 2016

New York’s Pavel Zoubok and George Adams Galleries to Join Forces

Installation view of “Lance Letscher: Real Life Drama,” 2014, at Pavel Zoubok Gallery.

In anticipation of the twentieth anniversary of its founding, Pavel Zoubok Gallery has announced that it will soon join forces with George Adams Gallery by relocating to a shared space on the first floor of Pavel Zoubok’s current location at 531 West 26th Street and adopting a “more flexible, collegial and intimate” gallery model.

“In bringing together our two distinct but congenial sensibilities, and our respective expertise, George and I look forward to redefining the role of the gallery as a dynamic venue for the presentation of contemporary and historical works of art,” Pavel Zoubok said in a statement. The two galleries will continue to work independently, but also in partnership, to acquire works and organize exhibitions as well as to launch a new series of monthly salon evenings that will feature artists, writers, and curators.

Established in 1997, Paul Zoubok Gallery began as a parttime public gallery located in a loft in SoHo before it moved to Madison Avenue and then settled into its current home in Chelsea. George Adams Gallery grew from the Frumkin/Adams Gallery which was founded in 1988. After Adams’s partner, Allan Frumkin, retired in 1995 it was renamed.

August 24, 2016

Steve McQueen Wins 2016 British Film Institute Fellowship

Steve McQueen

Steve McQueen, the 1999 Turner Prize recipient and director of the Oscar-winning film 12 Years a Slave (2013), has been named the winner of this year’s British Film Institute Fellowship. He is the youngest director to receive the Institute’s highest accolade.

“I first walked into the BFI library and cinema twenty-eight years ago,” McQueen said. “To think that I will now be a fellow and honorary member, with such a distinguished list of people, is mind-blowing. I’m humbly honored.”

Josh Berger, chair of the institute, said, “As winner of both the Turner Prize and an Academy Award, Steve is pre-eminent in the world of film and the moving image. He is one of the most influential and important British artists of the past twenty-five years and his work, both short and longform, has consistently explored the endurance of humanity—even when it is confronted by inhumane cruelty—with a poetry and visual style that he has made his own.”

August 24, 2016

Italian Officials Work to Secure Cultural Heritage Sites in Wake of Earthquake that Killed Hundreds

The Basilica of St Francis in Assisi. Photo: Flickr/Dennis G. Jarvis.

Hannah McGivern of the Art Newspaper writes that the Basilica of San Francesco in Assisi has been declared safe after an earthquake that registered at a little over six on the Richter scale struck central Italy. The thirteenth-century basilica, filled with frescoes by Giotto, Cimabue, Simone Martini, and Pietro Lorenzetti, was damaged in an earthquake back in 1997.

The Comando Carabinieri Tutela Patrimonio Culturale, Italy’s art and antiquities police force, are looking over a number of cultural heritage sites throughout the Marche, Umbria, and Lazio regions. Officers will secure the sites against looting, and store any artworks that might be at risk. The culture ministry’s crisis unit will meet on August 25 to decide what courses of action must be taken to further secure other artworks and cultural heritage sites.

Thus far, more than two-hundred deaths have been recorded, says CNN. The most violent tremor, also the first, occurred near the town of Accumoli at 3:36 AM, followed by two more shocks. Accumoli and Amatrice, a mountain village about eight miles south of Accumoli, were hit the worst. The mayor of Amatrice said “Half the town no longer exists,” according to a report in the New York Times. Getting help to Amatrice is difficult because of damages done to a bridge and numerous roads. Many are digging through the rubble with their bare hands to help, trying to reach trapped people. A courtyard in the back of a palazzo in the town has been turned into a temporary morgue. Andrea Gentili, a civil protection worker, said to the Associated Press, “We need chain saws, shears to cut iron bars, and jacks to remove beams. Everything, we need everything.”

August 24, 2016

Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art to Digitize Collection

Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art

The Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art is working to digitize all of the works in its collection, including Pablo Picasso’s Artist and His Model, Andy Warhol’s Suicide, and Jackson Pollock’s Mural on Indian Red Ground, in order to feature them on its website, Zahra Alipour of |www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/08/tehran-museum-of-contemporary-art-tmoca-website-vault.html|Al-Monitor| reports. The museum will not organize any permanent displays from its collection until the project is finished due to a lack of space as well as security concerns.

In 2015, the culture ministry confirmed that twenty-seven artworks were stolen from the museum. After the works were successfully recovered they were put on display at a gallery in Tehran to assure the public of their safe return.

Speaking of the museum’s heightened security, Amir Rad, director of the new media center, said, “The museum vault is like a large box that is very safe. The bureaucracy seen in everyday dealings in Iran is even more intense at the museum. Removing or bringing in any work of art from the museum requires several rounds of communication and numerous permits. I think the vault is an untouched treasury.”