International News Digest

RICHTER CRITICIZES GERMAN PAVILION

Gerhard Richter is not at all amused with the choice of Christoph Schlingensief to represent Germany at the next Venice Biennale in 2011. “That’s a scandal,” said Richter, quoted by the Berliner Zeitung. “They’re taking a performer although we have thousands of artists.” Moreover, the painter associates the selection of the multitasking director Schlingensief with “the decline of painting.”

Curator Susanne Gaensheimer who made the choice has reacted with a written statement, published by Art magazine. While honoring Richter’s role as “the most important living artist of the twentieth century,” Gaensheimer consciously chose Schlingensief as an artist who challenges both the content and the form of decidedness while transgressing borders. “In association with the German pavilion, I view his work as a contribution to discussions about the deterritorialization of the arts and to questions regarding the social relevance of art.”

PARIS’S MUSÉE D’ART MODERNE REMAINS CLOSED

After a spectacular theft last week, the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris remains closed. As Agence France-Presse and Le Monde report, the closure is necessary for police to continue their investigation of the crime. During the night of May 19–20, five star paintings in the collection––by Braque, Léger, Matisse, Modigliani, and Picasso––were stolen. No word on when the museum will open its doors again.

“ARS HOMO EROTICA” IN WARSAW

“Is Warsaw ready for the exhibition?” As the Süddeutsche Zeitung’s Thomas Urban reports, that’s the main question for the Polish press about “Ars Homo Erotica,” a group show of historical homoerotic art that will open at June 11 in the National Museum in Warsaw. Curator Pawe Leszkowicz believes that the exhibition will promote tolerance for gays and lesbians. Moreover, Leszkowicz argues that it’s time for Poland to get over a dogma inherited from the repressive communistic era: male nudity is ugly. Yet instead of communists and socialists, national Catholic groups intend to protest the exhibition and have planned events for the opening. As Urban notes, the municipal government of Warsaw has been led for the past five years by a liberal-conservative citizens platform, which promotes the freedom of the arts. At the same time, there have been no administrative moves to block the upcoming EuroPride parade that will take place in July in the city.

SQUATTING BAN BAD FOR CULTURE

Squatting is soon to be banned in the Netherlands where the practice has thrived for the past thirty years. Cited by eurotopics, Dylan van Rijsbergen argues on the Internet forum joop.nl that “kraken” has benefited not only renters but also cultural life. “For years, squatted buildings provided an environment in Dutch culture where people could get together and participate in something that wasn’t centered on money––a small, free territory where anyone could go to relax and to take in the atmosphere of creativity and diversity,” writes van Rijsbergen, adding that parties were not the only form of freedom. “Theater and other art forms blossomed in the squats,” he writes. “The ban will do away with a milieu of openness and a truly innovative experiment. Clearly, our over-regulated country can find rest and relaxation only in a spoon-fed, commercially marketed environment.”

Jennifer Allen