The Chinese government has rejected Ai Weiwei’s appeal in a $2.4 million tax evasion case, which was “widely seen as an effort to derail his antigovernment activism,” reports Andrew Jacobs of the New York Times. Ai was prevented by police from attending the hearing and subsequently told reporters that he will continue battling authorities by filing lawsuits in other courts: “If we don’t keep suing them, we’re giving up our basic responsibilities as citizens,” said the artist.
The case against Ai began in April of 2011, when the artist was arrested at the Beijing International Airport and placed in a secret detention center, where he spent eighty-one days in solitary confinement. After he was released the government charged Ai with tax evasion, claiming that his design company owed $2.4 million in taxes. Despite the fact that Ai’s wife, Lu Qing, is the legal owner of the company, Ai was held responsible. Pu Zhiqiang, one of his lawyers, stated that though he never believed Ai would win the case, he was still infuriated by the results: “We’re fully aware that China is a morbidly ill society, one in which rules and regulations are willfully ignored, but it’s appalling how shamelessly the regime acted in this case. The loss is a blow, but we’re just going to have to work harder to obtain justice.”
Andrew Russeth of the New York Observer reports that Gagosian has announced plans for a “major sculpture exhibition” in addition to a booth at the ArtRio fair, which runs September 12 through September 16. Brazil’s art market has substantially expanded over the past few years and Russeth notes that the pop-up space is reminiscent of a temporary group show staged in Moscow in 2008, which fueled speculation that Gagosian was planning a gallery in the Russian capital. That said, a space never materialized. Brazilian designer Claudia Moreira Salles will design both the exhibition space, which will be held in a warehouse, as well as the gallery’s booth.
Eungie Joo has been appointed director of art and cultural programs at Inhotim, a nonprofit contemporary art center, art park, and botanical garden located two hundred miles northwest of Rio de Janeiro, reports Carol Vogel of the New York Times. Eungie Joo is currently director and curator of education and public programs at the New Museum, and notably curated its 2011 triennial, “The Ungovernables”; prior to this role she spent four years as director and curator at Redcat in Los Angeles.
The nominees for the New York Dance and Performance Awards, aka The Bessies, have been announced for 2012. The awards, presented by the organization Dance/NYC in partnership with the awards’ longstanding producers, were established in 1983 in honor of dancer and teacher Bessie Schonberg. Souleymane Badolo has won this year’s Juried Prize reports the New York Times.
The finalists for outstanding production for a work performed in a theater of four hundred or more seats were Event by Merce Cunningham, performed by the company under his name at the Park Avenue Armory; Preludes and Fugues by Emanuel Gat, performed by Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève at the Joyce Theater; and Samhara, performed by the Nrityagram Dance Ensemble at the Joyce. The nominees for outstanding emerging choreographer include Jennifer Weber and her Decadancetheatre colleagues for DECA at Joyce SoHo, Liz Santoro for We Do Our Best at Danspace Project; Lee Sher and Saar Harari for Fame performed at Montclair State University; and Rashaun Mitchell for Nox at Danspace Project.
Among the nominees for Outstanding Performer in various categories were Silas Riener (both for sustained achievement and for his specific performance in Cunningham's Split Sides at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in December), David Hallberg (for his work with the Bolshoi Ballet and American Ballet Theatre), and Nicole Mannarino (for her work in Sarah Michelson's Devotion Study #1 at the Whitney Museum).
The Nam June Paik Art Center has announced that Doug Aitken is the recipient of the 2012 Nam June Paik Art Center Prize. He was awarded for the “considerable contribution his experimental use of diverse media and forms of installation have made to the field of art.” The jury for the prize consisted of Stephanie Rosenthal, chief curator, Hayward Gallery; Tobias Berger, curator, M+ Museum for Visual Arts and Culture; Sook-Kyung Lee, curator, Tate Liverpool; Jee-Sook Baek, director, Atelier Hermes; Seong Hee Kim, director, Festival Bo:m; Ra-Young Hong, deputy director, Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art; Bart de Baere, director, MuHKA, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Antwerp; and Tae-Hi Kang, professor, Korea National University of Arts. The Nam June Paik Art Center prize was inaugurated in 2009 and carries two honors: an award that will be given during years ending in an even number, and an exhibition for the artist during the subsequent year. This year marks the first time the nominees were restricted to to only those working in an artistic field. Past winners include Seung-Taek Lee, Eun-Me Ahn, Ceal Floyer, Robert Adrian X, and Bruno Latour.
Le Monde’s Harry Bellet observes that Parisian galleries are flocking to the city’s banlieues: outer neighborhoods typically better known for low-income housing than for contemporary art. Architect Jean Nouvel is designing an enormous building for l’Île Seguin in the Hauts-de-Seine area, as well as renovating an old aviation warehouse in Bourget into a new outpost for Larry Gagosian. Several kilometers away, in Pantin, Thaddaeus Ropac is transforming a former factory into the site of his new gallery. Both Gagosian and Ropac plan to inaugurate their new venues in October, during the Foire Internationale d'Art Contemporain. Meanwhile, the new l'Île Seguin edifice will open in 2016.
Over in Berlin, controversy has arisen around plans to move the Gallery of Old Masters to the museum island (and to pare it down) in order to make way for a Forum of Modernism in the city’s Kulturforum art venue. As currently conceived, the Forum of Modernism will hold a collection of Surrealist art offered to the city by patrons Ulla and Heiner Pietzsch provided that the works would be presented on a permanent basis. A profile of the Pietzschs in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung describes the couple in the rotating first-floor gallery of their home, which contains twelve works by Max Ernst, along with seven Magrittes, four Dalís, and half a dozen Miros. Despite this impressive roster of artists, an article in Monopol pointed out that—given current auction prices, and the collection’s total estimated value of $180 million—there can only be a handful of first-rate paintings in the mix at best. The FAZ’s Niklas Maak called the planned move a “debacle of thoughtless cultural politics,” while according to Monopol, the Association of German Art Historians has deemed it “irresponsible.” In response, Heiner Pietzsch wryly noted, “If [the plans] fail, my heirs will be all the happier.”
Meanwhile, in Bonn, the Bundeskunsthalle’s artistic director Robert Fleck has announced that he will not renew his contract, and will even leave earlier than anticipated. His pending departure follows recent criticism provoked by the venue’s questionably conceived Anselm Kiefer exhibition, covered on Artforum.com here earlier last month. Called in as an emergency replacement to Christoph Vitali in 2009, after visitor numbers had declined precipitously, Fleck arrived proclaiming that the Bundeskunsthalle was “among the top ten art venues in the world.” But critics have not responded kindly to his exhibitions. The FAZ lamented, “It’s become common practice at the Bundeskunsthalle to erect a monument to individual collectors instead of carefully integrating their collections into an art-historical context.”
In Tunis, right-wing Islamist riots triggered by a contemporary art fair have left local artists shaken. Gareth Harris reports in the Art Newspaper that four works were damaged by demonstrators who had gathered to protest the Printemps des Arts contemporary art fair last month. The riots were provoked specifically by a piece at the fair which used insects to spell out letters forming the phrase Subhan'Allah, or “Glorious is God” in Arabic. According to Al Jazeera, the government denounced both the rioters and the artists; Meriem Bouderbala, an organizer of the fair, told Reuters: “The artists were not expecting this reaction. That is why they feel so fragile. They turned to the government but it is not supporting them so they feel they have hit a wall.” In the words of Héla Ammar, a photographer who exhibited work in the fair, “We still do not feel safe. Recently a young graffiti artist was caught by a gang of Salafists. We were the victims to begin with; we are now also the main losers.”
According to Gladstone Gallery, artist Walter Pichler has passed away at the age of seventy-six. Pichler began his career as an architect in the 1950s, working with Hans Hollein to develop models for subterranean urban environments. He gradually became interested in sculpture and its interaction with architecture. His career included solo exhibitions at venues ranging from the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; to Whitechapel Art Gallery, London; to the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Pichler represented Austria at the 1982 Venice Biennale.
Broadway World reports that Laurence Kardish, senior curator in the film department at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, will be retiring after forty-four years at the institution. Kardish joined MoMA in 1968 as a curatorial assistant in the film department, and gradually worked his way to his current position. He has been responsible for hundreds of exhibitions and screenings, from “Senegal: Fifteen Years of an African Cinema,” in 1978; to “Agnès Varda,” in 1998; to “Weimar Cinema: Daydreams and Nightmares, 1919-1933,” in 2010. Kardish was also responsible for installations such as Eija Liisa-Ahtila’s The Wind, 2006, and the videos of Aernout Mik in 2009. He also established Cineprobe, a forum for indie and avant-garde filmmakers, which eventually evolved into Modern Mondays.
According to the Princeton Patch, two alumni of the university have given the Princeton Art Museum $5 million to endow its directorship. James Steward, of the university’s department of art and archaeology, will be the first to hold the named position. “This much-appreciated gift will strengthen the ability of one of Princeton’s great treasures to meet the educational and scholarly needs of our university community, while broadening the artistic horizons of countless visitors,” said Princeton president Shirley M. Tilghman.