International News Digest


For eight years, the city of Amsterdam has patiently awaited the Stedelijk Museum’s reopening. In 2004, several prominent architects submitted ideas for the museum’s renovation, most notably Robert Venturi and Álvaro Siza, but it was Benthem Crouwel’s proposal to create a smooth bathtublike façade of Twaron, a material typically used in satellites, that was ultimately selected. Due to a lack of funding, another two years elapsed before construction even began, according to Der Standard. The scheduled finish date was then pushed back another four years due to technical problems and the bankruptcy of the general contractor. Perhaps the redesign was worth the wait: According to Monopol, the new building is incredibly space efficient, with 70 percent more square footage to stage exhibitions.

As reported here, Sabine Breitwieser, the forty-nine-year-old Austrian curator, has been called upon to replace Toni Stoss as director of the Museum der Moderne Salzburg. Der Standard’s Anne Katrin Fessler thinks Breitwieser will put Salzburg’s museum on the map internationally for contemporary art. Breitwieser certainly has the experience to do so, notes Fessler. At the Museum of Modern Art in New York, she most recently acted as chief curator for media and performance art. Before that, she founded and directed the Generali Foundation (1991–2007), was cocurator of the Liverpool Biennial (2003–2004), served from 2003 until 2008 on the university committee of the Akademie der bildenden Künste in Vienna, and worked as a curator at MACBA in Barcelona and at the Steirischer Herbst (2009–2010). The Kurier, meanwhile, noted that Breitwieser was considered a favorite for Vienna’s MUMOK and was on the shortlist to manage the Tate Modern.

The Neue Zürcher Zeitung sheds light on the state of political art in Lebanon with a profile of street artist Semaan Khawam. In 2011, Khawam was arrested and interrogated for five months and is currently still on trial for public defacement and vandalism. “The country is going to the dogs. So many artists are leaving the country, and those who are staying are supposed to just accept that their voice is being taken away,” he stated. While no Lebanese laws explicitly forbid graffiti, there is an unspoken rule that anything not religious in nature counts as defacement. Censorship crimes are handled by a department in the General Safety administration, which authorizes artworks before artists can make them public. Actress Hanan Haj Ali said, “This needs to be stopped. All power of decision is concentrated in this one department, which knows absolutely nothing about art. Ignorance has become common currency in Lebanon.” The nation has been known as a historically liberal and creative country in the region and has always had a prolific artistic community, according to the NZZ, but certain freedoms may be in the process of erosion.