International News Digest

OCTOBER 20

Kunstkritikk reported that the Astrup Fearnley museum in Oslo has signed a sponsorship agreement that raises certain ethical issues. The museum will be collaborating with the Norwegian branch of the Swedish-owned Lundin Petroleum. Kunstkritikk’s Jonas Ekeberg points out that Lundin was involved in drilling the world’s largest gas field in Qatar in 1976, and since then has been culpable of mining and drilling in Libya, Sudan, and South Africa under apartheid. Though museum officials have pointed out that the company is part-owned by the Norwegian government through its pension fund, and the museum's new sponsor is therefore part-owned by citizens, that justification doesn’t pass muster for Ekeberg. He writes: “It is simply not ethical to have Lundin Petroleum as [the museum’s] main sponsor while the company is under investigation for complicity in genocide.”

While Astrup Fearnley seems to be making deals with a problematic sponsor to pay its bills, the Grand Palais in Paris is about to cancel Monumenta due to budget woes, according to Gareth Harris in the Art Newspaper. Artists Ilya and Emilia Kabakov were commissioned to create a large work for the venue, until a spokesperson for France’s cultural ministry recently announced that the project is in jeopardy due to “cost issues”—which no doubt relate to culture minister Aurélie Filippetti’s austerity package that includes a 4.5 percent cut in the state culture budget next year. Harris notes that, according to French publication Le Figaro, the Kabakovs were originally slated to work with a budget of around 6.5 million dollars.

Meanwhile, other French cultural programs seem to soldier on despite the nation's budget cuts: Laurent Le Bon, director of the Centre Pompidou Metz and artistic director of this year’s Nuit blanche all-night festival in Paris spoke with Emmanuelle Lequeux of Le Monde about Nuit blanche. He stated, “In one night we reach more of an audience than all FRACs and other art centers in France all year . . . . In a period of crisis, it would be easy to suppress the festival, but things are more complex.” He said he chose to focus on the art institutions along the Seine: “Rather than imposing our choice on them, we asked them what they had up their sleeve. We then supported them in the production of their events.” Le Bon also pointed out that Nuit blanche provided attendees with access to many venues previously closed to the public, including Inalco (Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales), the architecture school designed by Frédéric Borel, the Morland Tower designed by Albert Laprade, Jussieu’s meeting hall, and the Musée du quai Branly’s balcony.