International News Digest

MAY 1

Susanne Pfeffer will be the new artistic director at the Kunsthalle Fridericianum, according to Monopol. Pfeffer worked as chief curator of the Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin from 2007 to 2012, where she was responsible for solo exhibitions featuring Cyprien Gaillard and Wael Shawky among others. The Fridericianum is responsible for Documenta, which now also has a new managing director: Annette Kulenkampff. Kulkenkampf begins her new position in July; she has worked as head of publishing house Hatje Cantz since 1997.

Tempers are rising in Russia as officials at the Pushkin Art Museum in Moscow and the Hermitage in St. Petersburg go head to head over a collection, according to AFP. In 1948, Stalin shuttered the State Museum of New Western Art—the original home to the Impressionist and early modern art collection of Sergei Shchukin and Ivan Morozov—as part of an anti-Western drive. The collection itself was divvied up between the Pushkin and the Hermitage museums. Now, Pushkin director Irina Antonova has asked Putin to consider reopening the State Museum. Hermitage museum administrators are far from happy with her request, which could see works by Matisse, Degas, and Picasso transferred back to Moscow. “This new attempt to break up the Hermitage is a crime against the stability of the whole museum landscape in Russia, whose unity and riches have been preserved with such difficulty,” Hermitage director Mikhail Piotrovsky said. Antonova responded that the recreation of the museum was a question of “historical fairness,” which Piotrovsky went on to ridicule as a “primitive attitude towards national culture.”

Sweden, meanwhile, is encountering its own version of a debate over national culture. Swedish galleries and nonprofits are planning to boycott a new festival, the Malm÷ Nordic, according to Clemens Bomsdorf and Hanne Cecilie Gulstad in the Art Newspaper. The art spaces are apparently irked by the festival’s “Nordic” theme, which they consider exclusive and unnecessarily nationalistic. “The theme is boring and risks becoming political,” said gallery owner Johan Berggren. John Peter Nilsson, director of the Moderna Museet's Malm÷ branch, defended the festival’s theme: “It can romanticize nationalism, but it doesn't have to. There are people from 142 different countries living here, and they are also a part of Nordic Malm÷,” he said.

The five artists or collaboratives to win this year’s inaugural Multitude Art Prize are Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan from the Philippines, Ha Za Vu Zu from Turkey, Moon Kyungwon and Jeon Joonho from Korea, the Raqs Media Collective from India, and Yao Jui-chung from Taiwan. According to the Irish Times, the award, launched by Hong Kong–based Irish businessman Bill Condon, comes with a total of $100,000 in prize money. A founding member of the chambers of commerce in both Hong Kong and Macau, Condon plans to stage a show featuring the prizewinners’ work each year in a different Asian city. This year’s exhibition, at the Ullens Center in Beijing, is on view until June 16.