International News Digest

JUNE 5

In a dispatch from Venice for the Art Newspaper, Aaron Cezar detailed the protest staged by various artists and curators—in town for the Biennale—to show support for those in Turkey demonstrating against the planned destruction of Gezi Park, as well as the current government, led by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Cezar reports that a group of about thirty gathered in Piazza San Marco on Saturday, “carrying handwritten signs, banners, and leaflets produced overnight.” Making their way toward the Biennale’s grounds, the group—which included Ahmet Ögüt, one of two artists featured in Turkey’s pavilion in 2009; and Bige Örer and Fulya Erdemci, director and curator, respectively, of the forthcoming Istanbul Biennial—nearly doubled its numbers upon reaching the Arsenale. Erdemci later told the Art Newspaper, “As the violence exercised by the police is getting wilder, the masses are pouring down the streets against the repressive governance of the state. I wholeheartedly support the resistance where hundreds of protesters were seriously injured and condemn the violence exercise by the police. Against the barbarians!”

As we know, Venice is sinking. But a biennale nearly 6,000 miles away may soon have even more trouble staying afloat—so to speak. The Hindu’s Nidhi Surendranath reports that a decision by the High Court of Kerala, India, might result in cuts—or even an end—to government funding for the Kochi-Muziris Biennale. The Keralan government’s decision to give around $700,000 to the foundation responsible for the biennale has been questioned in courts by a public-interest organization. The situation seems extra dire because the advocate-general, who represents the government on legal matters, didn’t show up in court to defend the government’s support of culture. Surendranath notes that while the biennale drew rave reviews internationally, upped tourism and commerce, and even prompted a question about the event in the entrance exams for Jawaharlal Nehru University’s MA program in art and aesthetics, critics claim that the art festival should not be financed so heavily by the government. “That speaks a lot about the kind of government we have,” poet and critic K. Satchidanandan told the paper. “There is a great reluctance to invest in culture. That is either because of the government’s illiteracy or indifference to art.”

Rita McBride has been named the new director of the Düsseldorfer Kunstakademie, reports Monopol. Known for pieces that toy with functionalism and formalism, including her 2011 Mae West, a carbon steel sculpture stationed on Effnerplatz in Munich, McBride has been a professor at the school since 2003. In her new role, she’ll be replacing Tony Cragg, who’s served as director for the past four years. McBride will be the first woman to head the institution, whose faculty over the years has included such artists as Joseph Beuys, Gerhard Richter, and Bernd and Hilla Becher.

Christie’s recently pulled a number of artworks scheduled for the auction block, purportedly by Brazilian artists, after getting wind of forgery concerns, reports Silas Martí for the Art Newspaper. The works, allegedly by the likes of Ivan Serpa, Mira Schendel, and Roberto Burle Marx, were “withdrawn pending additional research,” according to a spokesperson for the auction house. The pieces came from the collection of the Rio de Janeiro-based Ralph Santos Oliveira, who, speaking to Brazilian publication Folha de S.Paulo, said he was shocked by the decision. Oliveira explained he was selling the pieces on behalf of his grandmother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s and who can’t remember the exact provenance of the pieces. But according to Martí, dealer André Millan (who represented Schendel’s estate until last year) said he had concerns about a piece that Christie’s brought to his attention. Meanwhile, Gustavo Rebello, another dealer who collects the work of Serpa, was similarly skeptical. “They seemed very suspicious, clearly strange,” he said of the images he saw in Christie’s catalogue. “They also seemed too flat and plain to be Serpa paintings, especially the smaller ones.”