International News Digest


Though he was preliminarily being considered as one of the two heads of the discussion platform at the 2014 Kiev Biennale, art critic and theorist Boris Groys has announced that he’ll be withdrawing himself from negotiations with biennale officials, according to the Baibakov Art Projects’ blog. Groys, who would have overseen programming in cooperation with Tensta Konsthall director Maria Lind, published a letter in which he discussed his discomfort with the controversy surrounding the biennale. More recently, Lind told Artforum that, given the current cultural climate in Kiev, along with the fact that Groys was not on board, she had also decided to terminate negotiations with the biennale.

The Baibakov Art Projects blog made note of Groys’ decision in the context of a recent petition calling for a boycott of the biennale’s venue, after officials censored a painting shown there that depicted a pit of flames consuming Vradievka police officers, who’d made headlines for raping and beating a local woman. In Groys's letter, he wrote, “I have the increasing sense that the Ukrainian art scene is entirely focused on its own internal problems. Under these conditions, I do not see much possibility in organizing a serious, international discussion platform.” He added, “I regret that I have had to take this course of action. This decision does not mean that I subscribe to the call to boycott the biennale. On the contrary, I consider this call to be incorrect and harmful to art systems.”

Meanwhile, in the Gulf Region, the Qatar Museums Authority has been fending off criticism, just as a huge Damien Hirst retrospective—commissioned by the QMA—has opened in Doha. Georgina Adams reports in the Art Newspaper that the organization, which oversees Qatar’s present and future museums, has just recently completed its metamorphosis into a “private entity for public good” amid much controversy.

During the transition, the Al Arab newspaper published an opinion piece by a columnist, Faisal Al Marzoqi, who accused foreigners of dominating the authority, which, Al Marzoqi alleged, also granted “a marriage allowance to a gay executive,” hired “a yoga instructor to manage the cultural relations department,” and promoted “drinking and shamelessness.” While it was also rumored that the QMA’s chairwoman, Sheikha Al Mayassa, might be removed from her position, Al Mayassa circulated a letter rebutting the “false accusations.” She also described the organization’s privatization, saying that it would mean “more individual accountability and new contracts . . . setting clear individual goals.”

M+, the Hong Kong museum set to open in 2017, has a new high-profile curator joining its staff. According to the South China Morning Post, Lesley Ma—daughter of Taiwan’s president Ma Yingjeou—will be joining the museum as its ink art curator. Lesley Ma received a master’s in museum studies at New York University, and worked as project director at artist Cai Guo-Qiang’s studio from 2005 through 2009.

Singapore will be getting a new museum too: an outpost of the Pinacothèque in Paris. Florence Changy notes in Le Monde that the Singaporean branch will be housed in Fort Canning, a colonial building; while it’s being renovated, a “mini-museum” is temporarily housing works on loan from Paris, ranging from Botticellis to Rothkos. Georgina Adams reports in the Art Newspaper that the permanent museum will likely be built to a tune of $24 million dollars.