International News Digest


Film and video artist Mohamed Nasir Hashemi and installation artist Masooda Noora have been named joint winners of this year’s Afghan Contemporary Art Prize, while third place went to Mohamed Daud Hedayati for his ink drawings. In looking at hurdles faced by the prize contestants, Monopol noted that traditional art is gaining momentum again in Afghanistan, while modern and contemporary art continue to be rejected as un-Islamic. The head of the competition, Francesca Recchia, told the paper, “War, violence, and political instability have had a dramatic effect on the development of cultural production in Afghanistan.” Afghan artist Naseer Fedaee Tourkmani—one of the ten finalists—said that his photographic practice often jeopardized his safety, recounting incidents when people broke his camera and beat him up. “The people don’t understand art and artists.”

The Abu Dhabi Art Fair shut down yesterday—its second day—thanks to the worst storm seen by the region in over two decades, according to Anna Somers Cocks in the Art Newspaper. Cocks reports that the pavilion housing the bulk of the fair saw water leakage. At 3AM, workers from Hasenkamp art transporters were on the scene protecting the artworks. No reports of serious damage have yet been filed, and later the same day, the fair’s organizers reopened the adjacent Manarat Al Saadiyat—site of some booths and all the fair’s lectures. Programming there will proceed as planned, though the storm is expected to continue on.

The appointment of Bernard Blistène as the new director of the Musée national d’art moderne in Paris has provoked a range of responses in the European press. According to Le Monde’s Emmanuelle Lequeux, Blistène is “cut out for the post”: She calls him “a brilliant, cultivated mind” who is “capable of devious diplomacy as well as strokes of madness.” Meanwhile, Claire Bommelaer and Valerie Duponchelle, writing in Le Figaro, see Blistène as “an outsider” whose appointment was somewhat of a surprise, though they note that he was in contention for the job in 2000, but lost out at the time to Alfred Pacquement. And in an opinion piece for the FAZ, Jürg Altwegg was perhaps most critical. Calling Blistène “the new director nobody wanted,” he suggested that Frankfurt-based museum director Max Hollein was the favored finalist, but withdrew his candidacy in face of politics favoring a French director. “The resistance to a foreign director has ultimately led to a mockery of the post,” wrote Altwegg. “France remains a slightly xenophobic cultural-political monarchy.”

The former chairman of sporting goods company Puma will be housing his collection of contemporary African art in a new museum set to open in 2016 in the waterfront area of Cape Town, South Africa. Gareth Harris reports in the Art Newspaper that Jochen Zeitz, the sportswear magnate and art collector, will put up most of the money needed to build the 102,000-square-foot nonprofit that will be known as the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa. It’s worth noting that the museum will receive a mix of public and private funding, and the V&A Waterfront development project is contributing nearly $50 million. The museum’s director and chief curator will be Mark Coetzee, former director of the Miami-based Rubell Family Collection.

While South Africa has a sneaker fortune to thank for its new museum, Mexico City’s just witnessed the launch of its own new museum with the help of a juice inheritance: Eugenio López Alonso, Jumex scion, inaugurated Museo Jumex this past weekend, according to Andrew Russeth of GalleristNY. The 43,000-square-foot museum houses his foundation’s 2,000-plus artworks. The building was designed by architect David Chipperfield, who according to Russeth called López’s project “a gift to the city that is quite extraordinary.”