International News Digest

MAY 1

Manifesta 10 curator Kaspar König defended the biennial’s decision to go ahead as planned, despite protesters who’ve urged for a boycott in light of the Crimean crisis, reports Javier Pes of the Art Newspaper. “To boycott or not to boycott” is not the question, said König at a conference. “The Hermitage is defending the territory of art.” The curator spoke about the power that art still has to play a crucially subversive role in the region, calling up the example of Marlene Dumas, whose drawings of famous gay men for the show (which will now be shown with drawings of straight men as well) quietly undermine Russia’s prohibition against “gay propaganda.” König also said that he has invited the three artists who originally withdrew from Manifesta 10, in protest, to participate by visiting or contributing to events. Two have agreed.

CNN’s Sam Gaskin surveyed the boom in new museums being constructed in China. Looking at the Long Museum West Bund in Shanghai, the Museum of Handcraft Paper in Yunnan Province, and the Datong Art Museum among other institutions, Gaskin noted that the five-year plan outlined by the National People’s Congress in 2010 included plans to increase the number of museums to 3,500 nationwide. By the end of last year, the goal was already surpassed, as China’s number of museums reached 4,000. But according to Gaskin, museum experts have raised the concern that the nation’s focus has remained on building new museums, while the problem of developing high-quality exhibition programming remains unsolved.

The artist collective Myvillages has won nearly $70,000 for a project they proposed that would engage with East London communities by recreating a nineteenth-century tradition in which hundreds of thousands of East Londoners would travel to Kent to do seasonal harvesting work, according to Ashitha Nagesh in Artinfo. The tradition died out in the 1950s. Myvillages will use their award to create a community garden in Dagenham, where visitors from East London will be able to harvest hops as their forebears did. The Create Art Award is offered by the Create London initiative, which sponsors socially engaged projects.