International News Digest

AUGUST 10

A Ukrainian artist whose mural parodied the leader of the country’s pro-Russia separatist movement has been abducted in the night, reports Gianluca Mezzofiore in the International Business Times. Artist Sergei Zakharov began making waves this summer in Donetsk for his art installations mocking the Donetsk People’s Republic. Among his works was a wood silhouette of the despicable protagonist in Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel Heart of a Dog, dressed in a DNR uniform. Another piece depicted pro-Russian leader Arsen Pavlov as a horned, diabolical creature.

According to a neighbor, who was roused by the barking of dogs, Zakharov was kidnapped in the evening by four armed men with DNR uniforms, who also made off with his laptop. When the neighbor asked where they were taking him, the men claimed to be a “rapid-response team” that didn’t know details beyond their mission of retrieving him. “He was taken to an unknown destination. We haven't been able to contact him. If anyone has any ideas about a possible release, please write to me in private,” implored a spokesman of his project on Facebook.

While a Ukrainian artist went missing, a Russian artist awaits his fate: Artnet’s Coline Milliard compiled an update on the status of Oleg Vorotnikov, founder of the Russian art collective Voina, who was arrested in Venice on June 27 after a bloody altercation with activists. According to the artist’s lawyer, Vorotnikov was recently released on bail, following a short stay in prison—but because Russia had put out a warrant for Vorotnikov through Interpol, it’s possible the dissident artist will be extradited to Russia. The provocateur’s group drew attention for torching a police car in 2011 and drawing a 200-foot-long penis on a bridge in Saint Petersburg, among other acts.

There’s some confusion over the circumstances of the fight: Vorotnikov’s family had moved into a hospice already occupied by anarchist squatters. At some point, their coexistence apparently grew tense: Via Facebook, Vorotnikov’s wife said that the “so called activists blocked our kids Kasper and Mama in the house, barricaded doors and when we came back they attacked me and Oleg with a metall tubes and bricks.”

What the janitors were to Joseph Beuys and Martin Kippenberger, the firefighters are to artist Holger Stark, wrote Barbara Möller Die Welt. The local firemen, deeming an installation by the artist at the Kunstsammlung Neubrandenburg a “fire hazard,” attempted to dismantle the work, which comprises a pile of wood seeming to burst forth through the front glass façade of the building.

The kunsthalle managed to stop them at the last minute—and insists that the installation was safe. Due to the mayor’s request, however, the institution’s staff has been given additional overtime hours to guard the installation. Incidentally, Stark called the work Risiko (Risk), showed it in a gallery two years ago, where it also was dismantled due to its status as a fire hazard.

Writing in the Neue Zurcher Zeitung, Marc Zitzmann highlighted the tenth anniversary of the Maison Rouge in Paris, paying homage to the “small but fine institution” that reminds people, in Zitzmann’s approximate words, the institution doesn’t just feature art by every Tom, Dick, and Koons—or art used to “add flash to biennials and burnish the social standing of billionaires.”

Instead, the Maison Rouge—founded by Antoine de Galbert, the coheir to the Carrefour fortune—has staged exhibitions featuring work like Arnulf Rainer's art brut, Guy Shraenen’s record covers, and art videos by Isabelle and Jean-Conrad Lemaître. Wrote Zitmzann, “It is a house that likes to take its visitors into parallel universes, and that has reconciled many a skeptic, at least by featuring more peripheral positions and protagonists of contemporary art.” The space, Zitzmann noted, now sees about 100,000 visitors yearly.

El Salvador’s new president, Salvador Sanchez, opened his official residence to the public, with one special twist: He made it into an art gallery, exhibiting works by the country’s artists. “The residence will become a space where we can share with those who have been excluded,” said Sanchez at the opening of the new gallery, according to the BBC, which also reported that families of those who perished in the civil war—which took place in the 1980s and ‘90s—as well as human-rights activists, were among the first welcomed to the space. Sanchez said he would reside in the home he already owns, through the end of his term.