Hyperallergic’s Mostafa Heddaya reports that fifty-five of the sixty-eight participating artists and collectives in the thirty-first edition of the São Paulo Bienal have signed an open letter demanding that the biennial refuse funding from Israel. The Israeli Consulate is listed as one of twenty-one organizations providing “International Support” on the biennial’s website.
Artists apparently met on August 20th with Luis Terepins, the president of the Bienal Foundation, to discuss the matter. When it appeared the biennial would open without publicly addressing the topic, the artists began to circulate a letter. “We reject Israel’s attempt to normalise itself within the context of a major international cultural event in Brazil,” it reads.
The biennial’s curators—Charles Esche, Galit Eilat, Nuria Enguita Mayo, Pablo Lafuente, and Oren Sagiv—responded late Friday with a letter that claims they “support the artists and understand their position.” It goes on to argue that “sources of cultural funding have an increasingly dramatic impact on the supposedly ‘independent’ curatorial and artistic narrative of an event.”
The full text and list of signatories, as well as the curators’ response, is reproduced below.
The São Paulo Bienal begins its press and professional previews on Monday, September 1 and opens to the public on Saturday, September 6.
Open letter to the Fundacão Bienal Sao Paulo,
We, the undersigned artists participating in the 31st Bienal have been suddenly confronted, just as the show is about to open, with the fact that the Fundação Bienal de São Paulo has accepted money from the Israeli state and that the Israeli Consulate logo appears in the Bienal pavilion and on its publications and website.
At a time in which the people of Gaza return to the rubble of their homes, destroyed by the Israeli military we do not feel it is acceptable to receive Israeli cultural sponsorship. In accepting this funding our artistic work displayed in the exhibition is undermined and implicitly used for whitewashing Israel’s on going aggressions and violation of international law and human rights. We reject Israel’s attempt to normalise itself within the context of a major international cultural event in Brazil.
With this statement, we appeal to the Fundação Bienal to refuse this funding and to take action on this matter before the opening of the exhibition.
1. Agnieszka Piksa
2. Alejandra Riera
3. Ana Lira
4. Andreas Maria Fohr
5. Asier Mendizabal
6. Chto Delat collective: Dmitry Vilensky, Tsaplya Olga Egrova, Nikolay Oleynikov
7. Danica Dakic
8. Débora Maria da Silva and Movimento Mães de Maio
9. Erick Beltran
10. Etcetera… / Federico Zukerfeld/Loreto Garin Guzman
11. Farid Rakun
12. Francisco Casas y Pedro Lemebel (Yeguas del Apocalipsis)
13. Gabriel Mascaro
14. Graziela Kusch
15. Grupo Contrafilé
16. Gulsun Karamustafa
17. Halil Altindere
18. Heidi Abderhalden
19. Imogen Stidworthy
20. Ines Doujak
21. Jakob Jakobsen
22. John Barker
23. Jonas Staal
24. Lia Perjovschi and Dan Perjovschi
25. Liesbeth Bik and Jos van der Pol
26. Lilian L’Abbate Kelian
27. Loreto Garin
28. Luis Ernesto Díaz
29. Mapa Teatro-Laboratorio de Artistas
30. María Berríos
31. Maria Galindo & Esther Argollo, Mujeres Creando
32. Mark Lewis
33. Marta Neves
34. Michael Kessus Gedalyovich
35. Miguel A. López
36. Nilbar Güres
37. Otobong Nkanga
38. Pedro G. Romero Archivo F.X.
39. Prabhakar Pachpute
40. Rolf Abderhalden
41. Romy Pocztaruk
42. Ruanne Abou-Rahme Basel Abbas
43. Sandi Hilal and Alessandro Petti
44. Santiago Sepúlveda
45. Sergio Zevallos
46. Sheela Gowda
47. Tamar Guimarães e Kasper Akhøj
48. Thiago Martins de Melo
49. Tiago Borges
50. Tony Chakar
51. Voluspa Jarpa
52. Walid Raad
53. Ximena Vargas
54. Yael Bartana
We, the curators of the 31st Bienal de São Paulo, support the artists and understand their position.
We believe that the statement and demand by the artists should also be a trigger to think about the funding sources of major cultural events. In the 31st Bienal, much of the work seeks to show that struggles for justice in Brazil, Latin America and elsewhere in the world are connected. The idea of living in transformational times is fundamental to this Bienal, times when old patterns of behaviour are exhausted and long-held beliefs are questioned. This transformation also affects the relationship between curators and organisers of major cultural events such as this Bienal. At the outset, we accepted the traditional agreement in which curators have artistic freedom and the Foundation has responsibility for the financial and administrative affairs. The Bienal de São Paulo Foundation has very correctly kept to this agreement throughout. In our turn, we assisted in international fundraising.
However, as a consequence of this situation, alongside other incidents at similar events worldwide, it is clear that the sources of cultural funding have an increasingly dramatic impact on the supposedly ‘independent’ curatorial and artistic narrative of an event. The funding, whether state, corporate or private, fundamentally shapes the way the public receives the work of artists and curators.
While this is a wider issue than the 31st Bienal de São Paulo, we ask that the Foundation revise their current rules of sponsorship and ensure that artists and curators agree to any support that is forthcoming for their work and that may have an impact on its content and reception.
Jennifer Maloney of the Wall Street Journal reports that James Meyer, a former assistant to Jasper Johns, pled guilty last Wednesday to selling twenty-two artworks he stole from the artist's studio. Meyer, who worked for the artist for over twenty-five years, took unfinished works from Johns's Connecticut studio and created false inventory numbers in order to sell them as authentics. According to the indictment, he then signed certificates claiming the works had been a gift from the artist and sold them with a Manhattan gallery. Meyer's plea deal follows a case earlier this year in which another former collaborator of Johns pleaded guilty to selling unauthorized works.
Holland Cotter of the New York Times reports that the art historian David Rosand passed away on August 8 at his home in Manhattan. A professor in the art history department at Columbia University for decades, where he also graduated with a bachelor’s degree in art history in 1959, he was known for his research on Venetian painting with a focus on Titian, as well as a broad knowledge of modernist abstraction, nineteenth-century American art, and Chinese calligraphy.
He was instrumental in establising Columbia’s Wallach Art Gallery in 2003, as well as converting a bequeathed gift of the Casa Murano in Venice, the former home and library of an Italian art historian, into a center for study of Venetian art and architectural preservation operated by Columbia. He was also on the board of directors for the nonprofit organization Save Venice, a group devoted to restoring works of art and architecture in the Italian city.
Ashton Cooper at ArtInfo reports that the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia has been given $2.5 million by local philanthropists Dan Boone and his late wife Merrie Boone. The gift is for museum initiatives centered around folk art, including the endowment of a permanent curator in the museum's folk and self-taught art department.
The Blanton Museum at the University of Texas, Austin has received a collection of Latin American art that includes one hundered and twenty works both modern and contemporary, reports Molly Glentzer at the Houston Chronicle. The Houston based collectors Charles and Judy Tate are the donators. In addition to the collection, which includes works by Lygia Clark, Wifredo Lam, Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Alejandro Xul Solar and is valued at ten million dollars, the Tates have also donated one million dollars to endow the position of curator of Latin American art at the museum.
Art historian and curator Jean Sutherland Boggs has passed away, according to Newswire. In 1966, Boggs became the fifth director of the National Gallery of Canada, where she served for a decade, founding the gallery’s photography collection program and overseeing a new building for the gallery designed by architect Moshe Safdie. Boggs also happened to be the first female director of the gallery. She’d also worked as curator at the Art Gallery of Ontario, and later went on to be the director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
“She is among my heroes and we strive daily to maintain the standards of excellence that she established,” said National Gallery of Canada director and CEO, Marc Mayer.
The pioneering Italian art dealer Marilena Bonomo passed away last Sunday, reports BariToday, a local publication based in Bari, Italy, where her gallery is based. Bonomo founded the gallery in 1971 and was influential in promoting and supporting the early careers of artists such as Sol LeWitt, Alighiero Boetti, and Mimmo Paladino, among others. It was partly thanks to her friendship with LeWitt that the artist gave Bari a major mural, exhibited now in the Sala Murat exhibitions space. Throughout the years, Bonomo's gallery also worked in collaboration with an Italian heritage fund to restore historical buildings throughout the city. Bonomo's gallery will continue to operate under the supervision of her two daughters, Sandra and Valentina.
In an obituary for La Reppublica, Lorenzo Madarao called Bonomo a “fundamental figure in contemporary art” whose gallery was “celebrated in Italy and abroad for its avant-garde work.”
The architecture school run by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation will lose its accreditation in 2017, reports Robin Pogrebin of the New York Times. Two years ago the Higher Learning Commission, a nonprofit based in Chicago that accredits universities and colleges, put in place a new policy requiring that “accredited institutions must be separately incorporated from sponsoring organizations.” The Wright Foundation’s board has the option to incorporate the school separately but would risk losing control over its operations. As a result, the board decided to forgo accreditation. Sean Malone, the foundation’s president and chief executive, said that “there are no plans, whatsoever, to close . . . . We’re going to be looking for another accredited institution with whom to partner so we can jointly offer a professional degree.”
The Wright school—which includes only twenty or so students—is based at the architect’s winter and summer homes, in Taliesin West in Scottsdale and Taliesin in Wisconsin, respectively. It offers a master of architecture degree and has been accredited since 1992. In a statement issued Wednesday, the school board said the institution “is at the top of its peer group in terms of graduates who practice architecture” and that it “respectfully disagrees with the decisions and actions” made by the Higher Learning Commission.
Allan Kozinn reports in the New York Times that writer Martin Filler acknowledged an error in a critical piece he wrote for the New York Review of Books that touched on Zaha Hadid’s stance toward workers’ rights, after the star architect filed a libel lawsuit in Manhattan last week.
In his review of Why We Build: Power and Desire in Architecture (2014) by Rowan Moore, Filler mentioned that Hadid “has unashamedly disavowed any responsibility, let alone concern,” for the construction workers who’ve died while building Al Wakrah stadium, Qatar—a project helmed by the architect. In that context, he published a quote from Hadid in The Guardian, in which she said, “I have nothing to do with the workers . . . . It's not my duty as an architect to look at it.” Since the suit, Filler has issued a note clarifying that Hadid went on record with the quote before construction began, and that there have been no worker deaths on the Al Wakrah project, which is scheduled to start in 2015.