November 25, 2015

New Curator Named for Frieze Projects

Raphael Gygax

The Frieze art fair today announced that the Swiss curator Raphael Gygax has been chosen as the new curator for the nonprofit program of artist commissions at the Frieze fair in London: Frieze Projects. Gygax is the curator at the Migros Museum of Contemporary Art in Zurich and will direct the 2016 edition of Projects. While at the Migros Museum, Gygax has curated shows of artists such as Wu Tsang, Xanti Schawinsky, Carey Young, Alex Bag, and Cory Arcangel, among others. He is also a contributor to frieze and frieze d/e magazines.

Frieze London will next take place October 5-7 in 2016.

November 25, 2015

Indiana’s Cultural Institutions Receive $100 Million in Grants

Indianapolis Museum of Art

Michael Cooper reports in the New York Times that several cultural institutions in Indiana will be the recipients of $100 million in grants given out by the Lilly Endowment. Among the group receiving $10 million grants are the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, and the Indianapolis Zoo. Ten other groups of institutions have received grants of between $5 million and $7.5 million.

The Lilly Endowment is based in Indianapolis and was created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly and his two sons, Eli and J.K. Jr., from stock in their pharmaceutical company. Ace Yakey, the foundation’s vice president for community development, said in a statement that the endowment intended the grants to make the organizations stronger as they prepare for Indiana’s bicentennial in 2016, and Indianapolis’s in 2021.

November 25, 2015

African Art Fair Canceled In Wake of Paris and Mali Attacks

Also Known as Africa fair design

A new fair focusing exclusively on contemporary African art and design, called Also Known as Africa, was scheduled to open its first edition in Paris on December 3 but has been canceled in the wake of this month’s terrorist attacks in both Paris and Mali, according to a report by Anny Shaw and Gareth Harris at the Art Newspaper. The fair’s director, Victoria Mann, said a combination of high security; the continuing bleak economic outlook; and the recent attacks in both Paris and at a hotel in Bamako, Mali; forced her team to postpone the event until 2016. A new date has not yet been announced.

This development comes after Paris Photo’s similar decision to close early after the attacks.

November 25, 2015

Niarchos Foundation Rescinds Over $3 Million Donation To Athens Museum

National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens

Ekathimerini reports that the Niarchos Foundation, owned by major art collector Stavros Niarchos, has withdrawn a donation of over three million dollars promised to the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens after the institution “failed to meet the agreed terms.” An agreement was signed over a year ago by the two parties and the funding was meant to allow completion of the museum’s extensive renovation of the former brewery it’s now housed in. No further details are available at this time.

November 25, 2015

Nigeria Halts Art Memorial to Human Rights Activists

Sokari Douglas Camp’s sculpture

Hamza Mohamed reports at Al Jazeera that Nigeria has impounded a bus made by Nigerian-born artist Sokari Douglas Camp as a memorial commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the hanging of local environmentalist Ken Saro-Wiwa, along with eight other human rights activists, by Nigeria’s former military-run government. Saro-Wiwa and these activists had led protests against the oil company Shell’s environmental damage in the Niger Delta region. All were executed for an alleged involvement in the murder of four local Ogoni tribal leaders, with Shell widely believed to have played a major role in their deaths—the oil giant paid out $15.5 million in 2009 to settle their families’ legal case against the company.

A protest was held against the Nigerian government’s decision to block the entry of the bus sculpture, which was impounded by customs officials upon its arrival in south west Nigeria at the Lagos port in September. The artist believes it was taken into custody because of its “political views.”

November 25, 2015

Paris Photo Plans Gallery Weekend After Terrorist Attacks Led to Fair’s Early Close

Paris Photo

After closing early in the wake of the terrorist attacks that hit Paris on November 13, Paris Photo will be launching a gallery weekend in the city this Saturday and Sunday, in part to allow visitors to see some of the art that would have continued to be on view at the fair.

In part organized by galleries Les Filles du Calvaire and Françoise Paviot, the weekend will involve fifty-five Parisian and international galleries. For the event, “artworks will be displayed as they had been imagined for Paris Photo 2015,” according to the fair’s spokespeople, who add that they intend for the weekend to give viewing opportunities to the “collectors and photography aficionados who did not have the opportunity to visit the fair at the Grand Palais.”

November 25, 2015

Indian Police Detain Artists for Exhibiting Cow Sculpture Suspended from Helium Balloon

Siddharth Kararwal, Divine Bovine, 2015

Chintan Upadhyay and Anish Ahluwalia, two Indian artists, were detained for an art installation comprising a flying cow suspended mid-air by a helium balloon, reports Agamoni Ghosh for the International Business Times. Regional police dismantled the work, on view at Jaipur Art Summit in Rajasthan’s Jaipur City, and detained the two artists after right-wing Hindu groups staged protests, claiming it resembled a hung cow.

Upadhyay and Ahluwalia—who actually funded the artwork made by Siddharth Kararwal—asserted that the work was part of a campaign to confront the impact of plastic litter on the lives of cows. “Cows often scavenge for food and end up consuming plastic from the garbage, eventually dying from it. We had read about ten to fifteen kilograms of plastic being found in the stomach of deceased cows,” Ahluwalia had said.

After supporters rose to the artists’ defense, the chief minister of the state, Vasundhara Raje, has since apologized. The officers in question have also been suspended.

The developments are part of an ongoing wave of Hindu nationalist sentiment, which recently also led to violence against a Muslim man—lynched after he was suspected of storing beef in his house, reports the IBT.

November 25, 2015

Cultural Institutions in Paris Report Major Drops in Attendance Following Terrorist Attacks

French Military outside the Louvre on November 16th, 2015

Le Monde reports that the number of visitors returning to Paris's cultural institutions in the wake of the November 13th terrorist attacks is increasing following an initial dramatic drop. However, the road to full recovery is bumpy and unpredictable—with some venues reporting far better attendance than others.

Paris museums have taken a particularly hard hit. The Louvre reported a 30% decrease in attendance and the situation is even worse at the Pompidou Center where Benoît Parayre, director of communication, described a 50% drop, “1000 visitors per day versus the 2000 per day that had been coming to see the current Wifredo Lam exhibition.” Also suffering, the Paris Opera confirmed at least 150 cancellations for upcoming performances, 80% from foreign ticket-holders.

Meanwhile, theater and dance audiences appear to be returning in full force, at least for certain productions. Performances of Arthur Miller’s “View from a Bridge” directed by Ivo Van Hove at the Odéon-Théâtre de l’Europe had no cancellations. Le Festival d’Automne, a city-wide theater festival that runs through December 31st, reported no significant drop in attendance. According to a spokesperson for the festival, “Those who booked tickets are coming to the shows and we are continuing to receive reservations at a normal rhythm.”

For the past 10 days, movie theaters showing blockbuster films have been less full than normal, but audiences for smaller art films have been strong. A screening of the twelve-hour French New Wave film Out 1 by Jacques Rivette (1971) attracted 760 viewers on November 22.

November 25, 2015

Wim Delvoye to Stage Historic Show at Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art

Wim Delvoye

The Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art has revealed that, this coming March, its entire exhibition space will be devoted to a solo show by Belgian artist Wim Delvoye, according to Tim Cornwell in the Art Newspaper. Organized by Vida Zaim and Leila Varasteh, the show will be the first time that the institution is devoting its entire space, comprising nine galleries and outdoor space, to a non-Iranian artist. The art is being carefully selected so as not to infringe on any cultural sensibilities, according to Cornwell, who notes that Delvoye has spent the past several years restoring a former palace and school in Iran. According to Cornwell, Delvoye said it was “surprisingly easy” to work with the museum, adding, “They are very professional; they are easier to work with than the Louvre” —where the Belgian artist staged a show in 2012.

The show will highlight work from throughout his oeuvre, and also include new metalwork pieces by artisans from the Iranian city of Isfahan. Delvoye, however, has opted to avoid displaying his trademark pigskin work, as well as a piece from his Rorschach sculpture series that includes bare shoulders.

The announcement comes on the heels of recent news that the museum would be collaborating with Berlin’s state museums, and that Tehran museum officials have even been in talks with the Hirshhorn about the possibility of staging a loan.