September 20, 2016

Berlin Museums Create Program to Aid Refugee Integration

Syrian refugees on a tour of the Museum of the Ancient Near East in Berlin. Photo: UNHCR/Daniel Morgan.

Victoria Stapley-Brown and Isabelle Spicer of the Art Newspaper report that a group of Berlin museums—the Museum of the Ancient Near East and the Museum of Islamic Art, two separate institutions located in the Pergamon Museum; the German Historical Museum; and the Byzantine Art Museum in the Bode Museum—have created a program for refugees that offers free tours of their collections two times a week.

The Multaka project, which takes its name from the Arabic word for meeting place or forum, came about last fall—Germany’s Federal Ministry for Family Affairs immediately put together a budget for the program, which officially started in November 2015. The tours, led by trained Iraqi and Syrian refugees from a variety of professional backgrounds—law, economics, and the arts—have attracted four thousand visitors thus far.

The Museum of Islamic Art’s director, Stefan Weber, who is also one of the Multaka project’s founders, said, “With the help of objects from our past, questions from our present are debated. Museums become spaces of reflection on collective identities. Several thousand displaced people have visited the museums, to actively discuss their history and German history, which is important.” The Multaka project has received a great deal of recognition, as well as two prizes—one was set up expressly by the ministry to acknowledge cultural programs that aid the displaced. Last April, the ministry gave $95,0000 to the project in order to launch another phase, where studios open to the local population to further integration and cultural reciprocity.

September 20, 2016

Louvre Abu Dhabi Appoints Manuel Rabaté as Director and Hissa Al Dhaheri as Deputy Director

From left: Manuel Rabaté and Hissa Al Dhaheri.

Gareth Harris of the Art Newspaper writes that Manuel Rabaté, who has been the director of French museum consortium Agence France-Muséums since 2013 and who previously worked with the Musée du Quai Branly and the Musée du Louvre in Paris, has been appointed the new director of Louvre Abu Dhabi. A United Arab Emirates national, Hissa Al Dhaheri, who led the Louvre Abu Dhabi project at the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, has been hired as the museum’s deputy director.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi, a $1 billon museum designed by architect Jean Nouvel that is scheduled to open in fall 2017 on Saadiyat Island in the UAE, is considered, according to Harris, “the first universal institution in the Middle East.” The museum will have a research center, a temporary exhibition space, and twenty-three permanent galleries. Currently there are more than six hundred pieces in the museum’s collection, including modern works by Yves Klein and Paul Gauguin, as well as early Korans and Mughal miniature paintings. Over the next decade, three hundred artworks will be lent to the museum by the Louvre in Paris and other French cultural institutions.

September 20, 2016

The Bessies Announce Honorees of 2016 Lifetime Achievement and Service to the Field of Dance Awards

Brenda Bufalino

The Bessie Awards––dance and performance awards that have recognized creative work in the field of dance in New York City for the past thirty-one years––has announced that tap dancer and choreographer Brenda Bufalino has received the 2016 Lifetime Achievement in Dance award. As cofounder of the American Tap Dance Foundation, Bufalino has promoted the art of tap dance throughout the world.

An organization and an individual were honored for the Outstanding Service to the Field of Dance Award: The Jerome Robbins Dance Division of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts was recognized for its work archiving material documenting generations of dancers. Alex Smith, executive chairman of the Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center, was selected for making the center a home for choreographers of color for nearly three decades.

Due to a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Bessie Awards will be able to give all of the 2016, 2017, and 2018 nominees a cash award of $500. “This gesture of support for all of our nominated artists is profound,” said Lucy Sexton, executive director of the Bessies. “We are enormously grateful to DDCF for this additional salute to the dance makers working so hard in this city.”

The award ceremony will take place on Tuesday, October 18.

September 19, 2016

Stefan Kalmár Named Director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London

Stefan Kalmár

Stefan Kalmár has been appointed director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. He begins his new role in November 2016, filling the position left by Gregor Muir, who earlier this year headed to Tate Modern as director of its collection of international art.

The executive director and curator of Artists Space in New York since 2009, Kalmár has overseen numerous significant shows at the institution, including ones devoted to Bernadette Corporation (2012), Cameron Rowland (2016), Hito Steyerl (2015), Laura Poitras (2015), and, most recently, Lukas Duwenhögger (2016).

In an Artforum review of Kalmár’s first exhibition as director, Caroline Busta wrote, “This past summer, under the new direction of Stefan Kalmár (formerly at the Kunstverein Munich), the venerable nonprofit Artists Space underwent a significant physical transformation.” She continued, “Kalmár has rejected the notion of categorization by age or experience, adding that he sought to support the emerging interests of a vital sector of New York’s artists.” Read more about this first exhibition, of Marc Camille Chaimowicz’s installation piece Enough Tiranny Recalled, 1972–2009, in in the artist’s 500 Words here.

Kalmár previously worked as director of the Institute of Visual Culture, Cambridge, UK, and as artistic director at Cubitt Gallery, London. Under his tenure, Artists Space launched a second venue—Artists Space Books & Talks—and the organization’s annual income tripled. In May, it was announced that Artists Space would leave its primary location of twenty-three years at 38 Greene Street. A new location has not yet been announced. Their latest exhibition, “Decolonize This Place,” organized by the collective MTL+ at the invitation of Common Practice New York, began Saturday at Artists Space Books & Talks.

Kalmár said about his new role: “Historically, the ICA has always critically reflected on the role that contemporary art and culture play within the larger socioeconomic conditions of their times.”

September 19, 2016

Kansas Gallery to Close After Five Years

Installation view of “Tapping.”

New York’s Kansas Gallery announced today that, after five years, it will close its doors. Founded in 2011 by owner Steven Stewart, the gallery was located on Franklin Street in Tribeca for four years. It moved to its Lower East Side location, at 210 Rivington Street, in 2015. Its last exhibition was “Tapping,” which ran from August 6 to August 28.

The gallery represented numerous artists, including Michael Berryhill, Carey Denniston, Ethan Greenbaum, Clay Ketter, Sylvan Lionni, David J. Merritt, Halsey Rodman, Jessica Sanders, Strauss Bourque-LaFrance, Rachel de Joode, John Houck, Ryan Lauderdale, Rob McLeish, Scott Nedrelow, and Virginia Poundstone.

September 19, 2016

Roger Hiorns Awarded 2016 Faena Prize for the Arts

Roger Horns, Untitled, 2013.

Faena Art, an international nonprofit organization, has announced that English artist Roger Hiorns has been awarded the 2016 edition of the Faena Prize for the Arts, a juried biennial prize that promotes artistic experimentation. The artist will receive $75,000 to create a new work at the Faena Art Center Buenos Aires.

The winning proposal, ‘Untitled’ Values (working title), reimagines existing works and creates new ones in Buenos Aires that merge sculpture, symbolic objects, and performances. According to the artist, these works “put the human back at the center of the artwork.” Fifty thousand dollars of the artist’s prize money will be used to produce the work, which will unveiled in 2017 and may also travel to Faena Forum, a new art center in Miami Beach, which is slated to open in November.

Hiorns’s proposal was chosen from a pool of more than four hundred artists’ projects by a jury coordinated by Ximena Caminos, the artistic director and chair of Faena Art and executive director of Faena Forum Miami Beach and Faena Art Center Buenos Aires. The jury consisted of Carlos Basualdo, senior curator of Contemporary Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art; Achim Borchardt-Hume, director of exhibitions at Tate Modern; Caroline Bourgeois, curator of the Pinault collection in Paris; Jesús Fuenmayor, independent curator; and Victoria Noorthoorn, director of the Buenos Aires Museum of Modern Art.

September 19, 2016

Private Art Foundation Funds Renovation of Conservatory in Athens

New wing of the Athens Conservatoire.

Anny Shaw reports in the Art Newspaper that the Greek collector Dimitris Daskalopoulos’s NEON Foundation—a nonprofit contemporary art organization founded in 2013—has funded the refurbishment of the basement of the Athens Conservatoire, one of the oldest foundations for music and drama education in modern-day Greece. The refurbishment will provide 5,905 square feet of new exhibition space, which is due to open on September 24, 2016, with two projects organized by NEON, after which programming will resume under the direction of the Athens Conservatoire. The first project, “Ideas City Athens,” will be a five-day residency program with forty fellows, an iteration of the New Museum’s initiative “Ideas City.” The residency will culminate in a public conference on September 24 that will explore the future of cities. Scheduled speakers include John Akomfrah, Tania Bruguera, and Hito Steyerl.

The second project will present a touring group exhibition, “Flying Over the Abyss,” from November 16, 2016, through January 31, 2017. The show—featuring such artists as Matthew Barney, Hans Bellmer, Jenny Holzer, and Kostas Ioannidis—was previously presented at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Crete and the Contemporary Art Centre of Thessaloniki.

The basement of the Athens Conservatoire’s historic building had previously stood unused for the past four decades, “as a result of public abandonment and national indifference,” according to Nikos Tsouchlos, the chairman of the board of the Music and Drama Society at the Athens Conservatoire. The original aim was to split the building into three wings for music, dance, and theater, but funds ran out in 1976 and construction stopped after only the first floor had been completed. There are currently plans to renovate the rest of the building with funds from the European Union, according to a spokeswoman for the project.

September 19, 2016

Kochi-Muziris Biennale Announces Theme and Updated Artist List for Third Edition

After announcing a preliminary version of its artists list, the 2016 Kochi-Muziris Biennale has announced its theme and additional participating artists. The largest contemporary art biennial in Southeast Asia, the exhibition’s third edition will open on December 12 in Kochi, Kerala, India—with the subtitle “Forming in the Pupil of an Eye.” Indian artist Sudarshan Shetty curated the installation, drawing inspiration from India’s historic designation as the “land of the seven rivers.” For Shetty, the rivers lead to a curatorial question: What does it mean to be together in time—to be contemporary? He stated, “I see the Biennale as existing in process, something which flows, and I wanted to engage artists whose practices will create works that exist not only for the duration of the Biennale, but into the time beyond.” For more on Shetty’s own work, see’s 500 Words with him from March 2016.

A partner project titled “The Students Biennale” will showcase work by students from art schools and art courses across the country. The biennial is scheduled to run through March 29, 2017. For more, see Himali Singh Soin’s Preview in the September 2016 issue of Artforum.

The current artists list is as follows:

September 19, 2016

Hassan Sharif (1951–2016)

Hassan Sharif

Hassan Sharif, the celebrated Emirati artist known as the grandfather of contemporary art in the UAE, died on September 18 at sixty-five years old.

The conceptual-art pioneer was born in Dubai in 1951. He began his artistic career in 1973, when he began drawing caricature cartoons for local newspapers. Sharif traveled to London to pursue an arts education and earned his degree in fine art and design from the Byam Shaw School of Art.

Upon graduating, Sharif returned to the UAE with the goal of cultivating an audience for contemporary art in the gulf region. He founded the Emirates Fine Art Society in 1980, and in 1984 he established Al Marijah Art Atelier in Sharjah, a space for emerging artists where Sharif acted as an informal teacher and mentor. He served as a member of the jury committee of the Sharjah International Art Biennial in 1997, 1999, and 2003.

In 2005, he cofounded the Flying House in Dubai, an arts space that promoted contemporary Emirati artists. Sharif was among the artists chosen to represent the UAE when it presented its first national pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2009. He exhibited his work at the Biennale in 2015.