Have the Guggenheim Museum’s Brazilian partners let the cat out of the bag too soon? According to press reports, Alfredo Sirkis, Rio de Janeiro’s secretary of urbanism, has revealed that Guggenheim officials have decided that the four Brazilian cities competing to host the newest branch of the museum—Rio de Janeiro, Recife, Salvador, and Curitiba—will all host affiliates of the increasingly far-flung museum empire. The new branches will reportedly feature Brazilian art they will circulate amongst them.
So far Guggenheim officials are keeping a lid on the matter and have refused to confirm the story. Sirkis has indicated that the four cities have until September to prepare final viability studies, select architects, and find financing. He also speculated that Frank Gehry, the designer of the Guggenheim Bilbao in Spain and the proposed Guggenheim in Manhattan’s financial district, will design the Rio affiliate, which is expected to cost approximately $150 million. The establishment of the Curitiba Guggenheim, on the other hand, will involve the renovation of an existing museum designed by renowned Brazilian modernist architect Oscar Niemeyer, according to Sirkis. An unnamed official from the Associação Brasil +500, the Brazilian branch of the Brazil-US Council, confirmed the plans but later added that the final decision is contingent upon the results of the viability studies.
Turner Prize 2000 nominee Glenn Brown is being sued by science-fiction illustrator Anthony Roberts for copyright infringement. According to the Times of London, Brown used Robert’s cover illustration for Robert A. Heinlein’s Double Star as the source for his The Loves of Shepherds 2000. The Times was instrumental in the dispute when it originally contacted Roberts last year to inform him of the similarity between the works. At the time, the illustrator only expressed amusement. The Tate Gallery, which was exhibiting Brown’s work for the Turner Prize exhibition, responded by appending “After Tony Roberts” to the title and comparing Brown’s appropriations to “Constable looking at a piece of Suffolk landscape.” Chris Foss, another science-fiction illustrator, has also publicly expressed interest in joining Roberts in legal action against Brown after the painter allegedly appropriated the cover of Diary of a Space Person (1991), a collection of his illustrations, for the painting Ornamental Despair (painting for Ian Curtis), 1994, which was featured in “Sensation.”
The art world has been abuzz recently with surveys of digital and Internet art, most notably the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s “010101: Art in Technological Times” and the Whitney Museum’s “BitStreams.” But if these exhibitions demonstrate the sophistication of many artists working with computer technology, they also highlight the inequality of access to technology around the world. In response to this growing digital divide, particularly outside the US and Europe, “Interactiva’s” definition of “new media” is an expansive one, and includes low-tech digital art made with relatively modest resources, as well as more highly produced works such as Rafael Lozano-Helmer’s Alzado Vectorial (www.alzado.net), an interactive website that allows visitors to design a light sculpture with eighteen robotic searchlights located around the Zócalo in Mexico City. Other projects include Tim Plaisted’s join.us (users.bigpond.net.au/
“Interactiva” is organized by Los Angeles–based digital artist Raul Ferrera-Balanquet, who also recently took part in Alchemy, a new-media lab in Brisbane, Australia. It is also a collaboration between Mérida’s Museo de Arte Contemporanéo Ateneo de Yucatán (www.macay.org.mx) and artist-run web design group Cartodigital.org (www.cartodigital.org). The exhibition features projects ranging from CD-ROMs to online projects, video, installation, and performance. According to Ferrera-Balanquet, “Interactiva” is a statement against the current economic imbalance in technological development. “Access to the Internet is a big issue in Mérida, a provincial city in southeast Mexico.” Exhibition artists had limited or no access to technology or to the technical expertise needed to produce interactive art. “But one doesn’t have to be a ‘guru programmer’ in order to make interactive art,” insists Ferrera-Balanquet.
Painter Tim Stoner has been awarded the second annual Beck’s Futures prize, Britain’s largest art award for “promising but unknown” artists. He will receive £24,000 of the £65,000 total value of the prize. Known for his ominous paintings of faceless revelers, Stoner, 30, was selected by a varied panel of judges chaired by Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum Bureau director Martijn Van Nieuwenhuyzen and composed of art critic Anthony Fawcett, Walker Art Center chief curator Richard Flood, Deste Foundation director Katerina Gregos, popular YBA painter Gary Hume, and Zadie Smith, author of White Teeth. The rest of the £65,000 prize money is being shared by the other ten short-listed artists: Shahin Afrassiabi, John Russell & Fabienne Audeoud, Simon Bill, David Burrows, Brian Griffiths, Dan Holdsworth, Gemma Iles, DJ Simpson, and Clare Woods. Viewers can see the finalists’ work at London’s Institute of Contemporary Art from March 30 through May 20, 2001. Last year’s prize was given to Scottish video artist Roderick Buchanan, and was selected by a panel that included celebrities such as Pulp lead singer Jarvis Cocker, Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics, and video artists Jane and Louise Wilson.