Museum Ludwig, AVL-ville, Austrian Culture, and more

KOOLHAAS’S PLANS FOR MUSEUM LUDWIG “CHUNKY”: Museum Ludwig and the Cologne cathedral are disputing plans by Rem Koolhaas to give the museum a facelift. The Dutch architect’s renovation design for the building, which cathedral provost Bernard Henrich finds excessive and “chunky,” will infringe upon the cathedral's property by exactly 3.4 square meters. To complicate matters, an international competition was recently announced to rebuild the square that links the cathedral with the Museum Ludwig and the Cologne train station. Although Koolhaas's firm, OMA, was in the running, last week the jury selected the Munich architects Allmann, Sattler and Wappner to redesign the cathedral square. Now, it’s unlikely that the € 4.2 million renovation of the Museum Ludwig will be finished in time for the Cologne art fair in November as was originally scheduled. The Süddeutsche Zeitung's Sabine Oelze reports on the dispute while Neue Zürcher Zeitung's Kerstin Stremmel considers the values explored in the current exhibition “Ökonomien der Zeit” (Economies of time), which ends June 2.

AVL-VILLE RAIDED BY POLICE: Last week, Rotterdam police and customs officials paid a visit to Atelier van Lieshout, the artist collective run by Joep van Lieshout at the city's harbor. After inspecting several works at the site, police confiscated a cannon as an illegal weapon, although other AVL cannons are currently on display as artworks at the Sydney Biennale and at the Kunsthalle in St. Gallen, Switzerland. Customs officials demanded to see receipts for alcohol found in the AVL distillery, claiming that taxes would have to be paid for any spirits produced by the collective. While city officials deemed the visit “an inspection,” AVL called the action “a raid” and vowed to continue its activities. NRC Handelsblad's Mark Duursma offers a full report. Read article.

NEW YORK’S AUSTRIAN CULTURAL FORUM SEEN FROM EUROPE: Neue Zürcher Zeitung's Paul Jandl takes a critical look at the recently opened Austrian Cultural Forum in New York. The impressive building, commissioned a decade ago, has been caught up in Austria’s shifting political landscape. The country has twenty-eight cultural “institutes” around the world in capitals such as London, Belgrade, and Cairo. In the two years since the Freedom Party founded by Jörg Haider came to power in a center-right coalition government, all have been renamed cultural “forums” and placed under the aegis of the embassies. The budget and cultural programming of every forum are being revised by the Austrian government under a program called “Innovation from Tradition,” which, according to Jandl, privileges an economic rather than a cultural agenda. Unsurprisingly, many critics see the move as a means of submitting culture to the right-wing politics of current government Reviewing the political agendas of several forums, Jandl concludes, ”After world openness comes domestication."

THE SECRET TO TASCHEN’S SUCCESS: Last week Le Monde's Michel Guerrin profiled Benedikt Taschen, the forty-one-year-old German editor of Taschen Books “who revolutionized the market for illustrated books. Taschen and his wife Angelika detail the history and highlights of the renowned publishing house, which reportedly sells a book every three seconds. The avid collector of artists such as Thomas Struth, Cindy Sherman, and Wolfgang Tillmans also airs his views on Jeff Koons and Martin Kippenberger, ”the two most interesting artists of the last twenty years.“ So just what is the secret to Taschen's worldwide success? ”We work with mediocre and badly paid writers,“ explains the publisher with equal parts irony and truth. ”But the most important thing is that the public finds these books at this [low] price, no?" Perhaps as long as the readers are not writers.

Jennifer Allen