International News Digest

JUNE 7

Artist Gregor Schneider recently spoke to Die Welt alleging that his work was censored in relation to Documenta. Schneider stated: “In October 2010, I was invited to propose an exhibition at the Karlskirche. . . . Documenta’s director reacted defensively, however, and immediately phoned the bishop, saying that there was the risk my work would be confused with Documenta. The church was forced cancel the show.” Schneider went on to cite other examples of Documenta censorship: “Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev requested that a sculpture by Stephan Balkenhol be dismounted. The human figure stands very visibly in the tower of the catholic Sankt-Elisabeth-Church on Friedrichsplatz. Christov-Bakargiev felt ‘threatened by this figure,’ and used the cancelation of my show, of all things, to justify the prohibition of the Balkenhol piece. It is a scandal that Documenta wants to censor art that takes place in independent venues. We need to urgently question the authoritarian, even totalitarian role of Documenta’s directors.”

If art unrelated to Documenta is indeed being temporarily edged out of Kassel, the city of Hannover, meanwhile, is seeing an alternative fair of sorts. The Sprengel Museum, the Kestnergesellschaft, and Kunstverein Hannover, are collaborating to stage the second edition of an exhibition, “Made in Germany Two.” The show’s budget, reports Die Tageszeitung, is just a fraction of Documenta’s, and the crowds are expected to be ten times less than what Kassel is expecting. The pieces on view are exclusively by artists who work in Germany and, as TAZ explains, is “valuable to the generation of thirty- to forty-year olds.” Both TAZ and Monopol have noted somewhat critically that the location of the art’s production was a criterion for its selection, and that most of the artists are rather unknown.

Meanwhile, over in France, Korean artist Ahae has placed the winning bid of $562,000 for the small, abandoned village Courbefy in Haute-Varenne. The entire village was up for auction, and two other parties had also placed bids: a Belgian company planning to create a residence for the handicapped, and Endemol, a production company that hoped to use the site for reality television. Ahae, who later this month is presenting “Through my Window,” an exhibition of photos at the Jardin de Tuileries, told Liberation that he will “allow nature to develop [on his new property], as should be the case, without interference from human beings or human activity.” Courbefy’s twenty-one structures include a fortress from the thirteenth century, a swimming pool, and horse stables. The village has been abandoned since 2008 by developers who had purchased it intending to create a hotel complex.

Due in part to what local antiques dealers consider outdated exportation laws, one-fifth of Italian antiques businesses have closed since 2010. Hit especially hard are Venice, Brescia, Bergamo, Bologna, and Naples, regions of international antique trading. Carlo Teardo, the president of FIMA—the association of Italian art dealers—has asked the government to help change its laws so that art works of low value can circulate freely. This would parallel export laws in places such as France, England, and Austria, where only paintings valued over $187,000 need export permits, according to Der Standard.