This Week's News Round-up

Central Park will host a Mobile Art container designed by Pritzker Prize-winning, London-based architect Zaha Hadid. Commissioned by CHANEL, Mobile Art will present changing installations of works by contemporary artists from Europe, the United States, Asia, Russia and Latin America, each of whom has made a unique piece for the project exploring the visual, conceptual and cultural possibilities in the convergence of fashion and art. Mobile Art will be located in Central Park’s Rumsey Playfield on the East Side of Manhattan, off Fifth Avenue at 69th Street. Visitors will be able to view the installation during public hours each day, and CHANEL will host additional special evening events in collaboration with leading New York arts institutions and cultural organizations, including the Central Park Conservancy. Mobile Art will be open from 20 October to 9 November. Mobile Art, which has already toured to Hong Kong and Tokyo, was commissioned by CHANEL and conceived by the company’s renowned designer Karl Lagerfeld. Artists participating include Nobuyoshi Araki, the Blue Noses, Daniel Buren, Sophie Calle, Wim Delvoye, Sylvie Fleury, Yang Fudong, Subodh Gupta, Y.Z. Kami, Yoko Ono and Pierre & Gilles.

A committee in San Francisco’s city government has introduced a bill that would allow misdemeanour or felony criminal charges to be brought against any artist or financial backer who causes “the death, abuse or suffering of an animal” when making a work of art, reports The Art Newspaper. San Francisco city commissioner Christine Garcia, who wrote the bill, said: “If you allow forums that find this type of work acceptable, more people will produce it and can gain fame from the suffering of animals.” The bill, which is still in the process of being drafted, must go before the city legislature before it can become law. The proposal comes in response to a recent video installation by Algerian-French artist Adel Abdessemed at the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) showing the killing of six farm animals. The Art Institute was forced to close the show in late March after only one week when Abdessemed, curator Hou Hanru and staff members received a series of death threats from animal rights extremists. The SFAI says that Abdessemed was documenting traditional methods of food production in Mexico and that no gratuitous violence took place to make the videos.

In an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that was reported in Artforum, Gianfranco Ravasi, the Vatican’s new minister of culture, has shed further light on the Holy See’s plans for the Venice Biennale. According to Ravasi, the Vatican is weighing various proposals concerning the placement of its pavilion. There is a potential site in the Arsenale. The architecture department of the University of Venice has proposed a series of sites on its campus, which is spread throughout the city. The patriarch of Venice has suggested an exhibition in a series of churches. And the Fondazione Cini on the Maggiore Island has offered its space. Ravasi himself seems to prefer one of the city’s guild buildings. “They are richly decorated with frescoes,” he said. “Here would be the best possible place for the confrontation between cultural heritage and contemporary production that I prefer.”

As part of its commitment to nurturing local artists, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) presents Bay Area Now 5 (BAN 5) through November 16, 2008. YBCA’s multidisciplinary triennial, now in its fifth iteration, is devoted to featuring emerging and established local artists and serves as the most expansive survey of contemporary art created in the San Francisco Bay Area. Designed to establish a standard for serious consideration of art being produced regionally, Bay Area Now generates dialogue about the Bay Area’s significance as a cultural region, acknowledges the work of established artists and introduces audiences to emerging artists.

We reported last month on a sculpture of a crucified frog that went on show in a Bolzano museum in June which sparked a backlash from local clerics and politicians who wanted the work removed. The metre-high work by late German artist Martin Kippenberger belongs to his Fred the Frog series and depicts a warty, pop-eyed amphibian nailed to a cross with a frothing mug of beer in one hand. Curators at Bolzano museum of modern art Museion said that Kippenberger’s work was a self-portrait of the artist ‘in a state of profound crisis’, but their explanation has been given short shrift by local bishop Wilhelm Egger. ‘ Last week, Franz Pahl, an elected official in the country’s South Tyrol region, began a hunger strike in protest, according to Der Standard. Pahl has said that he’ll continue the strike until the work is removed. Director Letizia Regaglia has thus far refused to do so. The work is scheduled to be on display until September 21.

More news has emerged about Damien Hirst’s private sale at Sotheby’s this September. The sale, entitled Beautiful Inside My Head Forever, will include 223 lots and carries an estimate in excess of £65 million, with individual estimates ranging from £15,000-20,000 (for a range of new drawings) up to the £8-12 million estimate on the The Golden Calf, the centre-piece of the two-day sale. None of the works to be sold has been seen in public before, and many expand on key Hirstian themes in new and exciting ways: gold is a theme that runs through the sale (in, for example, gold cases for the formaldehyde sculptures, gold cabinets etc), as is that of the skull (skull spin paintings and drawings). The sale will also include four works to be sold to benefit charities especially designated by Hirst. A spokesperson at the Gagosian Gallery, one of Hirst’s gallery’s, said: “As Damien’s long-term gallery, we’ve come to expect the unexpected. He can certainly count on us to be in the room with paddle in hand.”

Beijing-based artist Cao Fei, through her Second Life avatar ‘China Tracy’, spent a year exploring the possibilities of Second Life and produced the i.Mirror trilogy, 2007, a series of films that document her adventures, which were presented in the Chinese Pavilion at the 52nd Venice Biennale, 2007. The Serpentine Gallery in London has commissioned the artist to present RMB City, an experimental art community in the internet-based virtual world of Second Life, in the Gallery’s public space and to continue her investigation of this digital landscape and the development of RMB City. Once she has completed its construction in autumn 2008, the buildings of the virtual city will be occupied for two years by partners including institutions and individual collectors who will host exhibitions and cultural activities open to all Second Life users.

The Guardian reports on a £6,000 sculpture by Costa Rican artist Tatiana Echeverri Fernandez which was accidentally smashed this week when a visitor fell into the cordoned off area around the installation. The sculpture was part of an exhibit in a display curated by Tracey Emin at the Royal Academy’s summer exhibition. It was one of five totems, collectively titled Frauleins Christina, Panthea, Zenobia, Semiramis and Guinevere. The work is now in hundreds of pieces. In a statement the RA said: ‘On Saturday an exhibit was accidentally damaged by a visitor. The damaged work is Christina by Tatiana Echeverri Fernandez. The gallery was initially closed but later reopened. The Royal Academy of Arts has informed the artist, gallery curator and exhibition co-coordinator of this incident and are arranging for a conservator to come in to assess the damage so that we can inform our insurers. The RA recognised the vulnerability of these works, and much consultation took place as to how to best protect them. Those consulted included the artist and RA Security and art handlers. The barriers were arrived at as the best option. Summer Exhibition 2008 has got through its busiest period including many lively evening events where we were most concerned about the work, and it is disappointing that this has happened on a quiet Saturday afternoon.’

According to Bloomberg, Chinese censors are forcing some art galleries to delay shows, including two with works by Andy Warhol and depicting the Dalai Lama, as the government tries to control the capital’s appearance during the Olympic Games. Galleri Faurschou said it postponed this weekend’s show of Warhol’s art because censors deemed it inappropriate to exhibit foreign works during China’s biggest public event. Xin Beijing Art Gallery said it scrapped a weekend display of Ma Baozhong’s work because censors found fault with his oil paintings of the Dalai Lama and former president Jiang Zemin. With China’s national pride riding on the games from Aug. 8 to 24, Beijing has cracked down on dissent and unsocial behavior. China’s media watchdog agency ordered Beijing News to recall yesterday’s edition after finding a photograph in the newspaper taken during the June 1989 Tiananmen Square military crackdown, Hong Kong’s Ming Pao reported, citing unidentified sources. Faurschou had planned to open the ‘Portraits: Sports, Stars and Society’ exhibition this weekend, showing 38 of Warhol’s works of Olympic athletes. The gallery is now aiming to open the show by Aug. 7 after talks with government. The gallery has enlisted the help of the Royal Danish Embassy. ‘It’s all a misunderstanding,” said Xie Ying, information director of the Chaoyang district government, which covers the 798 art area in which Faurschou is located. Xin may postpone Ma’s ‘Touch’ exhibition to October or November for the Chinese artist to work on improving his paintings, said the gallery’s executive director Li Feng. Warhol’s ten portraits of leading sportsmen and women including Muhammad Ali, O.J. Simpson, Chris Evert and Jack Nicklaus, were commissioned by the Californian collector Richard Weisman, a nephew of Norton Simon, founder of the Californian museum which bears his name, in the late 1970s. He paid $800,000 for the set. Last year the ten portraits were offered in London on behalf of Mr Weisman by the private dealer Martin Summers for $28m. They did not sell. Now Mr Weisman has consigned the set to the Faurschou gallery. Their display in China, along with other Warhol portraits of celebrities such as Michael Jackson, represents the first major show by the artist in mainland China where his market has never been tested.

A new £11.2 million landmark arts centre at the heart of Derby city centre, dedicated to film and contemporary art will open at the end of September with a new commission by internationally acclaimed artists Jane & Louise Wilson and access to BFI Mediatheque, a digital jukebox available for the first time outside London, giving users access to over 1000 films and television programmes. In the run up to the opening of QUAD, international artist Bill Drummond is creating a performance commission by involving 1,700+ local people. Designed by award-winning architects Feilden Clegg Bradley, the new building brings together two previous organisations, Q Arts and Metro Cinema, to create a new venue of local, national and international significance. The 2,600 metre space is comprised of a large contemporary art gallery; two cinema screens; a café bar; workshop spaces; artists studios and The Box, a multipurpose space with a varied programme of live performances, seminars and film screenings.

The Susan D. Goodman Collection, a private contemporary art collection in New York, has awarded its first Goodman Grant to Columbia MFA 2008 graduate Martin Basher. The Goodman Grant was established this year to support young artists to live and work in an international art center while expanding his or her body of work. Basher was selected as the inaugural recipient by an independent selection committee, and will move to Berlin for a period of four months beginning this fall.

Professor Phil Redmond CBE has been appointed as the new Chair of National Museums Liverpool in the UK. Professor Redmond will take up his new position on 1 August for a period of 4 years.

Juliet Kinchin will join the staff of the Museum of Modern Art as a curator in the department of architecture and design. Kinchin comes to MoMA from the Glasgow School of Art, where she was a senior lecturer of art and design.

Dr. Yukiko Shirahara, the Seattle Art Museum’s John A. McCone Foundation Curator of Asian Art, has been appointed Chief Curator at the Nezu Institute of Fine Arts in Tokyo, Japan.

The British curator David Elliott has been confirmed as the artistic director of the next Sydney Biennale in 2010.


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