Yesterday I came across this interview about Ai Weiwei. The interview takes place between Spiegel International and Roger Buergel, a curator who first invited Ai Weiwei to Documenta in 2007. Buergel is certainly quotable, and the thrust of his sentiment is that Western artists are not as bent out of shape about Ai Weiwei’s absence as we ought to be; he suggests an unconscious but palpable jealousness as the cause of our apathy. “Young Western artists are producing works that amount to nothing more than footnotes in art history, and then this Chinese artist appears who takes a totally different approach and makes 98 percent of the art world look very, very old.” It definitely shocked me into paying attention—what is perhaps the larger point of such statements. It is not about what is being said, but what might be done.
Ai Weiwei has been missing for 38 days, since the Police refused to let him board a plan to Hong Kong. His latest disappearance was not his first run-in with Chinese government authority. According to an earlier article in The Washington Post, ”In 2009, in the western city of Chengdu, Ai was beaten so badly that he required surgery to have blood drained from his brain. Late last year, he was stopped at Beijing’s airport from flying to South Korea because authorities feared he might go to Oslo to attend the Nobel ceremony for Liu [2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner].” He was also prevented from having an exhibition in Beijing.
At the same time, I’m not sure what Buergel wants from us. What exactly is his call to action? It seems to me that twitter, facebook and a plethora of media outlets have been regularly fore fronting their concern for Ai Weiwei’s whereabouts. Petitions have been circulating for months now and artists have been making work in tribute. “Anish Kapoor has dedicated his largest ever artwork – a truly enormous cathedral-like space made from inflated PVC – to the missing Chinese artist Ai Weiwei” (Guardian); Kapoor’s installation opens today, May 11th, and will be open to the public until June 23rd at the Grand Palais in Paris. It is called Leviathan, after Hobbes’ instrumental work about social-political structures. Kapoor suggest all the galleries and museums in the world close down for a day, in honor of this missing colleague.
What an amazing thought.
It’s horrifying—the idea of someone getting swept up into absence. Of course it’s unacceptable that anyone would have to undergo such an ordeal. Yet there seems to be a message in Ai Weiwei’s particular missing-ness, because he boasted such an international profile. ”‘If they are willing to go this far with someone like him, then all bets are off,’ said Joshua Rosenzweig, who heads the Hong Kong office of the Dui Hua Foundation, a human-rights organization” (Wall Street Journal).
It is important to counter a sense of powerlessness. I certainly have no idea what someone could do to impact this situation, perhaps in part because there is nothing to see. The action—whatever it is—takes place out of public view, in impossible-to-reach cloisters. Only the absconding was visible. We have no direct access to the artist, only public-go-betweens. Governments are big and it feels difficult, if not impossible, to imagine how to influence such powers. Nevertheless, Kapoor takes a positive step towards a solution, outlining a possible path in order to participate in an action that is poetic, peaceable and demonstrative of a trans-national solidarity.
Photos from Artissima, Turin’s contemporary art fair
“We make money not art” has uploaded a few of the many images they took at Artissima, Turin Italy’s contemporary art fair. If the photos shown are indicative of the rest of the show it looks to be something not to be missed. Read more here
This week in “Can’t Muster the Engergy to Not Even Care About This” is a toss up
Cant decide which is of less interest, work begins on Lady Gaga’s 8 wax figures at DC’s Madame Tussauds or Sophie Crumb (daughter of Robert Crumb) releases a book of drawings that make her father look like Albrecht Durer. Read more here & here
Someone is selling off their VIP Access to Art Basel Miami Beach
Someone has put their VIP packet up on Craigslist for a minimum of $500 which gets you access to all the major events hosted by Art Basel and the Satellite Fairs. It doesn’t get you into the Delano Hotel though unfortunately you still need an even rarer commodity to do that, an actuall young & sexy woman on your arm to get the pleasure of paying $16 for a mojito. Buy your way in here
The British Government denys export license in effort to keep a Turner Painting Sold in Auction to Getty Trust in British Hands
The British government has announced Wednesday that the required export license for “Modern Rome – Campo Vaccino,” which Turner painted in 1839, will be held up through Feb. 2, and potentially until Aug. 1, to give potential buyers who want to keep the painting on British soil a chance to match the J. Paul Getty Trust’s bid. Read more here
Rochelle Slovin Director of Museum of the Moving Image To Step Down After Renovation
Read more here
Amedeo Modigliani Nude Painting fetched a record-setting price of nearly $70 million
A wise woman with striking red hair told me a few weeks back that the nude is coming back stronger then ever and she may just be right. Amedeo Modigliani’s Nu assis sur un divan (La Belle Romaine) [Nude Sitting on a Divan (The Beautiful Roman Woman)], a canvas from an important series of nudes, drew five telephone bidders into a heated competition at the fall sale of impressionist and modern art ultimately selling to an anonymous buyer for $68.9 Million US. Read more here & here
The LA Times Wrings it Hands over Art Walks
The LA Times asks do Art Walks help or hurt the local scene, they might as well ask does wine production effect gallery openings; its a zen question that keeps getting asked and its ultimately pointless. Just be glad people show up at all since the overlap between the two worlds is so small if it was a Venn diagram it would look like a pair of spectacles. Read more here
The Art Newspaper Asks Does Sex Sell at Frieze
Read more here
Versailles art show hit by injunction bid
From the wet dreams of the marketing people behind Japanese pop artist Takashi Murakami’s show at Versailles a descendant of the man who built the Versailles Palace in France is seeking an injunction to prevent modern works by Japanese pop artist Takashi Murakami from being shown there. The legal battle is fronted by Sixte Henri de Bourbon-Parme in defence of “respecting the chateau and ancestors.” The ultra-conservative royalist has united with a group, the Versailles Defence Coordination, to file the suit, in which they stake a claim for the “right to access to heritage.” Read more here
Prince Charles offers to oversee London architectural planning
This week in “What could possibly go wrong?” Prince Charles offers to take on key architectural planning role in the vaccum created by the quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisation that had its funding axed in the comprehensive spending review. The offer, announced by the foundation’s chief executive, Hank Dittmar, has been met with dismay by leading modernist architects who fear Prince Charles may use the role to advance his own traditional tastes in design. Read more here
Studio Manager Anne McIlleron talks about her boss William Kentridge
William Kentridge who is the focus of Art:21′s first feature length documentary (recently reviewed here and just broadcast on PBS this week) let his Studio Manager Anne McIlleron speak on what looks to be B-roll of the Art:21 documentary, its interesting but I am still of the opinion that William Kentridge wasn’t the best subject in the world to get this kind of treatment, just me I am sure. See more here
Kronos Quartet Interviewed
I cant get enough of Art Babble I admit and double so for the Kronos Quartet (which Duncan & I caught in concert last time they were in Chicago and were amazing) so when you merge the two together it’s PB&J perfection. See More Here
New Yorker cartoonist Leo Cullum died
Leo Cullum, whose cartoons kept readers of The New Yorker laughing for 33 years, has died. He was 68. Read more here
The art world’s own Bernie Madoff
Lawrence Salander Read more here
Google DemoSlam is previewed
Google has previewed a new site called demoslam built to encourage the creation and rank the best tech demonstrations on the net, part of me has long thought this was something the art world should have created a long time ago, free idea (hey get what you pay for) to whoever has the time and wants to put the work into it, Youtube was built for the Art world and a project like this (even though we all wish it looked like Vimeo). Have at it and God bless at this point I just want a life for a while lol. Read more here
The great part of the Art World is that it is in constant flux and endless energy. Artists and other members of the community create more commerce, impact, reach & community with $100 then most corporations can do with $1,000. The Art World cleans up and resets urban landscapes, moves when the price gets too high and then does it all over again. Lower Manhattan is a testament to the Art world and not anything City Hall has singlehandedly done. Yes there are aspects that can drive you mad; as in the endless herding of cats, debating fringe points of view that even Fox News would balk at and the deep seated hatred/fear of money or success. That said though, I would take a smart art world person over a smart MBA any day of the week. Ideas come and go but drive and tenacious originality/agility makes them a reality. Vegas was once a dream like that.
For good or ill there was once a dream to make Las Vegas an art capital. To make what was already a destination place for many into something that would include an art & culture discussion. During the time of the drive to reinvent Las Vegas as a family friendly, high culture venue, many casinos built collections and galleries to showcase great works for a small admission fee. Years later that proved to be a dead end. People didn’t want to pay to see works that were not of the highest order of notoriety while in Vegas and even fewer would make the trip with that as a priority. The casino’s multi-million collections now adorn the check-in areas and the galleries are reconstituted for other uses. Interestingly enough once again the poor artist comes along and is renting out the space to work in for later exhibitions in LA. You can read more here.
All in all though that is the Art World every day and the Business world every fiscal quarter. You dream what could be, do as much preparation as possible, swing smart and hard and hope at the end of the day you get your investors more then they paid and build an core infrastructure that can grow into something more. Something better.
You go out swinging every day, hoping that you can find that one idea that is better then the rest and you can gladly spend a lifetime building into something that brings joy, growth and money to all who enter it. You suffer the pain, the failure and the missteps knowing that she is out there just waiting to be found, that opportunity to plug in your skills and view with the needs of the community. Thats why we do this every day, that is the art world where dreams die daily so that other, better ones, might take their place for us all.
- The Brooklyn Museum continues to try to position itself better to increase traffic, now by extending it’s hours to 6pm on Wednesday’s and 10pm on Thursday & Friday from 5pm. They plan to hire a few more part time staff to cover the extended hours but state that the current budget and suggested admission will more then cover that added cost. read more here
- Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition on Picasso that just closed pulled in a record 700,000+ visitors over a 17-week period. This makes it the most attended exhibit since the Impressionist art show in 2001. read more here
- The Italian state and the city of Florence fight over ownership of Michelangelo’s David. read more here it is a fight that is akin in logic and the boredom of lawyers who need to charge hours to the battle between the FBI & Wikipedia over it’s use of their seal in a entry on the FBI this month. read more here
- Trafalgar Square’s fourth plinth contenders are unveiled, a cake, a cock, a organ, a topographic relief map of the UK, kid on rocking horse & a Field Marshal. The Bad at Sports oddsmaker’s take is as such: field marshal 1:1, cock, 2:1, organ 4:1, kid on rocking horse 6:1, cake 10:1, topographic map that can only be properly seen from above and below is nothing other then a jagged white shape 1000:1, an artistic discussion that the general public will actually engage in and might remeber for more then a year…… priceless. read more here & here
This week, another in the series of interviews Duncan and Christian did at the Banff Centre while they were on art vacation, Jonathan Watkins!
Jonathan Watkins (born 1957) is an English curator, and is currently Director of the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham. Watkins emigrated to Australia with his family in 1969 and studied Philosophy and History of Art at the University of Sydney, where he later taught. He was curator of the Chisenhale Gallery in London during which period this relatively small local gallery became an internationally known centre of excellence – many of the Artists shown at that time later going on to major acclaim including a number of Turner Prize winners, Watkins later moved to the Serpentine Gallery from 1995 to 1997 and worked in a freelance capacity as curator of the Biennale of Sydney in 1998. Watkins now lives in Birmingham, England. He currently directs the Ikon Gallery, and recently unveiled plans for a new museum of modern art in Birmingham. Read more