MACBA Dismissals Spark Outcry, Turkey Slams UNESCO, and More: Morning Links for July 26, 2021
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QUITE A FEW HIGH-PROFILE ART TYPES ARE DISPLEASED about the dismissal of curators Tanya Barson and Pablo Martínez from the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona, in what has been described as a restructuring, the Guardian reports. For one, Mark Godfrey—formerly of Tate Modern —said in an Instagram comment, “You both contributed incredibly to MACBA and one would have assumed that the city and government would have been so proud of these achievements.” Some 700 people have signed a letter slamming the move, and two MACBA staffers have quit. The museum has defended the decision, saying it was the result of an eight-month process, but the outcry has meant a rough start for Elvira Dyangani Ose, who was named director the day before the cuts. She told the paper that the moves could have been handled better.
THE CURRENT MEETING OF UNESCO, which runs through July, has been pretty action-packed. The group withdrew World Heritage status for Liverpool, England; declined to place Venice on its “in danger” list (after Italy banned cruises through its historic center); and now has rankled Turkey by saying that it has “grave concern” about the government’s 2020 decision to convert the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul from a museum into a mosque, a move condemned by some leaders. It has asked the country to file a report on the state of conservation at the 1,500-year-old religious site. Turkey said UNESCO was acting with “prejudiced, biased and political motives,” the AFP reports. On a more anodyne note, it granted World Heritage status to the Paseo del Prado in Madrid, the elegant promenade that passes near the Prado, the Thyssen-Bornemisza, and the Reina Sofía, adding just a little bit more tourist-drawing sizzle to that part of town.
The Whitworth gallery at the University of Manchester in England is planning to sell an NFT (in an edition of 50) of a William Blake painting it holds, and use the proceeds to fund “socially beneficial projects” in partnership with community organizations. The digital product is being billed as the first “U.K. museum-accredited NFT.” [The Art Newspaper]
Artist Shubigi Rao has been selected to represent Singapore at 2022 Venice Biennale in a presentation overseen by the veteran curator Ute Meta Bauer. This is the city-state’s 10th outing at La Biennale, and the first time that two women have organized its pavilion. [The Strait Times]
The chief of projects at the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority in Hong Kong, Jeremy Stowe, has resigned. Stowe had been on a leave of absence for “personal reasons,” according to the organization, and he had reportedly been visited by law-enforcement officials in May. The nature of that interaction has not been made public. [ArtReview]
The family of the late Korean sculptor Kwon Jin-kyu (1922–74) has donated 141 works, including 96 sculptures, to the Seoul Museum of Art. It will stage an exhibition tied to the centennial of Kwon’s birth next year and inaugurate a permanent display of his art at its Nam-Seoul branch in 2023. [The Korea Herald]
In an op-ed, artist Natalie Frank lambasted a New York Times review of a show devoted to her mentor, Paula Rego, at Tate Britain in London. [Artnet News]
A trailer has been released for a documentary about the late artist Dash Snow, Moments Like This Never Last, directed by Cheryl Dunn. [First Showing]
The latest project from artist Oscar Murillo presents some 40,000 canvases that were drawn on by children in 34 countries. The exhibition is on view at London’s Cardinal Pole Catholic School, which Murillo attended. [The Guardian]
IT ALMOST SOUNDS LIKE THE START OF A HORROR FILM: A large group of artists travel from abroad to rural upstate New York and hole up in a 200-year-old mansion. But Ragnar Kjartansson’s nine-screen video work The Visitors (2012), which grew from that premise, is instead one of the most joyous, touching artworks made in recent times, an extended music video that has moved many to tears. Washington Post critic Sebastian Smee has assembled an oral history of the work in an immersive online package , and Kjartansson admits, “It’s a bunch of Icelandic White kids being drunk in some fancy mansion and playing mediocre country. . . . It’s weird that it actually works.” [The Washington Post]
Thank you for reading. We’ll see you tomorrow.