Artists continued over the weekend to withdraw from this year's Whitney Biennial as the ongoing dispute around the links of one board member to a company which produces military supplies, including teargas which has been used in conflict zones across the world, continues to escalate.
The latest round of withdrawals were sparked at the end of last week when Korakrit Arunanondchai, Meriem Bennani, Nicholas Galanin and Nicole Eisenman published an open letter in ArtForum requesting that their work be withdrawn in protest at the Whitney's 'failure to respond in any meaningful way to growing pressure' for the removal of Safariland CEO Warren Kanders’ from the board. Eddie Arroyo, Christine Sun Kim and Agustina Woodgate soon followed suit, with the latest salvo coming from Forensic Architecture, whose video linking Kanders with the use of teargas is included in the Biennial. The London-based research collective now claim to have uncovered new evidence linking Safariland to bullets used on the Israel-Gaza border, and have requested that their video be replaced with a new work substantiating those links. The Whitney Biennial runs to 22 September: don't expect this debate to end any time soon.
As the artworld frets over its relationship to the military-industrial complex, news broke that influential Italian sculptor and installation artist Marisa Merz has died, aged 93. As the only female artist included in the group of artists identified by the curator Germano Celant as practicing Arte Povera – an explicitly revolutionary and anti-capitalist, at least at the beginning – Merz was a key participant in one of the most influential European movements of the postwar period. She did not, however, receive the recognition afforded to her male peers in the movement, an injustice at least partially redressed in recent years through her, among other things, a major 2017 retrospective that travelled to the Met Breur, New York; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Museum der Moderne, Salzburg; and the Serralves Museum, Porto.
In other, if more encouraging, news to do with the belated recognition of women in the artworld, Emma Lavigne was expected to be announced as the new director of Palais de Tokyo on Monday, making her the first female head of the influential Parisian institution. This being France, confirmation was delayed pending an official statement from the Ministry of Culture. The experienced Lavigne will join the museum from the Centre Pompidou-Metz, and was previously the commissioner of the French Pavilion at the 2015 Venice Biennale and curator of the 2017 Lyon Biennale. The announcement was closely followed by the news of Sandra Patron’s appointment at the head of the CAPC Musée d’art contemporain in Bordeaux. Patron was selected by the municipality of Bordeaux, to succeed to María Inés Rodríguez, whose dismissal back in March 2018 was denounced as unjustified and sexist by the artistic community. Patron, currently director of the Sérignan regional Museum of Contemporary Art, will take up her post on 16 September.
If you had been holding out for the Palais de Tokyo job, then take note that the inaugural Gangwon Triennale is looking for an artistic director, according to a call for applications sent out on Monday. The deadline is this Wednesday, so clearly plenty of free time in the next 48 hours should be added to the list of required competencies alongside the 'capability and will to embody their profound understanding of the identity of Gangwon through the international exhibition and event'.
Last week, Taipei’s Project Fulfill Art Space released a public statement demanding an apology from Estée Lauder Companies China Affiliate’s (ELCCA) for appropriating a site-specific installation work by Chen Sung-Chih, without the artist’s or gallery’s consent, for the cosmetic brand’s M·A·C Powder Kiss Lipstick Project in Wuzhen, China. Both Project Fulfill and Chen hope an apology will ‘restore our reputation and correct any misunderstanding that may arise’ and that the company ‘investigate[s] and affix[es] accountability for those responsible for the infringement.’
The Museum of Modern Art in New York, currently undergoing a major renovation to accompany a rehang of the collection that is expected to give greater prominence to non-Western artists and movements, on Monday announced a major gift of African contemporary art from Jean Pigozzi. The collector, who according to a statement from MoMA started collecting African art after seeing the 1989 exhibition Magiciens de la Terre at Centre Pompidou in Paris, donates 45 works by artists from across the continent. Meanwhile in Beijing, M Woods Art Museum has announced that it will open a second space in the city’s Longfusi Development, Dongcheng district, in August this year. The private, not-for-profit museum was founded by collectors Lin Han, Wanwan Lei, and Michael Xufu Huang back in 2014.
ArtReview was saddened to hear the passing of Malaysian artist Roslisham Ismail, aka Ise (1972–2019). Ismail, whose work found its inspiration in popular culture symbols and images, was also the founder and director of the artist space Parking Project, which was based in his Kuala Lumpur apartment.
In a bewildering speech, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro announced he intends to exert greater control on Brazil's National Cinema Agency (ANCINE), complaining that public money was being spent on films that constituted ‘activism’. The bewildering part came when the far-right president’s used Confessions of a Brazilian Call Girl by way of example.
As we’re reaching the end of the week, it seems ArtReview’s roundup has actually come to a full circle: after much protests led by artists and other members of the arts community (involving most recently, if you’ve by now forgotten how this week’s roundup started, the withdrawal of eight more artists from the Whitney Biennial), Warren Kanders, deputy chair of the Whitney Museum board, has announced his resignation on Thursday. The news comes after months of protest following the revelation, back in November 2018, of Kanders’s connection to the defence industry as the founder of weapon manufacturing company Safariland.
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