Rolling news: 9–15 November

Polish and Brazilian government appointments cause uproar, Norway plans to bulldoze a Picasso....

The Y-Blokka with murals by Picasso, Oslo. Photo: Nabeeh Samaan


Protests have been made against the appointment of Piotr Bernatowicz as director of the Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art in Warsaw. In an open letter signed by over 1,400 arts professionals, including curators and museum directors Charles Esche, Krist Gruithuijsen, Ekaterina Degot and Cosmin Costina, as well as artists Maria Laboda, Martha Rosler and Naeem Mohaiemen, Poland's minister of culture and national heritage was criticised for making the appointment 'without an open competition recruitment procedure' and that Bernatowicz's previous role as the director of the Arsenal Municipal Gallery in Poznań 'caused a serious conflict with the curatorial section of his team and profound alienation of the local artistic community'. The announcement of Bernatowicz's seven-year appointment shows the art historian and former journalist shaking hands with Piotr Gliński, of the right-wing populist Law and Justice party, who acts as culture minster and Poland's deputy prime minster. Another government appointment, this time in Brazil, is also causing consternation. Roberto Alvim, who the country's far-right president Bolsonaro had previously made director of theatre, dance and opera at the National Arts Foundation, has now been given the secretary of culture brief. The theatre maker, an outspoken supporter of the president, claims he has been 'persecuted' by the left-wing arts establishment, telling Associated Press in an interview before his promotion, that 'Like the Crusaders, we are fighting barbarian invasions against the principles and values of our Judeo-Christian civilization'. 

More petitions: this time bemoaning the Norwegian government's planned demolition of the Y-Blokka building in Oslo's government quarter. The modernist building designed by Erling Viksjo in 1969 features murals by Picasso on its facade. The decision to tear down the building was made after the car bomb used in the 2011 terrorist attack on Norway caused severe structural damage to the neighbouring H-Blokka. Various heritage groups have been launching appeals against the decision, but on Monday these were dismissed. 'Tearing down the Y block constitutes the greatest loss of a cultural heritage monument in Norway since World War II' Hanna Geiran of the Norwegian Directorate of Cultural Heritage said. 








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