Vandals Attack: Skulptur Projekte, Muenster
Thieves and vandals continue to wreak havoc through Muenster’s Skulptur Projekte, one of the most prestigious decennial contemporary art events in Europe this summer. Since its opening on 10 June, artworks by Nicole Eisenman, Koki Tanaka and Ei Arakawa have been affected. Eisenman’s Sketch for a Fountain installation damaged via the heads of two of the figures being decapitated on separate occasions less than two weeks apart, large parts of Tanaka’s technical equipment from his Provisional Studies: Workshop #7 How to Live Together and Sharing the Unknown were stolen at the end of July resulting in its closure until replacement parts are brought in, and while one of Arakawa’s seven pixelated LED panels for Harsh Citation, Harsh Pastoral, Harsh Münster had been pilfered, it has since been replaced. “It is quite normal that there are burglaries and vandalism in public spaces in general,” Judith Frey, public relations officer for the Projekte, told artnet News. “In the last edition in 2007 we also had several cases: the caravan by Michael Asher and the speaker of the sound piece by Susan Philipsz were stolen. So we could not say that at this time there is an increase of these incidents. In 1987, the Madonna by Katharina Fritsch was also stolen.” Projekte maintains it prefers to concentrate on the artworks and their intentions as opposed to exaggerating and possibly encouraging the incidents.
Artists at Risk: United Nations Exhibition, North Korea/New York
Four North Koreans are taking an unprecedented risk by participating, sans governmental permission, in an exhibition held at the UN headquarters in Manhattan which opened on 4 August. Mere months after the UN placed new sanctions on the Asian country over its ongoing missile tests, the artists are taking some precaution by leaving their works anonymous. “We don’t want to see any repercussions,” said Gloria Starr Kins, editor of UN-accredited publication Society & Diplomatic Review, which is co-hosting the event with the organiser, Beijing non-profit Eye Art International. “There is courage with the North Korean artists there. It’s an important, yet delicate initiative.” The paintings depict a Korean woman in traditional clothing, and a mother kneeling with her child, among others. Artworks in North Korea are government sanctioned and must adhere to guidelines that render creations for propaganda purposes.
New Art Fair: Art Chengdu International, Chengdu
Next year will see the launch of a new art fair in Chengdu, Southwestern China. From 28 April until 2 May at a still undisclosed location, the contemporary art fair co-founded by Huang Yu said in a press statement: “Southwestern art has a very special and important place in Chinese art history, with a deep influence on the development of Chinese contemporary art, and it produced many leading Chinese artists.” With Chengdu’s strong economy and art infrastructure, including several museums and galleries, public response has already indicated the new fair may have a leg up on the competition. It will feature around 30 galleries, mostly Chinese. Co-founder Huang Zai, formerly of Harper’s Bazaar Art China, will work alongside Huang Yu, an art collector behind the Beijing Zhuanshi International Auction House, which he founded in 2003, the Minsheng Art Museum Shanghai, helping co-found it in 2010, and is currently running the Beijing Zizi Cultural Holdings Group.
Artist Backlash: Artist Pension Trust, USA
The Artist Pension Trust (APT), a mutual assurance fund intended to ensure long-term financial security for artists, is receiving backlash over a raised storage fee to $6.50, with some artists threatening to pull out. APT’s decision was “a breach of trust and a tactic to mitigate financial pressure on APT while transferring the burden to the artists themselves,” stated Kristen Hassenfeld, who initiated the Facebook group APT Artist Solidarity. “I originally understood that that APT was developed to protect artists and their futures. It makes me sad that it has become increasingly clear that it is about making a profit,” also wrote New York artist Marina Kappos. Meanwhile, Al Brenner, CEO of the Mutual Art Group, under which APT falls, defended the new fee by stating that their costs re much lower in comparison to competitors. “It’s not about raising money to balance our books; [it’s about getting] the work out of storage so that it can be seen and eventually sold. Some works have been in storage for 10 years and that’s not good,” Brenner said to Artnet. The artists have until 11 August to agree to the new policy or face making new arrangements for where to store their works – of which the last minute nature is reportedly causing some artists to consider destroying artworks that they cannot afford to move.
APT was also in the headlines last April when it made a last minute decision to withdrawn 18 lots from Sotheby’s London auction due to concerns of low or underselling, despite the success of the 15 works at auction in March at Sotheby’s New York sale.