Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, June 6, 2016

Vancouver city council approves $464,650 in community arts grants  Many arts organizations have just received a financial boost from the City of Vancouver. Council today approved $464,650 in community arts grants to 82 organizations. The politicians accepted a staff recommendation to reject 20 additional requests for grants, as the number of applications was a city record, jumping by almost 12 percent from 2015. The Georgia Straight, June 1, 2016

Artists all at sea in new multimedia exhibition  After a total of nearly 100 days on a slow boat to China, four artists are now back on terra firma and ready to reveal their creative interpretations of working on the 9,000-kilometre passage to Shanghai…Twenty-Three Days at Sea, Chapter One, named for the number of days it takes to cross the Pacific Ocean this way, features the logbooks and artistic re-imaginings of Halifax/Montreal artist Christopher Boyne; Amaara Raheem, a Sri Lankan-born Australian who lives in Melbourne; Vancouver-based Elisa Ferrari; and Nour Bishouty, who splits time between Beirut and Toronto. Selected from nearly 1000 worldwide submissions to the organizers — Chinatown’s artist-run Access Gallery in partnership with Burrard Arts Foundation and the Contemporary Art Gallery — the premise of the project living on a 270-metre-long ship is simple. The Vancouver Sun, June 3, 2016

Art & Parenthood Art & Parenthood considers the social, material and aesthetic relationship that parenthood has to art-making. In spite of its enormous effect on a person’s life, in particular for those who bring a child to term, parenthood and child raising is often made invisible within the art world. Yet it has a tremendously transformative influence, positively and negatively, on the act of creation and the material conditions of art-making for parents. The exhibition Art & Parenthood is an attempt to produce a platform for articulating these experiences, exhibiting art made about – or in the context of – parenting, and challenging the exclusions that separate children from contemporary art. This exhibit is part a larger frame of programming at UNIT/PITT celebrating its 40th anniversary by imagining the possibilities of cultural production 40 years from now. The Georgia Straight, June 2016

Art punks: Garbage Daze exhibit pokes fun at the digital age  Absurdity can be a powerful inspiration. At least that was Dylan Cameron’s theory when curating The Digital Stone Age, an exhibition at the Truck Contemporary Art Gallery that runs in conjunction with the Garbage Daze IV music festival and shares its underground, punky ethos. Cameron’s notes for the seven-artist exhibit explain that the participants were to expose “a devolutionary leap stimulated by techno society and digital gadgetry.” Cameron can cite plenty of examples of how this downward leap has resulted in some rich absurdity, everything from Microsoft’s Twitter bot Tay, an artificial intelligence chatterbot released by the corporation that puzzlingly began releasing anti-Semitic tweets almost immediately after it launched, to a new product called Soylent meal replacements, which Cameron said he recently saw being plugged on a Facebook targeted ad. The Calgary Herald, June 2, 2016

This artist wants you to send her dead bees, please  Bees and other pollinating species are dying out, disappearing at such an alarming rate that the United Nations issued an international call to action in February, demanding change before the world’s food supply is endangered. When you consider news like that, news we’ve been hearing for years, a world without bees is a very possible reality, and it’s one [Ruth] Marsh explores in Ideal Bounds, an exhibition currently on display at The New Gallery in Calgary before travelling to more cities around the country later this year., June 1, 2016

Ryan McNamara: Who says performance art can’t entertain?  Ryan McNamara is latest in an increasingly long line of artists trying to steer the notion of “performance art” into more accessible waters. With a love of stagy theatricality, costuming and — wait for it — Cirque du Soleil, McNamara’s experiences are a long way from the bodily trials of the form’s founders, who, in the 1960s, imagined performance as visceral endurance and an antidote to the showy spectacle that the art market, with its emphasis on pricey objects, had become. For McNamara, that much hasn’t changed, though he sees his role less as direct provocateur than Trojan Horse, bringing the outsiders in. Nowhere is that the case more than at Thursday night’s sparkly Power Ball, the annual fundraising gala for the Power Plant at Harbourfront Centre, where he’ll mount a new performance for an elite group of $500-a-head VIPs (he’ll be back next year with another all new work for the rest of us). The Toronto Star, June 2, 2016

Bringing a history lesson to Montreal’s anniversary party  In Montreal, however, just about everything becomes more palatable if you can make a big projection out of it. That’s what Montréal en histoire has done with Cité Mémoire, a series of 15 projections “loosely inspired” by the town’s history, in continual nighttime rotation on buildings in Old Montreal. To sample the displays, created by Cirque du Soleil veterans Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon, you walk to each site, trigger the related section of the Cité Mémoire smartphone app, and listen to the audio portion of whatever is flashing over the brickwork. The Globe and Mail, June 3, 2016

Trois jours de festivités gratuites pour baptiser le MNBAQ  Oubliez l’inauguration avec des notables et des commanditaires triés sur le volet. Pour le baptême du nouveau pavillon du Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (MNBAQ), la direction veut «redonner au grand public l’institution». Une grande procession et une coupe de ruban artistique, le 24 juin, marqueront le début de trois jours de festivités gratuites. Le Soleil, June 1, 2016

From illicit art to fresh blood: four of the biggest challenges facing museums today  Rioting in Baltimore was top of mind at last year’s annual American Alliance of Museums (AAM) meeting in Atlanta, where discussions centred on the role museums ought to play in social justice… Convinced the discussions had merely scratched the surface, AAM staff organised the 2016 annual conference in Washington, DC last week (26-29 May) around the theme of power, influence and responsibility. “There might be slippage, in terms of being nimble enough to respond to the latest trends and questions about how we communicate, about who is on our staff and our boards, but fundamentally there is a strength in the role that people understand museums to have,” says Anthony Hirschel, the former director of the University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art. Nearly 6,000 museum professionals from 50 countries gathered to discuss pressing issues in the field, from the US government’s import ban on ivory to changing visitor demographics. Here are four of the most burning questions they asked—and sought to answer—about the future of museums. The Art Newspaper, June 3, 2016

Crowds Are Out, Crates Are In as Louvre Takes Flood Precautions  The square at the center of the Louvre, dominated by I.M. Pei’s glass pyramid, was desolate early Friday morning, save for a few tourists taking selfies. The museum was closed to visitors, as Paris experienced its worst flooding since 1982 — but inside, staff members and volunteers had worked around the clock to remove artworks from the threat of the rising waters of the Seine River. The New York Times, June 3, 2016

Syrian regime troops looting Palmyra: Leading German cultural heritage expert  A leading German cultural heritage expert on Wednesday charged that Syrian regime troops are looting the ancient city of Palmyra like the Islamic State jihadists who controlled it until March. Archaeologist Hermann Parzinger, head of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, was speaking on the eve of a two-day Berlin conference on ways to protect heritage sites in war-ravaged Syria. Speaking to media, Parzinger said that Syrian troops, when they are off-duty, “are conducting illegal excavations” and “have looted” at the UNESCO World Heritage site. Agence France Presse, June 6, 2016

Hong Kong
Mid-Renovation Collapse of Future Arts Hub Structure Triggers Questions of Negligence in Historic Preservation Project It’s been a long road to the opening of Hong Kong’s Tai Kwun arts and leisure complex—and it just got longer. Late in the evening on Sunday May 29, 2016, a major wall of the former government cluster, currently under renovation, gave way, leaving one of the historic compound’s 16 buildings in shambles. Following the collapse, a search was carried out for victims who may have been trapped in the debris; it has since been confirmed that the structure was empty when it fell and no injuries were reported. The confidence of Hong Kong residents in the project, however, has been seriously damaged. ArtAsia Pacific, June 6, 2016


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