Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, April 27, 2017



Paul Wong’s Five Octave Range aims for sensory overload at the Vancouver Opera Festival.  Not much fazes media artist Paul Wong, whose occasionally controversial career has encompassed both the radical use of emerging technologies and a provocative openness to gender fluidity. Until recently, however, there was one discipline that gave him pause: opera…He’s over that now.  Tapped to create an outdoor video installation for the upcoming Vancouver Opera Festival, Wong began researching opera and quickly discovered that the art itself is not nearly as off-putting as the trappings that occasionally surround it.  Georgia Straight, April 26, 2017

Two UBC buildings, Audain Art Museum included in shortlist for 2017 AIBC Architectural Awards.  The Architectural Institute of British Columbia has announced its shortlist for the 2017 AIBC Architectural Awards and among the finalists are two buildings situated on the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver campus, Whistler’s new Audain Art Museum, and the controversially branded Trump International Hotel and Tower. Georgia Straight, April 26, 2017

B.C. election candidates to gather to debate arts and culture.  The BC Alliance for Arts + Culture is hosting an all-candidates meeting for the Arts on Monday (May 1, from 7-8:30 pm) at the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts at SFU Woodward’s (149 West Hastings.  The panel features Spencer Chandra Herbert (NDP MLA, Vancouver-West End), Amanda Konkin (Green candidate, Vancouver-Point Grey) and a B.C. Liberal candidate, to be confirmed.   Georgia Straight, April 25, 2017


Video: In the Studio with Kent Monkman.  “I wanted to address history painting directly with these narratives—these missing narratives—from art history that speak about Indigenous experience,” says Toronto artist Kent Monkman.  Monkman’s inquiry into colonization and resilience is one that resounds in the year of “Canada 150”—and it is due to have wide impact well beyond, too.  Canadian Art, April 26, 2017

The Hidden History of Wakashu, Edo-Era Japan’s “Third Gender” An eye-opening exhibition at Japan Society closely examines representations of wakashu in woodblock prints from the collection of the Royal Ontario Museum.  Hyperallergic, April 25, 2017

Los Angeles

Frances Stark: ‘Contemporary artists are hyper-alienated and hyper-competitive’ Frances Stark considers Magic Flute which premieres at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art on 28 April – an experiment in pedagogy, an educative experience both for the players and the audience. It is the most ambitious and collaborative production of the 50-year-old Los Angeles artist’s career.  Though it can sometimes seem confessional or even solipsistic, Stark’s art has always been about “channelling other people’s voices”, as she puts it.  The Guardian, April 24, 2017


Instagram Bans Photography Snaps by Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. Social media company Instagram pulled photos by U.S. photographer Imogen Cunningham promoting an exhibit at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, saying they violated decency standards, even as parent company Facebook Inc faces criticism for users’ live videos of murder.  Fortune, April 26, 2017

New York

New York’s Metropolitan Museum mulls setting fixed admission fee. The museum, the largest in the United States, sits on the edge of Central Park on land leased rent-free by the city in 1878 on condition that the museum be free to the public. Since 1971, it has charged visitors what it calls a “suggested” fee, currently $25, though many visitors opt to pay less.  “We have spoken to the Metropolitan Museum about the possibility of changing its admission structure — not for New Yorkers, but for out of town visitors.”  Reuters, April 26, 2017

IM Pei at 100: 10 of the architect’s most significant buildings. Chinese-American architect IM Pei turns 100 today. To celebrate, we’ve selected 10 of his most iconic buildings from a career that spans seven decades. Dezeen, April 26, 2017

Glenn O’Brien and the Avant-Garde That Lost.  Three Sundays ago I went to the Frank Campbell Funeral Home for a beautiful closed-casket viewing of the great writer-impresario-thinker Glenn O’Brien. As I walked around, I looked at who was there and felt a little awestruck.  Almost every person was some sort of brilliant, gifted, driven, special or terrible in their way and important to the giant scene that formed New York as we know it.   A walking dream or living mythology, it was a kind of ragtag cross-generational School of Athens of the New York avant-garde. I only knew O’Brien at a distance…  The Vulture, April 25, 2017

United States

How the CIA Secretly Funded Arab Art to Fight Communism. In his 2013 book America’s Great Game: The CIA’s Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East, Hugh Wilford documents the extent of the relationship between the spy agency and a “pro-Arabist” organization known as the American Friends of the Middle East (AFME). The AFME soon established a Department of Intercultural Relations that oversaw the funding of art exhibitions and visits by Arab artists to the U.S. The AFME changed its name to AMIDEAST in the 1970s, but in its two decades of existence as the AFME it played a major role in showcasing Arab art to an American audience.   Newsweek, April 21, 2017


Langlands & Bell: the artists storming Silicon Valley’s fortresses.  Westminster’s gilded avenue of gentlemen’s clubs, where kings and earls once strode, is an appropriate place for what turns out to be a display of our modern-day vessels of power. These bleached bodies are the headquarters buildings of the world’s biggest technology companies, as seen through the detached, deadpan eyes of artist duo Langlands & Bell.The Guardian, April 26, 2017

Chris Ofili: Weaving Magic review – a totally tropical tapestry. Commissioned by the Clothworkers’ Company (a livery company in the City of London), the centrepiece of Weaving Magic, Ofili’s strange and exhilarating new show, was created by five weavers at Dovecot Tapestry Studio in Edinburgh, painstakingly transferred from a watercolour by the artist.  The Guardian, April 26, 2017


Can “Poor But Sexy” Berlin Afford a MoMA of Its Own? A New Petition Outlines Doubts.  A group of architects and writers are demanding a public discussion on the future of Berlin’s Kulturforum take place in anticipation of the construction of the controversial Museum of Modern Art designed by Herzog & de Meuron. They are asking for a transparent financial plan because, citing the opinion of financial experts, the proposed €200 million budget is not enough to cover the project.   The initiative is not necessarily against the new museum, but it does push for a critical public discussion about it before plans go ahead.  Artnet News, April 26, 2017


Nazi-looted painting to be auctioned as owners’ heirs fail to halt sale. A 17th-century Dutch old master painting stolen by the Nazis is to be auctioned in Vienna next week, provoking outrage from the heirs of the owners from whom it was looted who have accused the auction house of moral bankruptcy.  Auctioneers at Im Kinsky have not shied away from describing the painting, Bartholomeus van der Helst’s Portrait of a Man, as disputed stolen art in the sales catalogue. They state that its current owner bought it in good faith from a German art dealer in 2004 and under Austrian law she has the right to sell it.  The Guardian, April 23, 2017

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