Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, May 11, 2017



Vancouver Art Gallery gears up for Institute of Asian Art inaugural symposium Deconstructing Diaspora.  The Vancouver Art Gallery is gearing up for the major Deconstructing Diaspora: Institute of Asian Art Inaugural Symposium, next Thursday and Friday (May 18 and 19).  Arts and culture scholar Vishakha N. Desai, a former adviser to President Barack Obama, a senior adviser for global affairs programs to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, and a professor at the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University, will be the keynote speaker on the first day of the event at UBC Robson Square.  Georgia Straight, May 10, 2017

Asian cultures new and old reflected in Traces of Words. When Fuyubi Nakamura describes the ideas behind Traces of Words, it’s possible to envision wisps of spoken language, floating briefly in the air and then disappearing, like smoke. Or, perhaps, not disappearing but preserved for a time in written form. “The reason I use the word traces for the title is that I wanted to make the connection between oral traditions and written language,” says Nakamura, MOA’s curator, Asia…Subtitled Art and Calligraphy From Asia, the exhibition is both contemporary (in MOA’s Audain Gallery) and historical (in the Multiversity Galleries), surveying calligraphic and language-based works ranging in origin from North Africa to Thailand.  Georgia Straight, May 10, 2017

Photographer Greg Girard returns to Vancouver’s vanished streetscapes.  Photographer Greg Girard is widely acclaimed for the images of Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Hanoi he created during the three decades he lived and worked in Asia. Less well known are the photos he shot in his hometown of Vancouver, when he was a teenager and young man, just beginning to find his way toward his urban subjects. His new book, Under Vancouver 1972-1982, and the companion exhibition at Monte Clark Gallery, reveal aspects of the social and architectural character of our port city before Expo 86 brought it to the attention of international investors and ravening developers.  Georgia Straight, May 10, 2017

ART SEEN: Doris Salcedo sculpture part of donation by Bob Rennie to National Gallery.  Since Bob Rennie acquired Doris Salcedo’s Tenebrae 15 years ago, it has been in storage. A big work weighing several tonnes, it is comprised of 13 chairs with long, horizontal legs meant to block an exhibition space entrance.  One reading of the work is how wealthy countries of the world erect barriers to exclude entry of immigrants and refugees.  Vancouver Sun, May 10, 2017


The many sides of Picasso.  Two exhibitions of Pablo Picasso’s works coming to the Winnipeg Art Gallery provide an “explosive combination” for the city.   Those are the words of University of Manitoba School of Art professor Oliver Botar, who is looking forward to seeing Picasso: Man and Beast — The Vollard Suite, and Picasso in Canada, which open at the Winnipeg Art Gallery Saturday, May 13, and remain on display until August.  Winnipeg Free Press, May 10, 2017

Couple Donates $250K to Manitoba Museum.  The Manitoba Museum received a generous donation of $250,000 which brings the Museum closer to their $19 million fundraising goal.  The campaign will fund the Museum’s renewal of 42% of its Galleries by 2020, in time for a landmark year that will celebrate the Province of Manitoba’s 150th anniversary, the Museum’s 50th, and Hudson Bay Company’s  350th.  Mytoba, May 9, 2017


Nature, needlepoint and nods to diversity: At the galleries.  Contact photo fest’s takeover of art spaces carries on at Koffler, Prefix ICA and the Textile Museum.   Toronto Star, May 10, 2017

Royal Ontario Museum to debut makeover of Queens Park entrance.  The ROM announced Tuesday it plans to reopen the heritage Weston Entrance in Queens Park in September, about a decade since it was last used. The entrance, currently under construction, is undergoing a significant makeover throughout the summer.  “This is actually something I have been looking towards since my very first days at the ROM, in fact even before I got here,” said Josh Basseches, the ROM’s director and CEO, who joined the museum in March 2016.  Metro News, May 10, 2017


The shíshálh’s 4,000-year-old dead come to life in new Canadian Museum of History exhibit.  When Raquel Joe looks into the challenging stare of the powerful chief, she sees not just the digital alchemy of modelling the faces of people who died about 4,000 years ago, but something far more powerful for herself and her people.  That man looks like my dad,” said Joe, whose life has been dedicated to preserving the traditional ways of her shíshálh Nation, pointing to the ancient chief’s high cheekbones and strong jaw.   Joe was at the Canadian Museum of History on Wednesday for the unveiling of a new exhibit opening July 1 that includes the high-tech reconstructions of the faces of a powerful family whose burial sites were uncovered on shíshálh territory, which surrounds what’s now Sechelt, B.C.  Ottawa Citizen, May 10, 2017

Los Angeles

ACLU Claims Customs Agents Violated Artist’s Constitutional Rights. The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California has spoken out on behalf of the artist Aaron Gach, arguing that detention of the artist by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in February was in violation of the artist’s First and Fourth Amendment rights as well as the CBP’s own guidelines.  Artnet News. May 10, 2017

Sanctuaries or Security Bunkers? The Artist Enoc Perez Paints American Embassies.  Embassies are a reflection of how we see ourselves as a country,” Enoc Perez said. “You look at the old ones, and they look inviting, like things can happen.” The newer ones, he noted, are like security bunkers, often for good reason. “The world has changed.”  We were speaking on the occasion of the opening of Enoc Perez’s latest exhibition of work this coming Saturday, May 13, at the UTA Artist Space in Los Angeles.  Forbes Magazine, May 10, 2017


Artists’ commissions, tech gifts and guns: the legal issues facing US museums.  What’s keeping museum lawyers up at night? They discussed how to stay out of trouble when commissioning installation and performance art, how to prepare for changes to US tax law and how best to collaborate with technology companies. The programme was organised by the American Law Institute and cosponsored by the Smithsonian Institution. Here are our picks of the most pressing legal questions facing the museum field… The Art Newspaper, May 11, 2017

New York

Sibling Rivalry Erupts Into $160 Million Art Auction Showdown. In the art world, auction houses Sotheby’s and Christie’s are like squabbling siblings—more alike than different, yet always trying to one-up each other. Next week in New York, the two rivals are vying to sell separate collections of contemporary art from two actual siblings—at virtually the same time. Perhaps fittingly in the circumstances, the two sisters aren’t on speaking terms. Bloomberg, May 10, 2017


Peabody Essex Museum hires neuroscientist to enhance visitor experience.  The Peabody Essex Museum is taking what is being hailed as an unprecedented step in the museum world: hiring a neuroscientist to help apply the tenets of modern brain science to enhance the museum-going experience.  “What we want to create is a sense of exploration and discovery,” said Dan Monroe, the museum’s director and chief executive. “It’s to get people out of the mode of interacting with art on an unconscious level and beginning to think about what’s going on in the paintings.”  Boston Globe, May 7, 2017


Giacometti review – a spectacular hymn to human survival.  Midway through this exhibition, emotion hits you like a blast of heat from a furnace. The chill of irony thaws. The intellectual and erotic games are over. There is only one thing worth making art about, Alberto Giacometti has decided, and that is our common humanity.  The Guardian, May 8, 2017


Geoffrey Farmer in Venice: A First Look.  Geoffrey Farmer’s moving, personal installation at the Canada Pavilion confronts personal and national histories through the metaphor of water…“We define water by its location,” says Farmer, “but in itself it can be a river in one moment, tears the next; a dog can be drinking it; you could be washing your hair with it. That’s the thing I like about the idea of water, how universal it is and how it transgresses boundaries, and also creates boundaries. It plays such an important role, politically as well.” Canadian Art, May 10, 2017.  See also: Geoffrey Farmer’s tour de force at the Venice BiennaleMacleans, May 10, 2017

Tracey Moffatt review – horrible histories from Australia’s Venice envoy. Stills from an unmade movie, false memories, history and fiction are the core of Tracey Moffatt’s My Horizon. She is the first indigenous Australian artist to represent her country at the Venice Biennale since 1997; one of Australia’s best known and internationally exhibited artists, Moffatt’s exhibition is doubly belated.  The Guardian, May 10, 2017

The 5 Biggest Controversies in Venice Biennale History.  The Biennale’s stature has not inoculated it against controversy over the years. The exhibition has suffered several dust-ups in its 114-year history, from vexing grand prize winners to derogatory showcases of “primitive” African art. On the eve of the opening of the 57th edition of the Biennale, we examine the historic festival’s five most contentious controversies.  Artnet News, May 10, 2017


Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker Named CEO and Director of the Biennale of Sydney. Australia’s Biennale of Sydney announced today that Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker will be its new CEO and director. She will oversee the opening of the 2018 edition of the biennial, which will be curated by Mami Kataoka, and which recently announced part of its artist list.  Artnet News, May 10, 2017

Abu Dhabi

Louvre Abu Dhabi to open in November, sources say.  A decade after the €1bn contract was signed to create the Louvre Abu Dhabi, and following multiple construction delays, the museum should finally open this November, if everything goes according to plan.  The Art Newspaper, May 11, 2017


It’s War! Kenny Schachter on the Brewing Art-Fair Battle to Control the Supply Chain.  There is a gathering storm in the art world, and already the threatening clouds of an art-fair land war can be seen flashing over the Rhineland. To whit: the MCH Group, the Swiss parent of the Art Basel fairs, has thrown down the gauntlet by launching a series of regional fairs, beginning with a foray in Düsseldorf meant to take on the venerable Art Cologne. The fallout will be far reaching Artnet News. May 10, 2017

How the exclusive contemporary art world has become more about who owns what than the work itself.  Ironically, while art in general has become more accessible through the explosion of art fairs, private galleries and digital spaces like Instagram, the upper echelons of contemporary art have never been more exclusive. Prices skyrocket into the tens of millions of dollars for relatively unproven artists and fluctuate wildly in short periods of time – sometimes mere days. That’s if you’re lucky enough to be one of the few permitted to purchase the art regardless of how much money you throw at it.  National Post, May 1, 2017


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