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‘Angry Asian Girls Association’ Organize #MeToo Protest Against Erotic Photographer Nobuyoshi Araki

In further news: Kasper König under fire for alleged racist comments; Israel urges Germany to defund Berlin’s Jewish Museum

Nobuyoshi Araki, 2008. Courtesy: Getty Images; photograph: Jun Sato

Nobuyoshi Araki, 2008. Courtesy: Getty Images; photograph: Jun Sato

The activist organization Angry Asian Girls Association have staged a protest at the Berlin’s C/O gallery, over an exhibition of work by the Japanese erotic photographer Nobuyoshi Araki. Protesters on Friday held signs reading ‘Are you sure your knowledge is correct?’, and on Facebook alleged that Araki ‘has gained fame and reputation by exploiting female models.’ Araki, well known for his photography of kinbaku-bi (Japanese rope bondage) was accused by his long-time model Kaori in April of several instances of exploitation and mistreatment during their working relationship. Kaori did not accuse the photographer of sexual assault, but did allege emotional bullying, saying that ‘he treated me like an object.’ C/O Berlin have issued a statement saying: ‘Nobuyoshi Araki’s work provokes strong emotions and polarizes viewers – in Germany today just as it did in Japan when it first appeared. C/O Berlin takes critique of artists and artistic work in the context of the international Me Too debate very seriously.’

Kasper König has been accused of making racially charged comments regarding Turkish immigrants in Germany. A panel discussion organized by the celebrated curator and museum director last month at the Munich Kammerspiele, around the idea of ‘Heimat’ (homeland) was set up to discuss far-right politics in Europe, inviting artists Cana Bilir-Meier, Henrike Naumann and Wilhelm Klotzek. Bilir-Meier, a German of Turkish descent, later accused König of making off-the-cuff comments about Turkish immigrants, characterizing them as aggressive and engaging in criminal behaviour. Since Bilir-Meier’s post on Facebook, an open letter signed by more than 100 artists, entitled ‘We’re Sick Of It!’ has been circulated in solidarity with Bilir-Meier’s statement and in protest against, among other things, ‘an art world that, on the one hand, deals critically with migration, racism, colonialism, etc, yet reproduces discrimination at the same time.’ In a statement sent to frieze via König’s office, the curator said: ‘I have been waiting until now for an answer to the letter I sent to Cana Bilir-Meier three and a half weeks ago. I do not want to make a comment until I have heard from her personally. I shall make a comment in due time.’

Israel has urged Germany to revoke its funding of Berlin’s Jewish Museum. German newspaper Die Tageszeitung revealed that a letter sent to German chancellor Angela Merkel’s bureau asked for the museum to be defunded over its exhibition ‘Welcome to Jerusalem’, which it claimed ‘presents a Muslim-Palestinian perspective of the city.’ The letter was issued by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, and was sent directly, rather than through the Israeli Embassy in Berlin. It also cited other organizations that it said were anti-Israeli, including the Berlin International Film Festival.

The president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Joseph Kabila, has announced that the country is preparing to launch an official restitution request for works held in the collection of Belgium’s recently revamped Africa Museum. Speaking to Belgian newspaper Le Soir, Kabila said that the claim would be made in time for the inauguration next June of a new Congolese national museum, which is currently under construction. Guido Gryseels, the director of the Africa Museum, has said that he is open to requests and that he supports the discussion around the restitution of collections assembled in the colonial era, but raised concerns around how to define what was legally or illegally acquired. ‘Initially they talked about military occupation, military raids and plundering and all the objects coming from that. Now they are talking about everything that was acquired during the colonial period,’ Gryseels told The Guardian. ‘But was all that illegally acquired or not? We need to do some more work on that.’ Don’t miss Ellen Mara De Wachter writing on Belgium’s newly reopened Africa Museum: has it exorcised the ghosts of its colonial past?

Senegal has unveiled a new Museum of Black Civilisations in its capital Dakar. After decades of inaction, the opening of the museum has been made possible with a GBP£27 million Chinese investment. The idea of the museum was first established by Senegal’s poet-president, Léopold Sédar Senghor. The director says the museum will not be a commemorative monument but a creative laboratory to help shape a sense of identity. Speaking to the BBC, local arts journalist Amadou Moustapha Dieng said: ‘There are important relics which I’m not able to see unless I go abroad, but now [with] this space, we can get back the relics and Africans can come here now and see this was their history.’

Protests have been held at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, calling for the removal of the museum’s vice chairman, who owns tear gas producers Safariland. Around 250 protesters filled the lobby of the museum on Sunday in a demonstration organized by activist group Decolonize This Place, calling for the ousting of Warren B. Kanders, and drawing attention to the use of Safariland tear gas on asylum seekers at the US-Mexico border. Holding banners that read ‘Tear gas is deadly’ and ‘Greed Kills’, and chanting ‘decolonize this museum!’, activists also burned sage in small vessels in the lobby. Last month, 100 staff members submitted a letter expressing outrage over Kanders’s business connection to the tear gas company, arguing ‘to remain silent is to be complicit’. Kanders responded to the letter saying ‘I am not the problem’, and said that he was not responsible ‘for the decision to use these products’.

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