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Award-Winning Photographer Lu Guang Went Missing in Xinjiang; Now Chinese Authorities Admit He Was Arrested

In further news: Strasbourg Biennale postponed after shootings; Ai Weiwei’s human rights flag

Lu Guang, 2017. Courtesy: Contour by Getty Images; photograph: Anna Huix

Lu Guang, 2017. Courtesy: Contour by Getty Images; photograph: Anna Huix

The disappearance of award-winning photographer Lu Guang in China’s troubled Xinjiang region last month finally has an explanation. The New York-based photographer’s wife Xu Xiaoli said that Chinese authorities have confirmed that Lu had been arrested in Kashgar. The city – located in the south of the region – has been a focal point for the state’s crackdown and mass detention of the country’s Uighur and other Muslim minority populations. Details of the charge, further evidence of the arrest and where Lu is being held have not been made available. Lu, a three-time World Press Photo winner, is well known for his documentation of life on the margins of Chinese society: scenes of poverty, pollution and addiction that have accompanied the country’s rapid economic ascent since the 1980s. Xu later tweeted: ‘Family members have already entrusted lawyers to contact the case-handling authorities, and they have not been allowed to meet with Lu Guang, nor have they obtained any formal written procedures.’ Xu says that Lu was not planning to photograph Uighurs on his trip.

The Kochi-Muziris Biennale has been hit by a #MeToo protest. Speaking from a prepared collective statement, a group of demonstrators – artists, curators and writers – stood up during the Q&A of a performance-lecture by the Guerilla Girls on 14 December, and alleged that the biennial had failed to properly address recent allegations of sexual abuse. The claims of misbehaviour have fallen on the biennial’s cofounder Riyas Komu and artist and contributor Subodh Gupta, emerging from an anonymous Instagram account, Scene and Herd. It was announced in October that Komu would step down from his role at the biennial pending an investigation. Don’t miss Skye Arundhati writing for frieze on India’s #MeToo moment and its impact in the art world: ‘What many see as a national movement is far from it, with the stakes for people coming out with their stories still being too high.’

The inaugural Strasbourg Biennale has been postponed after a shooting at the French city’s Christmas market. The event, which was due to launch on 15 December, has now been pushed back following the fatal shooting of three people on 11 December. The incident has been described by officials as an act of terrorism. The Strasbourg Biennale, curated by Yasmina Khouaidjia and titled ‘Touch Me: Being a Citizen in the Digital Age,’ focuses on ‘our relationship with new technologies and how the internet has profoundly affected our behaviour and society.’ It will now go on view from 22 December to 3 March 2019.

London’s Tate Modern have commissioned Anne Imhof to create a new large-scale performance artwork for 2019. Imhof, the winner of the 2017 Venice Biennale’s Golden Lion award, will present a solo project in the Tate Modern’s Tanks in March 2019, marking the first time an artist has taken over the entire space for a solo project. Over the space of ten days, the commission will incorporate music, sculpture and a six-day performance, reflecting on modern-day identity and isolation. Don’t miss Pablo Larios writing for frieze on the artist’s versatile performances.

Joan Jonas is to inaugurate Venice’s new environmental centre Ocean Space next March. A new project by the video and performance artist will inaugurate the cross-disciplinary space focused on ocean conservation and the effects of climate change, located in the newly restored church of San Lorenzo in Venice’s Castello neighbourhood. Ocean Space will showcase the digital archive of oceanic projects which have been organized in the last seven years by TBA21-Academy, founded in 2002 by Francesca von Habsburg. It will also host lectures, workshops and other events.

Ai Weiwei has designed a flag to raise awareness about the importance of human rights. The Chinese artist and activist has designed a light blue flag with a white footprint to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Ai says he was inspired by a trip visiting Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, who had fled from attacks in Burma. ‘Not many ideas can relate to this very broad, but also very special, topic,’ he says. ‘As humans, as long as we can stand up or can make a move, we have our footprint.’ The flag was commissioned as part of a grassroots campaign Fly The Flag, established by various arts organizations and charities including Tate Galleries, Sadler’s Wells and Human Rights Watch.

In gallery news: Anish Kapoor is now represented by Lisson Gallery in both New York and London; New York gallery  have added Brazilian artist Dalton Paula to their roster; Lower East Side gallery Yours Mine & Ours is to close at the end of the month, with a final show of drawings by Nicole Wittenberg; and Ryan Lee Gallery now represents the estate of George Miyasaki.

In awards and appointments news: the finalists for the 2019 Mario Merz Prize for art and music, with a show of work by nominees – Bertille Bak, Mircea Cantor, David Maljkovic, Maria Papadimitriou, Unknown Friend, Annachiara Gedda, Mauro Lanza, Filippo Perocco, Robert HP Platz, Jay Schwartz – going on view at Turin’s Fondazione Merz next year, followed by the announcement of the winner; Leonor Antunes has scooped this year’s Zurich Art Prize, which comes with an award of USD$100,000; and nomadic European biennial Manifesta has announced the artistic team for its 2020 edition in Marseille: Katerina Chuchalina, Stefan Kalmár, Marina Otero Verzier and Alya Sebti.

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