Briefing

SUPERFLEX to tackle Tate Modern's Turbine Hall; Trump targets arts and humanities endowments; LD50 closes its doors following protests

Poster designed by SUPERFLEX for their exhibition 'Euphoria Now', 2015, Von Bartha, Basel. Courtesy: the artists

Poster designed by SUPERFLEX for their exhibition 'Euphoria Now', 2015, Von Bartha, Basel. Courtesy: the artists

Poster designed by SUPERFLEX for their exhibition 'Euphoria Now', 2015, von Bartha, Basel. Courtesy: the artists

  • SUPERFLEX, a Danish collective founded in 1993 by artists Bjørnstjerne Christiansen, Jakob Fenger and Rasmus Nielsen, will undertake the next Hyundai commission for the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern, London. The group are known for their socially engaged projects, one of which, Euro (2012), a billboard depicting a one Euro coin with its denomination erased, is currently hanging on the side of London’s Southbank Centre (until 28 March). Frances Morris, the newly appointed director of Tate Modern, commented on the timely questions that SUPERFLEX raise as to the position of the artist in contemporary society, adding: ‘I can’t wait to see how they tackle these themes within the unique scale and public context of Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall.’ SUPERFLEX will open their commission on 3 October.
     
  • President Donald Trump's first federal budget plan, which was released early on Thursday morning, includes a proposal for the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. It is the first time that the endowments have come under threat from a president since 1965 when they were first established by Lyndon B. Johnson, who, upon signing the legislation, declared that any ‘advanced civilization’ must fully value the arts. While, as The New York Times reports, the combined annual budgets of the endowments amount to just USD$300 million, a fraction of the yearly discretionary spending, they have proved a vital lifeline for artists, writers and scholars over the years. Trump has also proposed eliminating the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
     
  • The art space LD50 in east London, which recently came under fire following an exhibition of the imagery adopted by the so-called ‘alt-right’ and a related symposium involving various far-right speakers, has been forced to close. The space, which was run by Lucia Diego, was repeatedly challenged by the campaign Shut Down LD50, which also organized a demonstration outside the gallery on 25 February. A representative of the local activist group Stand up to Racism told the Hackney Post newspaper: ‘It’s a real victory for anti-racism and people who want to promote tolerance. […] Despite living a really diverse area we still have to be vigilant.  We have to make sure we send a clear message against this kind of thing.’ To read ‘Culture Wars’, a frieze survey asking how the artistic community should respond when an art space associates itself with right-wing sentiment, click here.
     
  • South African artist Zwelethu Mthethwa has been convicted of murdering a sex worker named Nokuphila ‘Ntombi’ Kumalo in 2013, and will be sentenced on 29 March. Towards the end of 2016, the Iziko South African National Gallery (ISANG) and The New Church Museum came under fire for including a 2012 photograph by Mthethwa in their collaborative exhibition, ‘Our Lady’, which tackled the subject of the female figure in art. Activists from the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT), the driving force behind the protests against ‘Our Lady’, were present in the courtroom when the verdict was delivered. Speaking to Hyperallergic, the director of the collective Sally Shackelton expressed how encouraging the sentencing was, adding: ‘We have been monitoring the case for a number of years – it’s a relief that we finally have an outcome, and that it is a positive one for sex workers.’
     
  • Dineo Seshee Bopape has won this year’s Future Generation Art Prize, an award for artists up to 35 years of age that was founded by the Victor Pinchuk Foundation in 2009. Bopape, who will receive an USD$100,000 (USD$40,000 of which will go towards a new work) was selected from a shortlist of 21 artists, including Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Sol Calero, Asli Çavuşoğlu, Andy Holden, Martine Syms and Kemang Wa Lehulere. An additional USD$20,000 will support a residency for Special Prize winner Phoebe Boswell, a Kenya-born artist who lives and works in the UK.

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