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Briefing

Miranda July curates interfaith charity shop; Trevor Paglen wants to launch world’s first space sculpture; Rashid Rana quits Lahore Biennale

Miranda July, Interfaith Charity Shop, 2017. Courtesy: Artangel and the artist; Photograph: Hugo Glendinning

Miranda July, Interfaith Charity Shop, 2017. Courtesy: Artangel and the artist; Photograph: Hugo Glendinning

Miranda July, Interfaith Charity Shop, 2017. Courtesy: Artangel and the artist; Photograph: Hugo Glendinning

Filmmaker and artist Miranda July has collaborated with arts organization Artangel and faith groups to open a 'shop within a shop, a participatory artwork and unexpected retail experience' inside London’s Selfridges, selling second-hand books, clothes and toys. July’s ‘interfaith charity shop' is the first of its kind for the UK, and for LA-based July, a celebration of the country’s charity shop culture, as well as a point of deep contrast within the luxury department store – she’s invited religious charities Islamic Relief, Jewish charity Norwood, the London Buddhist Centre and the Spitalfields Crypt Trust, to work with her, and they've also provided staff members to run the shop. It runs until 22 October.

It’s been a terrible week with Hurricane Harvey – the costliest natural weather incident in recorded history for the US – leaving a trail of destruction across Houston and surrounding areas. The National Endowment for the Humanities in the US has pledged USD$1million in emergency grants to cultural institutions in disaster zones to aid recovery and preservation efforts. ‘NEH has designated these funds to support the people in Texas and Louisiana in their efforts to protest the historic materials that document their invaluable contributions to American culture’, said Acting Chairman Jon Parrish Peede in a statement.

Jochen Volz has been named as the recipient of the 2017 Agnes Gund Curatorial Award by the New York-based organization Independent Curators International. Volz was recently appointed general director of the Pinacoteca de São Paulo and curated the Brazilian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale this year. Previously, he was head of programming at the Serpentine Galleries in London. Volz will be presented with the award at the ICI’s annual benefit on 25 October.

Trevor Paglen is teaming up with the Nevada Museum of Art to launch a crowdfunder for his Orbital Projector. They’ve set a USD$70,000 goal on Kickstarter – with total funds needed for the project amounting to USD$1.3 million – aiming to become ‘the first artist-museum team to launch a sculptural satellite into space’, and the first satellite ’to exist purely as an artistic gesture'. A diamond-shaped silver balloon will be launched via a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the sculpture released 350 miles from Earth, and circling for two months, reflecting light brightly back to earth. Paglen is working with aerospace expert Zia Oboodiyat to realize the work, which carries no commercial, military or scientific purpose – it’s a public sculpture, ‘a satellite that belongs to everyone’.

Several Berlin artists are concerned about the fate of their workspaces following the EUR€30 million sale of the Uferhallen complex, which includes the studios of Monica Bonvicini and Katharina Grosse. The set of studios, housed in a former bus depot to the north of the German capital, had been owned by the city of Berlin until 2006, when it was sold to a joint-stock company. According to local reports, the new owners of the building include investment company Augustus Capital and Oliver and Marc Samwer of venture capital firm Rocket Internet.

Rashid Rana has resigned as artistic director of the first Lahore Biennale over ‘differing views of the vision’. The exhibition was slated to open in November 2017 – the largest contemporary art event in Pakistan – but has since been postponed. Earlier this year, Nick Merriman, spokesperson for the New North and South project which sees key UK cultural institutions collaborating with South Asian biennials, spoke to us about how the inaugural Lahore exhibition was aiming to evolve a mapping of the city through ‘politically engaged, spatially distributed art’. The Lahore Biennale Foundation clarified that concepts devised by Rana for the event were his intellectual property and would not be used in the upcoming event.

The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, has finalized plans for its satellite venue, the Momentary, situated in a former Kraft Foods cheese plant. The space is slated to open in 2020. Wheeler Kearns Architects will transform the site into a platform for the museum’s artist-in-residence programme. Belgian musicologist Lieven Bertels has been appointed as director of the Momentary.

The resignation of an Oxford University professor, Bo Rothstein, from the university’s Blavatnik School of Government, claiming that the school’s patron is a financial backer of US president Donald Trump, has put the patronage of academic and cultural institutions under the spotlight. Ukrainian-born billionaire Leonard Blavatnik donated GBP£75 million to Oxford University to set up the Blavatnik School of Government. Rothstein resigned earlier this week after discovering that Blavatnik had also made a sizeable donation to Trump’s inauguration – he described the action as ‘incomprehensible and irresponsible’. A spokesman for Blavatnik claims that the donation of USD$1 million was only to the inauguration committee – a joint congressional committee organizing events during inauguration week. Blavatnik was also a major patron of the Tate Modern’s recent extension, which opened last year – also named in honour of the oligarch’s gift. You can read Liberate Tate activist Mel Evans writing in frieze on how all our ethics are at stake in the gallery, and how major art institutions are able to sell on the guise of social acceptability.

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