Briefing

Tate announces record visitor numbers, documenta artists defend its curators, Zeitz MOCAA to open

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Interior of the Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town, designed by Thomas Heatherwick. Courtesy: Thomas Heatherwick Studios

Interior of the Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town, designed by Thomas Heatherwick. Courtesy: Thomas Heatherwick Studios

Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art has announced Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy as its new Director. Assuming the role next year, the Mexico-born curator takes over from Defne Ayas, who has served at the Rotterdam institution since 2012. Hernández Chong Cuy has held the position of curator of contemporary art at the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros since 2011. She has also curated independent exhibitions such as ‘The Neighbors’ (2016−17), an exhibition series at the Bronx Museum of the Arts in New York, and a survey exhibition of Mario Garcia Torres at Museo Tamayo in Mexico City, where she served as director from 2009−2010. Hernández Chong Cuy was artistic director and chief curator of the ninth Mercosul Biennial in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 2013, as well as serving as one of Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev’s  ‘agents’ for dOCUMENTA (13) in 2012. Witte de With is due to undergo a name change sometime next year to remove reference to the 17th-century Dutch naval officer Witte Corneliszoon de With who managed violent expeditions for the Dutch East India Company.

More than 200 artists who participated in documenta 14 have signed a letter of solidarity with the financially beleaguered quinquennial. It follows the curatorial team’s own open letter responding to the news that the organization ran €7 million over budget in producing the 14th iteration of the exhibition, held this year in both Athens and Kassel. In an email circulated on Monday artists including Emily Jacir, Geta Brătescu, Susan Hiller, Jonas Mekas and William Pope.L denounced what they called the ‘ancient financial warfare technique’ of ‘shaming through debt,’ adding: ‘these terms of assessment have nothing to do with what the curators have made possible, and what the artists have actually done within this exhibition.’

Former White Cube employee and founder of the Professional Organization for Women in the Arts (POWarts), Sara Kay, has announced the opening of her eponymous gallery in New York. The space is set in a 19th-century townhouse which has been home to Rivington Arms (2001–09) and most recently to American Contemporary (2011–15). Located on 4 East 2nd Street the inaugural exhibition opening 28 September, will show work from the collection of Audrey Heckler, which Kay describes as ‘one of the greatest collections of Outsider art in private hands,’ featuring the likes of James Castle, Aloïse Corbaz, Madge Gill, Martín Ramírez, and Adolf Wölfli.

The much anticipated Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art (MOCAA), opens on Friday in Cape Town. Designed by Thomas Heatherwick the institution has been billed as Africa’s largest museum with more than 80 exhibition spaces around an atrium carved in the shape of a single grain, a reference to the former grain silo’s past life. The opening weekend, 22–25 September, sees solo shows by African artists including Zimbabwean artist Kudzanai Chiurai, Angolan photographer Edson Chagas, and South African sculptor Nandipha Mntambo, as well as the exhibition ‘All Things Being Equal,’ a survey of contemporary artists working on the continent. The majority of the museum’s collection is on long-term loan from Jochen Zeitz, the former CEO of Puma.

Tate recorded its highest visitor figures, 8.4 million across its four sites – the most in a single year. At Tate Britain, David Hockney with close to 480,000 visitors was the second most popular show in Tate’s history after ‘Matisse: The Cut-Outs’, which drew in more than 560,000 viewers. Tate’s numbers were largely due to the opening of the Switch House, now known as the Blavatnik Building following the billion philanthropist Len Blavatnik’s GBP£50 million donation, which saw more than 1 million visitors in its opening month last Summer.

Documentary photographer Martin Parr will open his foundation in Bristol to the public, at the end of October with a show of his works, ‘Black Country Stories’. The Martin Parr Foundation will allow visitors the chance to see his growing collection of photographs by fellow British and Irish photographers, including Chris Killip, Tony Ray-Jones and Roger Mayne and images of the UK taken by international photographers, such as Bruce Davidson and Gilles Peress. Established three years ago, the part sale and part gift of 12,000 photobooks to the Tate, announced last week, means that the purpose-built space in Bristol’s Paintworks complex, comprising a studio, gallery, library and archive space, will be able to organize exhibitions, hold seminars and host researchers.

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