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Brooklyn Museum Criticized for Hiring White Woman as African Art Curator

In further news: Laura Owens’s 356 Mission space closes; John Baldessari guest-stars in The Simpsons

Brooklyn Museum, 2015. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Brooklyn Museum, 2015. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Brooklyn Museum, 2015. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

New York’s Brooklyn Museum has been criticized for appointing a white woman as its new curator of African art, with several people on social media platforms arguing that the institution should have hired a person of colour for the role. Kristen Windmuller-Luna has been named as incoming Sills Family Consulting Curator, African Art. Director Anne Pasternak commented: ‘Windmuller-Luna will assess and rethink the Brooklyn Museum’s extensive holdings of African art, which is comprised of more than 6,000 objects, and organize an innovative, freshly conceived temporary installation showcasing the breadth and depth of the collection.’ Despite Windmuller-Luna’s credentials as a historian of African arts and architecture with a Ph.D from Princeton University and lectureships at Columbia University, and previous role as Mellon Collections Research Specialist (African Arts) at the Princeton University Art Museum, several people took to Twitter to criticize the appointment. The museum’s chief curator Jennifer Chi responded: ‘Kristen is the perfect choice to build upon the Brooklyn Museum’s track record as an innovator in the collection and exhibition of the arts of Africa’.

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LA nonprofit space 356 Mission, founded by Laura Owens, gallerist Gavin Brown and bookshop owner Wendy Yao, will close. Owens and Yao commented: ‘For both personal and practical reasons, we have decided that 356 Mission is no longer sustainable, but we will continue to support open access to arts programming and the health of existing local economies.’ The space has been the recent target of anti-gentrification protests in the Boyle Heights neighbourhood. Last year Owens alleged that the protesters had resorted to aggressive techniques including leaving death threats on voicemail.

Filmmaker Saul Levine has left his professorship at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design following anonymous complaints after he screened his work Notes After Long Silence (1989) to his class – the film contains images of Levine having sex with his partner. Levine claims that MassArt administrators behaved like ’thugs’, attacking him ‘as an artist, as an educational professional, as a programmer, but mainly as an artists.’ Levine, who has been with MassArt for 39 years, claimed: ‘We’re seeing an attack on academic freedom.’

Creative Time have announced Justine Ludwig as the New York public art nonprofit’s next executive director – Ludwig previously served as deputy director and chief curator at Dallas Contemporary. Ludwig commented: ‘I have admired Creative Time, with its commitment to social justice and art within the public sphere, for many years’. Ludwig succeeds Alyssa Nitchun who has been acting director since Katie Hollander departed in June 2017. Ludwig starts the new role on 15 June.

Staff from the Tate’s four UK galleries are putting on their own exhibition, ‘Inside Job’ at Tate Modern – the exhibition is on view at Level 6 of the Blavatnik Building on the weekend of 7-8 April, with the aim of celebrating the institution’s employees who are also practising artists so that visitors ‘can discover a little more about the wonderful diverse creative staff who work at Tate’. The exhibition is partly supported by the Tate Social Fund.

The Gwangju Biennale has announced participating artists for its 2018 edition, titled ‘Imagined Borders’ (in a reference to the scholar Benedict Anderson). The exhibition runs from 7 September to 11 November and includes Leonor Antunes, Yto Barrada, Kiluanji Kia Henda, Clarissa Tossin and Ala Younis. The biennial will include new commissions by Mike Nelson, Adrián Villar Rojas, Kader Attia and Apichatpong Weerasethakul responding to the history of the South Korean city.

Gallery-share programme Condo has announced details of its inaugural Mexico City edition, running from 14 April to 12 May. Condo’s Mexico City version has been organized by joségarcía, mx, director Ana Castello – you can find the full list of participating galleries here. Meanwhile Warsaw will see gallery-share programme Friend of a Friend run from 728 April, organized by galleries Stereo and Wschód. Don’t miss Rob Sharp writing on what the collaborative exhibition model means for the art world.

And finally, artist John Baldessari is the latest in a line of cultural icons honoured with a guest appearance on The Simpsons (he joins Art Spiegelman, Frank Gehry, Thomas Pynchon and Shepard Fairey, among others) – in a recent episode, Baldessari appears in a flashback scene with a young Marge, then a news reporter, who hopes to interview him.

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