Cleaners Protest Sponsor of Tate Modern’s New Picasso Exhibition

In further news: a report shows significant class divide in the arts; and Helen Cammock wins Max Mara art prize


Courtesy: IWGB

Courtesy: IWGB

Cleaners from the investment firm Ernst & Young took over London’s Tate Modern over the weekend to protest a consultation over their contracts, which they fear will lead to dismissals – E&Y is the main sponsor of the gallery’s new Picasso exhibition. Security staff at the Tate said they had ‘never seen anything like this’. Members of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain began demonstrating on Saturday evening, 14 April, holding placards and handing out flyers at the gallery. The demonstration comes at a time of renewed interest in problematic sponsorship of cultural institutions – the artist Nan Goldin made headlines for her campaign against the descendants of Raymond and Mortimer Sackler, owners of the opioid-manufacturer Purdue Pharma, and those who have benefited from their philanthropy; most recently leading a protest at the Met.

A new report shows significant exclusion of people from working-class backgrounds, women and BAME workers in the creative industries. ‘Panic! Social Class, Taste and Inequalities in the Creative Industries’ claims to be ‘the first sociological study on social mobility in the cultural industries’ – a partnership between Edinburgh College of Art, the University of Sheffield, and Create, a London commissioning agency – based on a survey of 2,487 professionals in the UK's cultural industries carried out in 2015. The report also draws on longer-term data from the British Social Attitudes Survey , the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and the Office for National Statistics. ‘The report strongly suggests that meritocracy is a myth,’ writes Tom Jeffreys.

Abortion rights protesters organized a procession to time with the launch of Eva International biennial, in Limerick, Ireland. Artists’ Campaign to Repeal the Eighth Amendment marched through the town ahead of the exhibition opening, drawing attention to the 1983 amendment which affords a foetus the same rights as the woman who carries it – Ireland will hold a referendum on the wording of the amendment on 25 May. Artists Alice Maher, Sarah Cullen and Rachel Fallon, Áine Phillips and Breda Maycock designed banners for the procession. ‘We’re very aware of the power of imagery,’ Maher told the Guardian. ‘When you reclaim imagery, you take the power back.’

LA’s Watts Tower Arts Center have suspended director Rosie Lee Hooks for three weeks. The reason has not been made public, though supporters of Hooks told the LA Times it was a disciplining action after Hooks commissioned local artist Jacori Perry to make a mural of Jaz musician Charles Mingus, without proceeding through proper channels – they say her punishment is not proportionate.

Helen Cammock has won the Max Mara Art prize for Women. Cammock was awarded the prize at London’s Whitechapel Gallery last night, and as part of the prize, will take up a six-month residency in Italy next month, creating work for a solo exhibition at the gallery next year. Her winning proposal was centred around notions of emotion and female expression in Italian art. ‘It is an opportunity for space and time to focus on being an artist – this is perhaps the most significant aspect of this prize,’ Cammock said. The biennial prize began in 2005, dedicated to UK-based female artists who have not yet had a solo survey exhibition.

Jerry Saltz has won this year’s Pulitzer Prize for criticism. The senior art critic at New York Magazine, shortlisted twice before in 2001 and 2006, was selected ‘for a robust body of work that conveyed a canny and often daring perspective on visual art in America, encompassing the personal, the political, the pure and the profane,’ according to the committee. Known for his opinionated, conversational style and active presence on social media, Saltz won ahead of fellow finalists Carlos Lozada, a book critic for the Washington Post, and Manohla Dargis, The New York Times’s co-chief film critic. Read him writing in frieze in 2005 on what being an art critic actually means.

Finally, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac now represents the estate of Joseph Beuys – the artist’s family have managed the estate since he passed away in 1986. Ropac, with spaces in Salzburg, Paris, London, is now the first dealer to represent the family. The gallery’s London location will open an exhibition of Beuys’s work ‘Joseph Beuys: Utopia at the Stag Monuments’ tomorrow. ‘It is a great privilege and honour to represent the works of this visionary artist on behalf of his estate and to work closely with his family,’ the gallery said.

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