Could Paris Become a Safe Space for Artworks Threatened in Conflict Zones?

In further news: Yinka Shonibare organizes exhibition to resist extreme right-wing politics; Bjørn Nørgaard completes tomb for Danish queen

Anne Hidalgo, 2012. Courtesy: Flickr; PS

Anne Hidalgo, 2012. Courtesy: Flickr; PS

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo would like to see her city become a sanctuary for artworks endangered by conflict zones. Hidalgo’s controversial plan involves partnering with the International Alliance for the Protection for Heritage in Conflict Areas and Crédit Municipal de Paris, to provide storage space – according to a report in Le Figaro. But the mayor’s plan is not without its critics, who argue that heritage sites within the city should be prioritized, according to the Art Newspaper. Hidalgo’s vision follows on from debate within the country about France’s postcolonial responsibilities and the role of art restitution – president Emmanuel Macron is pushing for the return of African artworks currently housed in French museums to their respective nations.

Cannes Film Festival opens today, and as usual, features a marked lack of female representation – only three of the 17 films in the main competition were directed by women. Director Thierry Frémaux commented: ‘I’m a supporter of positive discrimination in everyday life, but not in the selection process of Cannes. Filmmakers want to be considered as artists.’ The festival is also conspicuous this year for its lack of Netflix participation, which removed its titles for consideration after being told that all competition films must receive theatrical distribution first.

Last November brought news of the conviction for money laundering of Bernardo Paz, founder of Brazil’s art museum Inhotim – Paz received money into an account set up abroad for arts donations, with some then funnelled to his mining conglomerate. A new BBC feature looks into the future of the museum, which was once entirely funded by Paz – and reports that its future seems secure even without its founder.

New York’s Dia Art Foundation has announced six new trustees, which include artists Lorna Simpson and Will Ryman as well as education advocate Carol T. Finley and collector Jahanaz Jaffer. ‘We are thrilled to be adding a diversity of leading voices in the fields of art, philanthropy, and business to our board,’ director Jessica Morgan said.

Yinka Shonibare is organizing an exhibition, ‘Talisman in the Age of Difference’ at London’s Stephen Friedman Gallery, which aims to resist ‘the resurgence of extreme right-wing politics and xenophobia across the globe,’ by bringing together over 40 artists from Africa and the diaspora. Artists will include Faith Ringgold, David Hammons and Larry Achiampong. ‘This is a time of affirmative difference; we cannot shy away from the historical context of our identities […] #Me Too and Black Lives Matter are celebrations of difference, survival and necessary acknowledgements of the diversity of society,’ Shonibare says. The exhibition runs from 5 June to 21 July.

And finally, a sarcophagus for Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II has been unveiled, designed by Danish artist Bjørn Nørgaard. Supported by pillars of Danish granite, Faroese basalt and Greenlandic marble, the tomb itself has been constructed out of glass – ‘Power has become transparent, or one could say, should be,’ the artist told a local newspaper. Nørgaard made his name for his The Horse Sacrifice performance in 1970 in which he killed a horse, and then carved it up to preserve in hundreds of jam jars – in an apparent protest against the violence of the Vietnam war. ‘If anything evokes pity when it involves human beings, it always evokes more pity when it involves animals. But we can only live if we recognise death,’ the artist said years later. 

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