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European Court of Human Rights Orders Russia to Pay Pussy Riot USD$55,000 For Violating Their Human Rights

In further news: Lothar Baumgarten dies at 74; Decolonize This Place plan Whitney protest; Italy demands return of Getty Bronze

Pussy Riot, 2012. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Pussy Riot, 2012. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Pussy Riot, 2012. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

The Russian government has been ordered by the European Court of Human Rights to pay members of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot USD$55,000 in compensation for their 2012 jailing. Three Pussy Riot members – Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich – were sentenced to jail in March 2012 for two years on charges of hooliganism after staging an anti-Kremlin performance art piece, ‘Punk Prayer’, in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. Samutsevich was released on appeal in October 2012, while Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova were both pardoned in December 2013. The initial ECHR ruling in July declared that their sentencing was ‘exceptionally severe’ and a violation of their human rights. Russia then appealed, but the court upheld the original ruling on 4 December.

Italy’s highest court has ruled that Los Angeles’s J. Paul Getty Museum must return a prized 2,000-year-old bronze sculpture. The museum has been told to give Italy back the Statue of a Victorious Youth (300-100 BCE). The legal battle to determine the fate of the bronze statue has been running for more than a decade, but on Monday, Italy’s Court of Cassation rejected the Getty’s appeal and ruled that the statue should be confiscated and brought back to Italy. Lorenzo D’Ascia, a lawyer representing the Italian government, told The New York Times: ‘It was a very, very long process, but we now hope that we will be able to have it in Italy as soon as possible.’ In 1964, an Italian fisherman retrieved the sculpture from international waters off the Adriatic coast – after changing hands, it was bought by the museum in 1977 for close to USD$4 million. The Getty has argued that because the statue is of Greek origin (attributed to the sculptor Lysippos), it cannot be considered an Italian object for repatriation. However, Italian officials have argued that it does belong to Italy, ruling that the object was discovered in Italian waters, and then illegally smuggled out of the country without the required export license. The Getty Museum are planning to ‘continue to defend our legal right to the statue.’

Decolonize This Place protestors are planning to stage an action at the Whitney Museum over vice chairman Warren B. Kanders’s ownership of tear gas producers Safariland. The activist group is organizing an assembly at the museum this Sunday 9 December, calling attention to the use of Safariland tear gas against asylum seekers at the US-Mexico border. Earlier this week almost 100 museum staffers published an open letter calling for the museum to take action against Kanders, saying ‘to remain silent is to be complicit’. Kanders responded saying that he was not responsible ‘for the decision to use these products’. Ahead of their protest, Decolonize This Place have stated that ‘the entire institution of the Whitney faces a broad crisis of legitimacy.’

The architect Rem Koolhaas has suggested that the West is failing to keep up with key conversations and debates in urbanism due to its prejudice towards authoritarian countries. Koolhaas, who says he ‘believes deeply in democracy’, commented on what he saw as the West’s pessimistic approach to architectural projects completed in China, Russia and the Arabic-speaking world. At a keynote speech at the World Architecture Festival in Amsterdam, the architect said: ‘In China, there’s a very authoritarian regime that is doing wonderful things in many ways for its citizens.’ Koolhaas argued: ‘We are unable to be both critical and have sympathy,’ and called on Western architects to undo their ‘sense of innate superiority’, Dezeen reports.

The German conceptual artist Lothar Baumgarten has passed away at the age of 74. Baumgarten’s death was confimed by his gallery, Marian Goodman. Born in Rheinsburg in 1944, Baumgarten studied with Joseph Beuys in the late 1960s at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. Spanning the moving image, installation, sculpture and text, his work often drew on ideas around knowledge flows, colonialism and indigeneity, winning the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 1984. His 1993 installation America: Invention covered various parts of the New York’s Guggenheim Museum with the names of Native American tribes, and then embedded the text ‘borrowed land for sale’ in the floor of the Guggenheim’s atrium. ‘You cannot reflect your own society unless you know a society that is remote from it,’ he said in 1988.

And finally, the Hammer Museum has named Myriam Ben Salah and Lauren Mackler as curators of the fifth edition of its Made in L.A. biennial. Ben Salah and Mackler will co-organize the show around emerging artists in LA, set to take place from June to September 2020. Hammer director Ann Philbin commented of the curators: ‘They are both deeply engaged with the contemporary art scene in Los Angeles, so we’re eager to see the fresh perspectives they bring to Made in L.A. 2020.’ Ben Salah, currently editor-in-chief of Kaleidoscope Magazine, was the guest curator of this year’s Abraaj Group Art Prize in Dubai. Mackler is the founder of creative space Public Fiction and managing editor of Sublevel magazine.

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