From Kara Walker to Louise Bourgeois, New York Subway Redrawn for ‘City of Women’

In further news: calls for removal of MoMA trustee; three arrested over gold toilet heist; researchers demand German museums open up colonial inventories

Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro, ‘City of Women 2.0’, 2019. Courtesy: the artists

Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro, ‘City of Women 2.0’, 2019. Courtesy: the artists

The writers Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro have redesigned a New York City subway map to reflect a ‘city of women’. The map, named ‘City of Women 2.0’, is an updated version of Solnit and Jelly-Schapiro’s previous map printed in Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas (2016). Subway stations on the map have been renamed in honour of famous women throughout history, including prominent figures in the art world. Kara Walker is a new addition to the map and is honoured in a stop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Other new additions include the politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Cardi B and the poet Jacqueline Woodson. Elsewhere on the map, Georgia O’Keefe, Grace Jones and Louise Bourgeois are memorialized by stations in midtown Manhattan, while a station in the Upper East side is named after Peggy Guggenheim. In the West Village, stations are named after key art world figures Elaine de Kooning, Lee Krasner, and Joan Mitchell. Speaking to Gothamist, Jelly-Schapiro said: ‘Names offer really powerful signals about what we value as a society, about the histories that we avow, about the histories that we want to push under the rug and I think it’s an incredibly powerful and overdue conversation we’re having now about who are the people that we celebrate in public space and how does that shape how we experience those places.’

Multiple grassroots organizations have called for the removal of a MoMA trustee from the New York museum’s board, due to his financial links to the Puerto Rican debt crisis. Steven Tananbaum is the founding partner and chief investment officer of GoldenTree Asset Management, a hedge fund that owns more than US$2.5 billion of Puerto Rico’s debt, The Art Newspaper has reported. Tananbaum is accused of profiting from the country’s financial difficulties. Gina De Jesus, who organizes for New York Communities for Changes said: ‘The demand is to take action and remove Tananbaum. As long as he is on [MoMA’s] board, we will be at their door.’ MoMA is due to reopen to the public on Monday 21 October following a US$450 million refurbishment project, but this is the second instance in the same number of weeks of critics taking issue with one of the museum’s trustees. Last week, an open letter was published calling on Laurence Fink, CEO of Blackrock and MoMA’s trustee, to divest from private prisons.

An open letter authored by more that 100 prominent art world figures has called for German museums to allow research of their inventories, particularly concerning colonial-era objects. The letter, which was published in German newspaper Die Zeit on 17 October, has been signed by artists, museum professionals and academics, including Felwine Sarr and Bénédicte Savoy, who authored a significant report on restitution last year. On 16 October, the German government announced plans to create a centralized authority to deal with information requests from the countries of origin of colonial-era objects that are currently held in German museums, Artnet News reported. The rollout of the plan is expected to begin in the first three months of 2020. Germany’s culture minister Monika Grütters said: ‘Creating transparency is a cornerstone and an important field of action. It will be a central task of the contact point that was founded today.’ However, the authors of the letter are concerned with this approach: ‘Precisely which African art is preserved in public museums in Germany today? From which regions? Which type of objects? We want and need to know this if we want to work together on the colonial past,’ the letter reads.

Three people have been arrested over the theft of a solid gold toilet by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan. The three suspects, two men and one woman, have been arrested on suspicion of conspiring to commit a burglary and remain in custody, the BBC reported. The toilet, which has been valued at GB£4.8 million, was stolen from Blenheim Palace on 14 September and is still missing. Two men had previously been arrested on suspicion of burglary, but have since been released. A reward of GB£100,000 has been offered for the safe return of the golden toilet.

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