Leading Voices in the UK Art World Demand ‘People’s Vote’ on Brexit

In further news: vandalism at Denver Art Museum; LA MoCA to close Pacific Design Center; Saudi flag sculpture removed from Ground Zero

People's Vote Protesters March On Parliament, 2018. Courtesy: Getty; photograph: NurPhoto

People's Vote Protesters March On Parliament, 2018. Courtesy: Getty; photograph: NurPhoto

Leading figures in the UK’s cultural sector have come out in favour of a ‘People’s Vote’ on Brexit. Several prominent art world voices are among the 161 signatories of a letter published on 17 January in the Times, asking the leaders of the main parties ‘to support a People’s Vote’. Signatories include the managing director of Gagosian Gallery, Gary Waterston, architect David Chipperfield, director of communications at the Photographer’s Gallery Natasha Plowright, and frieze founder Matthew Slotover. The letter states that ‘the priority now is to stop us crashing out of the EU with no deal at all’ and warns that ‘politicians must not waste any more time on fantasies.’ With the looming reality of a no-deal Brexit don’t miss our report from last year on the UK’s ‘humiliation’ immigration demands and the responsibilities of the country’s arts sector.

Colorado’s Denver Art Museum have downgraded their damage estimate following a teenager’s vandalism spree last month, in which multiple artefacts were damaged. Now officials have reduced the initial loss estimate of USD$2 million down to less than USD$100,000. It was confirmed that many of the centuries-old Mayan and Chinese objects that were damaged in December could be repaired. Local police arrested 18-year old Jake Siebenlist on suspicion of felony criminal mischief in the amount of USD$1 million or more on 9 December. The initial police statement listed damage and destruction to 10 items which included a Chinese Vase with Phoenixes, a Wolf Headdress Mask and a Raven Rattle Tlingit. They were on show as part of the ‘Stampede: Animals in Art’ exhibition. Siebenlist reportedly shattered protective glass casings and threw artwork and sculptures across the room.

MoCA Los Angeles is to close its satellite space at West Hollywood’s Pacific Design Center. The arts centre, which has been staging exhibitions dedicated to architecture and design for nearly two decades, announced on 16 January that it planned to close its doors. The programming agreement between the two organizations had reached the end of its term, although it is unclear whether the decision not to renew the agreement was mutual. MoCA LA’s board chair Maria Seferian said in a statement that they were ‘proud of MOCA’s record of achievement at the PDC’ and that its architecture and design programme would now exist at two locations at downtown’s Grand Avenue and the Geffen Contemporary in Little Tokyo. The current exhibition, ‘One Day at a Time: Kahlil Joseph’s Fly Paper,’ closing on February 24, will be the centre’s last show.

A sculpture featuring the Saudi flag is being removed from the site of the 9/11 terror attack. The artwork series ‘Candy Nations’, originally created in 2011 by French artist Laurence Jenkell intended to ‘celebrate mankind’ and honour the G20 countries: it consists of a group of candy-shaped sculptures bearing the flags of each nation. But the work’s inclusion of Saudi Arabia faced criticism after the it was recently installed close to Ground Zero, with some pointing out that the majority of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi nationals. Complaints were sent to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the decision was made to remove all of the sculptures from the World Trade Center grounds, transferring them to the Kennedy Airport AirTrain system. A spokesperson for the Port Authority said: ‘this solution respects the unique sensitivities of the site and preserves the artistic integrity of the exhibit’. Responding to the artwork’s removal, Jenkell said that she had considered excluding Saudi Arabia’s flag but felt that it was not in keeping with the project’s spirit.

In awards and gallery news: Creative Capital has announced the recipients of its 2019 awards – the winning projects will each receive up to USD$50,000 in funding and USD$50,00 for career development. The Pérez Art Museum Miami has been awarded a USD$100,000 grant by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts to support their upcoming Teresita Fernández solo exhibition; Hauser & Wirth now represents the Switzerland-based foundation that oversees the estate of Georges Vantongerloo and part of Max Bill’s; independent curator Matthew Brown is opening a gallery in Hollywood on 26 January with an inaugural show by Kenturah Davis; and Victoria Miro now represents Howardena Pindell in collaboration with New York’s Garth Greenan Gallery.

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