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Moscow Art Gallery’s Ingenious Solution to Stop Illegal Tours: Ban All Visitors From Talking About Art

Cate Blanchett prepares her best Marina Abramović impression; fake rabbi in Renoir heist; and Ai Weiwei declares, ‘I am a cow’: all the latest in art world silliness

Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, 2018. Courtesy: Flickr, Strelka Institute, Creative Commons; photograph: Mark Seryy

State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, 2018. Courtesy: Flickr, Strelka Institute, Creative Commons; photograph: Mark Seryy

State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, 2018. Courtesy: Flickr, Strelka Institute, Creative Commons; photograph: Mark Seryy

In a bid to stop ‘illegal’ tours, Moscow’s State Tretyakov Gallery has resorted to some rather Orwellian measures: effectively banning all visitors from discussing the artworks on display. As part of a new campaign to clamp down on uncertified tour groups, the gallery guards have been pouncing on innocent visitors – one history professor who was taking his students around the Vasily Vereshchagin exhibition complained that the guards told him that ‘groups of one to 20 people’ needed special permission to visit the gallery. The historians were so enraged that they filed a public complaint with Russia’s Culture Ministry, saying that nobody at the gallery could explain to them what a ‘one-person group’ meant.

Ai Weiwei produced more of his signature Weiwei-isms for a talk for top art collectors in Aspen, Colorado. The Chinese artist began by recounting a recent trip to a refugee camp in Bangladesh: ‘I’ve never met a group of people so pure […] They need help, but they’re not even asking for that’. Then he urged the crowd to ‘know less, care more!’ And rather mysteriously, the artist added: ‘I am a cow, rather than different cuts of meat’.

Italian police have discovered a stolen Rubens and Renoir following a heist in which a con artist posed as a rabbi. The scam involved at least eight different con artists – of which at least one claimed to unsuspecting art dealers that he was a Jewish rabbi with diplomatic immunity, and was willing to part with EUR€26 million for the paintings.

And Cate Blanchett is preparing her best Marina Abramović impression, for a new art world mockumentary. The third season of IFC’s satirical series ‘Documentary Now!’ will focus on a character which heavily draws on the Serbian performance artist. Blanchett will play Izabella Barta ‘who feels pressured to put on the show of her life’, and will reunite with a former lover, ‘an infamous provocateur of the art world.’ ‘Cate’s portrayal of an art-world superstar has her doing it all: performance art, comedy, and even her own stunts,’ IFC general manager Blake Callaway claimed. Blanchett won’t be short of inspiring material, but may we suggest the 71-year-old artist’s terrifying latest project: electrifying herself with one million volts, and creating a glass fountain of herself spouting her own blood.

In the Name of Art is our semi-regular compendium of (almost) unbelievable art world stories. Send your worst to digitaleditors@frieze.com

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