Okwui Enwezor Hits Back at HdK; Calls ‘Shocking’ Pulling of Joan Jonas Show ‘Disrespectful’
In further news: MoMA reaches contract agreement with staff; man hospitalized after falling into Anish Kapoor installation
Okwui Enwezor has rejected claims by Haus der Kunst that he is responsible for their current financial difficulties. The museum’s former artistic director, who left his position in June due to ill health, has defended himself against accusations of financial mismanagement levelled by HdK. The museum recently announced it was cancelling a planned Joan Jonas exhibition, due to open in November, because of ‘a difficult financial situation stemming from management errors of the past’ but Enwezor believes there was nothing wrong with the finances up to the end of 2017, saying that reading news of the cancellation of the Jonas show was: ‘one of the most shocking things in my professional experience.’ However, according to Bernhard Spies, HdK’s commercial director, financial shortfalls amounting to a deficit of EUR€500,000 are a direct result of Enwezor’s ambitious programming. In an interview with Spiegel, Enwezor called it ‘frightening’ to hear that the museum wants to hire a new director who ‘must speak German’, adding, ‘they brought me from New York and hired me, even though it was known that I don’t speak German. I believe that for the people who now demand that I speak German, it’s not simply about communication but about something else.’
MoMA staff have reached an agreement with the museum’s administration following months of protests over pay and working conditions. The new contract includes increasing wages by 3%, updates to health care benefits and also perseveres the seniority step programme that provides raises for employees after a certain period of time. Other benefits include paid family leave, tuition benefits and commissions for employees in MoMA’s retail and visitor engagement departments which currently employs around 250 people. The updated contract comes after 122 days of discussion between the museum and the union who had staged a number of protests including ‘Party in the Garden’ during the museum’s gala in May.
A censored exhibition of queer art in Brazil has reopened to record-breaking attendance figures after raising USD$250,000 in a crowdfunding campaign. The show, which reopened last weekend at Rio di Janeiro’s private School of Visual Arts of Parque Lage, saw 5,000 visitors for its opening day, and 3,000 through the door on the following day. The exhibition, which featured works by artists including Lygia Clark and Adriana Varejã, was closed early at the Santander Cultural Centre in Porto Alegre following complaints that works in the show were blasphemous, indecent and promoted ‘immorality’ from conservative critics. It was one of many incidents of censorship condemned last October in an open letter by Brazilian artists and professionals who rallied against ‘the rise of hate, intolerance and violence against freedom of expression in the arts and education.’ Read our survey of respondents here.
Visits by children to cultural attractions in the UK has fallen by 7% due to terrorism fears. According to a report from the tourism body, the decrease in child admissions to sites in London and the South Eastern region is due to security fears. The report also shows that 2017 saw a fall in visits by schools, the fourth year in which the numbers have dropped. The figures are based on a survey of responses from 1,400 English visitors and include Tate Modern, the National Gallery as well as smaller regional venues. However, despite UK terror attacks, overseas visits remained stable, with an increase in inbound visits upwards of 4% when compared against 2016.
The start of construction for Berlin’s new Museum of the Twentieth Century has been delayed to 2019, the German minister of state for the cultural affairs, Monika Grütters, has announced; in turn delaying its original 2021 completion date. Overseen by Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron, responsible for Tate Modern’s Switch House in London, the museum design was criticised by the public following a open competition in 2016, with some saying it looked like a branch of German discount supermarket chain Aldi. Grütters said the architects had revised the plans and that the new design, which will presented this autumn, will decrease the size of the museum by 18%. Yet the cost of the new institution may still rise above the allocated EUR€220 million.
Studio space in London has increased, according to new research commissioned by London mayor Sadiq Khan. 39 artist workspaces closed between 2014 and 2017 while 52 new sites were created, however, the research also shows studio space is becoming more expensive. In 2015, only 56% of sites charged more than GBP£11 per square foot a year compared wuth 79% of sites in 2017. The research comes as a result of the London mayor’s office expressing concern over the shortage of affordable studios and the widespread concern that this, coupled with rising rents, threatens the creative future of London.
In Gallery News: The Regina Gouger Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University has announced that it will reopen as the Miller Institute for Contemporary Art with current director Elizabeth Chodos leading the rebrand; Artist-run non-profit organization Green Lantern Press to close its headquarters at Chicago’s Sector 2337 and continue curatorial and publishing activities remotely.
In Appointments: The New Museum has announced Regan Grushy in the newly created role of Vice President of Strategic Partnerships; Christina Nielsen has been appointed Director of Art Collections at The Huntington, San Marino, LA; Artist and researcher John Hampton will join the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina, Canada, as new director of programmes; Marnie Weir has been appointed Director of Education and Experience at The Worcester Art Museum, Massachusetts.
And finally … A man had to be rushed to hospital after falling into an Anish Kapoor installation. The man had been visiting the artist’s exhibition at the Serralves museum in Porto where he stumbled upon the installation, which features a 2.5-metre-deep hole. A spokesman for the museum says that the injured visitor, who is reportedly Italian and around 60 years old, is ‘almost ready to return home.’ The work in question is titled Descent into Limbo (1992) and features a circular hole in the centre of the floor which is coated with the special material Vantablack – described as ‘the blackest material in the universe, after a black hole’, which the artist holds the exclusive rights to use – to give the illusion of depthlessness.