Partygoers Wear Blackface at Belgium’s Africa Museum

Ai Weiwei calls Germany ‘self-centred’; Greek sculptor Takis dies at 93

Courtesy: Facebook

Courtesy: Facebook

Belgium’s Africa Museum is under fire after a party was held on its grounds, in which guests wore blackface and donned pith helmets. The open-air party on Sunday – attended by about 2,000 people – was organized by an external events company called Thé Dansant. It boasted a dress code of ‘la sape, colorful, wakanda, future african’. Photos circulating on social media following the party showed one guest wearing blackface, and others in leopard skin prints and colonial garb. The controversial event is an embarrassment for the museum, which has long been held as a symbol of Belgian colonial violence – its collection packed with looted treasure and artefacts, taken from Congo during colonial-era campaigns. It reopened last year following a five-year revamp, in a bid to detoxify its racist image: its collection contextualized and redisplayed within an anti-colonial framework. The museum clarified in an online statement that, while it was not the event organizer, it had ‘misjudged this situation and should have played a greater role in imposing clear requirements and/or conditions in advance.’ It said that it was working on an ‘ethical action plan’ for upcoming events.

Ai Weiwei has described Germany as ‘self-centred’ as he prepares to leave the country. ‘There is hardly any room for open debates, hardly any respect for dissenting voices,’ the Chinese dissident artist said. ‘This country doesn’t need me because it’s so self-centred.’ The artist moved to Germany in 2015, after a period of extended house arrest in China. In an interview with the Germany daily Welt, Ai described experiences of discrimination while living in Berlin, including being thrown out of taxis. ‘Germany is not an open society. It is a society that wants to be open, but above all it protects itself. German culture is so strong that it doesn't really accept other ideas and arguments,’ he said.

The Greek sculptor Takis has died at 93. The artist’s pioneering kinetic works blended homages to ancient Cycladic forms alongside the use of industrial materials, magnetism and light. He passed away on Friday, according to Reuters. Born Panagiotis Vassilakis in Athens in 1925, Takis moved to Paris in the 1950s. A major retrospective of his work is currently on show at London’s Tate Modern, running until 27 October 2019. ‘The greatest tribute we can pay today is to continue his visionary path where, to quote Takis, ‘everything is mind and motion’,’ the Takis Foundation said in a statement.

Lawyers acting on behalf of a teenager charged with throwing a six-year-old boy from the Tate Modern’s 10th-floor viewing platform have called for psychiatric assessments, according to The Art Newspaper. The reports are to be submitted by 31 October, before the defendant enters a plea. The teenager was charged with attempted murder on 4 August. The victim is in a stable but critical condition in hospital.

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