UK Art World Braces for Impact of No Deal Brexit

In further news: Italy and France resolve diplomatic spat with Leonardo loan; Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland offers free admission in inclusivity bid

Michael Landy, Brexshit, 2019. Courtesy: the artist and Drawing Room, London

Michael Landy, Brexshit, 2019. Courtesy: the artist and Drawing Room, London

Cultural institutions across the UK are preparing for possible disruption as the 29 March deadline and prospect of a ‘no deal’ Brexit looms. The Art Newspaper reports that various galleries and arts outfits are shipping works between the European Union before the deadline. The British Council is sending works included in Cathy Wilkes’s British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale to Italy, and organizers for the Irish Pavilion are also sending works by Eva Rothschild ahead of 29 March, when the UK is due to leave the EU. Mary Cremin, commissioner and curator of the Irish Pavilion, said that the deadline had put ‘a lot of pressure’ on the artist. ‘Once Brexit has happened, there will be no guarantee that the export of artworks will not be subject to intense chaos and inevitable delays,’ gallery director Stuart Shave told the New York Times recently. Meanwhile artist and Turner Prize winner Mark Wallinger has created a new anti-Brexit poster campaign, featuring prime minister Theresa May and the words of 17th century radical Gerrard Winstanley – due to appear in billboards across London, Bristol, Manchester and Glasgow.

Following a months-long diplomatic spat, Italy has agreed to send works by Leonardo da Vinci to France, in time for an exhibition at the Louvre marking the 500th anniversary of his death. In a gesture at improving strained political relations, France has also agreed to loan works by Raphael to Italy for an exhibition in 2020 marking the 500th anniversary of his death. Italian culture minister Alberto Bonisoli commented: ‘We are very happy that France should celebrate the greatness of Leonardo – an Italian genius also appreciated by [France’s] King Francis I at whose court the artist, originally from Vinci, spent the last years of his life.’ The dispute between to the two countries over the da Vinci loan stretches back to the end of last year, when far-right Italian politican Lucia Borgonzoni complained that giving the Louvre the paintings ‘would put Italy on the margins of a major cultural event.’ French president Emmanuel Macron described the recent heated relations as ‘a misunderstanding […] There were some excessive statements, but these vicissitudes are not serious. We must get over this.’

The Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland has announced it will offer free admission for all, in a bid to commit to inclusivity. ‘Open House’, a new initiative at the museum, which attempts to build inclusivity into the institution’s working and programming structures, includes free admission, a curatorial fellowship championing diversity, and new family and youth programming. Director Jill Snyder told ArtNews: ‘We are taking what we hope is a noble approach that has a high quotient of humility, which is that we are really listening to what is going on in our community and looking structurally at our organization, meaning the staffing, the ways in which we are defining visitor engagement, and also through our programmatic choices.’

A talk by the author and activist Arundhati Roy at Chobi Mela – the photography festival in Dhaka founded by Bangladeshi photographer Shahidul Alam – had its permission revoked by police at the last minute, reportedly due to security concerns around an upcoming visit by the Bangladeshi prime minister. Roy’s event, in conversation with Alam, has now been moved to a different venue. Alam was released from prison in November 2018 after more than 3 months in jail, following his arrest for making ‘provocative statements’ during student protests in the city.

In prizes, appointments and galleries news: the Preis der Nationalgalerie, a biennial award to artists working in Germany, has announced its 2019 nominees – Pauline Curnier Jardin, Simon Fujiwara, Flaka Haliti and Katja Novitskova; Almine Rech Gallery represents the estate of artist Antoni Tàpies; artists Mawande Ka Zenzile, Dineo Seshee Bopape and Tracey Rose will represent South Africa at this year’s Venice Biennale; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has named Janet Bishop as its new chief curator; and Koyo Kouoh has been appointed executive director and chief curator of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in Cape Town.

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Janiva Ellis, Catchphrase Coping Mechanism, 2019, oil on linen, 2.2 x 1.8 m. Courtesy: the artist and 47 Canal, New York; photograph: Joerg Lohse

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