Headlines: Puryear, Casanova, Looted Artefacts
1) Martin Puryear Will Represent USA in Venice Biennale
After an anxious wait, Martin Puryear has been announced as this year’s Venice Biennale representative for the United States.The U.S. Pavilion in Venice will be curated by Brooke Kamin Rapaport, current deputy director and senior curator of the Madison Square Park Conservancy in New York. Rapaport has worked with Puryear in the past -- in 2016, the artist’s large-scale outdoor sculpture titled “Bling Bling” was shown at the Park before travelling on to Philadelphia. Puryear, 77, is known for his huge abstract sculptures, often made in wood and other natural materials, which are strictly abstract but tend to evoke imagery and concepts related to American history.
2) How to Exhibit Problematic History?
What are a museum's responsibilities when presenting elements of the past that are now considered problematic? A recent exhibition at the Legion of Honor location of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, entitled Casanova: The Seduction of Europe, could have led to public outrage in the wake of the #MeToo movement. Giacomo Casanova is an important historical figure, though he is perhaps best remembered as a womanizer. Though the museum’s exhibition intended to focus more on Casanova’s adventures and achievements, the museum opted to use the exhibition as a jumping-off point for discussions about identity, history, and how we look back on figures that did great things alongside changing views of what is and isn’t socially appropriate. It’s a conversation that’s becoming more and more of a concern for museums, and staffers are rushing to innovate in the way that they present these aspects of history.
3) Argentinian Artists Protest Vote Against Abortion Legalization
Members of Argentinian feminist art collective Nosotras Proponemos, which includes not only artists, but those in other arts-focused professions, spoke out in condemnation of the country’s vote to keep abortion illegal. The vote, which took place on August 9th, saw a 38 to 31 victory for the “no” side. The day before the vote, demonstrations in support of the bill that would legalize abortion in the country were attended by over 1 million people around the country, including numerous artists. In a statement by Nosotras Proponemos, the group says that it is “appalled” at the outcome of the vote, but remains heartened by the knowledge that its voices are finally being heard.
4) International Center of Photography Pens Letter in Support of Shahidul Alam
Shahidul Alam, a renowned Bangladeshi photographer and activist, was recently detained in retaliation for his outspoken criticism of the Bangladesh government. Some reports allege that Alam has been tortured. This week, Fred Ritchin, Dean Emeritus of the International Center of Photography, posted an open letter in support of Alam, joining thousands of people and organizations across the globe who are calling for the release of the 63-year-old photographer.
5) Sumerian Artefacts Returned to Iraq
The British Museum has returned a number of artefacts to Iraqi authorities following confirmation that the objects were looted from their home country. The objects were seized from an art dealer in 2003 and held by British Police for over a decade before the British Museum was called to help identify them and determine their provenance. The artefacts, which come from Tello, Iraq, date back as far as 4,000 years, and come from a region that was formerly an ancient Sumerian city known as Girsu. Plans have already been announced to have the objects displayed at the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad.