1) Crews Demolish Ai Weiwei's Studio Without Warning
On Friday of last week, Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei announced that his studio was being demolished. According to one of Ai’s assistants, Ai’s rental contract for the space had recently expired, and the artist and his staff were in the process of removing artworks from the studio building when demolition teams began knocking in the windows. While Ai had been aware of government plans to build a commercial development in the area, it seems he was not notified that the demolitions would be taking place. The artist’s previous studio near Beijing was also demolished by the government in 2011, and while there have been no conclusive statements made, the artist and many of those close to him believe that both demolitions may have been, at least in part, a response to Ai’s noted activism against the Chinese government.
2) A Trip to Betsy DeVos' Personal McMansion Hell
Kate Wagner, architectural critic and creator of the humour blog McMansion Hell, tore into the summer home of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos on Monday. DeVos’ home, built in the “shingle style,” is a sprawling seaside New England mansion, and Wagner’s critique is both hilarious and cutting. Not pulling any punches, the McMansion Hell blogger uses Vox’s platform to call out both the messy architecture of the home, and DeVos’ political platform, reminding the reader of not only her own sizeable student loan debt, but the recent repeals, by DeVos, of Obama’s system for forgiving student loan debt incurred by those who attended for-profit colleges.
3) National Gallery Teams with Bed Company
The National Gallery in London, possibly in another museum effort to find a decent way to make a profit, has put forth a novel method for art lovers to experience great works. Teaming with British bed manufacturer Savoir Beds, and interior design expert Andrew Martin, the museum has released the National Gallery Collection -- a series of upholstered bed frames that can be printed, to the buyer’s specifications, with any of the artworks in the National Gallery’s collection. With Savoir Beds’ reputation for opulence, the beds don’t come cheap -- they range in price from around £16,000 to £30,000. For those interested, the beds are available in three choices of fine fabric, and each of the artworks is cropped to fit the dimensions of the bed without distortion.
4) Cologne Ruins Thought to be Germany's Oldest Public Library
A set of buried ruins found in Cologne, Germany, have been identified as likely the oldest public library in Germany. Cologne itself was originally founded as a Roman colony, and as such is steeped in history. The ruins in question -- a four-walled frame buried under a lot in the city -- were discovered after the owners a Protestant church broke ground in an effort to construct a new community centre. At the time of the discovery, researchers weren’t sure of the ancient building’s purpose. Recent comparisons between niches in the walls of the ruins and similar carved-out spaces in other Roman constructions, however, have led to the conclusion that these ruins were once a sizeable space for the sharing of the written word.