Musée de l’Elysée Suspends Prize over Censorship of Palestinian Artist

SWITZERLAND — Introduced in 2010 to support young photographers, the prestigious €25,000 Lacoste Elysée Prize is awarded by the Swiss Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne, Switzerland, with sponsorship from Lacoste — until last Wednesday, when the Musée de l’Elysée announced its decision to suspend the organization of the Lacoste Elysée Prize 2011, in response to the decision of the organizers to exclude the work of Palestinian artist Larissa Sansour.

News of the disqualification came after a day of worldwide comment and conjecture on Web sites, blogs, and Twitter, following the decision by Lacoste management to withdraw Bethlehem-born Sansour’s photography project, “Nation Estate,” from the shortlist of eight nominees. With only a brief statement issued early on Wednesday relating that Sansour’s work was deemed inappropriate for the show (themed “Joie de Vivre”), the silence from the host institution and the French brand only fueled speculation and possible motivations for the artist’s sudden disqualification.

That night, then, a Musée de l’Elysée spokeswoman announced that the insitution was dissolving its relationship with Lacoste as a result of Sansour’s removal.

“The Musée de l’Elysée has decided to suspend the organization of the Lacoste Elysée Prize 2011,” read the statement. “Each nominee had carte blanche to interpret the theme in which ever way they favored, in a direct or indirect manner, with authenticity or irony, based upon their existing work or as an entirely new creation…The Musée de l’Elysée has based its decision on the private partner’s wish to exclude Larissa Sansour, one of the prize nominees. We reaffirm our support to Larissa Sansour for the artistic quality of her work and her dedication. For 25 years, the Musée de l’Elysée has defended with strength artists, their work, freedom of the arts and of speech. With the decision it has taken today, the Musée de l’Elysée repeats its commitment to its fundamental values.”

Sansour, 38, is widely known for her intense, politically-charged, and often wry video works exploring aspects of Palestinian identity and notions of statehood, within the present-day reality of Israeli occupation. “I can only speculate as to Lacoste’s reasons [for my disqualification],” Sansour has said, “but fearing bad press for coming out as pro-Palestinian seems a very likely interpretation.”

December 23, 2011

Park Avenue Armory Appoints Its First Artistic Director

MANHATTAN — No longer merely the fusty home of antiques shows, the Park Avenue Armory has recently unveiled art installations, staged dramas, presented operas and concerts and served as an outpost of the Whitney Biennial. Now it has taken another major step on the road to being a major player on the arts scene by announcing on Wednesday the appointment its first artistic director, Alex Poots, who runs the Manchester International Festival in England. And it is giving him cash to spend in an effort to ramp up its offerings and carve out a stronger personality as a presenter of art, not just a rental hall.

The armory plans to more than triple its budget for artistic productions, to $5 million by 2013, Mr. Poots’s first season. The amount is minuscule compared with the budgets of Carnegie Hall, the Metropolitan Opera or the Museum of Modern Art. But the works it presents in its 55,000-square-foot Drill Hall can be accommodated in few other places in the world. With the armory, New York City is finally getting the kind of cultural space that just a handful of other cities have, spaces like the Cartoucherie, a former arms factory in Paris; the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern in London; the Arsenale in Venice; and the Jahrhunderthalle (Centennial Hall), part of a former steel mill in Bochum, Germany.

While its programming grows, the armory is undergoing $200 million in work that is a combination renovation and restoration, modernizing the building while maintaining its 1881 décor and romantic air of faded grandeur.

“It’s a remarkable space,” said Joseph Polisi, the president of the Juilliard School, noting it allows a rare melding of the visual arts, music, dance and theater. “It would really add a major dimension to the performing arts palate of New York City.”

December 23, 2011

Merce Cunningham Dance Company to Give Last-Ever Performance on New Year’s Eve

MANHATTAN — The Merce Cunningham Dance Company, founded in 1953, has consistently given performances that have caused some members of the audience to walk out. Cunningham’s pioneering form of dance theater has kept confronting people — even his admirers — with one challenge after another. Since his death in 2009 these confrontations have continued. His company this week draws to the end of a two-year Legacy Tour, giving its last-ever performance on New Year’s Eve. Some Cunningham works will be revived by other companies but without dancers specifically trained to the choreographer’s taxing, technical requirements, it is likely that much will be lost.

Celebrating Cunningham’s lifetime of artistic achievement, the Legacy Tour, showcases seminal works from throughout Cunningham’s career, and has offered audiences around the world a final opportunity to see Cunningham’s choreography performed by the company he personally trained. Encompassing 60 engagements in nearly 50 cities, the Legacy Tour has brought MCDC to new destinations around the world, and has included performances at venues throughout Europe and the United States that have been pivotal in showcasing the Company for the past 50 years.

A total of 18 works have been presented during the Legacy Tour, including seven newly revived pieces, many of which had not been performed for decades. The tour repertory has highlighted the artistic collaborations that characterized Cunningham’s creative life, including his work with visual artists Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Mark Lancaster, and Andy Warhol, and musicians John Cage—Cunningham’s long-time collaborator and life partner—David Tudor, Takehisa Kosugi, Gavin Bryars, Brian Eno, Radiohead, and Sigur Rós, among others.

The Tour will culminate with a New Year’s Eve performance in New York City—MCDC’s home since it was founded in 1953—on December 31, 2011. As outlined in the Legacy Plan, the Company will disband following this final performance.

December 22, 2011

John Chamberlain Dies at 84

MANHATTAN — American sculptor and pioneer of large-scale, contorted, AbEx automobile art, John Chamberlain, was pronounced dead at 84 on Wednesday night. His wife, Prudence Fairweather, declined to give a cause of death. Though Chamberlain died in Manhattan, he mostly spent his final years in and around his home on Shelter Island, NY.

Born in Rochester, Ind., the son of a tavern keeper but raised mostly by his grandmother after his parents divorced, Mr. Chamberlain made his first sculptural works out of welded iron, in thrall to the Abstract Expressionist sculptor David Smith. But in the late 1950s he discovered that automotive detritus was both plentiful and already covered in wonderfully weathered paint that looked as if Willem de Kooning himself had put it there.

Chamberlain’s subsequent half-century career spanned a vast array of materials, from foam rubber to brown paper bags. He returned again and again, however, to the more substantial stuff of the scrap yard, explaining the attraction as one of practicality. “I saw all this material just lying around against buildings, and it was in color,” he said, “so I felt I was ahead on two counts.”

Critics often saw his crumpled Cadillacs and Oldsmobiles as dark commentaries on the costs of American freedom, but Mr. Chamberlain rejected such metaphorical readings. He turned to making sculpture from other things partly because he grew so tired of the automotive associations. “It seems no one can get free of the car-crash syndrome,” he told curator Julie Sylvester in 1986. “For 25 years I’ve been using colored metal to make sculpture, and all they can think of is, ‘What the hell car did that come from?’”

Mr. Chamberlain felt that even the word “sculpture” was limiting in describing art that, while functioning in three dimensions, could be made from almost anything. “A sculpture is something that if it falls on your foot, it will break it,” he said.

December 22, 2011

NYPD Criticized for Handling of Investigation in Brooklyn Artist’s Death

NYC—Shortly after midnight on October 19th, 30-year-old Brooklyn-based Canadian artist Mathieu Lefèvre was cycling along Morgan Avenue near the corner of Meserole Street when he was struck and killed by the driver of a turning flatbed truck. The case surrounding the fatal hit-and-run by the NYPD’s Accident Investigation Squad has raised eyebrows—the driver’s claim that he never saw Lefèvre was taken at face value, despite apparent evidence to the contrary—and now Steve Vaccaro, the attorney for Lefèvre’s family, has published a letter accusing the police department of mishandling their investigation and losing crucial evidence.

The four-page letter sent by Vaccaro—whose colleague in a class action lawsuit on behalf of cyclists against the NYPD we interviewed back in June—to Sergeant Matthew Bono of the NYPD’s Highway Patrol Unit number 2 in Flatbush underlines inconsistencies in the AIS’s accident report and conflicting accounts of how Lefèvre was struck by driver Leonardo Degianni.

Perhaps most damning, Vaccaro points out that invaluable evidence such as the blood and paint marks on the truck’s bumper were allowed to wash away in subsequent rains before being recorded, as was Lefèvre’s helmet.

As Streetsblog points out, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes will still have a chance to review the AIS report and determine whether or not Degianni should be charged with knowingly leaving the scene of a crash, but at present he faces no charges

December 21, 2011

New budget plan cuts NEA and NEH 5.6% but boosts Smithsonian

WASHINGTON—The National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities each will see a 5.6% budget reduction in fiscal 2012 under a spending bill passed Friday in the House that’s expected to prevent a feared government shutdown. Under the bill, each agency would have $146.3 million to spend during the budget year that began in October, down from $155 million. It’s the second cut this year for the two grant-making agencies, which began 2011 with budgets of $167.5 million. The combined cuts now total 12.7%.

Americans for the Arts, the national advocacy group that lobbies to maximize arts spending -– or at least to minimize arts-spending cuts -– said that $146.3 million is what President Obama had penciled in in his original budget proposal for the NEA and the NEH, representing a compromise between the $155 million suggested by the Senate and the $135 million proposed by the House during earlier subcommittee negotiations over the budget.

The Smithsonian Institution’s operating budget would rise a smidgen, from $636.1 million to $636.5 million, and its budget for capital improvements would rise from $125 million to $175 million, partly to accommodate the 2012 start of construction on the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

December 21, 2011

University of Utah charts new course for struggling Middle East Center

UTAH—The University of Utah is restructuring its once-prestigious Middle East Center (MEC) rather than pulling the plug on what has become a source of campus tension and embarrassment.  College of Humanities Dean Robert Newman on Tuesday named two respected U. scholars as interim co-directors — political scientist Kirk Jowers, director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics, and historian Robert Goldberg, director of the Tanner Humanities Center. They will run the center for two years, after which a permanent leader will be found.

Simmering friction between the center’s senior leadership and Newman boiled over nearly four years ago resulting in the ouster of two veteran faculty members and resignations of its director and associate director. Under a new director, the center’s bid to renew its federal grant last year failed. U. administrators later fired Bahman Baktiari in a plagiarism scandal, leaving the center rudderless earlier this year and renewing tensions between the dean and the MEC faculty.

Among changes unveiled Tuesday, administrators will suspend the graduate program and do away with joint faculty appointments, meaning the scholars most identified with the 51-year-old center will return to their home departments. The goal, according to officials, is not to marginalize MEC’s old guard, but to broaden its interdisciplinary reach.

The move also shifts salary obligations from the center, which exhausted its finances under Baktiari’s leadership. MEC faculty have typically come from departments of political science, anthropology, languages and history.

December 21, 2011

Napa Valley vintner and friend give UC Davis $10 million for new art museum

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA AT DAVIS — Last Friday, UC Davis announced that Jan Shrem of Clos Pegase winery in Calistoga, and his long-time friend, arts patron Maria Manetti Farrow, have made gift of $10 million to the University of California at Davis to help fund a new art museum.

The Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Farrow Museum of Art, slated for completion in 2015, will provide approximately 40,00 square feet of space for galleries, seminars, research and public gatherings, according to the UC Davis announcement.

Though the University does display work in three smaller galleries, there is currently no fully-fledged museum on-campus.

Shrem’s longstanding love of the arts radiates throughout his winery. The main building, designed by renowned architect Michael Graves, and grounds feature almost 1,000 works by Henry Moore, Richard Serra, Mark Di Suvero and others.

Farrow, an Italian emigré, pioneer of the high-end accessory market in the US and Canada, grower and collector of fine wines, and premium producer of widely-renowned balsamic vinegar and olive oil, is herself a longtime patron of the arts, currently involved in philanthropic, civic and performing arts organizations in San Francisco, New York, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Florence, London, Paris and St. Petersburg.

Shrem and Farrow’s contribution allows the university to begin the design phase of the $30 million construction project, and will spur fundraising efforts for the museum. The university will not use student tuition, student fees or state funds for construction of the museum.

UC Davis plans a campaign to raise between $5 million and $20 million in additional private gifts for the museum, including an endowment to support museum programs.

December 20, 2011

Two new arts buildings planned for Stanford’s ‘arts district’

STANFORD UNIVERSITY — Recently unveiled plans for two major additions to its emerging “arts district,” broadening the mission of a campus more famed for engineering than Expressionism.The buildings — one art museum and one academic building — will join the Cantor Arts Center and Bing Concert Hall near the “front door” of the campus at Palm Drive.

One building, a contemporary art museum open to the public, will feature 121 pieces by such famed artists as Rothko, Pollock and de Kooning.The second building will be home to the university’s Department of Art & Art History — the first time Stanford’s art studios and programs in film, media and art history are together under one roof. The Bing Concert Hall, an 844-seat site for Stanford Lively Arts’ live musical performances, is under construction and will be open to the public in January 2013.

At a time when many arts organizations are struggling, the new projects are a reminder of the university’s deep reach into a network of prosperous benefactors. The downturn in the economy has reduced donations and foundation funding for many arts groups.

December 19, 2011

BP Pledges Another $15.5 Million to Tate, Royal Opera House

UK—BP Plc, which last year caused the U.S.’s worst-ever oil spill, today pledged another 10 million pounds ($15.5 million) to four cultural institutions for the next five years.

The energy company is backing programming at the Royal Opera House, Tate Britain, the British Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, the four said in an e-mailed release and a joint presentation at the British Museum today.

“Everywhere we operate, we should seek to contribute to the wider community, and not only through our business activities,” Iain Conn, head of BP Plc’s refining and marketing unit, said in the release. “It is important to us that we make a meaningful contribution to society here in the U.K.”

Ed Vaizey, the culture minister whose department announced arts funding cuts earlier this year, welcomed the move. “For more than 20 years, BP has led the way in business support for the arts,” Vaizey said. “I am delighted that this will continue over the next five years.”

BP’s U.K. arts sponsorships have been the target of spectacular protests ever since the April 2010 explosion at BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico triggered an environmental disaster that took months to clear up.

December 19, 2011

Massachusetts museum installing biomass boiler

MASSACHUSETTS—The retrofit of a retired coal ash silo has helped the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) finally become a wood pellet boiler user.Starting in February, the former electronics supply facility that since 1986 has been the home of MASS MoCA, will be heated by a 2 million Btu wood pellet boiler. New England Wood Pellet will supply the pellets, to be delivered by Biomass Commodities and used in a Burnham boiler-based system designed by Boston engineering firm Cannon Design.

Averill Cook, Biomass Commodities president and founder, grew up in the area. “I knew most of the players there at the facility,” he said, adding that he first proposed the idea of heating the facility with biomass two years ago. “They (MASS MoCA) referred us to Cannon Design.” Although Cook said that some engineering and design firms require training and education in a biomass-heated system, the team at Cannon Design has created an innovative design that not only utilizes a SolaGen HDF-WC combustion package, but also allows conversion of the coal ash silo to a pellet storage site.

Cook said the silo, although already perfectly strong enough, will need a retrofit to the discharge portion and installation of a conveyance system. Cannon Design has already drawn up plans for both. The boiler and the stoker are currently on site and ready for installation, he said. The facility retrofit was funded in part by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative fund, and once complete, the roughly $200,000 project will be the first of its kind in the county.

December 16, 2011

Ten million gift will help build new UC Davis art museum

CALIFORNIA—For years, most of the UC Davis art collection has languished in storage because of limited space at the university’s current museum.Now, a $10 million gift from a prominent Napa Valley vintner will provide the vital funding needed to bring the university’s 5,000 collected works – including seminal works of Northern California art from the latter half of the 20th century – to the fore.

The university will announce today that Clos Pegase winery owner Jan Shrem and friend Maria Manetti Farrow have provided the $10 million to build a new art museum. Theirs is the largest gift ever received by the UC Davis College of Letters and Science.

The new Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Farrow Museum of Art, along with the expansion of the Crocker Art Museum, will help establish the Sacramento region as a visual art destination, two museum directors told The Bee.

Once built, the new museum will have 40,000 square feet of space. The current museum space at the Richard L. Nelson Gallery of Art is 1,500 square feet.

December 16, 2011

Getty Museum’s Acting Director is Leaving

LOS ANGELES—David Bomford, who has been acting director of the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles since 2010, will be returning to his home in London where he plans to pursue research, scholarship and writing, the institution announced on Tuesday. Mr. Bomford joined the Getty in 2007 as associate director for collections and was named its acting director after Michael Brand resigned in 2010, citing differences with James N. Wood, who was then the president and chief executive of the Getty Trust, the umbrella organization that oversees the museum. Mr. Wood died later that year and was replaced by James Cuno, the former director of the Art Institute of Chicago.

While the institution continues to search for a new director Mr. Cuno will temporarily assume the acting directorship. Russell Reynolds, an executive search firm, was hired by the Getty in September to lead the museum search.

December 15, 2011

Fallout continues over use of force in UC Davis protests

SACRAMENTO— California lawmakers are investigating how colleges responded to non-violent protests that sprung from the Occupy movement, including the pepper-spraying incident at the University of California, Davis. Top officials from the UC system and California State University system will testify at a hearing in the state Capitol on Wednesday. They include UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi, who came under fire after a campus officer last month pepper-sprayed a crowd of students who were sitting peacefully.

Assemblyman Marty Block, a San Diego Democrat and chairman of the Assembly Higher Education Committee, says universities have a responsibility to provide a safe environment and foster a climate for free expression. The panel will also hear from police oversight experts and student representatives.

December 14, 2011

Why Cooper Union Matters

NYC— In early November, hundreds of people filed into the Great Hall at Cooper Union. By 7:00, the auditorium’s 900 seats were full and hundreds of people crammed into standing room at the back. The event was not open to the public and security guards in the lobby were checking everyone for some form of Cooper ID. The current student body is counted at 918, so it only took a quick glance around to see that the event had drawn far more than just current students. Both faculty and alumnae had also come out in great numbers for the emergency meeting that had been called with Cooper Union’s Chairperson of the Board of Trustees, Mark Epstein, and his much quieter fellow Board member Richard Lincer.

At issue was the recently leaked information that the Board of Trustees was considering charging tuition to Cooper students—a move that many believe would radically undermine the philosophy that is at the institution’s core. Financial newspapers and business journals have reported widely in the last few years on the safety of Cooper’s endowment and on the wisdom of many of its investment strategies, and so the news that the school carried a deficit of over eight million dollars during the summer of this year sent shockwaves throughout the community. When, only some months later, that deficit was recalculated and announced to be over 16 million, it sent people reeling. The late October leak that the Board seemed to have decided that converting Cooper Union to a tuition-based institution may be the only way to keep the school solvent was met with bewilderment by students and faculty members alike, who demanded to know what, exactly, was going on.

While financial transparency was  not one of the results of the November meeting, what did become clear was a paradigmatic divide between the representatives of the Cooper Board and the people who actually comprise the institution. Early on and then repeatedly throughout the meeting, Mr. Epstein assured those seated in the hall that current Cooper students would not be asked to pay tuition. This position was met initially with a kind of dumbfounded silence and then each time it was repeated, grumblings grew louder. It seemed difficult for Epstein to imagine that self-interest had not motivated the attendance of those gathered before him. Indeed, it seemed plain to all but Epstein that a collective purpose had stirred this group together.

Cooper Union is an all-scholarship institution. That means that students who get in (an exceedingly and increasingly difficult task) do not pay tuition for their education. In the current educational climate where astronomical tuition and routine hikes are the norm, Cooper’s policy is both unusual and unique. Something very particular happens inside an all-scholarship classroom that simply does not happen anywhere else.

To read the full article click HERE

December 14, 2011

Two Students dead after Clash with Mexican Police

MEXICO—Prosecutors in southern Mexico say they found an assault rifle and hand grenades at the scene of a protest where a violent clash between demonstrators and police resulted in the death of two students.

The deaths have drawn condemnation from human rights groups, who say police used excessive force. Guerrero State Attorney General Alberto Lopez told a news conference police had discovered an assault rifle hidden by a young man who was not a student at the scene of the clash in the Guerrero state capital. He also said authorities found grenades.

December 13, 2011

Bard College Announces Appointment of Performing Arts Curator

BARD COLLEGE— Recently announced the appointment of performing arts curator, artistic director, and dramaturg Gideon Lester to the College faculty, naming him Director of Theater Programs and Professor of Theater. He will head the undergraduate theater program at Bard, where he will teach full time, and also curate the professionAl Fisher Center and SummerScape theater and dance offerings. Lester, whose appointment is effective fall 2012, will also serve as a dance and theater consultant for the Fisher Center this spring.

Gideon Lester, a London native, received his bachelor of arts from Oxford University, where he studied English literature, and completed his graduate training in dramaturgy at Harvard University, where he was a Fulbright and Frank Knox Scholar. He is the co-curator of Crossing the Line, a transdisciplinary arts festival in New York City. From 1997 to 2009, Lester worked at The American Repertory Theatre (A.R.T.) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as Acting Artistic Director, Associate Artistic Director, and Resident Dramaturg. At A.R.T he collaborated with many leading American and International Artists, including Neil BartlettAnne Bogart, Chen Shi-Zheng, Martha ClarkeRinde Eckert, Krystian Lupa, Peter SellarsAnna Deavere Smith, RoBert Woodruff, Anne Washburn, and The Dresden Dolls. From 1997 to 2009, he directed Harvard University’s MFA program in dramaturgy at the A.R.T./Moscow Art Theatre Institute for Advanced Theatre Training. He also taught undergraduate courses in playwriting and dramaturgy at Harvard College.

Lester’s translations for the stage include plays by Marivaux, Büchner, and Brecht, and his stage adaptations include Kafka’s Amerika and Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire. His work has been presented at theaters and festivals throughout the world. He has curated international colloquia including “Bodies on the Line” with Anna Deavere Smith, at NYU (2010), and “New Worlds, New Arts, New Models: Imagining the Future of Global Arts Institutions” at NYU Abu Dhabi (2011). Since 2009, he has taught at Columbia University’s School of the Arts, where he founded and currently directs the Arts Collaboration Lab in association with Performance Space 122.

December 13, 2011

Syrians students added “Strike” to Protests, Rallies and Clashes

SYRIA- Inside and outside the country, Pressure has been piling on President Bashar al-Assad’s regime as the death toll from months of unrest continues to rise. Opponents along with Supporters have been staging daily protests, rallies and other civil activities either to express opposing Syria’s regime crackdown or to voice support for President al-Assad and his regime reforms.

Of course; not all of these activities goes peacefully, then clashes and casualties are still being reported daily at many places all over the country. Keeping in mind that it is so difficult, almost impossible, to verify most of these reports as Syrian authorities had sealed the country and banned journalists from direct reporting, especially from conflicted areas. Opponents had launched calls for staging general strikes entitled “Dignity Strike” on Sunday to protest the ongoing crackdown on their peaceful demonstrations, according to their calls at social media and press outside Syria.

The Local Coordination Committees (LCC), a network of activists that collects information in the country, called for the open-ended “Strike for Dignity,” which it described as the first step in a civil disobedience campaign to bring down Assad’s regime. The group said the campaign would evolve in stages and include student boycotts, store closures and a civil servants’ strike.

Students at the universities of Damascus and Aleppo were also taking part, along with some other areas in these provinces, the LCC said. But businesses, government offices and schools appeared to be functioning normally in the centers of Damascus and Aleppo, the country’s economic powerhouses.

December 12, 2011

Occupy the Classroom: NYU to Offer Classes on Occupy Protests

NEW YORK– New York University, located just two miles north of the Zuccotti Park protest site, has included the Occupy movement in its curriculum for the Spring semester. NYU is offering two courses on the movement that began just months ago, but managed to put the issue of social inequality at the center of the national political debate

An undergraduate lecture course, titled “Cultures and Economies: Why Occupy Wall Street?” lists goals as wide-ranging and frenetic as the protests themselves. According to the class description, students will focus on “economic inequality and financial greed” around the globe.  They will examine those in the context of “race, class, gender, sexuality, region, religion and other factors.”

December 12, 2011

OWS Labour Outreach Committee crashes University of Vermont alumni event

VERMONT—Bill Ruprecht (CEO of Sotheby’s and on the board of trustees at University of Vermont) was not in attendance to hear activist Andy F give a speech to his “fellow alumni” about Ruprecht ruining the reputation of the University. When UVM’s interim President, A. John Bramley, finished giving his greetings and remarks he began to struggle with turning off the microphone. While activists,  impersonating a UVM alum, was in the front row, and walked right up to him and offered to help him with it. John, relieved he didn’t have to figure that out, and Andy began his address.

Andy, spoke slowly, and fit right in. In the beginning, the lively crowd actually began shushing others around them so they could hear what he had to say .He was eventually escorted out. They even let him keep talking into the mic as they were kindly walking him out the door.

For Video Click HERE

December 9, 2011

Outlaw Berlin Biennale Curator Stages Escape From Russian Jail Cell

RUSSIA—Earlier this weekend, the Berlin Biennale lost one of its associate curators. Last week,it was announced that the Russian collective Voina (“War”) would help organize the event. Amid the recent mass protests against perceived corruption in the Russian elections,Leonid Nikolaev, a member of the group was arrested, abused, denied a lawyer, and escaped from the police station where he was being held.

According to a journal entry , the entirety of which can be seen at Voina’s Web site, Nikolaev reached Pushkin Square for the demonstration 10 minutes late, finding most of the other prominent activists already arrested. Taking out a whistle, he roused the crowd into a rhythmic rendition of  the “Internationale,” the socialist anthem, to which the police responded by quickly closing in on the singing group.

Two escape attempts later, one of which almost resulted in Nikolaev being hit by a passing minivan, he claims to have found himself being dragged, spitting and struggling, between police stations, as the authorities tried to identify him (Nikolaev commonly goes by “Vassily from Cherepovets” or “Leo the Fucknut” in such situations). After finally bartering his fingerprints for the abusive officers’ names and credentials — also published in his journal entry — he was deposited quietly, though still without access to his lawyer, in a section of the station for detainees.

Though Voina aren’t expected to participate within the Berlin Biennale’s official curatorial program — they are “associate curators” in name only, having been given the title by actual curator Artur Żmijewski —  these subversive antics give the impression that the already highly politically engaged event should be nothing less than revolutionary. The city’s yuppies and the “neoliberal art world elite,” who are said to be Voina’s target during the exhibition’s run, better watch their backs.

December 9, 2011

Two poets withdraw from UK prize over sponsorship

LONDON—Two authors shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize for poetry have withdrawn, saying they objected to investment company Aurum Funds sponsoring the award.The Poetry Book Society, which runs the annual award for a collection of poetry, lost funding from the Arts Council England as part of government spending cuts.Australian John Kinsella, who was shortlisted for his latest work “Armour,” said he had withdrawn on ethical grounds as “an anti-capitalist in full-on form.”

Many top arts honours, including the Man Booker Prize, are funded by the private sector, and company sponsorship is becoming increasingly important as state support is reduced.”My politics and ethics are such that I can’t accept money from such a source,” Kinsella told the Bookseller publication.”I fully understand why the Poetry Book Society has looked elsewhere for funding, given the horrendous way they were treated, but as an anticapitalist in full-on form, that is my position.”He did not have any specific objections against Aurum Funds, but added that hedge funds were “at the very pointy end of capitalism, if I can put it that way.”Kinsella joins Alice Oswald, who withdrew earlier this week for similar reasons. She had been shortlisted for “Memorial.”

The Poetry Book Society’s website now features eight nominees, down from 10, including poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy for “The Bees.”The winner of the award, who receives a cheque for 15,000 pounds, will be announced on January 16, 2012. Each of the nominees receives 1,000 pounds.

December 8, 2011

Disgraced former minister Guttenberg returns to public stage

CANADA- Germany’s disgraced former Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg has returned to the political stage, albeit far away in Canada. After the dodgy doctorate debacle, is this the first sign of a comeback?

German aristocrat and former conservative shooting star Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg made his first public appearance at an international security conference in Canada over the weekend, some nine months after a plagiarism scandal forced him to step down as a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet.

The former defense minister – who was also a heavily favored future candidate for chancellor – was forced to give up his position in March after it became apparent that he had plagiarized various sources, including national newspapers and government reports, in his doctoral thesis.

Guttenberg, sporting a new look at the Halifax International Security Forum in Canada, was referred to as “the honorable Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, distinguished statesman, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)” when introduced to the audience of some 300 people. Guttenberg moved to the US with his family in the summer, and works at CSIS, a think tank based in Washington.

December 7, 2011

Origami Artists copy-right suit against artist Sarah Morris

MANHATTAN— Six leading origami artists constructed a copyright complaint against  New York artist and filmmaker Sarah Morris, claiming the “found designs” that allegedly inspired her 2007 “Origami” series were found from them.

The 35-page federal complaint contains an additional 45 pages of exhibits comparing the origami creations with Morris’ counterparts. ”Since the mid-1990s, Sarah Morris has been internationally recognized as an artist and film maker,” the complaint states. “In 2007, Morris debuted her ‘Origami series,’ which consists of approximately 37 works. Morris has represented in interviews and promotional materials that the works in the Origami series are based on ‘found origami designs’ or ‘traditional’ patterns. In creating most of the works, Morris transferred crease patterns to canvas and applied household gloss paint to the spaces between the lines. Morris also created drawings by colorizing the lines of crease patterns.”
The artists say that Morris “found” her designs from them: “Twenty-four of Morris’s works are substantially similar to copyrighted artworks belonging to plaintiffs (‘Plaintiffs’ Works’) because Morris has unlawfully copied Plaintiffs’ Works for commercial use. Attached as Exhibit A and incorporated herein by this reference is a chart showing each plaintiffs artwork and the corresponding infringing work.”

Lang, a 40-year origami practitioner and self-described “master,” wrote “Origami Design Secrets: Mathematical Secrets for an Ancient Art,” and claim that Morris stole seven of his designs. Miyajima, a professional origami artist and instructor, published models and crease patterns in “Origami Tanteidan Magazine and Origami Tanteidan Convention Book.” He counts seven infringed works.

The artists allege 20 counts of copyright infringement, and demand unspecified damages and injunctive relief.
They are represented by Oakland, Calif.-based attorneys Andrew K. Jacobson with Bay Oak Law and Caroline N. Valentino with Haims Valentino.

December 7, 2011

Police reportedly went undercover at Occupy LA

L.A– Los Angeles police used nearly a dozen undercover detectives to infiltrate the Occupy LA encampment before this week’s raid to gather information on the anti-Wall Street protesters’ intentions, according to media reports.

None of the officers slept at the camp, but they tried to blend in during the weeks leading up to the raid to learn about plans to resist or use weapons against police, a police source told the Los Angeles Times. The source spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case is ongoing.

The undercover work yielded information that some protesters were preparing bamboo spears and other potentially dangerous weapons in advance of an expected eviction, none of which were used, according to the City News Service, which first reported the story.

Police played down the significance of the undercover work since Occupy meetings were public and easily tracked.

The city attorney’s office filed criminal misdemeanour charges on Friday against 27 more of the people who were arrested following the police sweep of the camp. In all, 46 of the 291 people arrested during the raid have been charged with misdemeanour crimes of failure to disperse from an unlawful assembly. Some also were charged with resisting arrest.

December 6, 2011

Who Benefit Auctions Benefit?

US- America has finally woken up to discover that the free life they thought they were living is really governed by a system. A system designed at first glance to be “for the people, by the people.” But in recent years we’ve all realized that this is furthest from the truth. Facets of the system are under scrutiny. So in light of the Occupy Wall Street movement, perhaps it’s time for artists to rewrite the rules of the game.

Not so long ago, William Powhida, that maverick satirist, finished a drawing/board game titled “The Game.” It’s a brilliant satire imitating the race made by most of today’s artists to not only remain relevant, but also make history.

To accompany “The Game,” which was published in the September 2010 edition of The Brooklyn Rail, Powhida wrote:

“The goal of the game is relatively simple, get your work into the Met and make history. You need to follow a path through the art world from an MFA program towards recognition, representation and museum exhibitions while picking up some supporters along the way who will help propel you into history. Like the real art world, whether you’re in or out is largely out of your control.”

December 6, 2011

EU Plans Largest-Ever Arts Funding Program

BRUSSELS– The European Commission has proposed the world’s largest-ever cultural funding program under the title Creative Europe. The initiative, which would disperse a projected €1.8 billion ($2.4 billion) between 2014 and 2020, represents a 35 percent increase in European Union expenditures on culture, and is part of a larger Pan-European goal to stimulate the economy through cultural enterprise. This marks a stark ideological gap between the E.U.’s policymakers and the United States congress and prospective U.S. presidential candidates like Mitt Romney who propose to slash federal funding for the arts to balance the budget and improve the economy.

While approximately half of the funds will be allocated to the film industry, €500 million ($670 million) will be targeted directly toward promoting the visual and performing arts, with an estimated 300,000 artists to receive funding of some kind for cultural projects across the continent. The remainder of the budget would be provided as collateral against loans totaling up to an additional €1 billion ($1.4 million) for “small operators” across mediums.

Androulla Vassiliou, the EU Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism, and Youth, said in a statement: “This investment will help tens of thousands… to reach new audiences in Europe and beyond; without this support, it would be difficult or impossible for them to break into new markets.”

December 5, 2011

Occupy Wall Street group looks to open arts space

NEW YORK– A group within the Occupy Wall Street movement is in discussions to find a multi-purpose, indoor arts space, which is to be used for “studio space, rehearsals, concerts, storage, performances, exhibitions, teach-ins, film screenings, art classes for children, sleeping, etc”.

The Arts and Culture committee of the New York City General Assembly, the protest group behind the movement, is planning to use shared office space on Wall Street with other Occupy groups, and is considering another offer from the arts blog Hyperallergic to borrow space in its Brooklyn offices, among other options.

“After the troubling Zuccotti Park eviction [of the protesters’ camp on 15 November] we were afraid that the group may not have the resources to continue their work,” says Hrag Vartanian, the editor of Hyperallergic. Vartanian has invited the group to use his space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, free of charge.

The group discussed the offer on 22 November, and while a consensus had been reached on moving into the shared office space on Wall Street, options for a multi-purpose arts space are still being explored.

December 5, 2011

Ai Weiwei supporters strip off as artist faces ‘porn’ investigation

BEIJING– Ai Weiwei is facing investigation for spreading pornography and as a reaction, his admirers have stripped off.

Internet users began tweeting their nude photographs after Ai announced that authorities had questioned his cameraman over pictures which showed the artist and four women naked.

Many Chinese contemporary artists have taken pictures of themselves without clothes, and the pictures of Ai that have emerged so far do not appear sexually charged. Some suspect that it may be an attempt by the authorities to smear the artist, whose 81-day detention this spring caused international outrage.

Officials accused him of economic crimes but supporters say the authorities are engaged in a vendetta because of Ai’s social and political activism and criticism of the government.

While a couple of internet users tweeted full-frontal shots, others have come up with more decorous – and ingenious – variations on the theme. Some posted pictures of themselves as babies; one photo shows a row of nine unclothed women and one man – with images of Ai’s head superimposed over their genitals and nipples.

December 5, 2011

Queen’s Univerity puts the brakes on new students in fine arts program

ONTARIO—The future of fine arts at Queen’s University is in limbo after the school decided not to accept new students to its bachelor’s program for next fall. Queen’s officials feared resources would be too scarce to sustain an incoming Bachelor of Fine Arts class. Although the program has had full enrolment in recent years, a professor’s looming retirement threatened to leave the department short-staffed.

Alistair MacLean, dean of Arts and Science, said a one-year suspension giving the BFA program “time to regroup” is the answer, but gave no guarantees it will restart in 2013. Whether the departing professor can be replaced is also unclear, given that savings from retirements are being used to close the faculty’s deficit.

But the suspension raises questions about whether small units like the Queen’s Department of Art can compete with their larger brethren when budgets are tight. Fine and visual arts tend to be high-cost offerings needing very low student-teacher ratios, ample space and vast arrays of materials and technology

December 1, 2011

Malmö Art Academy
Royal Academy of Art, The Hague
St Moritz Art Academy
University of Applied Arts Vienna
Emily Carr