Renaissance Society’s Susanne Ghez to step down in January
CHICAGO—Executive Director Susanne Ghez, who has curated more than 150 exhibitions and built an international following for the museum at the University of Chicago, is stepping down in January. For 40 years, Ms. Ghez has led the non-collecting museum of contemporary art at 5811 S. Ellis Ave. on the university campus.
In an interview, Ms. Ghez, 74, said it was simply time for her to move on.“It happens. One day you turn around and look and see that a lot has happened. The Society is in a strong position. We’ve had a lot of wonderful exhibitions and I’ve met and worked with a lot of wonderful people,” she said, noting, “There may be another chapter. An epilogue.”
Jennifer Levine, the museum’s board president, credited Ms. Ghez with putting the Renaissance Society on the contemporary art map. She said the board has formed a transition committee to work with executive search firm Phillips Oppenheim to find the museum’s next leader. Ms. Ghez took the helm of the museum when Richard Nixon was president. Back then, she had a budget of $25,000. Today, it’s $1.7 million, and she can boast the museum has been in the black all 40 years.
her leadership, the museum has featured numerous then-up-and-coming artists — Julian Schnabel in the 1970s and Jeff Koons in the 1980s. The 1990s saw exhibits by the late Felix Gonzalez-Torres and Kara Walker. And since 2000, Ms. Ghez curated shows by Steve McQueen, Francis Alys, Paul Chan, Rebecca Warren and Cathy Wilkes.
May 31, 2012
Quebec student leaders optimistic a deal is within reach
MONTREAL—Traces of optimism emerged Tuesday that a resolution might finally be at hand to end Quebec’s 107-day student dispute. A second day of negotiations ended just before 11 p.m. with students saying progress had been made and they would study several proposals presented by both sides. “We will take the night and probably tomorrow morning to evaluate the different scenarios and restart the negotiations during the day in the hope of presenting an offer to our members,” Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, a co-spokesman for the more hardline CLASSE group, told reporters.
Asked if a deal was imminent, Martine Desjardins, the head of one of the university student groups, said “it depends how many hours you consider to be imminent.” The tone of the negotiations appears to have changed after Premier Jean Charest finally sat down for a face-to-face meeting with protest leaders for about 50 minutes on Monday night.
It was an abrupt change in approach for a premier who had repeatedly resisted opposition calls to get personally involved in talks with students — and who had even avoided shaking the hand of student leaders during a recent event at the legislature. The apparent thaw came as the government and protest leaders returned to the negotiating table for a second consecutive day, following a nearly one-month hiatus.
Earlier, the premier characterized his meeting with students as representing a new stage in the dispute; he described the exchanges as respectful and courteous. Students said the government had budged on the central issue of tuition hikes. “That’s on the table,” Nadeau-Dubois said earlier in the day. “The strike is about tuition fees. For us, that’s already a very good start.”
This time, the students say the pressure is all on the government. They say they have all summer to negotiate, because their school semesters have been suspended; the government, on the other hand, is desperate to calm the streets before Montreal receives tourists for its summer festivals. Meanwhile, protesters in Ottawa lent their voices of support to Quebec students. Joining major student organizations were the Public Service Alliance of Canada, the Canadian Auto Workers’ union and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.
May 31, 2012
Prague protestors hold happenings in front of Education and Culture ministries
PRAGUE— Demonstrators gathered outside of two government ministries on Tuesday to protest against government reforms and austerity measures. The all-day happening (which included outdoor concerts, theatre and public debate) was organised by student activists and union reps behind the Stop the Government movement. Already the event, the first of five planned over the next two weeks, has drawn criticism from the prime minister.
Turmoil in the government may have dropped in recent weeks, but activists strongly opposed to its reforms and belt-tightening measures aren’t about to ease up adding pressure. On Tuesday, the Stop the Government movement launched its version of an-all day ‘blockade’ at two government ministries, Education and Culture, with live music preceding protests, debate and discussions. In truth, the event was less a blockade than a protest, one organisers coined a ‘tristening’ – a play on the word ‘happening’ and the Czech word ‘tristní’ for sad.
Students are particularly concerned that Education Minister Petr Fiala, appointed earlier this month, will continue in plans laid out by his controversial predecessor Josef Dobeš, namely the introduction of tuition fees and new cooperation by the private sector, which many charge would threaten the independence of the higher education system. Prime Minister Petr Nečas has repeatedly said the government is willing to discuss its reforms on the tripartite level (now rejected by union representatives) and he made clear he was not impressed by the form the new protests were taking: on Monday he called any blockade of ministries ‘unacceptable’, stressing was “one thing to hold a demonstration and another to block peoples’ way to work”. In the end, the planned blockade, of course, was something less.
May 30, 2012
Mel Brooks, David Lynch receive honorary degrees
LOS ANGELES— Legendary comedian Mel Brooks and iconic filmmaker David Lynch will receive honorary degrees from the American Film Institute, the organization announced on Tuesday.
Brooks and Lynch will receive doctorates of fine arts degrees for “contribution of distinction to the art of the moving image” during the AFI Conservatory commencement at Hollywood’s Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on June 13.
Previous recipients of the AFI Honorary Degree include Robert Altman, Maya Angelou, Clint Eastwood, Roger Ebert, James Earl Jones, Nora Ephron, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Kathleen Kennedy, John Lasseter, Spike Lee, Helen Mirren, Haskell Wexler and John Williams.
May 30, 2012
Thousands in South Africa to Protest Painting of President
JOHANNESBURG—Thousands of people are expected to march Tuesday in South Africa to protest a portrait of President Jacob Zuma that shows his genitals. Zuma’s supporters in the ruling African National Congress say the portrait is insulting and call it an attack on both the president and his party.
About 15,000 people are expected to participate in the march to Johannesburg’s Goodman Gallery, where the work was on display, according to the South African Broadcasting Corporation. The painting by artist Brett Murray, called “The Spear,” is reminiscent of Soviet-era propaganda posters. Red on one half and black on the other, the painting shows Zuma in a proud stance with his genitals prominently exposed.
The painting was defaced last week after a storm of protests and condemnation, the SABC reported.The Sunday newspaper City Press removed the image of the portrait from its website after the ANC threatened a boycott, but it complained Monday the ANC still wants the paper to apologize for running it in the first place. Democratic Alliance, the ANC’s official opposition, said The Spear “was brilliant as a work of political satire, which is also why it became an instant icon.” Calls for the painting’s censorship, the party said, indicate a dangerous move away from the right to free speech.
May 29, 2012
Student negotiator arrested at Quebec City protest after meeting with education minister
MONTREAL—Riot police moved in during a Quebec City protest Monday night and arrested 84 people. Among those detained was Philippe Lapointe, chief negotiator for hardline student group CLASSE. Also among those arrested was a protest mascot in a banana costume who waved to the applauding crowd as he was dragged away by two officers. As police surrounded and began arresting protesters, Léo Bureau-Blouin, president of the Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec, urged the crowd to disperse and avoid arrest.
News of the arrests comes as a two-week period marked by burgeoning protest and bitter recrimination entered a new phase, with student leaders back at the negotiating table with the Charest government. Student representatives arrived in Quebec City for their first face-to-face meeting with government officials since mid-May. Eight hours later, they quietly ended for the night and will resume at 1 p.m. Tuesday.
After the meeting with Education Minister Michelle Courchesne, the head of the group representing students didn’t comment or provide any indication if progress had been made, honouring a confidentiality agreement with the government.
May 29, 2012
Quebec students, government to resume negotiations over tuition increases
MONTREAL — Quebec students and the provincial government return to the bargaining table on Monday in a high-stakes attempt to put an end to a months-long dispute over tuition hikes that has led to clashes with police and mass arrests.The latest round of talks comes at a crucial time for the Quebec government, with thousands taking to the streets nightly in protest and Montreal’s peak tourism season fast approaching.
Representatives from the province’s four largest student associations are scheduled to meet with the province’s education minister in Quebec City. Leo Bureau-Blouin, the head of one of student group, said Sunday the talks represent a “last chance” for the government to put an end to the conflict.
Students have called for a tuition freeze. The government has ruled out that possibility. The last round of negotiations was a marathon session that went more than 24 hours straight, ending in a government offer that was overwhelmingly rejected.
The French-speaking province’s average undergraduate tuition — $2,519 a year — is the lowest in Canada, and the proposed hike — $254 per year over seven years — is tiny by U.S. standards. But opponents consider the raise an affront to the philosophy of the 1960s reforms dubbed the Quiet Revolution that set Quebec apart not only from its U.S. but from the rest of Canada.
May 28, 2012
Quebec students, unions challenge anti-protest law
MONTREAL—Quebec students and trade unions on Friday formally challenged a new anti-protest law they say undermines democracy in the Canadian province, which is reeling from three months of demonstrations against planned tuition hikes.
Many people are disobeying the law with noisy nightly marches through the city of Montreal to show their unhappiness with the Liberal government.The students, unions and around 70 community groups asked the Quebec superior court to suspend parts of the law, which requires advance notice of protests and sets out stiff fines for those who disobey.
The court will hear the request to suspend parts of the law next Wednesday. The coalition also wants the court to throw out most of the law on the grounds that it violates the constitution. Police arrested almost 700 people in Montreal and the provincial capital, Quebec City, on Wednesday night. About 155,000 students – more than a third of Quebec college and university students – are striking against the plans, which would increase annual tuition fees to around C$3,800 ($3,690).
Among the groups backing the demonstrators is the Quebec university professors’ federation, which says the law is anti-constitutional and violates basic freedoms. Bureau-Blouin said almost 500 lawyers had volunteered to work on the lawsuits for free.
May 25, 2012
Mary Katharine MacGregor (1923–2012)
IOWA—Curator Mary Katharine MacGregor has died at the age of eighty-nine, reports the Iowa City Press Citizen. MacGregor was the curator of prints and drawings at the Joslyn Art Museum. During the course of her career she had worked with the Museum of Modern Art, the American Federation of Arts, Associated American Artists, Jacques Seligman and Co., and the Weyhe Gallery. MacGregor held a BA from Cornell College and an MFA from Columbia University.
May 25, 2012
David Hockney Steps Forward to Save Bradford’s Art Deco Cinema
BRADFORD—David Hockney, the Yorkshire boy who returned to his native county in 2005 after more than four decades in Los Angeles, has joined campaigners to save a derelict Art Deco cinema threatened with demolition in his hometown of Bradford.
“They should not pull anything more down in Bradford,” the artist wrote to the Bradford Odeon Rescue Group (B.O.R.G), “especially that splendid building which could be used for many imaginative things.”In its heyday, the Bradford Odeon hosted performances by the likes of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. John Lennon even signed the dressing-room wall after a show in 1964. But the venue is now to make way for an office and shopping complex.
According to B.O.R.G, the destruction of the Bradford Odeon would contravene Bradford’s UNESCO status as “City of Film.” So far, 1,000 supporters have signed a petition to turn the cinema into an arts centre dedicated to late DJ John Peel.The building is currently under the responsibility of the Homes and Communities Agency, which claims to be bound by a legal agreement made between its predecessor and developers to go ahead with the new building.
May 25, 2012
Thirty students barricade and occupy the President’s Office at University of Ottawa
OTTAWA—After discussion of starting a “unlimited student strike” in Ontario beginning in the fall semester, students at University of Ottawa students are occupying the university president’s office, demanding a reversal of tuition fee increases. Thirty students are currently barricading administrative offices at the university with reports of neighboring Quebec students from Gatineau moving way to support.
More than 200 members of the Canadian Federation of Students have petitioned their federation to call an Ontario-wide strike vote this fall in order to show solidarity with students in Quebec.
Listen to audio report from the University of Ottawa HERE
May 24, 2012
Union cash flows into coffers to help quebec students conduct protests
MONTREAL—Out of province money is flowing toward Quebec student activists amid signs their protest movement could persist into the summer. Trade unions based outside Quebec have already confirmed depositing some $40,000 into the bank accounts of the province’s largest student federations, cash that has helped pay for needs such as buses and food during demonstrations.
Unions in the rest of Canada, meanwhile, say their memberships will soon be asked to vote on new contributions for these student groups. Others are urging local union branches to consider making donations. The cash injection from outside the province represents a fraction of the monetary support that has been sent to student groups. Quebec unions have given tens of thousands of dollars to the cause, including $35,000 just from the Confederation des syndicats nationaux.
But as the student crisis showed no signs of slowing down Tuesday — the 100th day of the strike — more unions were considering whether to pitch in. The executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers said Tuesday that his union could approve a financial contribution for the students in the next day or two.
May 23, 2012
Austerity Continues to Plague Italian Arts and Jobs
ITALY—Antonio Manfredi, an Italian artist from the town of Casoria, started a surprising campaign aimed directly at the Italian Ministry of Culture. NPR reports that Manfredi has burned two or three pieces of art each week in a public display meant to criticize the deep austerity cuts to the arts in Italy. His protest began about a month ago.
The arts have been one of the first areas Italy has severely slashed, even though the government did not invest much before the austerity measures kicked into high gear. NPR states that about 76 percent of arts funding has been cut in the last two years, which means that many museums are on the chopping block, or have already closed down completely.
Manfredi runs the Casoria Contemporary Art Musuem and relies on private sponsors to keep the enterprise going. He initially started his protest with his own works of art, but has slowly started to burn other pieces of art from the collection, with the artists’ permission as the last month has worn on. The Italian government has had no response yet and Manfredi says that burning the artwork is a painful and unpleasant process that looks to continue on for a while yet.
Manfredi’s protests have a similar self-destructive edge in a country that is facing difficult spending choices and a population tense with fear. Spending cuts and more enforcement of tax payments look to be on the horizon for Italy under Mario Monti, the prime minister who took over the reigns after Silvio Berlusconi was forced to resign in the face of mounting monetary issues.
May 23, 2012
Actions planned to mark the 100th day of Quebec Student Strike
QUEBEC—Tuesday, May 22 marks the 100th day of the ongoing Quebec student strike, one of the largest student mobilizations in history. Demonstrations against the massive tuition hikes (which would increase tuition by 60% over five years) have occurred daily across Quebec since March 22, with over 160,000 students on “infinite strike.” Last Friday, the Quebec government enacted a draconian emergency law (Bill 78) intended to break the strike. The legislation in effect outlaws public assembly, imposes harsh fines for strike activity and criminalizes protest, just as the struggle is gaining popular support and escalating to unprecedented levels. Many are questioning the law’s constitutionality.
Bill 78 summary:
· Fines of between $1,000 and $5,000 for any individual who prevents someone from entering an educational institution. · The fines are higher for student leaders (up to $35,000) and for unions or student federations (up to $125,000). Fines double with repeat offenses. · Authorities must be notified at least 8 hours in advance about public demonstrations involving more than 10 people. Organizers must provide the start time and duration of the demonstration, as well as the routes of any marches. · No on-campus protests. Protests outside universities must stay at least 15 feet from entrances. · Encouraging someone, explicitly or tacitly, to protest at a school is subject to punishment.
In Quebec, mass demonstrations are planned against the new emergency laws, and in celebration of the 100th day consecutive day of demonstrations. Solidarity actions have been planned in neighboring cities in both New York and Ontario.
May 22, 2012
NYPD arrests artist who installed “I Heart NY” bag
BROOKLYN—The artist who installed the “I Love NY” bag that caused a bomb scare in Williamsburg on Friday was arrested early Saturday morning while he was installing an identical work in Greenpoint. 50-year-old Takeshi Miyakawa, who lives in Brooklyn, was arrested at the intersection of Bedford, Lorimer, and Nassau, and charged with planting false bombs. At his arraignment this morning, Miyakawa was ordered to be held for an additional 30 days for a mental health evaluation by Judge Martin Murphy, despite the prosecution’s request to fix bail.
Louis Lim, a designer and artist who works with Miyakawa and calls him a “mentor and second father,” was present for the arraignment, and said that Miyakawa was “polite, calm, and presentable. I don’t know why the judge did this.” Lim says that Miyakawa created the installation for Design Week, and that Miyakawa was planning on taking them down on Monday. Lim adds that Miyakawa created similar installations two years ago using LED lights in a chair and that “people loved it.”
But according to the person who made the complaint on Friday, the issue wasn’t that Miyakawa’s art appeared to be a bomb, but how they were going to get it off the tree. “I called 311 asking how to get that thing off my tree, if it was my responsibility or the city’s…the 311 woman put me through to 911 then the cops came. I left for work,” they wrote via email.
Lim says that the police told Miyakawa that they had to charge him with planting false bombs, because that’s what the initial complaint was. “I’m almost positive that’s the complaint [the police] were going on.” Miyakawa’s attorney, Deborah Blum, confirms that he was charged with two counts of placing a false bomb or a hazardous substance, reckless endangerment, placing a false bomb or a false substance in the 2nd degree, and criminal nuisance in the 2nd degree, and that she plans on filing a writ of habeas corpus tomorrow. A request for comment has not yet been returned by the NYPD.
May 21, 2012
Turkey wants Harvard’s Dumbarton Oaks to Return the Sion Treasure
HARVARD—Among the dozens of objects that the government of Turkey is asking American museums to return are 40 Byzantine relics at Harvard University’s Dumbarton Oaks Museum. The silver and gold liturgical objects known as the Sion Treasure consist of plates, candlesticks, crosses and plaques. Some 40 pieces of the treasure are at Dumbarton Oaks, while another 10 or so are at the Antalya Museum in Turkey, with a few more said to be in private collections.
There does not appear to be much doubt that the treasure was looted and smuggled out of Turkey in 1963 — decades after the nation’s patrimony law made such acts illegal. Dumbarton Oaks’ own publication of the Sion Treasure suggests as much repeatedly. In 1986, Dumbarton Oaks organized a symposium about the treasure at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, which resulted in a 1992 book, “Ecclesiastical silver plate in 6th Century Byzantium,” edited by the museum’s Byzantium curator Susan A. Boyd. That publication includes this photograph of the looter’s hole where the treasure is believed to have been found.
Dumbarton Oaks did not respond to repeated requests for comments on Turkey’s request — a curious position for an institution that serves as a research library. Harvard University’s press office, released the following statement on behalf of director Jan M. Ziolkowski: “Dumbarton Oaks has made the Sion Treasure available for exhibition, research and study for nearly a half-century. We are confident that we have proper title to these antiquities and, while representatives from Turkey have inquired about them on occasion over the years, they haven’t responded to requests for any documentation that might raise questions about the provenance of this important part of the collection.”
May 17, 2012
Suit against Czech Republic demanding the return of $50 Million in Nazi-Plundered art
NEW JERSEY—The controversial legal advocate Edward D. Fagan has opened a case against the Czech Republic and its museums on behalf of Michal Klepetar, a Czech national who claims the government is in possession of more than a hundred works of art that were taken from his ancestors by the Nazis during World War II. The works, which Klepetar values at more than $50 million, are part of a collection that once belonged to his great-uncle Richard Popper, who perished along with his wife and daughter in 1941 or 1942 after being deported from Prague to the Lodz ghetto in Poland.
Though Klepetar says he can point out at least 43 of the works in the current collection of the Prague National Gallery, including paintings by Flemish and Dutch old masters, the Czech government has repeatedly refused their return on the grounds that Klepetar is not a direct descendant.To pursue the case, Fagan has taken the unusual steps of purchasing an interest in the art works Klepetar is claiming and establishing an organization called Victims of Holocaust Art Theft in Boca Raton, Florida for the specific purposes of the suit.
New York University law professor Burt Neuborne, who worked on the Swiss bank suit, told ABC News that Fagan had “zero role in developing the legal theory” for the case. Shortly after his victory, Fagan’s lead plaintiff, 82-year-old Auschwitz survivor Gizella Weisshaus, accused him of outright neglect and fraud, asserting that he had misappropriated $82,000 held in her cousin’s estate. Mounting ethics charges came to a head in 2005 when the U.S. District Court dismissed another of Fagan’s cases related to the restitution of Nazi plunder. Saying it was filed “in bad faith,” Judge Shirley Wohl Kram ordered Fagan to pay more than $350,000 in fines and litigation costs. In 2008, he was disbarred by the states of New Jersey and New York.
Fagan now tacitly acknowledges these stains on his reputation in describing his plans for the Klepetar case. “I made mistakes for which I am very sorry,” he told the Sun Sentinel. “However, for the last three-plus years, I have dedicated myself to getting better, which I am doing.”
May 16, 2012
Four student suspects in Montreal subway smoke-bomb case will remain detained
MONTREAL—There was applause at the Montreal courthouse from supporters of people accused of smoke-bombing the local subway system. The four suspects will remain detained for more than a week, as their bail hearings have been postponed until May 23.
As they left the courtroom in handcuffs, their friends, fans and family gave them a standing ovation. The accused looked into the crowd and smiled. Some family members blew kisses. The four face charges that include spreading fear of terrorism — a serious crime that could carry up to five years in prison.
Three women and one man are accused of tossing smoke bombs into various subway stations last week, shutting down service and causing a frustrating morning commute for tens of thousands of Montrealers. Some protesters accused the media of being biased against their cause and they obstructed television cameras from gathering images, doing things like tossing sheets over camera lenses. That led to some angry exchanges.
It was one of several heated scenes taking place inside and around Montreal on Monday. There were also showdowns outside schools over whether classes should be allowed to reopen following legal injunctions.
May 14, 2012
Artist accuses L.A. MOCA of censoring his work to appease corporate sponsor Mercedes-Benz
LOS ANGELES—Earlier this month, the artist Chris Silva was invited to participate in an event at Los Angeles’s Museum of Contemporary Art as part of the exhibition “Transmission LA,” a two-week-long interdisciplinary art jam curated by Mike D of seminal rap group the Beastie Boys. Things did not go as planned, and now the artist is claiming that his work was censored because it upset the show’s corporate sponsor, Mercedes-Benz. The specific event Silva was asked to participate in, titled “BYOB” — for “Bring Your Own Beamer” (“beamer” in this instance meaning projector, not BMW) — featured projections by more than 40 artists installed throughout MOCA’s Geffen Contemporary space between 8 and 10 pm. However, the artist alleges that his 3D wire model of a 2010 Peugeot race car drew unwanted attention from a “Transmission LA” organizer, who insisted that he remove the work so as not to upset Mercedes representatives.
“I was then told that I had to take down what I was showing and that I could show something else if I had it,” Silva told Matt Gleason in an interview published on the Huffington Post. “I was also told that the reason I couldn’t show it is because someone from Mercedes corporate was ‘pissed’ about it and basically took it as a ‘fuck you’ to Mercedes.”
Silva says that after setting up his projector for the event, which he was invited to participate in by curator and new media artist Rafael Rozendaal of the BYOB collective, he returned to find a postcard taped over the lens, blocking the image. “I took the card off,” Silva says, “fixed the image back the way it was supposed to and immediately got rushed by Felipe Lima, one of the ‘Transmission’ organizers and two other people who I did not know, one of them wearing a gold chain with a Mercedes logo hanging from it.” When he asked to speak to a Mercedes representative, Silva says that he was told he couldn’t because “they are pissed.”
May 14, 2012
Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Sale Totals $266.6 Million
NEW YORK—Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Sale brought the auction house a total of $266.6 million on Wednesday, falling in the middle of its estimate of $215.6–$303.9 million. The two star lots of the night were Roy Lichtenstein’s Sleeping Girl, 1964, and Francis Bacon’s Figure Writing Reflected in Mirror, 1976, both of which tied for top price at $44.8 million each.
The price was a record for the Lichtenstein, though not for the Bacon. Other records were set through the course of the night for artists including Cy Twombly, Glenn Ligon, Ai Weiwei, Isa Genzken, and Mark Bradford. Of the fifty-seven lots offered, eleven failed to sell. With regards to the evening, collector Peter Brant told Carol Vogel in the New York Times, “Where the quality was good it was particularly strong.”
May 10, 2012
Smoke bombs cripple Montreal subway linked to student groups?
MONTREAL—Smoke bombs have been set off at multiple points in Montreal’s metro system, cutting off service and creating a nightmarish morning commute. The incident occurred near the peak of morning rush hour. There have been other interruptions to subway service in recent weeks, as the city deals with unwieldy student protests.
There are reports of smoke filled stations at key transfer points, crippling the entire system.The trickle-down effect has been felt in the city’s streets, with long lineups at bus stops and increased traffic under a heavy drizzle.
One listener wrote to local radio station CJAD to say that Premier Jean Charest should withdraw whatever offer he has made to students, and demand that the Army be called in. Police, however, have not pointed the blame at anyone yet. They have repeatedly said in recent weeks that some radical groups have been taking advantage of students’ anti-tuition battle to create their own damage.
May 10, 2012
Harvard Museums Reopening Pushed Back
BOSTON—Harvard has announced that the Fogg and Busch-Reisinger Art Museums won’t reopen until late 2014, a year later than planned. Museum officials say that the delay is due to the complications in the construction of the new $350 million complex, designed by Renzo Piano, which will combine the two museums into one. Tom Lentz, director of the museums, told the Boston Globe, “A lot of people think we’re just sort of adding an addition, but in reality, it’s kind of a double project. There’s the renovation and bringing up to date the old historic structure and also adding a new addition and making sure those meld together in a sensitive and efficient way.” These delays in construction have reportedly frustrated staff to the extent that several curators left, including contemporary curator Helen Molesworth, who took the job of chief curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art.
May 10, 2012
Quebec students voting in strong majorities to reject agreement
QUEBEC—Through a show of hands in universities and CÉGEPs throughout the province, students are voting with strong majorities to reject the agreement that was hammered out last weekend as a last-ditch effort to end the 13-week student strike.
With the possibility of salvaging their semester becoming more remote each day, students are nevertheless sending a message to the Liberal government that they are not ready to settle for what they consider a questionable deal.
Cegep de Rosemont general assembly voted to not even consider the government’s offer. Not to be outdone, facing the possibility of a cancelled semester, the Faculty of Letters and Humanities at the University of Sherbrooke general assembly voted to demand a pony for each student whose classes are cancelled. The daily demonstrations (including 15 straight night time demos in Montreal) have continued throughout the voting process. At this point over 160,000 on strike for 13 weeks and so far 83,250 students have voted to reject the government’s offer, 3,200 to accept it. Colleges and campus not on strike took incidentally took votes and voted against it.
May 10, 2012
Delegation on Funding for Study Abroad
WASHINGTON—The extent to which money does and should dictate the global exchange of college students was a touchy topic at a meeting of 16 nations held in conjunction with the G8 Summit.
Most agree that studying abroad brings qualitative benefits for the students who go, the universities that receive them and the nations on both ends of the exchange. But it’s hard to monetize the value of increased mutual understanding, and considerably easier to calculate tuition and housing expenses. Delegations from 15 nations and the European Union—which included every G8 country and representatives from every inhabited continent except Africa—found common ground on the big-picture issues during the two-day conference convened by the Institute of International Education.
Everyone stands to benefit from a multilingual, globally aware, well-educated citizenry, delegates generally agreed. But variations, both ideological and logistical, emerged when discussing each nation’s goals with international education and the ways they finance those goals. “The issue of mobility is becoming more of a challenge for universities and countries because funds are short and at the same students are becoming more and more demanding,” said Xavier Prats Monné, a delegate from the European Union.
May 9, 2012
Cancellation of Greek Art Fair ‘Art-Athina’
ATHENS—The Greek art market, like the country’s economy at large, is reeling. The latest victim is Athens’s biggest art fair, Art-Athina. This year’s edition of the annual event — which was launched in 1993 by the Hellenic Art Galleries Association and drew some 58 international exhibitors from nine countries last year — had been canceled.
“Art-Athina is reassessing its strategy,” director Alexandros Stanas told the Financial Times, “taking into consideration the latest facts in [the] economy and the country in general.” The fate of the fair, which typically takes place in mid-May, remains uncertain. Its 2012 cancelation is just the latest blow to the local art economy, which seemed to be bound for glory when gallery mogul Larry Gagosian opened an outpost in Athens back in 2009.
An article this weekend in the Greek newspaper TO BHMA noted grimly that Art-Athina has been a reliable barometer of the country’s art market for nearly two decades. “After the collapse of Greece’s economy, why not its art too?,” asks Vlassis Frissiras, a collector and owner of the Frissiras Museum. “The collapse of [the art market] is a corollary of our cultural collapse. Collecting art is a luxury business, and a financial meltdown has tempered collectors’ willingness to buy. If you take a look at the art galleries, you will see how squeezed they are. Many are on the verge of closing.”
May 8, 2012
Poet Joshua Clover and 11 Students May Face Prison Time and $1 Million in Damages for Shutdown of US Bank
CALIFORNIA—The administration of UC Davis is holding poet and professor Joshua Clover and 11 students accountable for their alleged role in protests that led to the shutdown of a campus US Bank. “District Attorney Jeff Reisig is charging campus protesters with 20 counts each of obstructing movement in a public place, and one count of conspiracy. If convicted, the protesters could face up to 11 years each in prison, and $1 million in damages.” According to the Davis Dozen press release:
“The charges were brought at the request of the UC Davis administration, which had recently received a termination letter from US Bank holding the university responsible for all costs, claiming they were “constructively evicted” because the university had not responded by arresting the “illegal gathering.” Protesters point out that the charges against them serve to position the university favorably in a potential litigation with US Bank.”
Their arraignment originally set for April 27th has been postponed until May 10th, according to the California Aggie. You can also find out more on the Davis Dozen website. Read the FAQs about the case here. And more as we know!
May 7, 2012
Quebec students begin voting on tuition deal
QUEBEC CITY—Students leaders and government officials struck a deal at around 3 p.m. Saturday after almost 24 hours of negotiations on the tuition issue, however no details were immediately revealed. A complete set of student leaders, union officials and government negotiators sat through the night in an attempt to negotiate a solution to the 82-day tuition disturbances.Quebec students have started voting on the tentative deal reached with the government that would end the 13-week student strike.
The deal, reached Saturday, centres on a temporary pause placed on the tuition increase until December, when a joint committee reports on how to trim back expenses in University and CEGEP budgets. The increase, a $1625 hike that will be spread over seven years, will still go forward.Any savings found by committee would be used to reduce fees, offsetting the tuition increase. The government has said there’s no guarantee any savings will be found
Students started voting at some Quebec CEGEPs Monday morning and votes are expected to continue over the next several days. Student group, CLASSE, expects to have voting results by mid-week. The federation representing Quebec’s university students have scheduled a special assembly to discuss the results on Friday. According to CLASSE, 171 students associations representing more than 167,000 students are still participating in what they’re calling an unlimited general strike.
May 7, 2012
Locked Out Art Handlers Have 14 Million New Reasons To ‘Scream’ At Sotheby’s
NEW YORK—As you may have heard, Sotheby”s had a good day yesterday, auctioning off Edward Munch’s “The Scream” for a record $119.9 million dollars.Not having such a good day? The still locked-out art handlers at Sotheby’s, who appeared as number 84 on the Voice’s list of the “100 Most Powerless New Yorkers” last January and have been locked out from the auction house for nine months now.
In a nut shell, Sotheby’s thinks it offered its workers a fair contract for the business it is doing last summer.
With the sale of “The Scream,” Sotheyby’s cries of poverty become a little harder to believe. According to Bloomberg* News, “Sotheby’s charges buyers 25 percent of the hammer price up to $50,000, plus 20 percent from $50,000 to $1 million, and 12 percent above $1 million.” If so, with “The Scream” selling for $119,900,000 that would mean Sotheyby’s took in $12,500 on the first $50,000, $190,000 on the next $950,000, and $14,268,000 on the final $118,900,000, for a total tidy sum of $14,470,500. According to a petition at Change.org, the house’s cut on a single good day at Sotheby’s could pay the CEO’s salary ($6 million), and the entire union contract, which is just over half of that ($3.2 million), with a few million to spare (and another 364 days of the year leftover).
May 3, 2012
Aggressive Arrests of Peaceful Students at Brooklyn College
BROOKLYN—Building off the momentum of May Day, today, May 2nd 2012, over a hundred NYC/CUNY students converged on Brooklyn College campus demanding an end to the recent tuition hikes, militarization, and NYPD surveillance on CUNY campuses. After dropping a 50 foot-long banner that read, “1-2-3-4 Tuition Fees are Class War, 5-6-7-8 Student will retaliate!”, students marched into Boylan Hall, up to the second floor, and outside of Brooklyn College President Karen’s Gould’s office. Demanding that the President speak with them, and emphasizing that all other legitimate means of addressing their grievances had been ignored, a handful of students held a sit-in in peaceful protest with arms locked in front of her door.
In retaliation, CUNY campus security and NYPD officers, as instructed by President Gould and the CUNY administration, dragged the students apart from each other and proceeded to use excessive force: pushing, shoving, and deliberately suffocating students so as to disperse them. Multiple students report being punched in the face and abdomen by campus security guards. The campus security went so far as throw the cane of a disabled asthmatic student, Cecelia Adams, who screamed “I am hurt, this is why I have this cane”. After throwing her cane across the room, security proceeded to kick her and scream at her. At least one faculty member was trapped and shoved between security officers repeatedly. Two students were arrested from the group as part of this action, one of whom was dragged and dropped down stairs and across the campus grounds.
Over the next five years, the CUNY Board of Trustees and the New York State legislature is implementing a $1,500 tuition increase. Students, faculty, and staff are now regularly intimidated and harassed for peacefully assembling. In the aftermath of CUNY campus security and NYPD brutality at Baruch College on November 21, 2011, this repeated endangerment of students and faculty at Brooklyn College demonstrates that violent force upon nonviolent gatherings is not exceptional, but an increasingly standardized repression at CUNY.
May 3, 2012
Getty Fires Educators to Buy More Art
LOS ANGELES—The J. Paul Getty Trustannounced Monday that it was cutting 34 jobs in its museum division, with the expected annual savings of $4.3 million to be redirected to art acquisitions.There will be no reductions in the exhibition schedule or public programs, the Getty said, and no cuts to curatorial and art-conservation staffs.
The museum’s education department will take the brunt of the cuts to be implemented by May 9, its staff falling from 51 employees to 32. Volunteer docents, trained by the remaining professional staff, will replace the paid teachers who had led tours of the galleries by students and other groups of visitors.
Overall museum staff will drop from 394 to 360, a nearly 9% cut. The museum is part ofJ. Paul Getty Trust, which also includes security, maintenance and financial operations, and professional and office staffs for a grant-making wing and special institutes for art research and art conservation. With the museum division layoffs, overall employment will fall from 1,287 to 1,253, a reduction of 2.6%. Three years ago, the total number of jobs and vacant spots eligible to be filled stood at 1,464.
According to the Getty’s most recent tax return, 132 tours guided by teachers were given in 2009-10 at the Getty Center in Brentwood and the Getty Villa antiquities museum near Malibu. Cuno said the number of tours — led by volunteers rather than paid teachers — is expected to increase.
Earlier this month, the Getty announced the hiring of the first fund-raising executive in its 30-year history, in a bid to move beyond near-total reliance on how its investments perform.
May 2, 2012
NYPD Raids Activists and Artists’ Homes Before May Day Protests
NEW YORK—April 30, the NYPD visited at least three activist homes in New York and interrogated residents about plans for May Day protest.
Gideon Oliver, the president of the New York Chapter of the National Lawyers said the N.L.G is aware of at least five instances of NYPD paying activists visits, including one where the FBI was involved in questioning.
Activist Zachary Dempster said that six NYPD officers broke down the door of his Bushwick, Brooklyn apartment at around 6:15am. Dempster said they were armed with a warrant for the arrest of his roommate, musician Joe Crow Ryan, for a six-year-old open container violation.
About an hour later, an activist friend of Dempster’s who runs in anarchist circles said his apartment in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, where he lives with a half-dozen other activists and Occupy Wall Street organizers was visited by six NYPD cops—possibly the same ones. The activist said police used arrest warrants for two men who no longer lived there as pretext for the raid. The officers ran the IDs of everyone who was in the apartment, then booked our source when they discovered he had an outstanding open container violation. Police never asked about Occupy Wall Street or May Day.
During the afternoon, NYPD also visited the home of Greek anarchist artist Georgia Sagri, who has been part of Occupy Wall Street from the beginning and led the occupation of a SoHo art gallery last October. Turns out she was giving a press conference about May Day at Zuccotti Park at the time. Police waited for about an hour outside her home, then left.
This isn’t the first time NYPD has been criticized for aggressive surveillance of protesters: The NYPD infiltrated activist groups around the country before 2004′s New York Ciy Republican National Convention. And The New York Times has ably detailed the extent to which NYPD has harassed and spied on Occupy Wall Street protesters.
May 1, 2012
Miners explode dynamite during protests with Medical Students in Bolivia
Traffic was snarled downtown amid the latest outburst in escalating unrest by Bolivian workers.Doctors, public health workers and medical students also clashed with police Tuesday during their nationwide strike opposing a decree by leftist President Evo Morales extending the working day of state medical workers from six hours to eight. Police fired tear gas and water cannons.
During their march, miners detonated small amounts of dynamite and also exploded a doll representing Morales.Deputy Interior Minister Jorge Perez said the blasts wounded four police officers and damaged windows in the center of the city.