MoMA Reopens with Controversy, teamLab to Open Two New Locations, and more
Exterior view of The Museum of Modern Art, 53rd Street Entrance Canopy. The Museum of Modern Art Renovation and Expansion. Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Gensler. Photography by Iwan Baan. Courtesy of MoMA.
Art Basel Hong Kong 2019. Image copyright and courtesy Art Basel.
teamLab Borderless Tokyo at the Mori Building Digital Art Museum. Image courtesy teamLab.
Centre Pompidou. Image by GARDEL Bertrand. Copyright: Getty Images
Cara Romero, Jackrabbit, Cottontail & Spirits of the Desert. Photo by Lance Gerber. Courtesy Desert X.
Portrait of the artist. Copyright and courtesy Huang Yong Ping
This week, the opening of the new and expanded MoMA was met with anticipation and controversy, while teamLab is set to open permanent spaces in Shanghai and Macau, while art fairs and the art world continue to grapple with local and regional politics.
Most Anticipated and Controversial Museum Opening Goes To …
The most headline grabbing news in the art world this week goes to the opening of the US$ 450million expansion of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. While the museum’s new space was widely analyzed and covered, its opening also made the news for public protests and arrests. Reported by various media including Artforum, during MoMA’s preview party on 18 October, dozens of protestors gathered at the entrance to protest two board members’ nefarious connections to private prisons and the economic crisis in Puerto Rico respectively.
The friction between public and museum further escalated a few days later on 21 October, when seven activists were arrested outside the museum for blocking the entrance and disrupting traffic on 53th street, including former speaker of the New York City Council, Melissa Mark-Viverito.
Art Fairs Wading Geopolitical Waters
On 22 October, international art fair Art Basel Hong Kong put to rest the rumours about a possible no-return or venue relocation due to the politically fraught climate in the city with a press conference announcing the line-up of galleries for their 2020 edition. Fair organizers were explicit in confirming the fair’s commitment to the city. In addition to returning galleries from Asia and Asia Pacific, there will be new galleries joining the fair from the United States and Europe.
In what can only be described as a series of missteps, on 18 October, Chairman of Contemporary Istanbul Art Fair Ali Güreli withdrew the controversial statement he sent to media friends and fair clients earlier this month in defence of Turkey’s invasion into Northern Syria. However, his move was reportedly “too little too late” as Contemporary Istanbul lost its artistic director and entire selection committee, all of whom stepped down in response to his comments.
More Museums Because Why Not
Easily the most recognizable Japanese digital artists of our time, teamLab announced on Instagram earlier this week, its next megalith of an immersive art installation is a “multi-layered, immersive space” opening at the Venetian Macao Resort in January 2020. This new project is described as a “body immersive museum” with “labyrinthine floor space” and “cavernous ceilings” with new works. The collective will also be opening another permanent gallery in the Huangpu District in central Shanghai on 5 November showcasing around 50 artworks.
Across the pond, in France, the Centre Pompidou announced plans to open an “art factory” in 2025. In a bid to “bring some of its live programming beyond Paris,” 237,000 square feet storage and exhibition space will be located at a French suburb, Massey, 45 minutes outside Paris. The majority of the 120,000 works from the Centre Pompidou will kept at the new space with some art on view for the public. This is part of Pompidou’s ongoing expansion plans including an offshoot branch opening on 6 November, the Centre Pompidou x West Bund Museum, based in a wing of new West Bund Art Museum in Shanghai.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has decided to join the global museum-building race with its own plans for a modern art museum. The official statement issued this week state that government is building The Saudi Museum of Modern Art as part of their development plans for the surrounding area to become “one of the world’s most attractive historic sites.” The new space will be at the outskirts of Riyadh, close to the UNESCO world heritage site of At-Turaif, where the Saudi dynasty had its first capital.
#MeToo Movement Grows Heated in India
Reported by ArtAsiaPacific, artist Subodh Gupta’s order to completely remove the #MeToo posts against in him was met with resistance from Google on 14 October. The web search engine company refused to remove links of the allegedly defamatory Instagram posts accusing Gupta of sexual harassment and asked the Delhi High Court to “revoke its order” to do so. While this looked like a win for the #MeToo movement in India’s art world, Hyperallergic reported on 18 October that yet another artist, Pravin Mishra filed civil defamation charges the week before, against independent journalist Surabhi Vaya who alleged that the painter and filmmaker had assaulted her.
Speaking of Politics and the Art World
Saudi Arabia made the news yet again for its involvement in Desert X, the California biennial launched in the Coachella Valley in 2017. Earlier this month, three board members had dropped out of the biennale in protest regarding its new edition launching in Saudi Arabia in 2020. Last week, a major donor for the showcase MaddocksBrown Foundation, an L.A.-based philanthropy organization, dropped out as well, citing similar reasons.
This week also saw art spaces in Beirut, Lebanon cancelling its programs in support of anti-government protests against “unjust tax hikes, successive government failures, and our increasingly dire economic condition.” Reported by ArtAsiaPacific, the protests started on October 17 when Lebanese government announced measures to tax Whatsapp and mobile app calls.
Tensions are also reportedly brewing in Turkey against government funded academic and cultural institutions. Almost 300 individuals from the cultural sector signed a petition protesting the Turkish invasion of Northern Syrai and boycotting any programming connected to the Turkish government or state sponsored cultural institution.
In Other News …
Chinese performance and installation Huang Yong Ping, 65, famous in the international art world for his provocative and primal art installations tackling hot-button issues, passed away on 20 October 2019. The artist’s death was confirmed by Gladstone Gallery, which represents his work in New York and Brussels.
Curator Andrea Lissoni was appointed new artistic director for the Haus der Kunst in Munich. The position was vacant since the late Okwui Enwezor, stepped down in 2018. Lissoni, formerly a senior curator at Tate Modern, comes on board during a difficult time at the Haus der Kunst which has been facing financial troubles causing two major exhibitions to be cancelled in the past year.