International news in brief — November 2010

French contemporary artist to show in Versailles gardens, Rijksmuseum's weapon of choice, Venice to remain more wheel-chair friendly until 2011, and more

Gardens of Versailles

French contemporary artist to show in Versailles gardens

The next artist to show works at the Palace of Versailles outside Paris, following the controversial Murakami exhibition at the 17th-century estate, will be the French practitioner Bernar Venet according to our sister paper Le Journal des Arts. Venet, who will only show works in the chateau gardens next year, plans to build two vertical arcs which will “frame” the palace. “This does not mean in any way that we will no longer display works inside the place in future. I would like, in contrast to vary the different perspectives in the castle, [using] the apartments of the dauphin and dauphine, for instance. It depends on the artist,” said Jean-Jacques Aillagon, director of Versailles. A second French artist, as yet unnamed, will also show work in the grounds in 2011. When asked if an exhibition of works by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan would open in 2012, Aillagon replied: “It’s up to him. It is difficult to make plans which will involve my successor.” Next year, Aillagon will need to seek special dispensation to continue working after the age of 65 (when French civil servants are obliged to retire). G.H.

Magnum-funded museum for documentary photography opens in Paris

A new institution dedicated to “documentary imagery” (including reportage photography, film, video and new media) in Paris has boosted the capital’s profile as a photography centre. The venue, named Le Bal, is based in a former Art Deco dance hall in the city’s northern 18th arrondissement. With two exhibition spaces measuring over 350 sq. m in total, the new space is “a place to present, compare and examine the many ways of addressing reality, a place to question the issues spanning aesthetic and politics involved in documentary creation,” said Diane Dufour, director of Le Bal. The €2.3m renovation cost is part funded by the Friends of Magnum, the international photography association, and the City of Paris which provided €1m. The latter has also pledged an annual grant of over €20,000 to the venue which will not mount retrospectives. The first exhibition presents ten American photographers, including Walker Evans and Bruce Gilden, who have documented the US way of life since the 1930s (until 19 December). G.H.

Weapon of choice

Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum raised eyebrows when it revealed it wished to add the gun used to assassinate Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn in 2002 to the national collection. Wim Pijbes, the director of the museum, said: “We have a duty to collect the most important historical artefacts, not just those that tell a sunny story.” The gun will be decommissioned before it is acquired, at the request of Fortuyn’s family. J.P.

Venice slightly more wheel-chair friendly till March 2011

The ramps built on 13 bridges for last month’s Venice Marathon will remain in place until 8 March 2011. They make three km accessible to wheelchairs on two routes, one along the Zattere as far as the Punta della Dogana, which houses Francois Pinault’s collection; the other, from Piazzetta San Marco, past the Doge’s Palace and Bridge of Sighs (unfortunately still with mega-advertisements) down the Riva degli Schiavoni, with San Zaccaria just inside, to the Arsenale with the Architecture Biennale until 21 November.

First Indian Pavilion at Venice Biennale…

After numerous false starts, India is set to get its own national pavilion at the Venice Biennale next year. As we went to press, the pavilion curator, Mumbai-based poet Ranjit Hoskote, was due to meet biennale officials. “I’ve identified a location and we’re working on the details,” he said. According to the Indian Express, the Indian government was invited to participate three years ago but “the whole idea was lost in translation between the [government] and the National Gallery of Modern Art in Delhi”. G.H.

…but Vatican presence at Venice Biennale slips to 2013

Disappointing news for those who want to see what contemporary art the Vatican favours. Antonio Paolucci, director of the Vatican Museums, says: “The Holy See wants to choose the best contemporary art and not expose itself to criticism.” Many artists are offering themselves, but few—perhaps none of these—will be chosen. Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, head of culture for the Vatican, has already let it be known that he considers most modern church art appalling.

British Museum director awarded International Folkwang Prize

Neil MacGregor, the director of the British Museum, has been awarded the International Folkwang Prize, which was presented on 18 October at the Folkwang Museum in Essen. Awarded this year for the first time, it is in memory of Karl Osthaus, who founded the Folkwang in 1902. MacGregor's award is for his promotion of the arts of diverse cultures across borders. He is donating the €25,000 prize to the British Museum's international training programme, which brings young curators from Africa and Asia to the UK for six weeks every summer. M.B.

Minister defends flooding of ancient spa town

The Turkish environment minister, Veysel Eroglu, has defended the decision to flood the ancient sites of Allianoi and Hasankeyf with water from two huge dam projects. The Roman spa town of Allianoi is being filled with sand in preparation for its submersion (The Art Newspaper, October, p27). Eroglu says that the government is “doing [its] best to protect [Allianoi]”, by covering the site with sand—an act that many experts have said will have little benefit. He also questioned the significance of the site: “The pieces here are a pillar and a fountain. They can be found anywhere.” E.S.

Baldessari will put your name up in lights

People the world over are registering to participate in a newly-commissioned work by American artist John Baldessari, 79, to be exhibited during next January’s three-week Sydney Festival (8-30 January). The work, entitled Your Name in Lights, consists of projecting the names of 111,000 people onto the façade of the Australian Museum for 15 seconds each. Baldessari said he was not influenced by Warhol’s quote that “in the future everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes”. It was Australian art benefactor John Kaldor (whose art foundation is co-presenting the work) who suggested the 15-second timeframe. Register at E.F.

US considers Greek antiquity import restrictions

Members of the US Cultural Property Advisory Committee met on 12 October to review a proposal to implement the first Greek Memorandum of Understanding, which would impose import restrictions on objects from prehistory up until the mid-18th century travelling between Greece and the US. Patty Gerstenblith of the Lawyers’ Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation said any delay in implementation could result in “archaeological sites being looted more in order to get items out before import restrictions are instated”. The memorandum remains under consideration. M.M.K.

No winner for Berlin monument (again)

A competition to design a monument to German reunification in Berlin has been stalled for the second time after judges could not decide on a winner. The jury whittled 386 proposals down to a final 28, but failed to select one project, leading it to announce—just before the 20th anniversary of reunification on 3 October—Stephan Balkenhol (bottom right), Andreas Meck (bottom left) and Milla and Partner with Sasha Waltz (top) as joint winners. Bernd Neumann, the German culture minister, supported the jury's choice, calling the result “an excellent basis for the further planning and realisation of the project”. Neumann now has to decide on the winner. The competition was initially launched in 2007 to commemorate the reunification of East and West Germany in 1990 with a €10m work to stand on the plinth of the former national monument for Kaiser Wilhelm I at the Schlossfreiheit. The winner was due to be declared on 9 November 2009, 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, but the judging process was halted after none of the designs received a majority vote (The Art Newspaper, June 2009, p9). In an interview with Der Tagesspiegel, the artist Stephan Huber, one of the judges in the first competition, said the cartoon-like aesthetics of several of the designs revealed a lack of art historical understanding and made a mockery of the democratic process they were intended to celebrate. R.P.

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