Your Weekly Art News: From the Margins to the Headlines (Nov. 20-27)

  • Major Australian donors pull funding from Venice Biennale Pavilion, sparking worry and outrage from Australian Arts Council 

Australian Pavilion, Venice Biennale, Courtesy Australian Institute of Architects

Funders are furious that they have been excluded from the selections process of artists to represent the country.

“An acrimonious rift over Australia’s participation in the Venice Biennale in 2019 has split the upper echelons of the art world in the country, with wealthy and influential patrons pulling out in protest and top public art-gallery directors expressing dismay.

The controversy is not about who the artist for 2019 will be, but about how the selection will be made. On 28 October, a new artist-selection model was announced by the Australia Council for the Arts, the government arts advisory and funding body that manages Australia’s representation in Venice.

Key donor Hamish Balnaves describes the new model as a ‘bureaucratic raffle. Balnaves says that philanthropists have been “reduced to cheque-writers” under the new artist- selection model. “To be treated this way is just so disappointing,” he says. He adds that he knows of other philanthropists who are withdrawing their support from Australia’s participation in Venice.”

  • Tribute to Leonard Cohen opens at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal

Leonard Cohen, Photo COurtesy John Rowlands

“The show—which also includes new work by artists like Tacita Dean, Taryn Simon, Thomas Demand, and Jon Rafman—is the first museum exhibition devoted to the legacy of the beloved writer, musician, and Montreal native. To mark the exhibition’s opening, Jenny Holzer projected phrases from Cohen’s poems and songs in French and English on the facade of a former silo on Montreal’s waterfront last week.

The show, which takes over six galleries at the museum, was organized to coincide with Montreal’s 375th anniversary celebrations.

Leonard Cohen – Une brèche en toute chose / A Crack in Everything is on view until April 9 at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal.

  • Marrakech launches bid to come global hub of African art with new museum plans

Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden, Photo Courtesy Simo Drissi

“Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden will hold an ‘international opening’ this February.

A private museum in Marrakech plans to relaunch next year, coinciding with the opening of the city’s inaugural 1:54 Contemporary African Art fair, in a bid to attract international attention to Morocco’s art scene. The Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden (Macaal), which is located on the outskirts of the capital, was inaugurated in November 2016 during the United Nations climate change conference (COP22) in what it describes as a “local launch” and will invite international guests on 24 February to see its programming.

“Touria El Glaoui, the 1:54 fair director, and I linked up together to launch both our initiatives at the same time to ensure maximum impact to the international art world,” says Othman Lazraq, the president of Macaal. The not-for-profit museum is funded by Othman and his father Alami Lazraq, named by Forbes as one of the wealthiest men in Africa, who together run the property development company Groupe Alliances, the largest builder of hotels in Morocco. The museum project is part of the company’s charitable Fondation Alliances, and houses the Lazraq’s 2,000-strong collection of Modern and contemporary African art.

  • How one artist took a wrongful conviction and turned it into performance art

Sherrill Roland during his performance of The Jumpsuit Project (2017). Courtesy of Alvaro Escalante

“The ‘Jumpsuit Project’ involves a prison-issue outfit and a simulated jail cell.

The ninth of August 2012 started out unremarkable for artist Sherrill Roland, but his life would change forever with a phone call he got that day. A detective reached him as he was preparing for his first year of the MFA program at the University of North Carolina Greensboro, and told him that he faced felony charges in Washington, D.C. (The artist declines to name the charges or the identity of his accuser.) Confused and shocked, Roland maintained his innocence. The charges were later downgraded to a misdemeanor, resulting in a two-day trial before a judge, not a jury. Based only on testimony from the two parties and a detective, the judge ruled him guilty, and he was sentenced to a year in prison. Roland would lobby for a retrial in order to clear his name, but before that could even happen, his attorneys turned up exculpatory evidence that the charges were fabricated. He was released and his record was wiped clean—but not before he had spent 10 months and two weeks in prison.”

  • Artist Michelangelo Bastiani’s newest exhibition ‘Beyond the Matter’ opens at Galleria Ca’ D’Oro exploring how we interact with nature

Gallery Owner Gloria Porcella embraces a guest at Galleria Ca’ d’Oro

“Michelangelo Bastiani uses technology in his representations of water to illustrate its dynamic nature and facilitate a direct connection and tangible interaction with the viewer. In his current exhibition, “Beyond the Matter”, which will be on view at Galleria Ca’ d’Oro in Chelsea from October 24th through the end of November, Bastiani showcases his hologram installations and interactive video projections on LED screens exploring the theme of liquidness, with water representing the constantly changing intrinsic nature of art.”



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