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Apr 01 2021

Rebuilding: Weekly News Roundup

by The Editors

Aichi Triennale 2022’s artistic director MAMI KATAOKA (left) and Triennale committee chairperson TAKEO OBAYASHI (right) at the Triennale’s press conference on March 30, 2021. Image via Twitter.

Amid escalating tension in various parts of the globe and even at some art institutions, the Aichi Triennale 2022, whose title affirms to us we are “Still Alive,” is urging for a more sustainable and equitable world. Here is a look at updates from the first press conference of the Japanese triennale and other news from the past week.

Aichi Triennale 2022 Announces Program Aimed at Post-Pandemic Life

At a press conference on March 30, Aichi Triennale 2022’s artistic director Mami Kataoka, currently director of Tokyo’s Mori Art Museum, and Triennale committee chairperson Takeo Obayashi announced the upcoming event’s program outline. Comprising five sections, respectively titled Contemporary Art, Performing Arts, Learning, Online Development, and Collaboration, the exhibitions will mainly be showcased at Aichi Arts Center in Nagoya. The curatorial team consists of 17 international and Japanese curatorial and performing arts advisers, including, among others, executive director of Hong Kong nonprofit Para Site, Cosmin Costinaș; director of Adelaide’s Art Gallery of South Australia, Rhana Devenport; curator at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Eungie Joo; curator of the Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art, Nakamura Fumiko; and producer of the Aichi Prefectural Art Theater, Fujii Akiko. Titled “Still Alive,” the 2022 Triennale is inspired by the late conceptual artist On Kawara’s 1970s-era telegram series, I am Still Alive and aims to propose new values for life post-pandemic. The 2022 event is slated to run from July 30 to October 10. 

Rendering of the Wormhole Library in Haikou, by MAD ARCHITECTS. Courtesy MAD Architects, Beijing.

MAD Architects Wormhole Library Opens in Haikou

Beijing-based MAD Architects’ latest project, Wormhole Library, led by Ma Yansong, opened to the public on March 30. The second public reading space founded by musician and writer Gao Xiaosong, the wormhole-inspired, multifunctional library is located next to the Century Park in Haikou, Hainan province, and is situated at Haikou Bay, facing the South China Sea. The curved tunnel-like pavilion is built using white concrete with a perforated structure, which allows ample sunlight into the interior. Comprising a library with more than 10,000 books, a main reading area, a cafe, a rooftop, as well as various other public facilities, the building will also serve as a gathering hub for art and culture.

ANNE GRILLO (left), French ambassador to Lebanon, and TAREK MITRI (right), committee chair of Beirut’s Sursock Museum, announcing France’s donation to the museum on March 26, 2021. Photo by Rowina Bou-Harb. Image via Instagram.

France Donates to Help Restore Beirut’s Sursock Museum

In a press conference on March 26, French ambassador to Lebanon, Anne Grillo, announced the country’s donation of EUR 500,000 (USD 589,000) towards restoring the stained-glass windows and galleries of Beirut’s historic Sursock Museum. The building was severely damaged during the Lebanon capital’s devastating port explosion in August 2020. The funds will contribute towards the museum’s rebuilding fundraising goal of USD 3 million. At time of writing, the museum has raised over USD 1.5 million. Previous assistance, in collaboration with the French cultural ministry, included restoration efforts from Paris’s Centre Pompidou for restoring Kees van Dongen’s 1930 portrait of museum founder Nicolas Surcock, while French corporation Saint-Gobain also donated artisan glass to help with reconstructing the museum’s shattered windows. 

Exterior view of the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. Image via Facebook.

Worker Union Raise Concerns Over Auckland Art Gallery

Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki is facing ongoing internal disputes since the opening of its “Toi Tū Toi Ora: Contemporary Māori Art” exhibition on December 5, 2020, with concerns surrounding alleged race-related issues and mistreatment of Indigenous staff. Followed by Māori curator Nigel Borell’s departure, which was announced on January 16, 11 staff members and half of the ten-person Māori advisory board have also since resigned. In March, The Public Service Association issued an unionized submission to the gallery’s parent agency, Auckland Unlimited, on behalf of 50 museum staff, quoting problematic leadership issues since 2019, when Kirsten Lacy joined as director from Canberra’s National Art Gallery, according to a March 27 report by The Spinoff

Artist WIN PE MYINT’s studio in Myanmar was destroyed on March 17, 2021. Image via Twitter.

Artist and Writer Groups in Myanmar Deactivating Facebook

More than a dozen artist and writer groups in Myanmar have deactivated their Facebook pages since military violence escalated in the country in recent weeks. Earlier, on March 17, many of these groups released various joint statements on the social-media platform, urging the global creative community to show solidarity for people in Myanmar, where following the coup d’état in early February the military has forcibly detained the country’s democratic leaders. However, since the junta imposed martial law in Myanmar’s major cities in early March, the military’s violence against protestors and civilians has intensified, including against those of the country’s art circles. On March 17, painter Win Pe Myint’s studio was set on fire by the military, according to a tweet by his student, destroying a number of works. After the massive killings on Armed Forces Day last Saturday, the related death toll has surpassed 500, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners on March 30.

One of the Dot Flower NFTs released by TAKASHI MURAKAMI on the OpenSea platform.

Let 108 NFT Flowers Bloom

Never one to miss an opportunity for creative commerce, Takashi Murakami has bounced back from near bankruptcy and has gotten into the NFT game. This week the maestro of Superflat announced on his Instagram that he had dropped the first of a daily dozen in a series of 108 variations of pixeled pink-and-white blossoms onto the OpenSea platform. Inspired by his children watching fireworks on Animal Crossing, Murakami is embracing the latest digital craze, and his release comes at the peak of Japan’s cherry blossom season. #0008 has already hit 8 WETH, more than USD 15,400, with five days to go.

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