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Jul 30 2021

Karma Pays Off: Weekly News Roundup

by The Editors

Portrait of MING-HWA YEH. Image via Facebook.

Taishin Arts Award Announces 2021 Winners

On July 10, the 19th Taishin Arts Award revealed their winners via a live-streaming ceremony. Selected from 15 finalists, the Grand Prize winner Ming-Hwa Yeh received a cash prize of TWD 1.5 million (USD 53,700) for her 2020 performance The House Behind the Wall. Conceived for the Wang Da Hong House Theatre, Yeh’s piece documents the life of architect Wang Da Hong in three segments that combine dance, traditional theater, and video projections. Ting-Tong Chang, Hsien-Yu Cheng, and Dino were presented with the Visual Arts Award, worth TWD 1 million (USD 35,800), for their project Taipei Robot Man 2.0: Infodemic (2020), which uses digital technologies to create installations and sound performances from online troll posts and disinformation. The TWD 1 million (USD 35,800) Performing Arts Award was given to Taiwanese dancer-choreographer Wu-Kang Chen and French artist Jérôme Bel for their collaboration Dances for Wu-Kang Chen (2020).

Exterior view of teamLab Borderless: Mori Building Digital Art Museum. Image via Instagram.

teamLab Borderless To Relocate in 2022

On July 21, Japan’s media collective teamLab announced that teamLab Borderless at the Mori Building Digital Art Museum will be closing on August 31, 2022. Borderless will relocate to an unnamed site in the central business district in Tokyo. The collective’s museum has occupied its current space on Odaiba, the large artficial island in Tokyo Bay, since June 2018, where it displayed a number of the collective’s most significant interactive installations, such as Universe of Water Particles on a Rock Hill Where People Gather (2018), which features a color-changing, flowery waterfall pouring onto a rock. The museum attracted up to 2.3 million visitors annually, breaking the Guinness World Record for the museum with most visitors in the world in 2019.

Portrait of JEREMY STOWE. Courtesy West Kowloon Cultural District Authority.

Construction Chief Removed from Delay-Riddled West Kowloon Cultural District

The West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA) announced the resignation of its chief projects officer (CPO) Jeremy Stowe on July 22. The reason for Stowe’s departure has not been clarified, but according to reports by HK01, several law enforcers visited his office before he was placed on leave for personal matters in May. Stowe joined WKCDA in March 2012 as the head of construction project management, and was promoted to director of project control by May 2016 before becoming CPO in January 2019. He oversaw the construction of M+ museum, which despite repeated delays and a dispute with its contractor is now slated to open by the end of 2021. Before joining WKCDA, Stowe led multiple major construction projects in the city, including the Hong Kong International Airport and the Westrail Line of the local metro system. WKCDA is starting an open search for a new CPO, while Norman Heung will lead the team as acting CPO. Stowe’s resignation follows the departure of former CEO Duncan Pescod in October 2020 and the recent appointment of Betty Fung as the WKCDA’s new chief.

Photo of staff and volunteers at the Archaeological Museum, American University of Beirut (AUB), retrieving fragments of broken vessels. Courtesy the Archaeological Museum and the AUB Office of Communications.

British Museum to Repair Works Damaged in Beirut Blast

The British Museum, supported by The European Fine Arts Foundation (TEFAF), will restore eight ancient glass vessels damaged in the 2020 Beirut port explosion. The damaged artifacts were among 74 glass vessels from the Roman, Byzantine, and Islamic periods, displayed at the Archaeological Museum at the American University of Beirut (AUB) when the massive ammonium nitrate blast severely damaged large portions of the Lebanese capital. Most of the vessels were damaged beyond repair, with only 15 deemed salvageable and eight able to travel to the British Museum’s conservation laboratories. Dating back to 100 BCE, the pieces represent a period of advancement in Lebanese glass-blowing, seeing new techniques that allowed them to be mass-produced for the public and not just the elite. Once restored, the pieces will be on temporary display in London before they are returned to Beirut.

Installation view of YAYOI KUSAMA’s Pumpkin: big, 2008, fibreglass-reinforced plastic and all-weather urethane paint, 215 × 250 × 250 cm, at Harbour Arts Sculpture Park, Hong Kong, 2018. Copyright the artist. Courtesy Harbour Arts Sculpture Park.

Kusama Fraudster Sentenced to Jail

On July 28, German socialite and failed art flipper Angela Gulbenkian was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail, for which she has already served two years after being extradited to the United Kingdom in December 2020. Gulbenkian appeared in London’s Southwark Crown Court after pleading guilty to two counts of theft that amounted to a total of USD 1.5 million. In 2017, Gulbenkian fraudulently sold Hong Kong-based art advisor Mathieu Ticolat one of Yayoi Kusama’s famed fiberglass pumpkin sculptures, Yellow Pumpkin (2012), for USD 1.38 million, but never delivered the artwork to the buyer—because it was not in her possession and not hers to sell. At the hearing, Ticolat stated that he was “dealing with a literal sociopath,” and that “she was constantly making lies.” The second victim, Jacqui Ball, was swindled GBP 50,000 (USD 69,730) by Gulbenkian after being convinced that the money was being invested in art. The case was reported in October 2018 and Gulbenkian repaid Ball the money in April 2021.

KEVIN ERIC RAYMUNDO’s illustration Tumindig (2020) is now available for pre-order as a collectible toy, which will be sold by Gino Roberto Custom Figures. Image via Instagram.

Philippine Protest Artwork Gets Second Life as Collectible

On July 26, Filipino artist Kevin Eric Raymundo (also known as Tarantadong Kalbo)’s viral protest work, Tumindig (2020), was made available for pre-order as a collectible toy. The original illustration sprung from both the Filipino artist’s frustration with President Rodrigo Duterte’s government and the local artistic community’s disconnection from social issues. Depicting a lone raised fist against a sea of kneeling figures resembling the “fist-bump” gesture of President Duterte and his allies, Tumindig was met with sweeping solidarity as others added their own raised fists to the tableau. The seven-centimeter toy depicting the original fist will be sold by Gino Roberto Custom Figures with a target release for September. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Phillipine Animation Workers Association.

Cover of Blue in Green (2020) by ANAND RADHAKRISHNAN and JOHN J. PEARSON. Image via Twitter.

Mumbai-based Graphic Artist Wins Eisner Award

On July 23, Mumbai-based graphic artist Anand Radhakrishnan and collaborator John J. Pearson were named Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (interior art) at the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards—the Oscars for comics—for their book Blue in Green (2020). Radhakrishnan and Pearson’s mix-media art in Blue in Green stunningly captures a young jazz saxophonist’s obsession with his art and his struggles to escape his father’s legacy. Radhakrishnan told Hindustan Times that the accolade has made him feel seen by others, especially since he mostly works from home. He is currently working on Radio Apocalypse, a graphic novel about a radio station and crew that have survived the apocalypse. The book will be released in October 2021.

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