Collaborations and Conflicts: Weekly News Roundup
By The Editors
*last updated Tuesday, April 27, 2021.
As the world is trying to get active and productive again, art institutions and cultural figures are teaming up across the continents for future projects and collaborations. Many museums are in the process of restructuring while some are ready for renewals. Here is a look at these updates and other news from the past week.
New York’s Petzel Gallery announced on April 19 that it has added Hong Kong-based artist Samson Young to its roster. Trained in music, Young’s multidisciplinary practice, ranging from sound, video, installation to performance, shifts our perceptions in the audible and inaudible, and critically reflects on history, cultural politics, and the strength of communities across the globe. Young is currently combining programming and 3D printing to create his own system of music composition. Following his United States debut, “Silver Moon or Golden Star, Which Will You Buy of Me?” (2019) at the Smart Museum in Chicago, Young will display works in Petzel’s upcoming group show, slated for May 4, as well as his first solo presentation at Petzel in 2022.
Mori Art Museum had planned to reopen its venue in Tokyo's Roppongi Hills on April 22 after a three-month-long renovation. However its plans were delayed several weeks until at least May 11 due the increase in Covid-19 in the Tokyo region. When the museum does reopen, it will feature a contactless ticketing system, which includes online ticketing, QR codes for entrance, and self-help kiosks at the museum. Coinciding with the museum's reopening, the group exhibition “Another Energy: Power to Continue Challenging” opened yesterday, featuring works by 16 international female artists above the age of 70. The new Mori Art Museum Shop, replacing the current Roppongi Hills Art and Design Store, will open on April 28 on the third floor, selling exhibition catalogues, ceramics, and other design goods.
On April 15, the Amsterdam-based World Press Photo Awards announced that Argentinian photojournalist Pablo Tosco’s photograph Yemen: Hunger, Another War Wound (2020), received first prize in the category of contemporary issues, which draws attention to socio-political conflicts in the world. Taken on February 12, 2020, Tosco’s image shows Fatima, a mother of nine, fishing during the ongoing conflict between Houthi Shia Muslim rebels and Saudi Arabian-led Sunni Arab coalition. In the same category, the second and third prize are awarded respectively to French photographer Jérémy Lempin’s image Doctor Peyo and Mister Hassen (2020), from his project exploring palliative care, and Armenian photographer Vaghinak Ghazaryan’s Resting Soldier (2020) taken during the war over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. Established in 1955 by Dutch photographers, the Awards aim to “connect the world to the stories that matter.”
A recently discovered work by the late Hong Kong street calligrapher Tsang Tsou-choi, dubbed “King of Kowloon” (or the “Kowloon Emperor”), has been crossed out by an unknown person in the Hong Kong neighborhood of Kwun Tong. A reporter for The Stand News discovered the red paint on Tsang’s calligraphy on April 22, and suggested that the work might have been mistaken for political slogans left over from the pro-democratic protests. Located under the highway bridge along Wai Fat Road, the piece was discovered by the municipal workers of Hong Kong’s Highways Department in late March, during their repainting of the bridge pier. The Home Affairs Bureau had promised to keep Tsang’s authentic work, but the pier had not been protected. There are currently six locations left in Hong Kong for people to view Tsang’s authentic calligraphy, and his work is currently featured at Tai Kwun’s newly opened exhibition, “Ink City.”
Senior curator Mia Locks and director of human resources Carlos Viramontes of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles resigned in February and March, respectively, as confirmed by the museum to The Los Angeles Times on April 19. Both cited broader problems at the museum, such as “resistance to diversity initiatives and ‘hostile’ work environments.” After co-curating the Whitney Biennial in 2017, Locks joined MOCA in 2019, and led the launch of the IDEA Initiative, a program to promote “inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility.” However, according to Locks’s email about her departure in late March, Locks stated, “MOCA’s leadership is not yet ready to fully embrace IDEA.” As for Viramontes, he alleged in a February 19 email to MOCA staff that his supervisor, deputy director Amy Shaprio, retaliated against him because she was displeased with his performance review of staffers including herself, claims which the museum has denied. MOCA is in the process of restructuring and looking for a new executive director to oversee the IDEA Initiative.
In the run-up to the 2022 opening of its new Sydney Modern complex, the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW) kicked off celebrations of its 150th anniversary with a collaboration with the Sydney Opera House, as part of the Badu Gili festival of First Nations. The building’s iconic sails are serving as a canvas for the six-minute animated projection of works by six Indigenous women artists in the AGNSW’s collection: Marlene Gilson (Wadawurrung elder); Kaylene Whiskey (Yankunytjatjara); Sally Mulda (Luritja); Judith Inkamala and Marlene Rubuntja (Western Arrarnta); and the late Aunty Elaine Russell (Kamilaroi). AGNSW director Michael Brand stated on April 22 that First Nations art would be “displayed front and center” in the SANAA-designed Sydney Modern project, which will nearly double the museum’s exhibition space and feature new spaces to accommodate 21st-century art.
On April 19, following Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening sale in Hong Kong, the auction house announced its upcoming collaboration with the Asian superstar Jay Chou in June. Widely regarded as “King of Mandopop,” the 42-year-old Taiwanese singer-songwriter and actor is a keen art collector and is often spotted at international art fairs including Art Basel and Art021 Shanghai. Chou frequently expresses his love for artists such as KAWS, Gerhard Richter, and David Hockney on his social media, with his first Instagram post featuring himself and his mother standing next to a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat. Details of the collaboration are yet to be announced.