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  • Feb 26, 2021

New Partnerships: Friday News Roundup

Nairobi-based community organization Wajukuu Art Project is one of five new members of Documenta 15.

Numerous organizations have announced new collaborations last week, while others are being chastised for controversial leadership decisions. Here is a look at these updates as well as other news.

On February 17, documenta 15 announced the addition of five “lumbung-members” to its artistic team: Dhaka-based artist-run nonprofit Britto Arts Trust; Auckland-based Queer Indigenous arts collective FAFSWAG; Havana-based civic literacy focused Instituto de Artivismo Hannah Arendt; Hastings-based collective Project Art Works; and Nairobi-based community organization Wajukuu Art Project. Under the 2022 curatorial theme of lumbung—Indonesian for communal rice barns—the now 14-members group will collectively develop strategies for resource-sharing to foster a collaborative platform that challenges and uplifts the arts ecology. The Kassel festival’s focus on solidarity was conceived in 2020 by its artistic directors, the South Jakarta-based artist collective ruangrupa, and is slated to run from June 18 to September 25, though the pandemic may force a delay.

A portrait of CHRISTINE KUAN. Photo by Sophie Elgort. Image via Instagram.

New York-based national arts nonprofit Creative Capital announced on February 24 that Christine Kuan will become its president and director from March 22, replacing interim director Leslie Singer who will return to her original role of chief operating officer. Kuan is currently chief executive officer and director of Sotheby’s Institute of Art New York, and previously held senior positions at Artsy, Artstor, and Oxford University Press. A graduate of University of Iowa, she has taught at Peking University, Rutgers University, Stanford University’s Arts Leadership program, and has also worked at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

A portrait of STEVEN Y. WONG. Courtesy Steven Y. Wong and Vincent Price Art Museum, Los Angeles.

The Vincent Price Art Museum (VPAM) at East Los Angeles College appointed Steven Y. Wong as its museum director on February 19. Previously a curator at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Wong organized group exhibitions at the institution highlighting the city’s artists. Prior to this, he served as the curator and interim executive director of the city’s Chinese American Museum, co-curating shows such as “Circles and Circuits I: History and Art of the Chinese Caribbean Diaspora” and “Circles and Circuits II: Contemporary Chinese Caribbean Art” (both 2017–18) to showcase less-visible histories of the Chinese diaspora. In 2019, he received VPAM’s Cultural Leadership Award for his commitment to sharing narratives of visible minority communities.

A portrait of BRYCE KANBARA. Photo by Lillian Blakey. Courtesy the artist.

On February 23, the Canada Council for the Arts announced Japanese-Canadian multimedia artist and curator Bryce Kanbara as the winner of its 2021 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts for Outstanding Contribution, conferring to him a cash prize of CAD 25,000 (USD 18,870). Kanbara’s recognition marks five decades of commitment to public art and engagement. In 1975, he co-founded experimental artist-run center Hamilton Artists Inc. He held curatorial positions at the Burlington Art Centre and the Art Gallery of Hamilton, among others. Since 2003, he has been the curator and proprietor of the community-orientated You Me Gallery in Hamilton. He plans to use some of the award money for a rural Japanese property he currently makes available to other artists.

An exterior view of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Image via

Over 150 artists, curators, and art workers have joined in a statement urging New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) to distance itself from billionaire Leon Black, who is currently the museum’s board chairman. Black was recently found to have had close ties with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, whom he paid USD 158 million for tax and advisory services between 2012–17. First published on February 4, the statement has been signed by artists such as Michael Rakowitz, Ali Yass, and Nicole Eisenman, and on February 22, Ai Weiwei, who has said that he will ask MoMA to remove his works from its collection if the institution continues to associate with Black. In the statement, signatories reflect on the need for a “collective exit from art’s imbrication in toxic philanthropy and structures of oppression,” to prevent the reoccurrence of similar issues in the future.

A Portrait of KENZO TAKADA at his home in Paris. Photo by Mitchell Geng. Image via Instagram.

The personal collection of the late fashion designer Kenzo Takada (1939–2020) will be auctioned by Artcurial in Paris on May 11, in collaboration with Christie’s. Founder of his eponymous fashion brand Kenzo, known for its vibrant and floral prints, the designer passed away late last year due to complications from Covid-19. Housed in his Parisian apartment in Left Bank, his collection includes nearly 600 pieces of antiques and contemporary works, Art Deco furniture, more than 100 original wardrobe pieces, the designer’s own artistic creations, and even a large crystal chandelier. Originally hung in Takada’s living room, the chandelier carries an estimate of EUR 4,000–6,000 (USD 4,800–7,300).

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