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  • Apr 16, 2021

New Stage: Weekly News Roundup

Portrait of ALISON FRIEDMAN. Courtesy Alison Friedman.

People working in the arts are on move, while art prizes and fairs are spotlighting new talents in the world of art and design. Meanwhile some artists who recently jumped on the NFT bandwagon are exiting the booming market, for now, to search for other digital alternatives. Here is a look at these updates and other news from the past week.

Chapel Hill’s arts venue Carolina Performing Arts (CPA) announced on April 12 that Alison Friedman will become its new executive and artistic director in October, replacing interim director James Moeser who will remain in his role until June 30, and CPA’s current associate director Michael Johnson, who will lead from June to October. Friedman is currently artistic director for performing arts at Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District Authority and is recognized for her extensive experience as a performing arts producer at the cultural district’s Xiqu Centre and West Kowloon Freespace. Previously, she served as founder and creative director of Beijing’s nonprofit performing arts organization Ping Pong Productions from 2010 to 2017, and has held leadership roles at New York’s Parnassus Arts Productions and Beijing Modern Dance Company.

JANA TRABOULSI, Kitab al-Hawamish (Book of Margins), 2017. Courtesy Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

On March 23, London's Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) and Dubai’s nonprofit Art Jameel announced the eight finalists for its biennial Jameel Prize: Brooklyn-based multidisciplinary artist Golnar Adili, Dubai-based multimedia designer Hadeyeh Badri, Kolkata-based fashion designer Kallol Datta, Beirut-based graphic designer Fara Fayyad, Riyadh-based installation artist Ajlan Gharem, London-based architect Sofia Karim, Beirut-based illustrator Jana Traboulsi, and Lahore-based textile artist and printmaker Bushra Waqas Khan. The winner of the GBP 25,000 (USD 34,000) prize will be revealed at the opening of the group exhibition “Jameel Prize: Poetry to Politics,” scheduled for September 18–November 28 at V&A. Established in 2009 by V&A and Art Jameel, the international award promotes art and design inspired by Islamic traditions.

Exterior view of Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney. Image via Facebook.

Seven major cultural institutions in Sydney are facing proposed multimillion operation funding cuts according to New South Wales’s estimated budget forecasts for 2022–23. On April 13, the Public Service Association, which represents staff at these institutions, released a statement warning against the growing reliance on temporary staff and the declining number of skilled workers. The list of potentially impacted museums includes the Art Gallery of New South Wales, which could face an annual cut of AUD $9 million (USD 6.9 million) from June, hindering the development of its under-construction museum Sydney Modern, ahead of its planned 2022 opening. Other affected spaces include, among others, the Australian Museum and the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, which are facing potential cuts of AUD $13 million (USD 9.98 million) and AUD $10 million (USD 7.7 million), respectively. 


Artist Takashi Murakami announced via Instagram on April 11 the postponement of his inaugural NFT sale to “further explore the optimal format in which to offer my NFT works.” The newly minted series, featuring 108 pink-and-white pixelated variations of Murakami’s signature sunflower icon, was withdrawn from the OpenSea platform where bids have already reached over USD 10,000 since it was released on March 30. No dates have been revealed regarding his next NFT attempt, but he cited possibilities of building his own digital storefront among other technical considerations to “maximize the convenience for the collectors/owners” and improve their “sense of security in owning the works.”

K-pop stars SONG MIN-HO and KANG SEUNG-YOON (pictured), along with Henry Lau, will be showcasing their artworks at London

K-pop stars Henry Lau, Song Min-ho (known as MINO), and Kang Seung-yoon have revealed details of their upcoming art showcase at Saatchi Gallery’s emerging artist focused Start Art Fair in London. Lau will display five recent pendulum paintings, including Starry (2021), depicting a flurry of overlapping pink oval markings. Song, who debuted in 2019 as a painter at the “Special Exhibition for Emerging Artists” in Seongnam’s Gallery808, will present a series of figurative acrylic paintings under the alias Ohnim. Meanwhile Kang, under the alias Yoo yeon, will exhibit monochromatic architectural photographs taken during his previous international travels. The fair is scheduled to run from October 13 to 17 during Frieze Art Week.

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