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  • Oct 13, 2023

Weekly News Roundup: October 12, 2023

Portrait of MELIH FERELI (left) and EMRE BAYKAL (right). Courtesy Arter. 

New Director at Arter in Istanbul 

Istanbul’s leading private contemporary art museum, Arter, announced on October 5 that its founding director, Melih Fereli, will step down from the role he has occupied since 2010. Emre Baykal, who has served as Arter’s chief curator since 2016 and was formerly its exhibitions director and curator, will take his position at the end of the year. Having dedicated the past 13 years to Arter, Fereli is an influential figure in Turkey’s contemporary art scene. He has been an arts and culture consultant for the Vehbi Koç Foundation, the funder of Arter, since 2005, and was the director general of the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) from 1993 to 2001. 

Photo of Museum Fridericianum during documenta fifteen in 2022. Photo by HG Masters. 

Documenta Criticizes Ruangrupa 

On October 9, Documenta issued a statement denouncing ruangrupa’s recent display of support for Palestine on social media, as two members “liked” Instagram videos that featured people chanting “viva Palestine” and “Palestine will be free.” The Indonesian collective were the artistic directors of documenta fifteen in 2022, an event that was mired in accusations of antisemitism over the depictions of Israeli soldiers in a mural by the collective Taring Padi and archival films about Palestinian liberation groups, leading to the resignation of director Sabine Schormann. Despite ruangrupa members retracting their “likes,” Documenta’s managing director Andreas Hoffmann stated that their actions were “intolerable and unacceptable” and emphasized the organization’s solidarity with the Jewish community. 

Portrait of ALEXANDRA A. SENO. Courtesy Asian Cultural Council Hong Kong. 

Alex Seno New Director at ACC

The Asian Cultural Council Hong Kong (ACC Hong Kong) announced on October 10 that it has appointed Alexandra A. Seno as its new director, following Josephine Wai’s retirement announcement last month. With experience spanning a decade, Seno has previously produced two documentaries, served on the board of Hong Kong’s Para Site, worked as Head of Development at Asia Art Archive for five years, and freelanced as an art and architecture critic, among other industry-relevant positions. ACC’s New York-based Executive Director Judy Kim stated: “[Seno’s] passion and expertise will be a valuable asset to ACC as we continue our mission of advancing cultural exchange. We are excited to witness a new chapter of ACC Hong Kong under her leadership.”


Osman Kavala Wins Havel Peace Prize 

Osman Kavala, an imprisoned Turkish humanitarian who founded the Istanbul-based arts and culture institution Anadolu Kültür in 2002, was awarded the 11th Václav Havel Prize by the Council of Europe. The philanthropist’s wife, Ayşe Buğra, accepted the EUR 60,000 (USD 63,300) peace prize on his behalf and read aloud a letter Kavala wrote from prison, which included a quote by the late Václav Havel, a formerly imprisoned Czech author and statesman: “Only those who have not lost faith and hope can see the horrors of the world with genuine clarity.” Despite the European Court of Human Rights ordering his immediate release in 2019, Kavala has been detained in Turkey since 2017 on allegations from Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and prosecutors that he was attempting to overthrow the government. 

Portrait of REBECCA RAY. Photo by Mark Mohell. Courtesy Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney.

Rebecca Ray Named First Nations Curator

On October 12, the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia in Sydney announced that it has named Rebecca Ray as its new curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander collections and exhibitions, a role that she will commence by November. As a woman with Merimam Mer (of the Torres Strait Islands) heritage, Ray has dedicated her career to establishing decolonial narratives within museum spaces through her practice as a curator, writer, and cultural heritage researcher. She previously worked as First Nations curator at the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, and as assistant curator of Indigenous art at Queensland’s Home of the Arts gallery. Museum director Suzanne Cotter stated that Ray’s appointment “represents an inspiring addition to our dynamic and forward-looking curatorial team and its engagement with the art of our time.”

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