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  • Oct 06, 2023

Weekly News Roundup: October 6, 2023

DunnHillam Architects exterior rendering of Artspace in Sydney with CHUN YIN RAINBOW CHAN’s Fruit Song, 2022. Courtesy the artist and Artspace, Sydney.

Artspace Sydney Announces Reopening in Mid-December

Artspace, a contemporary art center in Sydney funded by the New South Wales (NSW) government, announced that The Gunnery, its Woolloomooloo headquarters, will reopen on December 15, coinciding with the institution’s 40th anniversary. While Artspace has been based in The Gunnery since 1993, a three-year renovation has expanded its footprint by another floor, allowing Artspace to occupy the entire heritage-listed building for the first time in its history. Along with increased exhibition and multiplatform space, a learning studio, and an accessible archive, the renovation will also add ten subsidized studios for working artists amid the city’s increasing scarcity of affordable art spaces. Additionally, the NSW state government has ensured that Artspace can inhabit The Gunnery for another 35 years. To celebrate its relaunch, Artspace will open with “Jonathan Jones: untitled (transcriptions of country),” a mixed-media co-commissioned project on colonial narratives that will expand on the Wiradyuri and Kamilaroi artist’s 2021 presentation at Palais de Tokyo in Paris. 

Portrait of JULIE RRAP. Photo by Isobel Markus Dunworth. Courtesy the artist and Melbourne Art Foundation.

Melbourne Art Fair To Debut AUD 100,000 Co-Commission at 2024 Edition

The 2024 Melbourne Art Foundation Commission, in partnership with the Art Gallery of Western Australia (AGWA) in Perth, has been awarded to artist Julie Rrap, who has been a leading figure in Australian contemporary feminist art since the 1970s. For its tenth commission, the Foundation endowed the winning artist with AUD 100,000 (USD 63,700) for her new work SOMOS (Standing On My Own Shoulders), a life-sized figurative sculpture that features two bronze casts of Rrap’s body, with one molded on top of the other in the titular position. Rrap said of the work that while bronze figurative sculptures have historically been used to depict Herculean men, SOMOS “subverts that history by representing an older female body traditionally rendered invisible.” Before it goes to its home at the AGWA, the sculpture will be unveiled at the Melbourne Art Fair, where 60-plus Australasian galleries and Indigenous art spaces are set to exhibit from February 22–25, 2024. The Melboune Art Fair also declared that going forward it will be held annually rather than every other year, catering to the region’s growing demand for contemporary art sales and exhibitions.

Portrait of OSMAN KAVALA. Courtesy Anadolu Kultur, Istanbul.

Turkish Appeals Court Confirms Osman Kavala’s Life Sentence, Releases Other Activists 

On September 28, Turkey’s top appeals court upheld the aggravated life sentence for cultural philanthropist Osman Kavala, who was acquitted then reconvicted on charges of attempting to overthrow the Turkish government. Additionally, the Court of Cassation’s 3rd Criminal Chamber affirmed the 18-year sentences for others convicted in April 2022 as part of the so-called Gezi Trial: lawyer Can Atalay, urban planner Tayfun Kahraman, and documentary filmmakers Çiğdem Mater and Mine Özerden. However, the court overturned the verdicts for three others: Istanbul Bilgi University founder Yiğit Ekmekçi, architect Mücella Yapıcı, and Open Society Foundation executive Hakan Altınay. Turkish prosecutors alleged that Kavala, who is the founder of the nonprofit Anadolu Kültür that promotes cultural dialogue with minority communities in Turkey, was the leader and financier of nationwide protests in 2013 sparked by plans to demolish a public park in Istanbul’s Taksim Square. In April 2022, all eight were convicted in a mass trial with scant evidence and overt signs of interference in the proceedings from the government and president. Kavala was first detained on October 18, 2017, and has been imprisoned under a series of charges—and was detained even after his acquittal in the original case—all despite the government’s inability to produce substantive evidence or witnesses. The European Court of Human Rights ruled in December 2019 that Kavala should be released immediately.

Exterior view of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Photo by Hugo Schneider via Flickr and Wikicommons.

The Met Will Return Two Sculptures to Nepal

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Consulate General of Nepal in New York announced on October 3 that a 13th-century wooden temple strut and 11th-century stone depiction of Hindu mythology will be repatriated. The Met was gifted the temple strut in 1988 and purchased the stone sculpture in 1995. Unlike most repatriation controversies, the museum initiated the return of the artworks “upon receiving new information from colleagues in Nepal,” according to their joint press release. While that information was not specified, the news follows a slew of repatriation scandals, including the Met’s own possession of looted Cambodian artifacts. Speaking on behalf of the Nepalese government, Acting Consul General Bishnu Prasasd Gautam said he was “deeply grateful” that the pieces were being returned, and for the museum’s “ongoing dedication and commitment to working for the preservation and promotion of world cultural heritage.” The Met has returned several other objects to Nepal in recent years, including the 13th-century wooden Temple Strut with a Salabhinka in 2022.

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