News

Oldest Temple Found, State of Arts Funding, Detroit Police Terrorize Art Patrons

by Hrag Vartanian on February 23, 2010

A pillar at the Gobekli Tepe temple near Sanliurfa, Turkey, the oldest known temple in the world, (Berthold Steinhilber / Laif-Redux) via Newsweek

A German archeologist has discovered the oldest temple human civilization that have ever been uncovered. Newsweek reports:

The site isn’t just old, it redefines old: the temple was built 11,500 years ago—a staggering 7,000 years before the Great Pyramid, and more than 6,000 years before Stonehenge first took shape. The ruins are so early that they predate villages, pottery, domesticated animals, and even agriculture—the first embers of civilization. In fact, Schmidt thinks the temple itself, built after the end of the last Ice Age by hunter-gatherers, became that ember—the spark that launched mankind toward farming, urban life, and all that followed.

How important is this find?

Schmidt has uncovered what he thinks is definitive proof that a huge ceremonial site flourished here, a “Rome of the Ice Age,” as he puts it, where hunter-gatherers met to build a complex religious community.

The Guardian compares and contrasts the state of arts funding in three countries:

  • In the US, “one in 10 of the country’s 100,000 arts organisations are in such financial straits they have been forced to make swingeing cuts or consider closing”
  • In France, “While the cultural powerhouses boomed, lesser-known institutions, often outside Paris, had their funding slashed and now see their futures hanging in the balance.”
  • In Ireland, “Around 300 artistic companies will have their grants cut this year. Only 10 will see an increase.”

Largest U.S. state budget by total amount, 2010 (via Artbistro)

In related news, Artbistro ranks all the U.S. states by their arts funding. The top 10 spenders per capita are:

  1. District of Columbia – $11 (last year it was $22)
  2. Minnesota – $5.79
  3. Hawaii – dollar figure not provided
  4. Puerto Rico — $3.92 (though they add: “… Puerto Rico is not a state, but we are including it for comparison purposes.”)
  5. New York — $2.50

A view of the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit (via last.fm)

According to Courthouse News, Police in Detroit went waaaay overboard at a party at the city’s contemporary art museum:

Thirteen people say a shotgun-waving police “vice squad” in commando gear raided a members-only dance at the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit without cause and “shoved, kicked and hit” the museum’s “bewildered and terrified patrons.”

… officers forcibly detained 130 patrons and seized 40 cars, some of which were not returned.

They say the police did not announce themselves as officers when they stormed the art gallery and ran through the space pointing guns and yelling commands such as “Lie down on the fucking ground!”

Philadelphia firm KieranTimberlake’s winning design for the U.S. embassy in London. (via LA Times’ Culture Monster)

The American government announced the winner of a competition to design the new U.S. embassy in London. The LA Times posts all the designs online. It’s refreshing to see the architectural firm of KieranTimberlake beat out some very high profile competitors (Thom Mayne and the Santa Monica firm Morphosis Architects, Richard Meier & Partners Architects and Pei Cobb Freed & Partners – losing designs here).

In his assessment of the winner, LA Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne writes:

… the proposed building makes an argument that an American embassy should do more than simply symbolize transparency, which all too often means a facility wrapped in glass but secluded deep inside an impenetrable suburban compound. Instead it aspires to a different and broader set of values, primarily having to do with ecological responsibility and neighborliness within a tight urban fabric.

The design suggests that, rather than standing in for certain American virtues, what a contemporary U.S. embassy should be doing is behavingvirtuously.

I do agree that it is refreshing that American government architecture didn’t resort to the tired “glass wall = transparency” symbolism that became a hallmark of American architecture from last century.

An interior view of the swingers club, Element6, that is part of artist Christoph Buechel project at Vienna's Secession. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak) (click to enlarge)

A Viennese art gallery has decided to explore the boundaries of art — yet again — and has converted its basement into a sex club where people can act out their sex fantasies.

The mayor of Vienna isn’t an idiot so he admitted to Reuters, that “ … he did not approve of the club, but noted that outraged politicians and newspapers were playing into the artist’s hands.” Smart guy.

The exhibition will take place in the famed Secession hall and visitors will have to travel through the sex club to see the art institution’s famous Klimt works? The Secession’s sex club is named Element6 and the whole project is the work of Swiss artist Christoph Buechel. The exhibition ends April 18.

The 2010 Whitney Biennial reviews have started to roll in, including this one by Charlie Finch at Artnet, who practically coos about the show, “If you believe that art is about dignity, respect, depth of thought and purpose of craft, then the 2010 Whitney Biennial is the show for you.” Here’s another by Basil Katz at Reuters, though it’s rather boring.

Stay tuned for our commentary about the show in the next few days.

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