The disappearance and suspected assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi has had a resounding aftereffect on the art world, with no discernable end in sight. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has helped establish Saudi Arabia as a valuable facet of the arts through generous financial support, providing enormous donations and partnerships to international institutions. But now, as allegations of the Saudi government’s purported murder of the dissenting journalist arise, benefactors of this cultural campaign have been faced with the ominous underbelly of their relationship to the nation.
In recent weeks, arts institutions have been forced to make decisions regarding their financial ties to Saudi Arabia as they grapple with the Saudi government’s alleged hand in Khashoggi’s killing. Recently, the Brooklyn Museum and Metropolitan Museum of Art chose to deny funds from the Misk Institue (an arts organization founded and backed by MBS), and Columbia University announced a public conversation with Ahmed Mater, Misk’s director, would not take place.
Sotheby’s Chief Executive Officer Tad Smith was intended to speak on a cultural panel in Saudi Arabia with Mikhail Piotrovsky, director of the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, but canceled his appearance following the news about Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance. Many other business leaders have pulled out of the event, the Future Investment Initiative, in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia.
On October 19, Russia announced its plan to continue its support of Saudi Arabia, confirming its decision to participate in the Initiative. The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) has organized a delegation of over 30 Russian business, culture, and government giants to “contribute to talks and consultations on their specialist fields, and meet with the leadership of the Kingdom and key Saudi partners.” In a statement, it also announced its intention to bring a 20th-century Russian art exhibition of works by Wassily Kandinsky and Pavel Filonov, from the State Russian Museum to Saudi Arabia.
According to Russian government-owned publication Sputnik News, Vladimir Putin pronounced, “We don’t know what really happened there. So why [does Russia] need to take some steps towards the deterioration of our relations if we don’t understand what is happening?”
Despite Russia doubling down on its Saudi relations, Saudi Arabia has encountered a major hiccup in its development of a $500 billion megacity. NEOM, set to be a 10,000-square-mile metropolis on the coast of the Red Sea, was announced at a 2017 conference in Riyadh by Bin Salman.
On October 9 of 2018, just seven days after Khashoggi’s reported assassination, the 19 members of NEOM’s advisory board were announced, including notable figures in the field of architecture and design. Quickly, the name of Jonathan Ive (Apple’s chief design officer) was removed, and only 18 remained.
The Architect’s Newspaper reports that soon after, Dan Doctoroff (founder and CEO of Sidewalk Labs) announced that his inclusion on the list was a mistake. Tim Brown (CEO and president of IDEO) also withdrew his participation. Norman Robert Foster (founder and CEO of Foster + Partners) told the publication earlier this week he, “wrote to the head of the NEOM Advisory Board stating that whilst the situation remains unclear he has suspended his activities in respect of the Board.”
It seems the only architectural participant remaining is Carlo Ratti (of MIT’s Senseable Cities Lab), who told the Architect’s Newspaper, “Both Carlo and our team are gravely concerned about the Khashoggi case. We are monitoring the situation closely as it develops hour by hour. We are waiting for the results of the U.S. investigation to evaluate the best course of action.”
Did You Know These Museums Were Free for New Yorkers?
The “Free Admission” campaign is advocating to make ticket pricing information more transparent to visitors, who may be confused or misled by institutions’ language.
AI Images Visualizing Trump’s Arrest Send Internet Into a Frenzy
The pictures, created using Midjourney, depict the former president’s greatest fantasy: being dragged away by police in front of the cameras.
Haggerty Museum of Art Presents Tomás Saraceno in Dialogue With Dr. Somesh Roy
The artist and researcher will explore soot’s effects on climate change and public health in this online conversation.
Some AI Artworks Now Eligible for Copyright
New guidance from the US Copyright Office sets some policies around AI-generated images.
NYC Hispanic Society Workers to Strike Indefinitely
One worker said the museum’s “skeletal” workforce bars the institution from functioning to its potential.
McKnight Visual Artist Fellows Discussion Series at the Minneapolis Institute of Art
The series features 2021 Fellows David Bowen, Mara Duvra, Rotem Tamir, Ben Moren, and Dyani White Hawk in conversation with renowned curators and critics.
In Search of Inclusive South Asian Futurisms
We have been dangerously siloed for far too long by colonial constructs of race, nation, and time that separate, divide, and deny us our very being.
What Do Shtreimels and Cowboy Hats Have in Common?
A chance meeting on the subway introduced photographer Francesca Magnani to the multicultural world of Brooklyn milliner Richard Faison.
Nevada Museum of Art Presents Adaline Kent: The Click of Authenticity
For the first time in nearly 60 years, the innovative yet under-recognized artist is the subject of a retrospective exhibition. On view in Reno, Nevada.
Richard Hull Completes the Picture
Once known for his abstracted portraits, the Chicago artist is now exploring new directions.
You Too Can Have Your Art on a Postage Stamp
The process isn’t complicated, and thousands of people submit themselves for the talent pool every year.
The Public Theater in NYC Presents Plays for the Plague Year
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks’s theatrical concert chronicles the 2020 lockdown and the hope and perseverance that emerged from it.
Bobby Wilson Combats Indigenous Stereotypes Through Humor
The artist-performer’s career undulates, ever so gracefully, across multiple mediums and registers of generational pain, healing laughter, and Indigenous joy.
Rare 19th-Century Silhouette Album’s Secrets Unlocked
Traveling portrait artist William Bache’s album depicts famous figures like Thomas Jefferson as well as people whose identity was previously unknown.