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Week in Review: Amazon Cancels Queens HQ2, NEA Awards Grants Despite Shutdown

Also, Uhaul Gallery has changed its name after a threat of legal action, an Iranian photojournalist’s work was used in a disparaging Trump tweet, and more.

Anti-Amazon activists outside City Hall (photo by Zachary Small)

Week in Review is a weekly collection of news, developments, and stirrings in the art world. Subscribe to receive these posts as a weekly newsletter.

Amazon has canceled plans to build a corporate campus, dubbed HQ2, in Long Island City, Queens. The megacorporation had been promised $3 billion in state and city incentives for HQ2 — an astronomical number which was hotly contested by a number of NYC politicians like council speaker Corey Johnson and State Senator Michael Gianaris. The plan had been supported by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who cited the addition of 25,000 local jobs as a worthwhile benefit. The company will not search for another location. [NYT]

Tate Modern has won their ongoing lawsuit with the owners of luxury apartments facing the museum’s newly-opened 10th-floor terrace. Complaining of “near constant surveillance,” including voyeuristic photos of themselves inside their homes, four apartment owners brought Tate to court over nuisance and human rights laws. However, a UK judge suggested they “lower their solar blinds,” “install privacy film,” or invest in some curtains. [Guardian]

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My name is Yalda Moayeri, I’m 37 years old and I am a photojournalist from Iran. I am also the photographer of this photo. I took this picture a year ago during demonstrations around Tehran University. The circumstances were very difficult. I wasn’t able to reveal my identity for six months because I thought that being known as the photographer I might get me into trouble. But I came out as it’s important to show the situation in Iran in a clear and transparent manner. It would be a great honor for me if this image would be a symbol of freedom everywhere in the world. But having president Trump use it without my permission in a tweet in Persian even is a great shame for me and causes me deep sorrow. Because of his policies I, my family and my friends are forced to live under sanctions that are devastating our lives. Our currency lost 70 percent of its value. We all became poor. Even if I could go to America financially (I cannot) to visit my dad, I wouldn’t be able to go, as he has imposed a travel ban on the Iranians he says he cares so deeply for. This image shows my people and is for my people, and shouldnt be abused by this Mens in Washington. من يلدا معيري عكاس اين عكس هستم. اين عكس را يكسال پيش در روز ٩ دي ماه در جريان اعتراضات مردمي در دانشگاه تهران گرفتم و بخاطر ترس از دستگيري و مشكلات امنيتي كه ممكن بود براي خودم و خانواده ام پيش بيايد ٦ ماه هويت عكاس را مخفي نگاه داشتم.اين عكس در مقياس بسيار وسيعي در مطبوعات و رسانه هاي جهان منتشر شد و تبديل به نمادي از آزادگي و حريت در جهان شد كه طبعا براي من باعث بسي افتخار است.اما به عنوان يك ايراني كه هر روز و هر روز بيشتر از تحريمهاي ايالات متحده آسيب مي بيند، بخاطر تفاوت قيمت ارز و پول ملي قادر به مسافرت به كشورهاي همسايه هم نيست و به دليل قانون منع مسافرت آقاي ترامپ سالهاست از ديدار پدر و مادرش محروم مانده است، ديدن اين عكس در پشت توييت آقاي ترامپ و مصاحبه مطبوعاتي آقاي پمپئو و هر سياستمدار آمريكايي بزرگي ،شرمندگي زيادي به همراه دارد. اين عكس از مردم ايران و براي مردم ايران گرفته شده است و نبايد توسط هيچ كس ديگري مورد سواستفاده قرار بگيرد. #sanctions #Iran#donaldtrump #unitedstates #demonstration #tehranuniversity #freedom #abused

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Yalda Moayeri, a photojournalist from Iran, has taken Donald Trump to task on social media after he used a photograph she took without permission in a tweet to disparage the Iranian government for what he calls “#40YearsofFailure” — referring to the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. Moayeri took the image of a protester in Tehran, surrounded by smoke, with her fist raised during a political protest in 2017. In a statement posted to her Instagram, Moayeri expressed her deep disappointment in her image being misappropriated. “It would be a great honor for me if this image would be a symbol of freedom everywhere in the world,” she wrote. “But having president Trump use it without my permission in a tweet in Persian even is a great shame for me and causes me deep sorrow. Because of his policies I, my family and my friends are forced to live under sanctions that are devastating our lives.” Iran was one of Iran was one of the nations targeted in the 2017 executive order called the “Muslim ban” or “travel ban,” severely limiting the ability of travelers from these countries from entering the United States. [NYT]

In past months a hefty number of fashion brands have been exposed for insensitive designs recalling blackface — Prada, Gucci, MCM, and even Katy Perry. To rectify some of their missteps, Prada launched an initiative to diversify the company with the help of artist Theaster Gates, who was partnered with the brand in the past, and filmmaker Ava DuVernay. The creative pair will co-chair the Prada Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council, which “invests in diverse talent development and expands opportunities for young students of color in the fashion industry,” according to an email circulated by the fashion house. Gates says he hopes to “make the company and industry more reflective of the world today.” [WWD]

Artsy has laid off eight employees — six from its content-sales unit, and another two in the editorial department. Simon Warren, Artsy’s senior director of communications, said the company plans to focus on its art marketplace, which triggered the layoffs. “A very modest single-digit reduction in our workforce will help support this increased investment in our marketplace … as well as our continued investment in Artsy’s editorial platform,” he said. [ARTnews]

After “a certain truck rental company threatened legal action,” Brooklyn’s Uhaul Gallery has officially changed its name to Haul Gallery. Max C Lee, the gallery’s co-founder, told ARTnews that the original name stemmed from their commitment to DIY and an ability “to happen almost anywhere.” Lee says, “We also just really liked the name, and admittedly we liked that it was also a big brand name.” [ARTnews]

The Morgan Library & Museum’s McKim building will undergo extensive renovation on its exterior to refurbish the historic site to how its original architect, Charles McKim, envisioned it. The renovations will cost $12.5 million,  to restore the structure’s roof, metal fence, and the weathered limestone and sculptures that line its Italian Renaissance-style palazzo. In 2006, the library spent $106 million on renovation and expansion, and in 2010, spent $4.5 million to renovate its interior. However, this is the building’s first exterior renovation since it was completed in 1906. [NYT]

The National Endowment for the Arts has released its latest round of grants on time, despite fears related to the recent government shutdown, which threatened to delay or completely cancel a number of anticipated exhibitions. The grants total $27 million, providing support to cultural institutions in all 50 States, DC, and Puerto Rico. [NEA]

The Center for Fiction (which brands itself as the only institution in the US solely devoted to fiction writing) is opening a three-floor facility in Brooklyn’s Downtown Arts District on February 19. [via email announcement]

Transactions

Norman Lewis, “American Totem” (1960), oil on canvas, 73 1/2 × 44 7/8 inches (© Norman Lewis, image courtesy Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY)

The Whitney Museum of American Art has acquired Norman Lewis’s painting “American Totem” (1960). “One of Lewis’s most important paintings,” said Adam D. Weinberg, Alice Pratt Brown Director of the Whitney, “this acquisition will allow the Whitney to more effectively portray the complex history of American art at mid-century.” The purchase was made possible with funds from the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund in memory of Preston Robert and Joan Tisch, the Painting and Sculpture Committee, Director’s Discretionary Fund, Adolph Gottlieb, by exchange, and Sami and Hala Mnaymneh. The painting will go on display in an exhibition dedicated to the New York School, with paintings by Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Joan Mitchell, Mark Rothko, and more. The exhibition opens on June 28. [via email announcement]

This and other notable sales and acquisitions are chronicled in our latest Transactions story.

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