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Week in Review: Die-In at Purdue Bankruptcy Hearing, Artists Demand MoMA Divest From Private Prisons

Also, three members of Desert X’s board of directors stepped down after it announced a partnership with Saudi Arabia, an artist was arrested while selling art in Washington Square Park, and more.

Activists threw “blood money” on Thursday morning across courthouse steps in Westchester County, where Purdue Pharma’s first Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection hearing is being held. (all photos by Jasmine Weber/Hyperallergic)

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.

This morning, October 10, a cohort of enraged activists flanked a courthouse in Westchester County in anticipation of Purdue Pharma’s first Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection hearing, meant to resolve over 2,600 lawsuits against the drug manufacturer led by states, tribes, and municipal governments. The activists hurled a blizzard of “blood money” in the air — mock one-dollar bills printed with the word “Oxy” and splattered with red paint — and spilled mock prescription bottles across the steps of the courthouse. They spread themselves across the cement for a 200-second die-in and moment of silence for the nearly 200 individuals who die daily from drug overdoses. | Hyperallergic

Over 200 prominent hundred artists, scholars, and critics have signed an open letter demanding MoMA and its board member Larry Fink’s end their investments in private prison companies. The letter comes less than two weeks before the anticipated opening of the museum’s refurbished galleries on October 21. The statement, released by New Sanctuary Coalition, has garnered the support of big names in the art world. Signatories include Tania Bruguera, Hito Steyerl, Xaviera Simmons, Andrea Fraser, Claire Bishop, Omar Berrada, Hal Foster, Chloë Bass, Alejandro Cesarco, and Nikki Columbus, among many others. | Hyperallergic

In South Africa, members of SWEAT (the Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce) are campaigning to remove an artwork by Zwelethu Mthethwa, who was convicted of murdering a sex worker in 2017, from the recently-opened Javett Art Center. In a public gesture of solidarity, artist Candice Breitz asked that her video installation, on view in a separate exhibition at the center, be removed and replaced by a #SayHerName sign. | Hyperallergic

Artist Oriel Ceballos was tackled, pepper-sprayed, and arrested while selling art in Washington Square Park. He was first approached by Park Enforcement Patrol (PEP) for displaying his work on the ground rather than a table. | Hyperallergic

Victor Arnautoff, “The Life of George Washington” (© Tammy Aramiam/GWHS Alumni Association)

The conflict over George Washington High School’s polarizing mural art is bound for San Francisco’s superior court. Members of George Washington High School’s school’s alumni association filed suit against the San Francisco school district on Friday — alleging that its decision to shroud a historic, controversial mural departs from local law. | Hyperallergic

More than 50 artists, writers, and curators have signed a “Letter of Concern” directly addressed to “members of the staff and board of the Swiss Institute,” citing domestic violence charges against Tobias Madison, an artist who’s currently participating in the institute’s exhibition Life and Limbs. In response, poet CA Conrad canceled a planned appearance at the institute. | Hyperallergic

Kara Walker: Fons Americanus at Tate Modern (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)

Kara Walker’s Fons Americanus — a massive marble fountain dedicated to the victims of trans-Atlantic slavery — has entered the pantheon of iconic Turbine Hall projects at London’s Tate Modern. | Hyperallergic

A new monument in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican in Rome, Italy, honors migrants and refugees from around the world. | Hyperallergic

Desert X, the contemporary art biennial that launched in the Coachella Valley in Southern California in 2017, announced that it will branch out to Saudi Arabia in its first international collaboration. In response, three members of the organization’s board of directors — Ed Ruscha, Yael Lipschutz, and Tristan Milanovich — have stepped down from their positions, citing Saudi Arabia’s human rights abuses and the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi as causes for their resignation. | Hyperallergic

Rendering of Vinnie Bagwell’s “Victory” (image courtesy of the artist)

Artist Vinnie Bagwell’s proposal “Victory” will replace a removed J. Marion Sims statue in Central Park, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) announced today. The decision follows a heated debate on Saturday, October 5, when community groups from East Harlem protested a panel of judges’ vote in favor of artist Simone Leigh’s proposal. Leigh withdrew her proposal today in recognition of the community’s preference for Bagwell’s proposal. | Hyperallergic

A 2002 KAWS work depicting Chairman Mao (Mao Zedong) triggered massive outcry in China. The artwork, which was slated for auction on October 7 and was expected to reach between 620,000 and 950,000 Hong Kong Dollars (~$79,000–$121,000) was been taken down from Sothebys’ auction site, following a firestorm of public response, including videos of former KAWS fans literally burning their merch. | Hyperallergic

“Crazy Rudy” ads in New York subway trains (courtesy of The Good Liars)

In the past two weeks, spoofs have popped up in New York City subway trains mocking Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump, and FOX news. This satirical campaign is the latest from The Good Liars, a comic duo made of the New York-based comedians Jason Selvig and Davram Stiefler. | Hyperallergic

A Florida prisoner, Scott Whitney, obtained extensive, disturbing footage of daily life inside a Florida prison over four years. Now his footage for the project, called Behind Tha Barb Wire, has been smuggled out of the prison and given to the Miami Herald, which has posted a compilation of “highlights” as part of a story on his efforts. | Hyperallergic

Elizabeth Catlett, “Seated Woman” (1962), carved mahogany (image courtesy Swann Galleries)

One of Elizabeth Catlett‘s wood sculptures has set a new record for the late Mexican-American artist, selling for $389,000 at Swann Galleries’ African-American Fine Art sale. In total, the auction moved $3,679,672 worth of art. Other notable lots in the mix included Henry Ossawa Tanner‘s “At the Gates (Flight into Egypt)” (circa 1926-27), which sold for $341,000; Kenneth Victor Young‘s “Untitled (Abstract Composition)” (1972), and which went for $233,000.

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

Learn about opportunities you can apply for this month in our latest “Opportunities for Artists in October 2019.”

Also, check out Hyperallergic’s lists of must-see, fun, and insightful art events in New York and Los Angeles this fall.

This Week in the Art World

Doug AitkenSterling RubyGloria Kondrup, and Ini Archibong will be honored at the ArtCenter College of Design’s 2019 alumni awards. | via email announcement

Lynda Benglis and Nancy A. Nasher will be honored at Storm King Art Center‘s annual gala. | via email announcement

Judith F. Dolkart was appointed deputy director of the Detroit Institute of Arts. | via email announcement

Adrienne Edwards and David Breslin will curate the 2021 Whitney Biennial. | Hyperallergic

Walter Hood was awarded the annual $250,000 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize. | ARTnews

Bill Kramer was named director of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. | via email announcement

Shalini Le Gall was appointed curator of European art and director of academic engagement at the Portland Museum of Art in Maine. | Artforum

Tim Marlow was named director of London’s Design Museum. | Dezeen

Ivan Navarro is now represented by Galerie Templon. | via email announcement

Juliana Ochs Dweck was named chief curator of the Princeton University Art Museum. | Daily Princetonian

Toccarra A. H. Thomas was named director of the Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans. | via email announcement

Victor Wang was named artistic director and chief curator of the M Woods Museum in Beijing. | Artforum

In Memoriam

Martin Bernheimer (1936–2019), music critic | Washington Post

Sally Soames (1937–2019), street photographer | Telegraph

Matthew Wong (1984–2019), painter | ARTnews

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