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Week In Review: The Shed’s Front of House Staff Unionized; Activists Hack Hans Haacke Poll

Also, artist Tobias Madison pleaded guilty to assault and harassment of his former girlfriend, actor Ellen Barkin revealed she was assaulted by Carl Andre, and more.

An artist and a graduate student hacked Hans Haacke’s poll at the New Museum to significantly alter the responses to a question about global wealth inequality (courtesy of Grayson Earle)

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.

Two hackers, an artist and a graduate student at the New School, interfered with the results of Haacke’s famous visitors poll at his New Museum retrospective to protest the museum’s “complacency in capitalism.” According to the hackers, their intervention will keep producing survey answers at about 150 per minute and shifting the results unless the museum “drastically change[s] up their security, which would involve rewriting their survey app.”

Workers in the Shed’s Visitor Experience department, which comprises approximately 75 part-time, hourly front of house staff, are now unionized. On Wednesday, the Shed announced its decision to voluntarily waive the need for an election and formally recognize the union following independent verification by the American Arbitration Association.

Philadelphia Museum of Art CEO Timothy Rub apologized for the institution’s mishandling of sexual misconduct allegations against its former employee, Joshua Helmer. At a town hall meeting with staffers, Rub promised to follow his words with improved actions. The meeting came on the heels of a recent petition signed current and former staff members at the PMA calling for “structural change” in the museum’s sexual misconduct policies.

Artist Tobias Madison (used with photographer’s permission)

In a court hearing in New York on Wednesday, artist Tobias Madison pleaded guilty to assault and harassment of his former girlfriend. Madison’s work was included in the group exhibition Life and Limbs at the Swiss Institute in New York last year, prompting a “Letter of Concern” to the museum and the exhibition’s curator. He has agreed in a plea deal to attend a 26-week a rehabilitation program, and will not serve prison time.

In a tweet last Saturday, actor Ellen Barkin revealed she was assaulted by Carl Andre in the late 1970s. Barkin says Andre choked her while she was working as a waitress and connected that assault with Andre’s alleged murder of his wife, artist Ana Mendieta.

Following Iran’s admission that it shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane, visual artists, filmmakers, and musicians are withdrawing from the state-sponsored Fajr festivals in Tehran in solidarity with anti-government protesters and those mourning the loss of loved ones involved in the crash.

The Hecht Museum on the campus of the University of Haifa in Israel canceled a talk by an artist last week because he identifies as a Palestinian, claiming his nationality does not conform with the politics of the Hecht Foundation, the foundation backing the museum. Miari, who graduated from Haifa University’s MFA program in 2018, called the cancellation a “blatant act of racism.”

Performance Space New York at 122CC. 150 First Avenue, 4th Floor, New York, NY (courtesy of Performance Space New York)

Performance Space in Manhattan is adopting a new, artist-run model for 2020. A cohort of NYC-based artists and collectives will direct the organization’s programming and have control of its annual production budget to pay their own wages, working in collaboration with its staff, board, and leadership.

A German casino worker is suing Ai Weiwei for accusing him of showing a “Nazi attitude.” The world-renowned dissident artist, who is celebrated in the gambling community as a “Blackjack Guru,” explained the story behind the lawsuit in a New York Times op-ed.

The National Archives in Washington, DC apologized for altering a photograph of the 2017 Women’s March. The museum had blurred protest placards in the image that criticized Trump and referred to women’s anatomy “so as not to engage in current political controversy.” It has since removed the doctored photograph and plans to replace it with the original, unaltered image.

China’s largest independent film festival has shuttered indefinitely in the face of increasing government censorship. “We believe it is impossible to locally organise a film festival with a purely independent spirit,” announced China Independent Film Festival (CIFF).

Gustav Klimt, “Portrait of a Lady” (1917) (via Wikimedia Commons)

The Syrian director Feras Fayyad, whose film The Cave is nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature, may be unable to attend the Academy Awards ceremony due to President Trump’s travel ban. Fayyad was denied a visa at the beginning of this year and is the latest high-profile artist experiencing visa troubles.

A Spanish collector and banking magnate was fined $58 million and received a 18-month jail sentence for attempting to smuggle his Picasso out of the country. The 83-year-old billionaire Jaime Botin tried to take his painting “Head of a Young Woman” (1906) out of Spain via his yacht. Prosecutors accused Botin of defying a court order that the work — deemed of cultural significance to Spain — remain in the country.

Two thieves say they stole a painting by Gustav Klimt and returned it more than 20 years later. Gardeners found the work, which disappeared during preparations for an exhibition in 1997, in a trash bag concealed in a wall of the Ricci Oddi Modern Art Gallery in Italy in December 2018.

Oprah Winfrey withdrew her credit as executive producer of the documentary On the Record, which details allegations of sexual assault against Russell Simmons, less than a week before its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. Though Simmons personally pressured Winfrey to leave the project, she claims this move is due to creative differences with the filmmakers.

Joseph Wright of Derby, “Two Boys with a Bladder” (about 1769-70), oil on canvas (courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Museum)

The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles acquired “Two Boys with a Bladder” (1769-70), a significant work by English landscape painter and portraitist Joseph Wright of Derby. The UK had placed an export ban on the work, deeming it a masterpiece that should not leave the country, but an export license was granted when no UK buyer came forward, allowing the Getty to purchase the painting from Lowell Libson & Jonny Yarker Ltd. Gallery in London last year. The painting features two boys inflating a pig’s bladder by candlelight (animal bladders were used as children’s toys in the 17th and 18th centuries). This and other notable sales and acquisitions are chronicled in our latest Transactions story.

This Week in the Art World

Torkwase Dyson (photo by Gabe Souza, courtesy of the Studio Museum in Harlem)

Pace Gallery now represents Torkwase Dyson, in cooperation with Rhona Hoffman Gallery. | via email announcement

The Hammer Museum in Los Angeles has revealed the list of artists for its 2020 Made In LA Biennial. | Artforum

Zoé Whitley, who co-curated Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, has been named director of London’s Chisenhale Gallery. | Culture Type

Leo Koenig and Margaret Liu Clinton have decided to close their gallery Koenig & Clinton in order to pursue independent endeavors. | ARTnews

The Foundation for Contemporary Arts, founded by artists John Cage and Jasper Johns, has announced its 2020 Grants to Artists recipients. | Artforum

Hollis Taggart Gallery now represents Dana James and John Knuth. | via email announcement

A Blade of Grass, the national nonprofit for socially engaged art, has appointed Kathryn McKinney as its first Head of Content and Communications and has elected the artist and philanthropist Michael Quattrone to its board. | via email announcement

The Portland Art Museum has received a $10 million gift from philanthropist Arlene Schnitzer, the largest gift ever awarded to a Portland arts organization. | via email announcement

United States Artists has announced its 2020 USA Fellows. They include artists Howardena Pindell, Cameron Rowland, and Jaune Quick-to-See Smith. | United States Artists

Miles McEnery now represents Pia Fries. | ARTnews 

The photography gallery Pace/MacGill, an affiliate of Pace Gallery, will now be fully integrated into Pace’s programming. The new arrangement will add photographers Robert Frank, Peter Hujar, David Goldblatt, Harry Callahan, and Richard Misrach to Pace’s roster. | ARTnews

The International Print Center New York has announced the sixth cohort of its New PrintsArtist Development Program awardees. | IPCNY

Expo Chicago has appointed Eboni S. Gates as Head of VIP Relations and Strategic Initiatives. | via email announcement

Yossi Milo Gallery now represents Hassan Hajjaj. | Yossi Milo

Art historian and curator Amanda de la Garza has been appointed director general of visual arts at the National Autonomous University of Mexico and head of its University Museum of Contemporary Art (MUAC) in Mexico City. | Artforum

In Memoriam

Sarah Bednarek (1980-2019), artist, welder, and woodworker

Robert William Burke Jr. (1948–2020), gallerist and collector | Artforum

Jaewoong Chung (1970-2020), dealer of mid-century furniture and decorative art | Legacy.com

Edith Kunhardt Davis (1937-2020), author of famous “Pat the Bunny” children’s books | NYT

Jimmy Heath (1926-2020), jazz saxophonist and composer | NYT

Terry Jones(1942-2020), scholar and founder of British sketch troupe Monty Python | NYT

Peter Larkin (1926-2020), stage designer and four-time Tony Award winner | NYT

Lorenza Mazzetti (1927-2020), filmmaker who helped start the British New Wave | NYT

Oswald Oberhuber (1931–2020), Austrian artist, critic, educator, and gallerist | Artforum

Christopher Tolkien (1924- 2020), son of JRR Tolkien who edited and published writings left by his father | Guardian

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