With Sotheby’s announcement of their sale of Guy Ullens’ collection of Chinese contemporary art comes news that Ullens is divesting himself of his Chinese contemporary art museum in Beijing, handing it over to long-term Chinese partners. A major Ai Weiwei exhibition planned at the space was recently canceled due to political pressure.
On February 2nd, a post published on now-Minister of Antiquities Zahi Hawass’s blog categorically stated: “I would like the people of the world to know that today all of the Egyptian monuments are safe.” The post assures us that no major Egyptian archaeological sites have been seriously damaged besides the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, at the epicenter of the protests that recently overthrew Mubarak’s government (of which Zahi Hawass was a prominent part). Oh, but there was also the “looting of the storage magazine in Qantara,” during which an unknown amount of antiquities were stolen, though 288 were reportedly returned. Hawass’s blog gives a uniquely skewed perspective on Egyptian lootings over the past weeks, not to be trusted, but certainly not to be discounted either.
Bill Dobbs, representing anti-censorship organization Art Positive, has sent a letter to Smithsonian director Martin Sullivan requesting that the museum release the original installation shots of David Wojnarowicz’s “A Fire in My Belly,” as well as photos of the gallery as it now stands, minus the video.
Unlike MoMA’s Marina Abramovic check-in badge, the Whitney’s new Foursquare collaboration is no joke. After using your smart phone to check in to the museum twice, plus once at a site pulled from the Whitney museum’s history, users will receive the “Whitneyphile” badge, which also grants holders a $5 ticket to the museum.
If you, like I did, logged on to the internets this morning and noticed something about the Natural History Museum being on fire, don’t worry: it’s not the museum that’s on fire, it’s their facilities building. Bad, but not catastrophic. Phew.
Felix Salmon just posted an incandescent piece on the State of the Art World seen through the lens of Davos. At a meeting of plutocrats and artists, Salmon sees collectors buying art not for its aesthetic quality but for its aura: the respect and awe that comes with owning something really expensive.
Today’s cutest news of the day ever: superstar comic artist James Kochalka, of American Elf fame, has just been named the Cartoonist Laureate of Vermont. He is the second Cartoonist Laureate in the United States; the only other state to have one is Alaska. Random? Yes. Awesome? Definitely.
If Twitter has been dominating the discussion of social media and the current protests in Egypt, they aren’t the only social network filling the intertubes with oodles of information created by everyday people, media professionals, and governmental forces.
Sure the other social media channels have suffered because of the internet clampdown that made their use near impossible but now that the country of Egypt is (kinda) connected again to the World Wide Web, we can go beyond Twitter’s textual minimalism to explore more vivid realities, notably Flickr.
The information is coming fast and furious via regarding the Egyptian Museum and the attack of protesters by pro-government authorities in Tahrir Square. So we are compiling a list of tweets to keep you up-to-date on what’s happening on the ground. Many of these tweets are from Tahrir Square, and others, like @SultanAlQassemi, are from elsewhere but from people monitoring the situation very closely. We have also added some Twitter commentary from others. Here they are unverified and unedited, and (mostly) in chronological order.
[UPDATE]: Museum has been attacked with molotov cocktails, no verified reports of the museum actually on fire, though rumors fly.
There have been many reports about damage to Egypt’s art treasures, but reports are conflicting at best, which may be because the facts are being caught up in the spin of the Egyptian government’s propaganda campaign to represent themselves as the group capable of maintaining the safety of the public … and the treasures of Egypt.
Unreported Heritage News is quoting Dr. Gerry Scott, director of the American Research Center in Egypt, who provides an assessment of the damage sustained by a few major archeological sites in the protest-racked country. He says there is apparently damage at the Giza Pyramids and an attempt to loot the Temple at Karnak.
The Smithsonian Board of Regents met on January 31st with Smithsonian Secretary G. Wayne Clough to discuss the fallout from the recent censorship scandal at the National Portrait Gallery. In its released report, the Board fails to make a strong statement against the censorship but suggests several ways forward for better practice in the future. Secretary Clough isn’t going anywhere.