Shame’ on Those Who Silence Artists, Responds Shahzia Sikander, MoMA PS1 Protesters Demand Better Wages, Jacob Rothschild dies and More: Morning Links for February 27, 2024


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SILENCED ARTIST SPEAKS. The University of Houston (UH) has canceled an opening celebration and artist talk for the exhibition of two sculptures by Pakistani-American artist Shahzia Sikander, after an anti-abortion group said the work, including a golden statue of a woman with ram horn-like braids, was a “satanic abortion idol” and threatened to protest. A few days after the Texas Right to Life group posted the petition to block the sculptures from showing in Texas, UH sent a newsletter announcing the opening events for the show titled “Havah…to breathe, air, life” were canceled, and issued a document about the controversy and the artist’s intention. Sikander responded to The Art Newspaper, saying: “Art should be about discourse and not censorship. Shame on those that silence artists.” She said she was told the planned talk would be pushed to the fall.

MOMA PSI PROTEST. Workers protested outside MoMA PS1 in New York late last week to demand better wages and health benefits, reported Hyperallergic. The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 30, representing installation, maintenance, and visitor engagement workers, led the movement with signs depicting the museum’s new director, Connie Butler. Posters read: “Director Butler: Support your employees and settle a fair contract now!”


Jacob Rothschild, a British arts patron of the famous banking dynasty, who led London’s National GalleryNational Lottery Heritage Fund and Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire, has died at 87. [The Art Newspaper]

The Ethiopian government has asked the UK auction house Anderson & Garland to cancel the sale of a 19th-century Ethiopian battle shield and to restitute it. The Ethiopian Heritage Authority said the decorated metal trophy was taken in the context of the British battle of Magdala, fought against Ethiopian emperor Tewodros in 1868. [The Art Newspaper]

New details have emerged in a protracted legal battle between a former US Ambassador to France, Craig Stapleton, and the leader of France’s Tajan auction house, art collector Rodica Seward. The suit claims Seward failed to procure artworks for resale as agreed, and which Stapleton paid for, while refusing to return or disclose their location. [ARTnews] ninjaqq

London police seized 23 paintings belonging to Lebanese collector and businessman Nazem Ahmad, stored near Heathrow Airport, and 9 others set to auction at Phillips. For several years US authorities claim Ahmad is funding Hezbollah with the sale of artwork. [Le Quotidien de l’Art]

Nuria Enguita, the director of Spain’s Valencian Institute of Modern Art (IVAM), has resigned following allegations of conflict of interest. [Le Quotidien de l’Art]

The Eiffel Tower was back open this week, after closing for six days due to strikes, but has lost between 1 and 2 million euros in ticket sales as a result of the closure. The workers’ strikes were in protest against the monument’s poor financial management. [Le Figaro]

Hackers infiltrated the Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale) Instagram account and posted messages decrying “Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza and ethnic cleansing of Palestine.” The festival deleted and disavowed the posts, amid controversy over pro-Palestinian statements by attendees during the festival’s closing ceremony. [Hyperallergic]

Italy’s privately run Fondazione per l’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea CRT announced plans to widen its European presence, with a new acquisition program at Arco Madrid, and expanding loans and acquisitions.  [Artnet News] 


‘RUSSIAN CARTIER-BRESSON’ REMEMBERED. Since his death earlier this month at 41, Russian photographer Dmitry Markov is being celebrated as a “Russian Cartier-Bresson,” reports The Guardian. He died just prior to opposition leader Alexei Navalny, but there has been no suggestion of foul play. Nevertheless, Markov was arrested in a 2021 Russian opposition protest and his photographs showed searing criticism of Vladimir Poutin’s regime, amassing a viral following for depicting its everyday brutality, as well as the lives Russia’s most vulnerable. “Viewers see some of my subjects as bleak, if not, let’s be honest, depressing. But I feel the opposite: peace,” Markov wrote in his book “Draft” (2018). ninjaqq


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