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Jun 11 2021

Plans Revealed: Weekly News Roundup

by The Editors

Portrait of JANE WRIGHTSON, chairwoman of Experience Wellington. Image via Twitter.

Here’s a look at this week’s announcements on institutional reforms, new funds, and upcoming festivals and exhibitions.

Experience Wellington Greenlights Controversial Overhaul

Experience Wellington confirmed on June 9 that the trust will go ahead with its restructure of City Gallery Wellington Te Whare Toi despite public outcry. The proposal will replace the Gallery’s director and chief curator posts with two new senior curator roles and a director for Māori engagement, as well as a non-specialized director of art and heritage who will lead all six cultural institutions under Experience Wellington. The agency’s chairperson, Jane Wrightson, defended the proposal, claiming that it aims for “fewer hierarchical positions and better opportunities for cross-team collaboration and ideation.” The plan was lambasted by the local art community for the lack of public consultation, and prompted the International Committee for Museums and Collections of Modern Art to pen a letter, dated June 9, expressing disappointment that “negotiations between members of the arts in New Zealand and the Mayor have not resulted in any reconsideration of the original decision,” which will “destabiliz[e] the institution by reducing its ability to develop quality content necessary for a cultural institution.” Wrightson stated that changes have been made to the original proposal, but the details of those amendments were not specified.

Photo of (from left to right) ROBERTO CICUTTO, president of the Venice Biennale; and CECILIA ALEMANI, curator of the 59th International Art Exhibition. Courtesy the Venice Biennale.

Title and Theme Announced for Venice Biennale 2022

On June 9, the 59th Venice Biennale revealed “The Milk of Dreams” as its title and theme. According to artistic director Cecilia Alemani, the title refers to a series of drawings—later published as a children’s book—by Surrealist artist Leonora Carrington, whose “dreamlike” and allegorical images align with the forthcoming Biennale’s focus on the emergent “doubts that pervade the sciences, arts, and myths of our time.” The exhibition will be divided into three sections, examining “the representation of bodies and their metamorphoses; the relationship between individuals and technologies; [and] the connection between bodies and the Earth.” Robert Cicutto, president of the Venice Biennale, added that the next edition will highlight the “reinvention of new and more sustainable relations between individuals and the universe we live in.” The 59th Venice Biennale is scheduled to run from April 23 to November 27, 2022, at venues across the Giardini, Arsenale, and the historic center of Venice.

Still from AI WEIWEI’s documentary Rohingya (2021). Image via Instagram.

Ai Weiwei’s Documentary Rejected by Cannes Film Festival

Ai Weiwei’s film Rohingya (2021) was rejected by the 74th Cannes Film Festival, according to the artist-activist’s Instagram post on May 31. The feature-length documentary documents the lives of Rohingya in one of the world’s largest refugee camps, located in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Filming of Rohingya began in 2016, at the start of the Myanmar Army’s violent massacres of the Muslim ethnic minority in the country’s Rakhine State. Reasons for the festival’s decision were not publicized, but Ai stated in his post that it “came as no surprise,” citing, though not by name, past human-rights-focused documentaries that also had been rejected by major film festivals. His 2020 film Coronation (2020), about the first lockdowns in Wuhan, was turned down by film festivals in Toronto, Venice, and New York, and online viewing platforms such as Netflix. Ai has made Rohingya available on Vimeo for public viewing.

Installation view of “Young Korean Artists 2021,” at National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA), Gwacheon, 2021. Courtesy MMCA, Korea.

Korean Government Launches New Fund for Young Artists

The first round of Korea’s “Creative Seed” project is currently open for applications. Led by the Korea Artists Welfare Foundation (KAWF) under the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, the initiative will distribute KRW 2 million (USD 1,800) every month to each of the roughly 3,000 selected applicants. Practitioners with less than two years of professional experience in various fields including but not limited to performance art, music, and book publishing are eligible for funding. The online applications will be split into two rounds, with the first ending on June 14 and the second opening at the end of July. Artists will have to provide documentation of financial status and relevant art experience. Established in 2012, KAWF promotes artistic activities by protecting the professional status and rights of artists in Korea.

Installation view of JAFFA LAM’s Lost and Found (2021) at Hung Hom Station, Hong Kong. Courtesy MTR Corporation Limited, Hong Kong.

Jaffa Lam’s New Work to be Unveiled at Metro Station

Hong Kong artist Jaffa Lam’s latest series, Lost and Found (2014–21), will be unveiled at the Hung Hom MTR station in Hong Kong on an unspecified date in the near future. The series comprises objects Lam had recovered from the MTR corporation’s lost and found and then cast in aluminum melted from colonial-era motors. Sculptures of items including a shoe, a watch, and suitcases will be scattered across the platform and concourse of Hung Hom station. A large-scale installation destined for the concourse has not been finished due to pandemic-related delays. The MTR corporation first approached Lam in 2014 to create an artwork for the new Tuen Ma Line connecting the two sides of the New Territories.

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