“All members of our community are now experiencing the sudden, unfathomable impact of the coronavirus outbreak across the world,” said Richard Armstrong, director of the museum, in a statement to ARTnews. “Despite the many temporary obstacles we now face, I am confident that we will come through this together, emerging newly united.”
Staff making more than $80,000 will take salary reductions on a graduated basis. A spokesperson for the museum said this decision will impact 85 employees. Leadership at the Guggenheim will also be taking pay cuts; Armstrong, for example, will see his salary decrease by 25 percent.
Like millions of businesses across the country, museums have saddled up to the sad reality that the Covid-19 outbreak had decimated their revenue sources and would probably slow the trickle of income for months to come, even after the crisis is under control and stores reopen. Over the last month, arts organizations have laid off thousands of employees, freelancers, and part-time workers in an effort to keep their budgets balanced.
The Guggenheim, which hopes to reopen in July, now projects a shortfall of $10 million because of the coronavirus pandemic. In his email to staff, Armstrong promised that workers impacted by furloughs will be paid through April 19, and any unused or accrued vacation time will be paid in a lump sum by May 1. Employees receiving healthcare will be covered until the date of rehire or July 31, whichever comes first.
Although furloughs were spread across the museum’s departments, a representative for the Guggenheim’s union said that 11 members of its bargaining unit have been affected.
Recent rounds of layoffs and furloughs in the New York art world have directly impacted unions, many of which are less than a year old. Earlier this month, the New Museum laid off or furloughed 48 staff members; 31 of those impacted were part of the downtown art institution’s union. Earlier this week, the art shipping company Uovo came under fire after six of its seven laid-off workers were ones who played key roles in the business’ recent unionization efforts. The decision prompted Teamsters Local 814 to file charges with the National Labor Relations Board against Uovo, claiming the company was using the virus as an excuse to get rid of pro-union workers.
“This means hard lives for workers, who are already doing their best to cope with a dangerous and challenging health environment,” Bryan Cook, a member of the union, told ARTnews. “We are all still employees, and we are all still fighting for fair compensation and safe working conditions. Nothing will change that.”
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This afternoon, more than 25 employees at Pace Gallery were informed over the phone that their positions had been furloughed through mid-August because of the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the art market. The furloughs account for roughly a quarter of the staff at the gallery’s flagship New York location.
The announcement from Pace—one of the world’s top biggest art galleries, with spaces in six cities on three continents—demonstrates the degree to which the Covid-19 outbreak has hampered regular operations and forced belt-tightening measures for even the wealthiest blue-chip dealers. The news also comes as other industry leaders, including auction houses like Sotheby’s, boast about robust online sales bringing in millions of dollars in profits.
Pace’s furloughs come as other galleries begin to institute layoffs, furloughs, and pay cuts. A representative for Lévy Gorvy, a top gallery that has spaces in New York, Hong Kong, London, and Zurich, also confirmed that furloughs had been instituted. Meanwhile, major auction houses have also been affected. Sotheby’s furloughed 12 percent of its workforce last week, and Christie’s said it will begin furloughing workers based in Europe.
In a statement, Marc Glimcher, the president and CEO of Pace, said, “With a heavy heart we are temporarily furloughing a number of our employees this week, with the strong expectation that we will bring them back as soon as possible. This painful decision came after making every non-personnel related cut we could, which has included drastically reducing the salaries of the most senior people either to the minimum or entirely. These are unprecedented and extremely challenging times and no one should imagine that art galleries are any less affected financially than other businesses.”
For Pace staff members who have lost their jobs, learning about their newfound unemployment was almost as shattering and life-altering as the disease itself. “I’m going to try for unemployment,” said one former worker, who asked for anonymity for fear of retaliation. “But I’m still going to have to leave New York City. I just can’t afford to live here anymore.”
“I’m kind of in limbo,” said another worker. “I’m receiving one more paycheck from Pace, and hopefully that will help me pay next month’s rent. Then we will see what happens next.”
High earners at Pace Gallery are also taking temporary salary cuts, though a spokesperson would not disclose specific figures. Glimcher, the company’s president and chief executive officer, and his father Arne Glimcher, the gallery’s founder, have suspended their salaries entirely.
For more than a month, freelancers and employees at Pace Gallery have received mixed messages about whether they would receive payment during the enterprise’s Covid-19 closure in New York. In late March, the gallery told ARTnews that it would continue to offer wages for as long as possible. The newly announced furloughs impact nearly one-quarter of the dealer’s workforce in the United States across all departments. The decision amounts to a roughly 25 percent reduction in the gallery’s New York team, which accounts for the majority of the furloughs.
Only a few days ago, Glimcher wrote for ARTnews about contracting the coronavirus disease and how his experience battling it shifted his perspective on the art market. “At the moment, we have no choice but to be in the business of the present—and to reconsider the viability of certain unsustainable practices,” he wrote, “the pricing, the overpromotion, the travel, the relentless catering to the lowest instincts of speculators, the ballooning overheads, the mutually destructive competition, the engineered auction records, and the desperate search for capital to burn, just to prove that you can burn it.”
Given his essay on surviving the illness, employees were caught off-guard when Glimcher announced the furloughs. “I’d like to say I’m disappointed, but I’m not,” said one worker. “Their platitudes are what is most insulting. All that talk of ‘family’ could not ring more hollow right now.”
Meanwhile, David Zwirner, another gallery of Pace’s caliber, said that it has currently not planned layoffs or furloughs for any of its locations. “There are zero layoffs across all of our galleries, and we are trying to keep it that way,” its eponymous founder said in a statement. “As for furloughs, we are participating in the subsidized furlough programs offered by the U.K. and French governments. Let me repeat: no layoffs.”
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Helène Aylon Eco-Feminist Artist Who Pondered Change Is Dead at 89 of Coronavirus-Related Causes ARTnews
Helène Aylon, a New York–based artist known for her pioneering work involving feminist, environmentalist, and Jewish themes, died on Monday of coronavirus-related causes, according to her New York gallery, Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects. She was 89.
“She leaves behind the many people whose lives she deeply touched, as well as a prodigious and diverse body of art that arose from her lifelong engagement in spiritual and societal concerns,” the gallery wrote in its email announcing Aylon’s death.
In a 2012 profile in the publication Na’amat Woman, which focuses on Jewish women, Aylon divided her career into three periods—one focused on the body, one focused on nature and ecological concerns, and one focused on the notion of God and the patriarchal constructs attached to it. These seemingly disparate interests often intertwined in her art, allowing her to create poetic meditations around the idea of change—in humans, on the planet, and over time.
Aylon started out as an abstract painter making process-based works. She considered female painters such as Grace Hartigan and Lee Krasner as influences on her and her work, and she absorbed from them an interest in testing what paints and dyes could do. In Aylon’s hand, these mediums are often blotchy and elusive, seeming to resemble forms that are in the process of shapeshifting.
Aylon showed with the famed New York dealer Betty Parsons early on. In an Artforum review of a 1975 show at the gallery, Roberta Smith wrote, “Despite all she leaves to chance and to the natural tendencies of her materials, she has developed her own special kind of control, as do most artists who start out with an unconventional technique. She achieves—or her paintings are currently achieving—a pleasing variety of rich brown and beige tones, lines, cracks, ripples and Rorschachian stains.”
After Parsons gave Aylon a show in 1979, the artist didn’t have another New York solo exhibition for 40 years, when Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects mounted a survey of works the artist made between 1969 and 1973. Marc Selwyn Fine Art gallery in Los Angeles staged an exhibition of her ’70s art earlier this year.
Aylon’s disappearance from the eye of much of the New York art world may partially be attributed to her departure from her studio practice. During the 1980s, she got rid of her studio altogether, and embarked on more ambitious projects focused on ecofeminist concepts. The work put her at the forefront of a movement that also included Agnes Denes and Mierle Laderman Ukeles.
Many of them were specifically related to her anti-nuclear activism. For 1982’s The Earth Ambulance, she drove a truck with pillowcases containing dirt from places near nuclear reactors and uranium mines, ultimately carrying them out on stretchers and depositing the earth in a park near the United Nations. For another project called Bridge of Knots (1995), she had Japanese women write down their dreams on pillowcases, and she strung their creations around Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza, also near the U.N.
Born Helène Fischer in 1931 in New York, the artist was raised in a modern Orthodox Jewish household in Brooklyn’s Borough Park neighborhood and married a rabbi, Mandel H. Fisch, at 18. The couple had two children, Nathaniel and Renèe, and Fisch died when Helène was 30. After his death, she created a new surname for herself, Aylon, based on the Hebrew name for Helène, Aylonna.
Soon after, Aylon went to study art at Brooklyn College, where artist Ad Reinhardt was her mentor. His advice, along with words from painter Agnes Martin, turned her toward abstraction, though it wasn’t until she went to San Francisco’s Antioch College to get an M.F.A. in women’s studies that she was “rescued by feminism,” as she put it. She read texts by Adrienne Rich and Maya Angelou, and discovered that she could be both a mother and an artist simultaneously.
In the later part of her career, she focused largely on her Jewish identity, considering the roles that female followers of the religion have played over the years. For a decades-long project called The Liberation of G-D (its name a reference to how observant Jews attempt to avoid spelling out the lord’s name), Aylon systematically went through the Old Testament to discover places where scripture had written women out of the narrative and preserved God’s masculine authority. At one point, she wrote, “Did God say these things to Moses, or are they patriarchal attitudes projected onto God? — as though man has the right to have dominion even over God.”
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Marc Glimcher is the president and CEO of Pace Gallery.
Was it the trip to the Middle East? The Arlene Shechet opening in New York? It probably wasn’t Frieze L.A….
Everyone keeps asking me where I caught the coronavirus. The answer is: I don’t know.
What I do know is that on Wednesday, March 4, I started to feel sick. Nothing particularly alarming. Chills, a cough, body aches.
That was a month ago, but it feels like a different era.
The following night I called Julian Schnabel to tell him I couldn’t make it to his opening at my gallery, a show I had been working on for almost a year. He understood, of course, but when he said, “I think it’s crazy right now for you to come to the opening and infect everyone,” it sounded to me like he was overreacting.
I spent that day in bed with a fever of 102 that came and went along with chills and sweats. My sleep was punctuated by coughing fits, and a burning sensation and pressure in the center of my chest. The shocker, for me, was the body aches, muscle spasms in my upper back that caused a stabbing pain. Stuck in bed, I fielded calls from gallery department heads, who were starting to consider contingencies as my situation accelerated.
My wife, Fairfax, reacted faster than than I did. My version of self-quarantine was to lie in the closet, my feet sticking out of the door. Fairfax made me return to bed (a big mistake, as we would learn a few days later). On Friday afternoon, she had a doctor in full Personal Protective Equipment come to the apartment and administer a flu test, which came back negative. By Monday, our intrepid doctors—thank you, Dr. Hasan and Dr. Shlain—had located a few precious Covid-19 tests, and all of us—Fairfax, myself, and my 20-month-old son—got a very nasty swabbing.
By mid-week we were all starting to feel better. My son had had a 99-degree fever for one night, but otherwise no symptoms. With my older kids safely with their mother or ensconced in their apartments in Brooklyn, it looked like the spread was contained to Fairfax’s and my Manhattan apartment.
At that point, I started to refocus my attention on how the virus was already affecting matters at the gallery—our plans to mount a loan exhibition dedicated to the collection of the late Don Marron ahead of auction week in New York had become impossible, and other planned exhibitions, performances, and projects were looking uncertain. From my sick bed, I had difficult decisions to make for the team. Meanwhile, as the days ticked by and the country descended into a chaotic series of steps and missteps, we were locked up, waiting for test results that never seemed to come.
On Thursday, March 12, as the National Guard was rolling into Westchester, New York, I decided to close the gallery. Friday, March 13, was Pace’s first day of remote work. (Our team of 175 is still home all these weeks later, although our galleries in Hong Kong and Seoul have tentatively reopened.)
Six days after we were tested, my Covid result, as well as those of my wife and young son, came back negative. Reassured, if somewhat skeptical, we headed over to visit my parents, Arne and Milly, who are both in their 80s. When we got home, we received a message that our testing cadre had been flawed, the samples were beginning to be rerun, and my son had come back positive. Our doctor advised us that we were most likely positive as well and to proceed as though we were.
As we waited for our second test results, my symptoms started to return—the coronavirus’s now-famous second act. The coughing and shortness of breath were back with a vengeance. I became familiar with the mute button on my Zoom screen as meeting after meeting became a display for my pulmonary distress. That second wave, for me, was characterized by exhaustion; the slightest exertion landed me in bed for a couple hours.
Even as my own world was narrowing, the art world was changing in ways we’d never experienced. At my gallery, we did our best to engage technology and the internet to keep our artists’ voices out there as our systems of exhibitions, art fairs, auctions, and museum shows disappeared before our eyes. We pivoted quickly to launch exhibitions on our online viewing room platform, giving visibility to our exhibitions that were now shuttered as well as mounting a series of original shows that we hoped would resonate with a newly isolated art world. The very commerce that would keep us alive began to seem surreal in the world in which we now found ourselves: within a week, talking to collectors about buying work went from fruitless to tasteless.
It dawned on us at the gallery in those early days that the solitude we were now experiencing was not unlike the lives our artists have been living for generations, the isolation that often accompanies the creative act. Instinctively, we turned to them, and their voices have been vital as we navigate through our new daily routines.
My own bout with this disease has coincided with the radical change that has taken over all of our lives. At Day 32, I am feeling fine, aside from a lingering cough (and my parents, luckily, were unaffected), but I am faced with questions I never dreamed I would have to answer: How does my gallery cope with two to six months of little or no revenue? How will all this change the way we in the art world—and beyond—behave in the future?
As gallerists, we are in the business of the future: the studio visit that gets us thinking about a show, the client visit that gets us thinking about an art fair booth, the meeting with our curatorial team that gets us imagining some new book or performance. At the moment, we have no choice than to be in the business of the present—and to reconsider the viability of certain unsustainable practices: the pricing, the over-promotion, the travel, the relentless catering to the lowest instincts of speculators, the ballooning overheads, the mutually-destructive competition, the engineered auction records, and the desperate search for capital to burn, just to prove that you can burn it.
At 3 in the morning on my 19th day of being sick, my breathing was so bad that I woke up struggling for air. Lying in the dark, trying not to wake my wife, my fear escalated to panic. In that dark hour, as with most people having even a brush with mortality, all the calculations of rent, payroll, insurance, melted away and the core of my life was left exposed: what would I miss, who would I miss, what did I contribute?
A quick trip to the hospital the next morning confirmed that my lungs were clear, and I’ve been steadily on the mend since.
So many precious lives have been lost in this crisis, and countless more permanently scarred by grief. We must give our recovery meaning. I am blessed with a beautiful family and a gallery filled with artists, friends, and colleagues who strive and struggle to create. This recovery—our recovery—long and complex though it may be, will be lost or won depending on our ability to reject those things that spoil, degrade, and erode our creative world in favor of embracing and protecting what is real, enduring, and inspiring in our lives and in art.
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“Tut-mania” seems eternal. At this very moment, “treasures” from the tomb of Tutankhamun are on a world tour, currently on display at London’s Saatchi Gallery (or were until the institution’s closure in light of the ongoing pandemic). This exhibition, like many before it, presents the story of the excavation of the pharaoh’s tomb as an eternally appealing one: the combination of the romance of discovery and the methodical progress of scientific work. In reality, though, archaeology is messy: Discovery is never quite so adventurous and progress never quite so straightforward.
Highlighting the messiness behind the romantic tale of Tutankhamun’s discovery is a central theme of Durham University historian Christina Riggs’s Photographing Tutankhamun: Archaeology, Ancient Egypt, and the Archive (Bloomsbury Visual Arts). At the heart of the book are the more than 3,400 photographs taken by Harry Burton, a highly respected photographer. These included photos of the tomb, of the rich finds within it, and of Tutankhamun’s mummy itself. But Riggs also looks at the many other types of images of Tutankhamun: photos taken by the press, by tourists and other visitors, photos on postcards and cigarette cards, and more.
Readers looking for a straightforward tale of the excavation and Burton’s photographs might be disappointed. Photographing Tutankhamun is an academic book, written primarily for an academic audience. In places its style and parade of archival details can be overwhelming to a non-specialist reader; they were for me at times. Riggs has already addressed some of the problems with the tale of the tomb’s discovery and the display of the finds in more popular formats elsewhere, and for some, her other writings may provide a better introduction. But the analysis in Photographing Tutankhamun is thorough and rewarding.
Riggs is careful to highlight the connection between archaeology and its political context. This work is crucial for understanding the undercurrents of archaeology, yet is routinely ignored in tales that emphasize the supposed objectivity of the scholars. Here we see the discovery of the tomb by a British- and American-led team fitting uneasily with the mood in Egypt at the very moment of independence; the change in governments in relation to interruptions in the excavation of the tomb by Howard Carter (its discoverer) in 1923-4; the plans for the first international tours of material from the tomb as Egypt’s socialism transitioned toward capitalism in the years around Gamal Abdel Nasser’s death. As Riggs makes clear, archaeology and heritage are a prime form of cultural diplomacy.
Those political realities heavily influenced the portrayal of the excavation as it happened. For European and American archaeologists in Egypt and their audiences back home, ancient Egypt was a timeless treasure — one that couldn’t be entrusted to modern Egyptians. Egyptian officials were slighted, and ordinary Egyptians typically ignored. An integral part of the excavation team, Egyptian workers were routinely treated as marginal and secondary, an issue not only of race but of class. Riggs demonstrates how the photographs emphasize that marginal stature: Egyptian workers are routinely photographed in subservient positions, while the British and American team members are shown in command, the literal images of the heroic archaeologist. As Riggs makes clear, however, we can glimpse the true complexity of the situation if we just look more closely at the images. Then we can begin to see how Egyptian and Western team members worked together in close quarters, quite literally supporting each other.
We might expect that Burton’s photographs were highly influential in the history of archaeology and photography — and some of the book’s introductory language leads us to think so — but what Riggs demonstrates instead is how much Burton worked in already established conventions. Burton’s attempts to use a movie camera were limited by both lighting in the tomb and restrictions imposed by Carter. He also took few color photographs, as black and white was seen as more appropriate for scientific work. Through this lens, we come to see Burton as simply another archaeological photographer, however skilled he may have been. This surprised me at first, as I was expecting to see Burton’s photographs play a much more groundbreaking role in the history of the field. But this image of Burton fits with Riggs’s goal of puncturing the aura surrounding the excavation of Tutankhamun’s tomb.
There is one way in which the Tutankhamun photographs were heavily innovative and influential: the flood of images in the press and other popular formats was something entirely new for the field of archaeology. The eyes of the world remained fixated on the Valley of the Kings for years, and Burton and many other photographers were there to meet the demand. The abundance of photographic images coincided with the rise of the ability to mass reproduce them. This simplified Tut, removing him from his ancient context, and making him more like his audience in Europe and America. Whereas a few “primitive” objects from the tomb were treated as precursors of modern Egyptian items, most were seen as echoing Western luxury items, or everyday household goods. Tutankhamun and his queen became the perfect domestic couple. (Riggs’s analysis is particularly sharp here.) Through these photographs, audiences could project both romance and fantasy onto the ancient past and the riches of Tutankhamun onto their own lives. In the end, Riggs suggests provocatively, this may be the secret to why Tut-mania is eternal.
Photographing Tutankhamun: Archaeology, Ancient Egypt, and the Archive (Bloomsbury Visual Arts, December 2018) by Christina Riggs is now available on Bookshop.
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Two years ago today (April 8), Czech filmmaker Juraj Herz passed away. Yet as the major retrospectives held after his death in both New York and Washington DC —at the Metrograph and the AFI Silver, respectively — attest, the rediscovery of his films has come at an opportune time, just as what constitutes “horror” cinema is being challenged from many directions. Born just four years before the Nazi annexation of Czecheslovakia, Herz came to understand horror well before he started making films. He was forced into (and survived) the Ravensbruck concentration camp as a child, an experience which instilled themes of political gaslighting, claustrophobia, and surreal mind-torture into his unique brand of cinema. As an influential figure of the Czech New Wave, Herz’s films were effective in the movement’s goals of retaliating, artistically, against oppressive powers. On the anniversary of his passing, Herz’s films remain the gold standard of what horror cinema can achieve.
Early films like The Cremator (1964) and Sign of Cancer (1966) brush the elements of horror onto social and political narratives. The Cremator displays Herz’s most consciously stylistic editing, whereby cuts are cleverly used to form the illusion of traveling between time and space. Phenomenally crafted, the film creates a disorienting impression of its central character Karel Kopfrkingl (Rudolf Hrušínský) slowly but surely becoming radicalized by his German friend Walter Reinke, towards ethno-nationalism. The Cremator’s discomfiting humor — think the Cheshire Cat, mixed with elements of Peter Lorre’s performance in Fritz Lang’s M (1931) — turns a satirical eye to the absurdity of nationalist rhetoric.
Morgiana (1972), arguably Herz’s most famous film, along with Beauty and the Beast (1978) and Ferat Vampire (1982), comes closest to the Hollywood definition of “horror.” Morgiana remains an influential pillar of gothic cinema, with its haunted houses with mirrors and cobwebs, its portraits of dead aristocrats, and strangely colored liquids in elaborate glassware — all now familiar tropes and perfect settings for death. Beauty and the Beast, a horror-fantasy re-telling of the classic French story, also draws on familiar symbols that we’ve since become accustomed to associating with fear, like foggy woods, an old painting, or a strange door. The film’s brilliant use of light brings its central characters in and out of the shadows like two ghosts wandering an abandoned castle.
Meanwhile, Ferat Vampire steers closer to pulp and is the closest Czech parallel to the cinema of American horror icons Wes Craven and John Carpenter. Released only a year before Carpenter’s influential Christine (1983), the movie centers on the manufacture of a car that runs on human blood. The pulpy and darkly comedic nature of the film evokes later Carpenter films like They Live (1988) and It Follows (2014), which splice their terror with socio-political messaging and pop-culture reverie.
Yet, the definitive film of Juraj Herz’s life and career and his ultimate masterpiece, is The Night Overtake Me (Zastihla Me Noc, 1986). A film filtered through Herz’s own harrowing experience as the son of Slovakian Jews who spent part of his youth at a concentration camp, the movie reconciles the director’s own style with the lived experiences that informed his fascination with horror and tragedy.
A historical and surrealist portrait of Holocaust survivor and Czech communist journalist Jožka Jabůrková, The Night Overtake Me utilizes a flashback structure that juxtaposes Jaburkova’s experiences in a concentration-camp with her rise as a communist organizer and activist, incorporating clear elements of Herz’s brand of horror. The film pierces Jabůrková’s psyche with surreal sequences of her haunted by characters from her past. Tracking shots, much like in The Cremator, turn routine checks by SS officers into nerve-wracking sequences of terror. The film cuts back and forth between Nazi officers prowling through corridors like the raptors in Jurassic Park (1993) and close-ups of prisoners’ eyes following them and then quickly looking away in fear. While not considered a traditional horror film, The Night Overtake Me is undeniably composed of the genre’s elements.
For some, Herz’s oeuvre may beg the question of whether horror needs to be bloody and carnal to be faithful to the genre. Yet it also proves that the genre’s basic elements can both disrupt and corrupt our comforts, and that horror films need not be “scary” in the traditional sense as long as they’re never prosaic. Juraj Herz’s diverse repertoire is evidence that great horror cinema has endless experimental routes at its behest.
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SANTA FE — Every August, the arrival of Indian Market brings an explosion of life to Santa Fe. Sponsored by the nonprofit Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (SWAIA), Indian Market is estimated to bring $160 million in revenue to the state of New Mexico, and north of 115,000 visitors to its host city. Over the weekend, SWAIA announced that the 99th annual Indian Market, which was scheduled for August 15-16, has been postponed until 2021 due to the novel coronavirus. The 2021 celebration, which was the centennial event, will instead take place in 2022.
In a letter from SWAIA, chairman Thomas Teegarden noted that all artists who have been accepted for this year will automatically be accepted into the 2021 market. Those who have paid booth fees may either apply their fees to the 2021 market or receive a refund.
Artist and SWAIA board member Dominique Toya said: “This is a difficult decision because Indian Market is a big part of my livelihood, but it is more important to protect the well-being of fellow artists, their families, our customers, and all of our communities.”
Toya is far from the only artist for whom the postponement is a major financial blow. Over 1,000 Native artists, from more than 220 US federally recognized and First Nations tribes, sell their work at Indian Market, and many artists rely heavily on the event for their annual income.
Jessa Rae Growing Thunder has been going to Indian Market since she was just a week old, and her family has attended every year for over 30 years. “It’s a family tradition,” she told Hyperallergic. “I’m a total Indian Market kid.”
Growing Thunder said that she and her family members work all year long in preparation for Indian Market. “This is where we make a majority of our income for the year. Many of us are full time artists. It’s a blessing to be a full time artist, especially a Native artist that gets to practice traditional art forms. As big of a blessing as that is, when something like this happens it’s definitely shocking.”
Teegarden told Hyperallergic that while the economic concerns were a factor in SWAIA’s decision to postpone, the health of the artists and visitors was the priority. “It was an excruciating decision for the board, because half of them are artisans and this is a huge part of their livelihood,” he said. “But we’re not counting dollars and cents, we’re looking at the health and protection of our people,” he said.
Reports show that Native populations are particularly vulnerable to the effects of the coronavirus, due to limited access to health care infrastructure and disparities in underlying conditions. Teegarden says an “awareness of hotspots in Indian country, and how vulnerable our populations are” was part of the decision-making process. “There is also the historical memory that 90% of the Native populations in the Americas was eliminated before the Europeans even saw those populations,” he added. “The diseases moved faster than the people did. So many of the traditions, the ties that bind in normal times, can be vectors for transmission of this unseen virus.”
Growing Thunder, for her part, says that though she and her family are disappointed and unsettled by the postponement, they understand the precautions being taken. They were also able to attend the Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair & Market in Phoenix in early March, which Growing Thunder says gave them a little leeway financially. “Now that Indian Market’s not happening, we have this moment to experiment,” she said. “Maybe this year I’ll get to try something completely different that I would never have done otherwise.”
SWAIA is considering virtual alternatives for the market, to help supplement the income many artists will lose. Teegarden says they are looking to their community for ideas and suggestions, and asking: “how is our virtual market going to be more than a Native version of Amazon? It is a sensory delight, and that is the experience.” He hopes whatever virtual option is created retains some of the experiential, communal, and atmospheric elements of the in-person Indian Market. Artists, he noted, are well suited to come up with creative solutions to a problem like this one. “You can’t begin to predict the ideas that are going to start coming out.”
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Laura Raicovich Named Interim Director of Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art L.A. Artists Work Under Quarantine and More: Morning Links from April 6 2020 ARTnews
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The Whitney Museum and New Museum in New York have announced significant lay offs and furloughs of staff members as a result of the economic consequences of the ongoing pandemic. [ARTnews]
Following the theft of Vincent van Gogh’s 1884 painting The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring from the Singer Laren museum in the Netherlands last week, Bloomberg reports that some institutions and collectors are doubling down on security measures for their artworks. [Bloomberg]
La Biennale Paris, which is scheduled to take place in the French capital from September 18 to 22, will allow exhibitors to pay participation fees over the course of four months so as to ease financial strains brought on by the coronavirus crisis. [The Art Newspaper]
Laura Raicovich, former director of the Queens Museum in New York, has been appointed as interim director of the city’s Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art. Raicovich succeeds Gonzalo Casals, who has been named commissioner of New York City’s Department of Cultural Affairs. [The New York Times]
Serge Lasvignes’s contract for his post as president of the Centre Pompidou in Paris has been renewed by the French Culture Ministry. [The Art Newspaper]
Here’s a look inside David Zwirner’s online initiative “Platform: New York,” which features works by Josh Kline, Elaine Cameron-Weir, Keegan Monaghan, and others presented by 12 New York-based galleries. [Art Market Monitor]
Architect Michael McKinnell, who is best known for his design of Boston’s City Hall, has died of the coronavirus at age 84. [The New York Times]
Dorothy Kosinski, director of the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., writes on how the museum, founded in the wake of the Spanish influenza, has centered “the healing power of art” since its establishment. [ARTnews]
Citing research by Philippe Charlier, a forensic anthropologist and archaeologist at the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris, journalist Kate Murphy penned an essay on why, in the age of coronavirus and beyond, you should “stop using toilet paper.” [The New York Times]
Artists & Institutions
The Times has a piece on the fraught history of the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., whose Dead Sea Scrolls collection was recently revealed to be fake. Jeffrey Kloha, chief curator at the museum, said, “All we can do is operate in the most responsible and ethical way going forward.” [The New York Times]
Finally, here are images showing how five Los Angeles-based artists—including Ron Athey, Tanya Aguiñiga, and Monica Majoli—are creating works under quarantine. [Los Angles Times]
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A wide variety of filmic color processes exist of which enthusiasts of the moving image may be unaware. Spearheaded by Professor Barbara Flückiger, as part of the ERC Advanced Grant FilmColors project, a team the University of Zurich is at the forefront of research into the history of moving-image color processes. Their interdisciplinary project involves the work of preservationists, engineers, and Film Studies scholars, and reaches a broad audience through the Timeline of Historical Film Colors website, as well as a recent exhibition at the Fotomuseum in Winterthur, Switzerland and an accompanying book of the same name, Color Mania: The Material of Color in Photography and Film.
The timeline website is a visual compendium largely comprised of lightbox images taken by Flückiger and other researchers at film archives across the globe. These photographs display the wider surface areas of each print, incorporating the additional information found outside of the frame. Spanning early tinting to modern film stock, it’s a growing overview of the craftsmanship that historically has gone into color filmmaking, such as the hand-painted examples that gave serpentine dances in early cinema a prismatic quality. It also surveys how different color processes fade or wear damage. With Gasparcolor, for instance, the pictures show its dense black borders and the vivid blue and red hues kicked up by scratches on its double-sided emulsion.
A Gasparcolor film, Uit het rijk der kristallen (J.C. Mol, 1927), graces the front of the Color Mania book, edited by Flückiger, Eva Hielscher, and Nadine Wietlisbach. Flückiger’s introductory essay provides a comprehensive, illustrated overview for readers who might be approaching the subject for the first time. Throughout, side notes point to corresponding photographs, and the book’s dimensions frame the lightbox images well. Bregt Lameris’s contribution illustrates how different duplication film stocks, such as Eastman Reversal, diminished the original vividness of Éric Duvivier’s Hallucinations: Images du monde visionnaire (1963), while Olivia Kristina Stutz examines how the fashion industry embraced color film processes with a vivid display of Kodachrome and Technicolor III frames.
Noemi Daugaard’s essay looks at how the success of Gasparcolor was thwarted by the political climate of Nazi Germany and patent-trolling by the then-regime-linked Agfa, and Michelle Beutler’s outlines the industry dominance of Technicolor IV and Agfacolor in the 1940s and the standardized aesthetics and ideological control that presided over their use via Hollywood and the Ministry of Propaganda in Nazi Germany. These contributions demonstrate how early color processes both impacted and were impacted by sociopolitical climates, exemplified in Evelyn Echle’s discussion of how silent film-era tinting reinforced an exoticized, Western construction of the Orient. Other essays outline connections to the photographic industry and consider how artists can engage with the history of color in film through artworks featured in the Fotomuseum exhibition.
Speaking at the 2020 Colour in Film conference in London, Hielscher addressed how the exhibition (which included excerpts from films) drew interest from general visitors, and similarly, Flückiger’s visit to MoMA’s film archive several years ago paved the way for many of the photographed films to be restored, resulting in a 2019 screening at MoMA. A compilation of examples from that screening also appeared at the aforementioned Colour in Film conference, including Little Nemo (Windsor McCay, 1911) — a partially hand-painted film where a comic artist’s work awakens from the canvas — and the canned fruit advertisement Sunshine Gatherers (George E. Stone, 1921), shot on Prizma II color film, in which blue and red blues hues pulsate and split.
Just as the ERC FilmColors project is interdisciplinary in nature, so is the presentation of its work and findings. The website, exhibition, book, conference, and screenings all have their own properties and possibilities, but all pursuits evidence a desire to share this visual history and highlight unique works.
The Timeline of Historical Film Colors website is accessible at filmcolors.org, and the project’s blog at blog.filmcolors.org.
Color Mania: The Material of Color in Photography and Film (Lars Müller Publishers), edited by Barbara Flückiger, Eva Hielscher, Nadine Wietlisbach, in collaboration with Fotomuseum Winterthuris, is available on Bookshop.
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Meet LAs Art Community: Sharing Inspiration With People of Color Has Always Been a Priority for Shinique Smith
Welcome to the 18th installment of the interview series Meet LA’s Art Community. Check out our past interviews here.
This week, we interview Shinique Smith, a painter and sculptor who creates monumental pieces made from colorful fabric that expressively borrow from calligraphy. Her abstract compositions of recycled clothes and materials reflect on those things we use and then discard, while the seemingly invented language of her works borrow from graffiti, Japanese calligraphy, and literature. She’s exhibited at multiple venues, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Yerba Buena Contemporary Arts Center, New Museum, and Studio Museum in Harlem. She’s also produced public art commissions for the Los Angeles Metro Transit Authority, Mural Arts Philadelphia, UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco, and other places.
Where were you born?
Mercy Hospital — Baltimore, Maryland
How long have you been living in Los Angeles?
About two years now.
What’s your first memory of seeing art?
When I was very young, marveling at story book illustrations by Leo and Diane Dillon and by Louis Untermeyer, as well as posters of Romare Bearden in my childhood home in West Baltimore. Somewhere between the fantastical story book realms and Bearden’s inventive representations of Black life, I learned what collage was and I began to see the world around me — my everyday life as a world of wonder.
Do you like to photograph the art you see? If so, what device do you use to photograph?
I have always photographed the art I see and even videotaped at museums with my Hi8 years ago. Not sure if that would be allowed these days. For a long time, I used disposable film cameras, taking many selfies then too, but for years now I’ve been capturing art with my iPhone.
What was your favorite exhibition in Los Angeles this year?
Unfortunately, I missed some wonderful shows due to travels, but there were several that continue to overlap in my memory. A few that I loved in no particular order were Isaac Julien: Playtime and Julie Mehretu at LACMA, the Sarah Lucas survey at the Hammer, Nathaniel Quinn’s show at Gagosian, Elliott Hundley and Liz Larner’s shows at Regen Projects, Karen Kilimnik at Sprueth Magers, and Lauren Halsey’s recent immersive show at Kordansky. Tough question because there’s so much creative energy and innovation happening in LA that I am constantly inspired by my peers.
What’s the best book you’ve read recently?
Dust Tracks on the Road: An Autobiography by Zora Neale Hurston is one of several books that I recently picked up again. I admire Hurston’s use of language, her insight and the beautiful way she builds characters even in telling her life’s story. There is a romance to our lives, or there can be if we can see the truth and empathize with it.
I’ve also been reading The Tree and the Leaf by JRR Tolkien, which includes his poignant essay “On-Fairy Stories.” I draw inspiration from literature and poetry for the calligraphy in my paintings and to spark visions — to affect the way I see and feel.
Do you prefer to see art alone or with friends?
It depends on where the works are being displayed. Normally, I view museum and gallery exhibits alone. Sometimes visiting permanent collection works multiple times. Some museums are like visiting a temple where I go to pay homage to masters who helped inspire my path.
What are you currently working on?
Indelible Marks, my solo exhibition with the UBS Art Gallery in New York, which is currently closed due to the pandemic, should still be on view through the end of June 2020. It is a special selection of over 20 new and older works that reveal the autobiographical and diaristic aspects of my work and how the collaged pieces of fabric represent personal codes and the sculptures become monuments to imagined collective histories. This selection expands upon my use of line, gesture, and the performative nature of my brushstrokes and the tying in my bundled fabric sculptures. As drawing has been an important part of my process, I’ve included some of my studies, and paired them with several prints and drawings by other artists — kindred spirits who are also in the UBS Art Collection.
I am also excited for my new sculpture, “Grace Stands Beside,” on view at Baltimore Museum of Art as part of its 2020 Vision exhibitions of women artists.
What is one accomplishment that you are particularly proud of?
I am proud and grateful to have created a sustainable practice for myself and maintained a consistent market through disparities in institutional recognition and gallery representation for a woman of color, especially within the field of abstraction.
Since the beginning of my career I’ve built education and programing with kids and communities into all of my museum shows and projects. Having completed a Master of Arts in Teaching prior to earning my MFA and worked with students from elementary to graduate levels, education and sharing my inspiration with other young people and people of color has always been a priority. I’d never thought of it as activism or as the subject of my work, but more like what’s required to build a legacy. These efforts and ideas continue to inspire me, and I am quite proud that my art has provided inspiration to others.
Where do you turn to for inspiration for your projects?
Inspiration comes from music, dance, poetry, storytelling — science fiction, and it comes to me from within. Memories of places and significant experiences, nostalgia for my youth in Baltimore, my travels and experiences of other cultures. World religions, the patterns of fabric and objects that humans have made to mark their existence and the connections I see between them are beautiful and fill me with a sense of wonder.
I create a sort of private imagined code or history in the fabrics and clothing I use, and this inspires the work too — love the potential world we could manifest together if we tried and utopian thoughts like that drive me.
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