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  • May 07, 2021

Big Benefits: Weekly News Roundup

Photograph by KUBA RYNIEWICZ. Courtesy Art for India.

As the world endures the worst weeks of the global pandemic to date, art communities are continuing to find ways to support each other. Artists are donating works for Covid-19 relief funds and recovery efforts, while state institutions are supporting residencies and acquiring new works for their collections. Here is a look at several stories that caught our attention this week.  

On May 2, a group of London-based Indian artists launched an online sale of photographic prints, titled “Art for India,” to raise urgent funds for the nation’s devastating Covid-19 surge, as the daily official infection rate increased to over 400,000 cases a day. Leading Indian and diaspora artists such as Bharat Sikka, Prathna Singh, Ashish Shah, and Avani Rai have donated photographs to be sold online for GBP 100 (USD 140) each with the entire proceeds going directly to Mission Oxygen, a coronavirus relief group working to provide oxygen concentrators for India’s most depleted hospitals. Founded by Heta Fell, Vivek Vadoliya, and Danielle Pender, the project has raised over USD 27,800 at the time of writing, and prints will continue to be on sale until May 9. Additionally, artists and arts groups around the world are boosting platforms like Mutual Aid India and the India Donation list to connect international supporters with organizations and individuals in dire need as the situation continues to worsen.

Installation view of YELENA AND VIKTOR VOROBYEV’s The Artist is Asleep, 1996, mixed media, dimensions variable, at Venice Biennale, 2017. Courtesy the artists and Aspan Gallery, Almaty.

On May 4, Almaty-based Aspan Gallery congratulated the artist-duo Yelena and Viktor Vorobyev for the acquisition of their pioneering installation, The Artist is Asleep (1996), by Paris’s Centre Georges Pompidou. The programmatic work—comprising a bed, a lamp, textiles, and the manifesto written on the wall—comments on the post-Soviet realities of creating art, with a hint of self-irony: “The artist is asleep. / To wake him, to shake him, / To urge to conform to his time / Is an utterly useless endeavor,” their text begins. The installation was first presented in 1996 at the Soros Centre, Almaty, before being featured at the Central Asia Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2009, and was the first work by Kazakhstan-based artists to appear in the Biennale’s main exhibition, in the 57th edition in 2017.

Portraits of (left) CHUAN-LUN WU and (right) MUSQUIQUI CHIHYING. Courtesy the artists and Delfina Foundation, London.

London’s Delfina Foundation announced on April 29 that Taiwanese new-media artist Chuan-Lun Wu and video artist Musquiqui Chihying have been selected for 2021 artistic residencies. In partnership with Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture, the three-month program requires the artists to undertake research-driven projects that contribute to Delfina’s thematic program “Collecting as Practice,” which engages with the politics, philosophy, and psychology of collecting. Wu will investigate the zoology collection of the Natural History Museum on topics related to egg-laying (oviposition) and the topology of shell types, while Chihying will delve into the early cultural exchange between Western Europe and East Asia, before the formation of racial discrimination against Asians intensified in the 19th century. The program follows on Delfina’s first residency with Taiwan in 2020, which was awarded to multimedia artist Rosalie Yu.

Portrait of ANTHONY TAO. Courtesy Gallery Exit, Hong Kong.

Hong Kong’s Gallery Exit is hosting a benefit sale to raise funds for their gallery director Anthony Tao, who suffered a brain hemorrhage last December. According to an email circulated among the local art community, while Tao “was operated on immediately and is currently in stable condition,” he is likely to require long-term care. Local artists including Nadim Abbas, Ho Sin Tung, Lee Kit, Lam Tung Pang, among others who have shown at the gallery over the years, have donated their works to show support for Tao. The preview of the sale is happening at the gallery in Hong Kong’s industrial Tin Wan district through May 8; the sale will continue online until July 8. All the proceeds from sales artworks will go to a medical and recovery care fund.

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