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  • Dec 11, 2020

Open and Shut: Friday News Roundup

Exterior view of the Hong Kong Museum of Art. Courtesy the Hong Kong Museum of Art.

Amid new surges in Covid-19 spikes worldwide, there are new openings and closures of art institutions in various regions. Here’s a roundup of updates, and a look at several announcements made in recent weeks.

On December 2, Hong Kong art institutions were shuttered once again following government mandated restrictions responding to a fourth wave of Covid-19 in the city, in effect until at least December 15. With daily numbers for new cases still high, the closure will likely be extended. Affected spaces include, among others, Tai Kwun Center for Heritage and Arts (including Tai Kwun Contemporary), the Centre for Heritage, Arts and Textile (CHAT), the Hong Kong Museum of Art, and the nonprofit Para Site. Just days later on December 8, museums in Seoul were similarly closed due to a spike in Covid-19 cases. Spaces such as the National Museum of Korea, the Seoul Museum of Art, and the Seoul branches of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea (MMCA) will remain closed until at least December 18.

An interior view of MAIELIE, Khon Kaen. Image via Twitter.

The independent art space MAIELIE launched its opening on December 10 in the city of Khon Kaen, in northeastern Thailand. Founded by Eric Bunnag Booth, co-founder of Chiang Mai’s MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum, the downtown storefront space was designed by Isan-based architect Phahonchai Premjai and includes an art gallery, a cafe, and a bookshop. MAIELIE, which means "new" in the Isan language, will complement the MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum and aims to be a space of arts, culture, and politics with public programs including lectures, film screenings, art exhibitions, and more to promote social and political engagement that challenge conventional Thai and global histories. The inaugural exhibition, part of the second iteration of Khon Kaen Manifesto, is titled “Aesthetics of Resistance Aesthetic of Revolutions'' and will run until December 20. 

From left to right, ASSAF KIMMEL, ÇAĞLA İLK, MISAL ADNAN YILDIZ. Image via Instagram.

On December 8, the Ural Branch of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts announced the curators for its 6th Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art, titled “A Time to Embrace and to Refrain from Embracing.” The fall 2021 event will be curated by Çağla İlk, Misal Adnan Yıldız, and Assaf Kimmel, who will be selecting a curatorial team to develop the Biennial’s main project program. Çağla İlk and Misal Adnan Yıldız are currently directors at Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, while Assaf Kimmel is a Berlin-based architect who is currently working on an exhibition at Paris’s Palais de Tokyo.

Portriat of HSU CHE-YU. Image via Facebook.

On December 3, the Han Nefkens Foundation announced Taiwanese video and installation artist Hsu Che-Yu as the winner of the Han Nefkens Foundation – Loop Barcelona Video Art Award Production 2020. A collaboration with the Fundació Joan Miró and Loop Barcelona, the Foundation established the award in 2018 to boost video art production among Asian artists. Hsu Che-Yu is lauded by the jury for his use of animation and film in tandem with reality to produce humanistic works that explore the relationship between the media and memories. The artist received EUR15,000 (USD 18,200) towards the production of a new work to be displayed in various art spaces across the world including Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona, in November 2021.

A portrait of JAMES MURDOCH. Image from Wikipedia.

James Murdoch, scion of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, and his investment company Lupa Systems were approved as the new anchor shareholder of Art Basel’s parent company, MCH Group, on November 27, with ownership of 49 percent of the company. The deal was announced on August 3 but received numerous objections from existing shareholders, including from shareholder Erhard Lee, owner of LLB Swiss Investments AG, who sued MCH Group in September claiming that the proposed deal was unfair to minority shareholders. In October, Lee withdrew the lawsuit after the deal was restructured to allow existing shareholders to increase their investments and for new investors to buy in. MCH Group will receive an investment of up to USD 80 million from the deal, and Murdoch will join the company’s board of directors along with Jeffrey Palker and Eleni Lionaki, both from Lupa Systems. 

KEVIN CHING (CEO, Sotheby’s Asia), Fish Rubbing and Calligraphy, 2020, ink on paper,  44 × 80 cm. Courtesy Sotheby’s Hong Kong.

While Sotheby's was closed for parts of 2020 and staff were furloughed or telecommuting—some of the auction house's staff were also reviving their creative talents. On Friday December 11, Sotheby's announced a charity auction of its employees' artistic creations, The Art of Working from Home, which will tour to three cities (Hong Kong, London, and New York) before the sale in February. A viewing of the works opens in Hong Kong from December 12–18, with a portion of the final proceeds going to Save the Children Hong Kong. For Hong Kong audiences, the star of the auction is undoubtedly from Sotheby's Asia CEO Kevin Ching, a rubbing of what he believes is a snapper with his own calligraphy. He donated the fish to his calligraphy teacher so that it won't go to waste, though he says he doubts she actually ate it. "Do not ask me why I did not eat the fish myself," Ching says. Bids begin at HKD 20,000. 

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