Ginger Elliott Smith reviews Mary Corse: A Survey in Light, edited by Kim Conaty. Read the full review at caa.reviews.
Caroline Levitt writes about A Moment’s Monument: Medardo Rosso and the International Origins of Modern Sculpture by Sharon Hecker. Read the full review at caa.reviews.
International Review: Opening of the Jameel Arts Centre, Dubai, United Arab Emirates by Sabrina DeTurk
posted by CAA — March 21, 2019
The following article was written in response to a call for submissions by CAA’s International Committee. It is by Sabrina DeTurk, associate professor, College of Arts and Creative Enterprises, Zayed University, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
In November 2018, Dubai witnessed the opening of the Jameel Arts Centre, the city’s first non-commercial contemporary arts space (Fig. 1). Located on the banks of the Dubai Creek, in the still-developing area of the Jaddaf Waterfront, the center is a project of the Saudi-based organization Art Jameel, a foundation focused on arts and culture programming that is sponsored by the Jameel family. The Jameel Arts Centre will be programmed as a kunsthalle, featuring temporary exhibitions showcasing works drawn from the Jameel collection as well as commissioned works by contemporary artists and those on loan from other institutions. Community events and educational outreach are also key elements of the center’s programming initiatives and the 107,640 square-foot space includes facilities such as an open-access library of over 3,000 volumes as well as coworking areas. There will also be a sculpture park as well as an outdoor arena for performing arts or film screenings.
The Jameel Arts Centre’s inaugural exhibitions included a series of artist’s rooms featuring the work of women artists from the Middle East whose work has garnered critical acclaim though not always international visibility. Maha Al Malluh (Saudi Arabia), Mounira Al Solh (Lebanon), Lala Rukh (Pakistan), and Chiharu Shiota (Japan) showed work that reflected on the personal, communal, and political, sometimes all in one piece.
In Maha Al Malluh’s sculpture, Food for Thought, dozens of well-used cooking pots of all sizes are affixed to two walls of the gallery with their undersides facing the viewer. The burns, scrapes and dents on these surfaces become both a pattern and a portrait, suggesting the many meals, large and small, cooked and served in these vessels. The pots invoke both an individual and collective activity of dining. One senses that these pots have traveled far to reach their current destination, perhaps reflecting the experience of refugees who have fled from so many troubled parts of the region, often with few possessions other than simple cooking utensils and basic clothing.
Lala Rukh’s minimalist and meditative prints and video speak to the personal experience of her mother’s death as well as the changing political landscape of Southeast Asia in the 1990s. However, the darkness of the room in which the works are displayed made it all but impossible to read the contextualizing and interpretive materials that are necessary to understand the meaning of Rukh’s subtle forms.
The inclusion of a sculptural installation by Chiharu Shiota, featuring an Arabian dhow (sailing vessel) sourced from a local boatyard, struck an odd note among the rooms (Fig. 2). While Shiota’s sculpture, which featured her signature webs of red yarn, was visually compelling, there was little sense, beyond the inclusion of the local boat, of its contribution to the larger dialogues encouraged by the exhibitions. In an image-obsessed city such as Dubai, one can’t help but wonder if this installation served more as an Instagrammable photo opportunity than as a work of serious contemporary art.
The inaugural group exhibition at Jameel Arts Centre, Crude, was curated by Murtaza Vali and featured the work of eighteen artists and artist collectives. In the show’s catalogue, Antonia Carver, the Director of Art Jameel, described the exhibition as “presenting an innovative material reading of a substance so crucial in shaping local and regional histories and cultures.” The included works run the gamut from archival photographs to video to sculptural installations to found objects and reflect a diversity of artistic approaches to the cultural, political, and economic significance of oil in the region throughout the last six decades.
The earliest works in the show, documentary photographs by the Iraqi, Latif Al Ani, and paintings by the Iranian, Houshang Pezeshknia (Portrait d’homme, 1949, Fig. 3), highlight the role that the discovery of oil played in shaping the modern culture and identity of both countries. Al Ani’s photographs focus on the material benefits of the oil industry, featuring images of new, modernist housing developments and smiling children showing the bottles of milk now provided as part of the government school lunch program. Pezeshknia’s paintings are more introspective; their rough brushstrokes emphasize the harsh features of those who work on the pipelines and the scars left on the Iranian landscape by the new technologies of oil extraction.
Several artists in the exhibition drew on found images and archival film footage for their works. These include Raja’a Khalid, whose Desert Golf series (2014) uses vintage print media from American publications such as Life magazine to document the seemingly inexorable, if equally inexplicable, compulsion that expatriate oil executives had for finding ways to play golf in the hostile desert landscape. In several of these images, bewildered local residents look on, setting up an us/them dichotomy and pervasive sense of cultural difference that still marks expatriate and local relations in the Gulf region.
Sculptural installations featured prominently in the exhibition. For example, Monira Al Qadiri’s Flower Drill (2016, Fig. 4), displayed high on the wall in one of the galleries, features fiberglass forms based on the design of drill heads and coated in two-toned automotive paint, connecting the work to both the initial and final stages of oil production and consumption. Alessandro Balteo-Yazbek’s Last Oil Barrel is a tiny wooden sculpture of a barrel, whose price is linked to oil futures and whose value will be determined only at some unspecified date in the future when a sale is fixed, reflecting the connections between the commodity value of both art and oil. The artist identifies the date of the work as “postponed,” indicating that it remains in some way incomplete until that time.
Although Crude was an intellectually rigorous and aesthetically compelling first exhibition from the Jameel Arts Centre, it remains to be seen whether there will be a sufficient audience for this type of show in Dubai over the long term. While the center’s opening weekend saw packed galleries, a weekday in January found the author almost alone in the spaces. The question of representation and inclusion of Emirati artists will undoubtedly also be raised at some point in the center’s development.
A sculpture by the pioneering Emirati conceptualist artist Hassan Sharif (Fig. 5) was included in Crude and works by Emirati sculptors Shaikha Al-Mazrou and Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim were shown in the lobby and outside garden respectively. However, this is but a small sample of the variety of contemporary art being produced in the United Arab Emirates and local artists may, understandably, begin to call for greater visibility in this high-profile contemporary arts space. The Jaddaf Waterfront remains under construction and as yet there is not a sustained community to support the idea of the Jameel Arts Centre thriving as a local creative hub. That said, the potential for growth and development is there and the openness with which the center is positioning itself is welcome in a city where the arts scene can often feel closed and difficult to penetrate. Jameel Arts Centre is a welcome addition to the creative landscape of Dubai and will hopefully continue to develop as a space for contemporary expression.
Culture Ministers from 16 German States Agree to Repatriate Artifacts Looted in Colonial Era
The ministers agreed to work with museums and institutions to develop repatriation procedures with “the necessary urgency and sensitivity.” (The Art Newspaper)
How Curator Okwui Enwezor (1963-2019) Changed the Course of Art
A tribute to the Nigeria-born poet, critic and curator, who passed away last week at the age of 55. (Frieze)
‘What Does It Take?’: Admissions Scandal Is a Harsh Lesson in Racial Disparities
“This scandal exposed the fact that there is a misplaced emphasis on so-called affirmative action inequities, rather than privilege.” (New York Times)
The Rapid Closure of Art Institutes Across America
Dream Center, a Christian nonprofit with no experience in higher education, has imploded, taking thousands of students—and millions in student loans—down with them. (Hyperallergic)
The Undiscussed Sexual Exploitation Buried in Matisse’s Odalisque Paintings
“So ingrained is exploitation in our understanding of female sexuality within (and outside of) art history that these incredibly basic readings recede into the background and are deemed somehow radical.” (Hyperallergic)
Curator Cuts at Leicester Museums Criticized as Disastrous
Museum leaders in the UK have condemned a cost-cutting proposal to replace curators with an “engagement team.” (The Guardian)
posted by CAA — March 19, 2019
College Art Association Board President Jim Hopfensperger and Executive Director/CEO Hunter O’Hanian announced last Friday to staff and internal constituents that O’Hanian will be leaving CAA upon conclusion of his current three-year contract in June.
During his time as executive director, O’Hanian oversaw numerous organizational changes including a successful rebranding, a streamlining of membership structures, and improvements to staffing and financial reporting. In addition, he supervised significant changes to programs including increases to the number of CAA Annual Conference sessions and awards, renewed engagement with CAA Affiliated Societies, a new contract with CAA’s co-publisher (Routledge, Taylor & Francis), and plans for launching year-round programs.
“Hunter has led CAA with great intelligence, empathy, energy, and passion, and the association has enjoyed many successes these past three years,” said Hopfensperger. “In particular, the board of directors is grateful for his commitment to diversity and inclusion, and his efforts to better position CAA for success as both a learned society and a professional association.”
“For me, it’s been an exciting and fulfilling experience,” said O’Hanian. “I have enjoyed meeting and working with the members, staff and board, while strengthening our programs. Making change is never easy, especially for an association with an 107-year history. But I could not be prouder of the staff at CAA, the board of directors, the committees and editorial boards, and the members of this organization for their work ethic and feedback. I believe we have made a stronger association.”
As O’Hanian concludes his service, the board of directors will begin a search for its next executive director this spring with the hopes of bringing on a new leader by year’s end. In addition, an announcement concerning plans for interim leadership through the transition will be forthcoming.
posted by CAA — March 19, 2019
For the third consecutive year, the Trump administration is aiming to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Trump unveiled a $4.75 trillion budget—the largest in federal history—on March 11, but details about his plans for the NEA and NEH were announced yesterday in the administration’s full proposal. According to the documents, the NEA’s budget is marked at $29 million and the NEH’s is at $38 million—which the proposal describes as “sufficient funding for orderly termination of all operations over two years.”
Since 2017, Trump has been vocal in his desire to eliminate the two agencies entirely. In 2019, each of the agencies was allocated a budget of $155 million, despite similar calls for elimination in 2018 and 2019. The US federal budget for 2020 will ultimately be decided by Congress.
We’ll be fighting back again this year and hope that you do, too. The most effective way to make your voice heard is through your local representatives. Call. Email. Write letters.
posted by CAA — March 19, 2019
In collaboration with the Committee on Women in the Arts, CAA seeks to offer a selection of sessions, papers, speakers, and related programming for the 2020 Conference in celebration of the Centennial of Women’s Suffrage in the US, while also acknowledging the discriminatory practices that limited voting rights for Indigenous women and women of color, even after the passage of the 19th amendment in 1920.
We hope 50% of the conference’s content will be focused on women-centered research, artistic presentations, and discourse, and addresses the intersectional and transnational complexity of race, ethnicity, class, age, body size, disability, gender and sexual orientation in the arts. Reinforcing inclusivity beyond binary understandings of gender, this initiative seeks to advance a forum for increased dialogue within the context of this historical moment.
The submissions portal for the 2020 CAA Annual Conference is now open with a deadline of April 30.
It’s been a busy month for direct advocacy at CAA! This past month, members of CAA staff attended three national advocacy convenings in Washington, DC: Museums Advocacy Day, Arts Advocacy Day, and Humanities Advocacy Day.
We visited congressional offices to advocate for support for the arts, humanities, and higher education, and continued funding for the NEA, NEH, and IMLS. Our asks also included the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act and support for the Universal Charitable Giving Act and the CREATE Act.
CAA Sponsorship and Partnership Manager Alison Chang; CAA Executive Director Hunter O’Hanian and Legislative Assistant Eric Deeble; CAA Media and Content Manager Joelle Te Paske (far left) and fellow advocates in Rep. Paul Tonko’s office
We visited 15 congressional offices representing four different states, with positive responses from both Democrats and Republicans. We met with staff or dropped off materials with:
Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-GA 2nd District)
Rep. Antonio Delgado (D-NY 19th District)
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY 16th District)
Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY 17th District)
Rep. Sean Maloney (D-NY 18th District)
Rep. Joe Morelle (D-NY 25th District)
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY 10th District)
Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY 23rd District)
Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY 4th District)
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY 20th District)
Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY 7th District)
Peter DeFazio (D-OR 4th District)
Bill Flores (R-TX 17th District)
Learn more about the Advocacy Days below.
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February 25-26, 2019
Hosted by American Alliance of Museums
Museum professionals from across the United States gather in Washington, DC, for Museums Advocacy Day. Participants attend sessions outlining key legislative issues affecting the field and meet with their representatives and senators to educate them about the mission of museums and their role in the economy, in adult and child education, and in national culture. Learn more.
March 4-5, 2019
Hosted by Americans for the Arts
Arts advocates from across the country convene in Washington, DC for Americans for the Arts’s annual Arts Advocacy Day each year. Arts Advocacy Day brings together a broad cross section of America’s cultural and civic organizations, along with more than 700 grassroots advocates from across the country, to underscore the importance of developing strong public policies and appropriating increased public funding for the arts. Learn more.
March 11-12, 2018
Hosted by National Humanities Alliance
Humanities Advocacy Day provides the opportunity to connect with a growing number of humanities advocates from around the country. Together, advocates will explore approaches to year-round advocacy on college campuses and in local communities while also preparing for Capitol Hill visits. On March 12, they will visit House and Senate offices to make a persuasive case for federal funding for the humanities. Learn more.
For more on CAA’s advocacy efforts, click here.
We encourage you to be vocal about your support for the arts and humanities. Click here to access the CAA Arts and Humanities Advocacy Toolkit.
The weekly CAA Conversations Podcast continues the vibrant discussions initiated at our Annual Conference. Listen in each week as educators explore arts and pedagogy, tackling everything from the day-to-day grind to the big, universal questions of the field.
This week, Ashley Gardini and Cheyanne Cortez discuss the realities of adjuncting.
They are both adjunct instructors at several community colleges in northern California.
CAA invites nominations and self-nominations for the Annual Conference Chair. This at-large member of the Annual Conference Committee serves a two-year term, beginning February 2020, immediately following the 108th Annual Conference. The Annual Conference Chair Designate shall begin their orientation to the role in May 2019. They will be invited to meetings of the Annual Conference Committee as a non-voting ex officio member at that time.
The Chair oversees the Council of Readers and reports back to the Annual Conference Committee on session topics, including identifying possible areas of content and interest to members that are missing from the submissions received. With CAA staff, the Chair recruits Council of Readers members to read, review, and rank proposals. The Chair shapes the content to the Annual Conference from the submissions as reported back by the Council.
Deadline: April 29, 2019
As a member of the Annual Conference Committee the Chair:
- Works with CAA staff and oversees the execution of the overall goals of the conference
- Ensures that the Annual Conference reflects the goals of the Association
- Makes the Annual Conference an effective place for intellectual, aesthetic, and professional learning and exchange
- Reflects the diverse interests of the membership
- Suggests conference content based on member interest
- Assists in scheduling the variety of chosen sessions, workshops, talks, etc.
- Proposes ways to increase conference participation and attendance
- Proposes new initiatives for the conference
- Proposes candidates for distinguished speakers
The Annual Conference Committee meets three times a year: February – in person at the Annual Conference to examine and discuss the operational aspects of the conference which recently concluded and ideas for the upcoming conference; May/June – on a conference call to review the recommendations by the Council of Readers for the upcoming Annual Conference; October – on a conference call to review final plans and any existing changes for the Annual Conference up to two years out.
Please send a 150-word letter of interest and a CV to Mira Friedlaender, CAA Manager of Annual Conference. Deadline: April 29, 2019.
Ray Hernández-Durán reviews Mexican Costumbrismo: Race, Society, and Identity in Nineteenth-Century Art by Mey-Yen Moriuchi. Read the full review at caa.reviews.
Peter C. Sturman writes about Chinese Painting and Its Audiences by Craig Clunas. Read the full review at caa.reviews.
Fabio Guidetti discusses The Serpent Column: A Cultural Biography by Paul Stephenson. Read the full review at caa.reviews.
Thomas Dalla Costa examines Paolo Veronese and the Practice of Painting in Late Renaissance Venice by Diana Gisolfi. Read the full review at caa.reviews.