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  • Feb 17, 2023

Weekly News Roundup: February 17, 2023

Portrait of (from left to right) BOUCHRA KHALILI, SULTAN BIN MOHAMMED AL QASIMI, and HOOR BINT SULTAN AL QASIMI at the award ceremony, Sharjah Biennial 15, 2023. Courtesy Sharjah Art Foundation. 

Sharjah Biennial 15 Announces Prize Winners

At a ceremony on February 8, the Sharjah Art Foundation (SAF) awarded artists Bouchra Khalili, Doris Salcedo, and Hajra Waheed with the 2023 Sharjah Biennial Prize for their newly commissioned artworks. Each winning work examined forms of historical struggle and resilience: Khalili’s The Circle (2023) revisited the 1970s-era Movement of Arab Workers and allied theater groups active in France; Salcedo’s installation Uprooted (2020–22) comprises 804 dead trees pieced together to form a house symbolizing the refugee’s journey; and Waheed’s Hum II (2023) consists of a recording of the nonverbal performance of seven songs central to popular uprisings where women were at the forefront and was presented inside a conical sound chamber. Along with the three prize winners, artists Lee Kai Chung, Tania El Khoury, Gabriela Golder, Amar Kanwar, Joiri Minaya, Varunika Saraf, and Ibrahim Mahama received special mentions from the SAF jury.‎ This year’s jury included: Elvira Dyangani Ose, director of MACBA Contemporary Art Museum in Barcelona; Solange Farkas, chief curator and general director of the Contemporary Art Festival SESC_Videobrasil; and Salwa Mikdadi, associate professor of the practice of art history at NYU Abu Dhabi. Conceived by the late curator Okwui Enwezor and curated by Hoor Al Qasimi, the 15th edition of the Biennial was titled “Thinking Historically in the Present” and addressed the legacy of forms of oppression in the postcolonial era.

Still from PIPILOTTI RIST’s Hand Me Your Trust (2023). Copyright ProLitteris. Courtesy the artist. 

M+ Facade to Show Pipilotti Rist’s New Work During Art Basel Hong Kong

Beginning March 18, a newly commissioned moving-image work by Swiss video artist Pipilotti Rist will take over the M+ Facade, one of the largest media screens in the world, visible from locations around Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour. Titled Hand Me Your Trust, the video features hands of varying scales—from the intimate to the enormous—created using Rist’s signature color palette and fluid video style. Hand Me Your Trust is a celebration of the many individuals who have sculpted Hong Kong’s iconic cityscape and contributed to its rich architectural heritage. Additionally, Rist calls hands “beautiful extensions of our emotions, to communicate with other living beings without words.” Hand Me Your Trust is commissioned by M+ and supported by Art Basel and UBS. It will be shown daily on the M+ Facade from 7 to 9pm from March 18 to May 21, and in the same time slot every Saturday and Sunday from May 22 to June 17. Before Rist’s video goes on view, Nalini Malani’s commissioned In Search of Vanished Blood (2012/22) has returned to the giant screen from February 13 through March 12, after the work’s initial run in 2022 was interrupted by technical issues.

Installation view of JEFRE’s "Points of Origin," at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, 2023. Image via Facebook. 

Metropolitan Museum of Manila Reopens to the Public

The Metropolitan Museum of Manila, which closed for renovation in 2020, has officially reopened to the public in February 2023 in Bonifacio Global City. Rebranded as “The M,” the museum is located in a light-filled building designed by the New York-based Filipino-Colombian architect Carlos Arnaiz of CAZA. The reopening program includes multimedia artist Ronald Ventura’s “Quick Turn on Hyper Highways”; “Korea: A Land of Hats,” a collaborative show with the Korean Cultural Center in the Philippines and Coreana Cosmetics Museum; and “The Hat of the Matter,” which is supported by global clothing brand Bench. Currently on view also include a display of selected works from the 2021 Asian Art Biennial in Taiwan, titled “Phantasmapolis,” and Filipino-American artist JEFRË’s homecoming solo “Points of Origin.”

Photo of the Twin Tombs, Jabal Al Ahmar and Hegra (Madain Salih), in Al-Ula. Image via Flickr. 

Centre Pompidou Plans to Expand to Saudi Arabia

France’s Centre Pompidou is in negotiation with the Saudi Arabian government to sign a one-year-long, EUR 2 million (USD 2.1 million) contract and construct a new museum of modern art under its brand in the West Asian country. Named Perspective Galleries, the museum will be located in Al-Ula, in the northwestern region of Saudi Arabia, which has been known to house the remnants of 2,000-year-old sandstone buildings and tombs of the Nabatean tribe. Lebanese architect Lina Ghotmeh has been named to design the new space with help from Pompidou’s experts in conservation and education. This move comes amid comprehensive cross-cultural cooperation plans to strengthen ties between France and Saudi Arabia, including the ten-year deal signed in 2018 to collectively cultivate the Al-Ula cultural complex, the construction plan of which are divided into three phases across the years 2023, 2030, and 2035. There are currently at least four planned or existing extensions of the Centre Pompidou outside of France, including the spaces in Shanghai, Brussels, Jersey City, and Málaga.

Installation view of JENS GALSCHIOT’s Pillar of Shame (1996) before its removal at the University of Hong Kong. Photo taken by Daniel Taka in 2019. Image via Flickr. 

Danish Artist Looking to Sue HKU for Forced Removal of His Sculpture

Danish artist Jens Galschiøt is now considering suing the University of Hong Kong (HKU) for “theft” after the institution’s forceful removal and indefinite storage of his sculpture, Pillar of Shame (1996). Built in commemoration of the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre, the eight-meter-tall copper tower featuring a mass of twisted bodies had stood for more than 24 years on HKU’s campus, until it was removed suddenly by the staff during midnight in December 2021. The pieces of the sculpture have since been temporarily housed in the school’s Kadoorie Centre. While efforts to contact the Kadoorie Centre, University Estates Office, and Principal’s Office were made over the last months, both parties remained at a stalemate—with HKU claiming the matter had already been resolved by its legal representatives, and Galschiøt reiterating the lack of a clear action plan after his earlier proposals to collect the statue had been continuously disregarded by the school. At present, Galschiøt maintains that he intends to ship his sculpture out of Hong Kong and repair any damage incurred. While reluctant, the artist is not ruling out resorting to legal action in urging HKU for a clear and proper response.

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