By Deb A.
Hallowe'en is looming, so we turn this week to something a little more gory. This month not one but two blood-based art projects have hit the headlines, both with a political message.
Marc Quinn will draw blood from 5000 people for his next piece in order to highlight the global refugee crisis and, crucially, raise money for refugees worldwide. Billed as "a monument to our common humanity" that emphasises "how there is more that unites us than divides us," Odyssey will feature two cubes, each containing one metric ton of frozen blood--one cube will hold blood drawn from refugees, while the other will hold blood drawn from non-refugees around the world, including celebrities such as Anna Wintour and Jude Law. The cubes will be unlabelled, pushing viewers to recognise the basic humanity that is shared by us all. If you would like to stand in solidarity with refugees, or even if you just fancy the idea of your blood mingling with Paul McCartney's DNA, you can buy the chance to donate your blood to the artwork. Odyssey will debut outside the New York Public Library in Autumn 2019, then go on a global tour.
Earlier this month Khaled Jarrar stood on Wall Street selling vials of his own blood from a cooler with the aim of drawing attention to the role of America's military industry in war and violence. In his performance piece Blood for Sale, Jarrar sold his first eight bottles of blood for $19.48 to mark the price of Smith and Wesson stock and the 1948 Palestine War. The rest were valued according to the stock prices of 15 major American defence contractors: from $75 (Science Applications International Corporation) to $347 (Lockheed Martin). Interested passers-by who preferred to simply make a donation or buy the accompanying certificate without incurring the inconvenience of having to carry blood around for the rest of their day were rebuffed: As taxpayers to the American government, they already had blood on their hands, Jarrar reasoned. Proceeds of the sales of the 50 10-ml samples will be donated to hospitals in Yemen and Gaza.
By Deb A.
The dog in Rembrandt's masterpiece is slowly fading away as a white haze creeps over the 12 x 14-foot painting. It is time for The Night Watch to be restored.
Rembrandt reinvented the portrait with his The Night Watch in 1642. Commissioned to paint a group portrait of a civic guard, he moved beyond the tradition of depicting the subjects in a static pose and opted to instead tell a story by painting the men going into action.
The Night Watch is the jewel in the Rijksmuseum's crown and will remain on view to the public as it is analysed and restored in front of a live audience: It will stay in the Night Watch Hall throughout (albeit behind a glass chamber), and a live feed will be broadcast online for the world to watch. The museum's director, Taco Dibbits, explained that The Night Watch "is one of the most famous paintings in the world. It belongs to us all, and that is why we have decided to conduct the restoration within the museum itself--and everyone, wherever they are, will be able to follow the process online."
The restoration is due to begin in July 2019, after the museum has marked the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt's death with an exhibition of its collection of over 400 of the artist's works. The restoration is expected to take several years. Don't forget to tune in!
By Deb A.
It is the nightmare of most museum-goers: Accidentally bumping into something. When someone tumbles into a Picasso canvas it becomes global news. When a selfie-taker gets a touch too close to the first in a row of plinths, the video of the perfect domino topple gets over 7 million hitsâfueled in part by controversy over whether the gaffe was a little too perfect. Was it a costly stumble or a publicity-seeking prank?
The bar has arguably been higher for pranks in the art world since a print of Banksy's Girl With Balloon went up for auction. As the hammer went down on the winning bid of $1.4 million, the print went down tooâthrough a shredder built into the frame.
Sotheby's take? "It appears we just got Banksy-ed."
Banksy has confirmed creating the self-destruct mechanism and has renamed the piece Love Is in the Bin.
The winning bidder has decided to keep it. She told The Guardian that after recovering from the initial shock, she came to realise "that I would end up with my own piece of art history." Indeed, Elizabeth Dee argues that the event may have permanently transformed how performance art is perceived and valued, and the Evening Standard reports that the price tag on the new incarnation is likely to have increased by at least 50%.
Girl With Balloon has become an iconic work since it first appeared in London in 2002; it has gone through several iterations since then, including variations created in support of Syrian refugees in 2014 and in protest against the British Conservative Party in 2017.
By Deb A.
Here are some tidbits you may have missed this week.
"Alas for me! I am dead!": Ancient speech bubbles have been discovered in Jordan. (Atlas Obscura)
World of WearableArt celebrates its 30-year anniversary this year. (World of WearableArt)
Film, sculpture, performance, installations, activist architecture—but not a paintbrush in sight. The Turner Prize shortlist is here. (Tate)
Speaking of shortlists, the Photobox Instagram Photography Awards has one and there isn't a single shot of brunch to be seen. (PIPA)
Caitriona Lally won this year's Rooney Prize for Irish Literature for her debut novel, Eggshells. The award is given by Trinity College Dublin, Ms. Lally's alma mater and current employer; she has been working there as a cleaner since 2015. (CBC Radio)
How to probably not corrupt your child: Read them books that have been banned. Julia Pistell celebrates Banned Books Week. (Shondaland)
And now that you've reached the end, stop scrolling and get back to your book—but take a look at Joe Moran's examination of slow reading first. (The Guardian)
By Deb A.
When news of an art project that would rebuild the Berlin Wall began to circulate a month ago, people quickly began to take sides. Some—including Berlin's mayor and Brian Eno—thrilled at the boldness of an art installation that would recreate the Wall, closing off a section of Berlin's Mitte district. Visitors would have to apply for visas to get in, and an algorithm would develop individual programmes for visitors based on their application form. Once inside, they could be led anywhere, from Marina Abramović's performance piece Come, Wash With Me to a premiere of one of the 13 films created from footage of Ilya Khrzhanovsky's film project Dau, which recorded volunteers living in a recreation of a Soviet-era totalitarian town from 2009 to 2011. As the premiere of a three-part trilogy that would start with Dau: Liberty in Berlin, then be followed by Dau: Equality in Paris, and finally Dau: Fraternity in London. the Wall would be erected October 12 and torn down on November 9, the day the actual Wall came down in 1989.
While supporters awaited their chance to buy a visa, others, including civil rights activists and one of the initiators of Jeanne-Claude and Christo's Wrapped Reichstag, protested: "When the Wall was built, we stood by, furious, helpless. ... We do not want to see any more Walls." They raised concerns about the commodification of a traumatic chapter of German history and suggested that the creators of Dau: Liberty look to the victims of the current Russian regime to gain a true understanding of what it means to be imprisoned in a totalitarian system.
The controversy was resolved, at least temporarily, in the most mundane of ways: The proposal had been submitted to the city two months before it was set to open, but contained insufficient security planning—furthermore, security for an event of its size typically requires a year. The organisers claim that "from an artistic and organisational point of view, it is not possible to screen the first part a year later," but maintain that nothing has been cancelled yet.
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