By Deb A.
The tides are turning against a major donor in the art world. Over the last week, the Tate Modern, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Guggenheim all announced that they would no longer be accepting donations from the Sackler family.
The Sacklers earned themselves a name in the art world by donating millions upon millions of dollars to museums and galleries. The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Louvre have Sackler Wings, the British Museum has Raymond and Beverly Sackler Rooms, and the group of Tate galleries had already accepted over $5 million from the family before their recent announcement.
The problem lies in the source of the Sackler family's billions: Their company, Purdue Pharma, developed and aggressively marketed OxyContin while hiding its addictive properties, making the Sacklers almost single-handedly responsible for North America's opioid crisis.
Photographer Nan Goldin, who herself became addicted to painkillers after being prescribed OxyContin, established Prescription Addiction Intervention Now (PAIN) to protest the Sacklers's involvement in the arts and insist that they fund rehab programmes and overdose antidotes instead of making prestigious donations. She led demonstrations at the Met and the Guggenheim, and threatened to withdraw from an exhibition of her work at the National Portrait Gallery if it accepted a million-pound donation from the Sacklers. The gallery turned the money down.
The Sacklers are far from being the only ethically problematic patrons of the arts, and it is unlikely that museums and galleries around the world, especially those with long histories, will be able to extricate themselves completely from blood money and ill-gotten gains. But this is no reason to avoid taking a stand; galleries must make it clear that they will no longer accept money that was earned by putting lives at risk.
By Deb A.
"Every black person deserves to see themselves this way": Mikael Owunna's Infinite Essence photography project is his reaction to the barrage of images of dying or dead black bodies. It is both poignant and incredibly beautiful, and a thorough look at his website and social media, along with this interview with NPR, is well worth your while.
Patrick Heide Contemporary Art in London is showing a group exhibition focused on Brexit entitled Should I Stay Or Should I Go?
It didn't take long for the first comic depicting U.S. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (as an establishment-fighting hero) to emerge. (Devil's Due Comics)
The New York Times marked Black History Month by telling the stories of some of the notable black men and women who did not receive obituaries when they died. The project is called Overlooked, and its last entry of the year is a look at graffiti artist Dondi.
If it's too cold to get outside, at least there's this: The Outdoor Photographer of the Year winners for 2018.
It's somehow hard to imagine a list like this that didn't include Margaret Atwood (spoiler alert: This one does): CBC's "10 Canadian books coming out in March we can't wait to read."
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.
Summer is festival time. Here's a sample of just some of the events for bookworms, art lovers, and photography fans taking place this season.
Athens Photo Festival 2018
6 June –29 July; Athens, Greece
The main exhibition at the Benaki Museum was curated from over 100 entries; there is also a Young Greek Photographers exhibit.
21 June–1 July; Lodz, Poland
One of Poland's first major photography events in 2001, this year's festival looks at the Anthropocene epoch with over 30 exhibitions.
23 June–1 July; Leipzig, Germany
This year the biennial festival for photography will examine how photography can be used for democracy and mediation.
National Arts Festival
28 June–8 July; Grahamstown, South Africa
Visitors get free entry to exhibitions by "hundreds of visual artists working in almost every conceivable medium," including I am because you are: A search for Ubuntu with permission to dream and Sister Sister, an all-female exhibition.
29 June–1 July; London, England
Somali-British poet Warsan Shire will headline the U.K.'s biggest annual African literary festival, which features book launches, workshops, masterclasses, panels, and roundtables with authors from a dozen countries.
Read by the Sea
2–7 July; River John, Canada
A festival that brings some of Canada's best authors and poets to a small town in Nova Scotia; WordPlay, a children's event, will include Paulette Bourgeois (Franklin the Turtle).
2 July–23 September; Arles, France
"Cross space and time with a breathtaking, celestial journey across the ages"—who could resist an invitation like that?
Antiparos International Photo Festival
7–16 July; Antiparos, Greece
With a maximum of just 15 photographers, this mostly open-air event may be the smallest international photography festival in the world.
Upfest—The Urban Paint Festival
28–30 July; Bristol, England
Europe's largest, free street art and graffiti festival, with artists from around the world painting 60,000 square feet of surfaces. Also includes an affordable art sale.
Edinburgh Fringe Festival
3–27 August; Edinburgh, Scotland
It bills itself as "the world's greatest platform for creative freedom," as well as "the single biggest celebration of arts and culture on the planet," neither of which is an empty boast. Featuring spoken word performances, art exhibits, plays, dance, cabaret, and more, it is perhaps best-known for comedy.
Kilkenny Arts Festival
9–19 August; Kilkenny, Ireland
Enjoy the music, theatre, dance, and art, but don't let it distract you from attending a poetry workshop with poet-in-residence Eavan Boland.
17–19 August; Kampala, Uganda
In its sixth year, Uganda's leading literary festival will be looking to build on its foundations and set the tone for the next five years.
Queensland Poetry Festival
36–26 August; Queensland, Australia
Poet-in-residence Yona Harvey will offer workshops, talks, and more; the winner of the Emerging Older Poets Mentorship will read, and a poet will be selected to represent Queensland in the Australia Poetry Slam.
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