In this week’s Art World Roundup, CIMAM deems Mexico’s state museums an “ecosystem in danger,” four protesters face criminal charges after allegedly partaking in the toppling of Bristol’s Edward Colston statue, a number of works from the Royal Collection are on view at the Queen’s Gallery in London, and Banksy’s back at it with a new mural. An archaeologist believes he’s found the childhood home of Jesus Christ while Red Bull announces the closure of their New York arts venue and Pantone announces its 2021 colour(s) of the year that are optimistic in tone.
CIMAM reports on dire position of Mexico’s institutions
The Museum Watch Program of the International Committee for Museums and Collections of Modern Art (CIMAM) has released a statement calling Mexico’s museums an “ecosystem in danger.” The statement, which paints a dismal picture for the country’s internationally recognized cultural institutions, was accompanied by a letter signed by CIMAM president Mami Kataoka, representing the Museum Watch Program. The letter was sent to Alejandra Frausto Guerrero, Mexico’s Secretary of Culture, urging that swift action be taken to safeguard Mexico’s museums. The country’s public museums are solely funded by the government, which could sound inviting at first glance, but according to CIMAM, “there are a number of alarms being raised” amongst Mexican institutions, that pre-date the pandemic. Since 2018, regional museums have faced budget cuts of 76.53 percent and in May of 2019, the arts sector saw further cuts of up to 50 percent in funding under the guidance of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. This year, the operating budget for the National Institute of Fine Arts and Literature, which oversees many of the country’s museums, was capped at 75 percent. “Despite these devastating cuts in funding to museums,” reads the statement, “a budget of $175 million has been assigned to the new Chapultepec Forest development which has been identified as a national priority.” The budget for developing the Chapultepec Forest, a city park that is home to a number of Mexico’s museums like the Kunsthalle, has raised concern because bolstering its budget takes away from funding museums that are already struggling. “CIMAM recognises that while ambition for new cultural institutions should be welcomed this has to be balanced against a responsibility by the state to support the wider cultural eco-system that provides the ground for new ambitions.” The situation for Mexico’s museums is attributed to “draconian austerity measures” which have been compounded by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Kataoka and CIMAM are calling on Frausto Guerrero to rectify the situation. Read the full statement and letter here.
Four face charges in toppling Edward Colston statue
Over the summer, as protesters gathered across England in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, a crowd toppled and rolled a statue of Edward Colston into the Bristol harbour. Colston was a prominent 18th-century figure heavily involved in slave trade, therefore the statue has many times caused tension. Although no arrests were made at the time of the toppling in June, four of the protestors involved will appear in a Bristol court next month facing criminal charges. The outcome of the cases will undoubtedly be closely watched. In a statement, a spokesperson said: “The Crown Prosecution Service reminds all concerned that criminal proceedings against all four are now active and that they have the right to a fair trial. It is extremely important there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings.” The plinth that once held the Colston statue has remained empty, except for a brief 24-hour period when another (also contentious) statue by Marc Quinn stood in Colston’s place, and it is unknown what will replace the original work.
See the Royal Collection at the Queen’s Gallery
Buckingham Palace is home to a vast many treasure, both gifts to and acquisitions of the British royal family. One such treasure, is the Royal Collection, which boasts numerous masterpieces rarely seen by the public, unless you’re attending the Palace’s annual summer opening when the State Rooms are available to the public to tour. However, while Buckingham Palace’s Picture Gallery undergoes mandatory works, much of the collection have been moved next door to the Queen’s Gallery and are on view through the end of January. Fittingly titled “Masterpieces from Buckingham Palace,” the exhibition holds incredible artworks by some of the best-known and loved artists. Works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Rubens, van Dyck, Titian, and Canaletto are among the artists whose works grace the Queen’s Gallery. Unfortunately, the pandemic will lessen the number who will get to experience the collection, first hand, but even if it’s only an online tour, “Masterpieces from Buckingham Palace” is certainly one not to be missed.
2020’s been a tough year, but Banksy’s been hard at work and the artist isn’t quite finished. Yesterday, the Bristol-based artist revealed yet another artwork, painted on the side of a house on an unassuming street in the artist’s home city. The mysterious artist took to Instagram to lay claim to the work depicting a woman in the midst of a pretty violent sneeze. Her right arm lets go of her purse and cane and she tries to bring a handkerchief to her mouth with her left. Unfortunately, her reaction wasn’t quite fast enough to catch her dentures, which are jetting away from her. The artwork is on-brand for the year. Alongside the series of Instagram photographs, Banksy added an enthusiastic “Aachoo!!” As is the case with a new Banksy, people are already getting excited about the work. “I heard it on the news and I thought I’ve got to go and take a look. I’ve always been a big fan of his,” Bristol resident Jason Bartlett told the BBC. “It’s going to get interesting for whoever owns the house I suppose,” he continued. Among other headlining events, this year Banksy has unveiled an artwork in Nottingham, funded a rescue boat that helped save dozens of refugees, gifted an artwork to the NHS as a thank you to staff hard at work during the pandemic, weighed in on issues concerning problematic statues, and auctioned off works to help support a Bethlehem hospital.
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Has the childhood home of Jesus Christ been found?
Nearly 140 years ago, a group of nuns discovered an ancient cistern during the construction of the Sisters of Nazareth convent. Their discovery is central to research by archaeologist Ken Dark, who believes that the nuns may have actually found the childhood home of Jesus Christ. Dark has published his findings in his book, The Sisters of Nazareth Convent: A Roman-Period, Byzantine, and Crusader Site in Central Nazareth. The site has rich history, even if it wasn’t home to Jesus. In the 1st-century, the site was first used as a building that may have been a dwelling. It was later used as a quarry and then as a tomb before it may have become a cave-church. Eventually, a Byzantine church was erected on the site and according to Dark’s studies, that church may have been the Church of the Nutrition, which was built upon the site where Jesus grew up. The Church of the Nutrition burned down in 1200, well ahead of the nuns’ archaeological dig in 1881, but if Dark’s hypothesis is true, it would make the life of Jesus more tangible. According to Dark, the sight is also significant for another reason: it’s “one of the first examples of an archaeological project directed by a woman.” He continued stating that “in many ways, [the nuns] were way ahead of their time. They conducted a perfectly reasonable rescue excavation, or salvage excavation.” More of Dark’s interview can be found here.
End of the road for NY Red Bull art venue
The energy drink brand Red Bull is officially closing the doors to its New York art space, but not because of the pandemic. Since 2014, the art venue has been known for its of-the-moment exhibitions supporting up-and-coming and underrepresented artists. But, it was recently announced that December will be its last month in operation as we know it. The Detroit Red Bull arts space, which preceded the New York venture, will continue to operate. Next year, Red Bull Arts Detroit will host “No Gyal Can Test,” an exhibition by artist and creative director Akeen Smith, which ended up being the last exhibition shown in the New York space. In a statement to Artnet News, Red Bull said: “We are closing the physical Red Bull Arts New York space to focus our community impact at a more grassroots.” It is not yet known what more will come from this announcement. On their Instagram, the organization thanked supporters for “laughs, the love, and the support,” stating that “Red Bull remains committed to supporting artists and fostering engagement in the arts.”
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Pantone sees light at the end of the tunnel
With 2020 drawing to a close and news of vaccines gaining traction, a sense of hope, albeit a small one, is starting to take hold. That seems to be the exact inspiration behind Pantone’s 2021 colour of the year. “Ultimate Gray”, a medium gray meant to evoke an “everlasting and firm foundation,” and “Illuminating,” a yellow hue that is described as “imbued with solar power,” are setting the tone for the upcoming year. In it’s 22nd year, it’s the first time that Pantone has bestowed the honour on a gray and only the second time a yellow has been selected. Pantone’s colour of the year is more or less a marketing gimmick, but it anticipates trends and often sets the pace for design and fashion, among other fields. 2021 is only the second time that the paint chip company has announced two colors for the honour. The two are meant to stand alone but also complement one another. “This is a color combination that gives us resilience and hope” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, in a statement. “The selection of two independent colors highlight how different elements come together to express a message of strength and hopefulness that is both enduring and uplifting, conveying the idea that it’s not about one color or one person, it’s about more than one.” Classic Blue was the 2020 Pantone colour of the year, while Living Coral was 2019’s, and Ultra Violet had its moment in 2018. The last time two colours were selected was 2015 when Rose Quartz and Serenity, a blue hue, were selected.