Monthly Archives: June 2017

The Tomb of a Pharaoh’s Jeweler Has Revealed Some Very Fancy 3,500-Year-Old Mummies

The drumbeat of Egyptian archaeological discoveries continues, with that country’s Ministry of Antiquities revealing that it has uncovered an ancient tomb belonging to an Egyptian goldsmith named Amenemhat. The site is just the latest archaeological find in the Draa Abul Naga necropolis, located near the Valley of Kings in the city of Luxor, some 400 miles south of Cairo on the Nile River.

“We found many objects of the funerary equipment inside and outside the tomb,” said Minister of Antiquities Khaled al-Anani in a statement, as reported by the BBC. “We found mummies, coffins, funerary combs, funerary masks, some jewellery, and statue.”

Lead archaeologist Mostafa Waziri stressed that an Egyptian team, rather than foreign professionals, was responsible for the find.

“We used to escort foreign archaeologists as observers, but that’s now in the past,” Waziri told the Daily Mail. “We are the leaders now.”

About 3,500 years old, the tomb is thought to date to the 18th dynasty. Amenemhat was a jeweler, and his tomb was dedicated to Amon-Re, the main Egyptian deity. Inside, archaeologists found a statue of Amenemhat and his wife, featuring a portrait of their son between them. The site also contained 150 small carved wood, clay, and limestone funerary statues.

Archaeologists found two separate burial shafts, both of which contained mummies. Later sarcophagi, from the 22nd and 21st dynasties, were also excavated.

“We are not sure if these mummies belong to Amenemhat and his family,” Waziri told the New York Times.

Waziri also pointed out that he and his team are not the first to have found the ancient crypt, which, he revealed, was likely disturbed long ago. “Others have clearly reused this tomb and poked around in ancient times,” he said. “That’s probably why their heads are uncovered.”

The latest find follows other recent discoveries in the region. Last November, archaeologists discovered a lost city thought to be Egypt’s first capital. In April, a Japanese team unearthed a 3,500-year-old tomb belonging to an ancient Egyptian nobleman named Userhat. It was work on the latter site that first offered clues about the whereabouts of Amenemhat’s tomb, according to CNN.

Bruce High Quality Foundation University Calls it Quits

After eight years of offering an alternative to formal education for young artists, New York’s Bruce High Quality Foundation University (often known by its acronym, BHQFU) is winding down its operation. Launched in Tribeca on September 11, 2009, by a semi-anonymous group of artists who work under the name Bruce High Quality Foundation, the school offered free classes to all comers, not only in order to increase accessibility to what it called an “MFA-quality” education but also as a critique of the burgeoning costs of higher education, which often leave students laboring under tens of thousand dollars of debt.

“We needed to open up a conversation about the best way to radically rethink the school,” BHQFU president Seth Cameron said in a phone interview. “Since we’d done it for eight years, we figured maybe it was time to drop a bomb” and shut down the operation. Cameron announced the program’s closure in a slightly inscrutable article in the Brooklyn Rail that employed a broken toilet at the school’s headquarters—and the resulting pileup of human waste—as an extended metaphor to explain the group’s decision.

House of Ladosha’s exhibition “This is UR Brain” appeared at the art school’s gallery in January 2016.

“We were fairly successful without growing a huge bureaucracy around fundraising,” said Cameron. “We organized one or two benefits a year, and with those we were able to consistently raise $300,000 to fund operations for the year. But we started to realize that if we were going to maintain that level, it was going to require more effort just to keep the thing afloat, which would take us away from being able to focus on projects. None of us is a fundraiser. We like to think about making a class happen.”

In addition to those traditional benefit events, which relied on donations from artists, the school was also partly funded by sales of works by BHQF itself. In a telling indication of the way the school effectively rode a thin line between the institutional and the anti-institutional, BHQF—whose changing members are casually referred to as “the Bruces”—was for a time represented by no less a bold-face name than the dealer Vito Schnabel. The collective sprang to life in minds of a group of students at the (formerly tuition-free) Cooper Union art school, and took its name from a fictional artist, Bruce High Quality, who was said to have died in the 9/11 attacks.

Over its eight-year run, BHQFU offered classes and critique sessions led by prominent artists and writers like Brian Droitcour, Juliana Huxtable, Elizabeth Jaeger, Rashid Johnson, Dana Schutz, and Brad Troemel. Some younger artists cite the classes as important influences, with Troemel’s anarchic class being a particular favorite.

Through the Bruces’ fun-filled non-juried exhibitions like the “Brucennial,” which always coincided with the Whitney Biennial (where the collective was featured in 2010) or other marquee shows, and through the school’s bold attempt to rethink the traditional structures of art education, BHQFU engendered enough goodwill that even such prominent figures happily lectured for as little as $50.

As a testament to the school’s recognition in institutional circles, artist-critic David Salle‘s class in art writing was the subject of a two-part article in Art in America by P.C. Smith; coincidentally, the school’s demise coincides with an article about the school by Erica Dawn Lyle in the current issue (which gave no indication of the looming expiration date). The school also participated in a 2015 session on alternative art schools at the College Art Association’s annual conference, and, in 2011, the New York public art organization Creative Time sponsored a cross-country road trip for the group, dubbed “Teach 4 Amerika,” during which it mounted rallies and organized events at art schools.

But the bureaucratic demands of administering a program that enrolled as many as 800 students at a time finally caught up with the group, according to Cameron. “We were to some degree victims of our own success,” he said.

The school’s legacy, said one instructor who spoke off the record, will be a sense of optimism and possibility; a thriving network of young New York artist-alums; and proof of concept that an art education can be made available for less than $30,000 per student, per semester.

Cameron, for his part, says that the school’s main accomplishment is that it helped artists learn from each other. As for its legacy, he said, “In the school’s last iteration, a studio-plus-teaching residency, I think we hit upon a curricular model that could supplant the MFA entirely if it were implemented on a large enough scale. Then again, maybe it won’t happen, art schools will become fully obsolete on their own, and mere anarchy will be loosed upon the world.”

Adam Szymczyk Led documenta to the Brink of Bankruptcy

Documenta 14 director Adam Szymczyk has led the world-renowned art quinquennial to the brink of bankruptcy, after the exhibition ran significantly over budget. According to the German local newspaper HNA, which broke the story, the deficit amounts to roughly €7 million ($8.3 million).

The insolvency of documenta’s parent company was narrowly averted when numerous creditors accepted deferral agreements for outstanding payments after the state of Hesse and the city of Kassel agreed to act as guarantors, writing a check for a €3.5 million loan ($4 million) at an emergency board meeting on August 30 to keep the exhibition up and running. The financial injection ensures the quinquennial can continue to run until its conclusion on September 17, and ensures that its employees will be paid.

In a statement published on the city’s official website, the mayor of Kassel and chairman of the board of documenta’s parent company Christian Geselle confirmed that the quinquennial was facing “financial constraints” and confirmed that the city of Kassel and the state of Hesse reached a deal to “guarantee the liquidity of the company” going forward, although the statement does not name figures.

“The board is aware of the extraordinary importance of documenta for the city of Kassel and the state of Hesse,” Geselle said in the statement. “Documenta is inextricably linked to Kassel and we want documenta to continue to bring world class contemporary art to Kassel.”

It’s still unclear how the €37 million budget ($44 million) was squandered, as independent auditors are still examining the numbers. However, initial reports suggest that the exhibition’s secondary venue in Athens was the root of the problem, with the Greek show costing more than anticipated. At the same time, ticket sales have failed to make up for the shortfall—and, halfway through its run time, projections show that a three percent decline in visitor numbers is expected in comparison to the previous edition.

At the moment, the reason for the near-bankruptcy appears to be a case of financial mismanagement by documenta officials. Adam Szymczyk’s decision to stage the show in two different countries significantly inflated costs, while chief executive Annette Kulenkampff, a trained art historian and former publisher, did little to stop the director’s spending. Meanwhile, the chair of the advisory board was until recently filled by former Kassel mayor Bertram Hilgen, who allegedly allowed the spending to continue in an effort to protect his legacy at the end of his political term. Now it’s up to Hilgen’s successor, Geselle, and the other board members to pick up the pieces and come up with a solution to documenta’s financial problems.

A post-mortem is already scheduled at a second board meeting next week, where the independent auditors will present their findings, which will doubtless shed more light on what exactly went wrong.

Art Industry News: Rachel Whiteread Decries

Art Industry News is a daily digest of the most consequential developments coming out of the art world and art market. Here’s what you need to know this Tuesday, September 12.

NEED-TO-READ

A Look at Kara Walker’s Grim Perspective of Trump’s America – Art writer Priscilla Frank reviews Walker’s new show at Sikkema Jenkins & Co in New York City, analyzing the work and ultimately calling it “abusive, cartoonish, obscene.” But don’t take that the wrong way, the exhibition is praised for its contemporary look at racism in America. (Huffington Post)

LA Artists Open Museum to Raise Awareness on Displacement – Artists Michael Parker and Alyse Emdur have transformed their shared studio into the Artists’ Loft Museum Los Angeles (ALMLA) with the aim of bringing attention to the rising rents and evictions in the city’s arts district. But the project, which opened on August 31, may be short-lived: The landlord has notified Parker and Emdur that the rent has been raised to $2,050, which is about 200 percent more than what they paid six years ago. (Artforum)

Santander Cultural Shuts Down Brazil’s “Queermuseum” – Santander Cultural, an arts and cutural center in Porto Alegre, Brazil opened “Queermuseum: Queer Tactics Toward Non-Heteronormative Curating,” a show which included 85 artists and 263 artworks, making it Brazil’s biggest queer art exhibition ever. However, the gallery, sponsored by the Spanish bank Santander, was forced to close the show following criticisms from visitors who accused the artwork of blasphemy, pedophilia, and bestiality. (Hyperallergic)

A Mondrian Shown at Bozar Is Perhaps a Fake – A painting attributed to Piet Mondrian included in an exhibition at Bozar in Brussels is a fake, according to the investigation of Leon Hanssen, a Dutch specialist on the work of Mondrian. The museum has yet to confirm Hanssen’s assertion, stating that  “He claims the work is not authentic but we are awaiting an official report.” (Xpats)

ART MARKET

Here’s What the Top 200 Collectors Bought in Last Year – The works range from big-name artists to lesser-known emerging artists, but collectors Daniel and Estrellita B. Brodsky—who were included in the survey—could agree that “it has been a busy year.” Included in the list are Samson Young’s We Are the World, Kevin Beasley’s Untitled (Panel 4), and works by Laura Owens and Anicka Yi. (ARTnews)

How to Properly Consign an Artwork – A step-by-step guide to making sure you don’t get the wool pulled over your eyes when consigning an artwork. The biggest tip? Never rely on a verbal agreement. (Burnaway)

COMINGS & GOINGS

Christine Eyene to Curate 2018 Casablanca Biennial – In a bid to forge an intercultural dialogue between African artists and the international art scene, Eyene has been named artistic director of the fourth edition of the biennial, set to run in October 2018. Eyene is a research fellow in contemporary art at the University of Central Lancashire and the cofounder of YaPhoto, a photography platform based in Yaounde, Cameroon. (Artforum)

MSU Broad Receives $1 Million Gift – The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University was awarded $1 million from MSU Federal Credit Union to expand the museum into a new space across the street. (Artforum)

Top Curator Resigns from AGO – Andrew Hunter, curator of Canadian art at Art Gallery of Ontario, has stepped down to explore other community arts initiatives. He leaves AGO at the risk of the museum being set back in its commitment to programming exhibitions around marginalized histories and indigenous art. (The Star)

No Longer Empty Hires Raquel de Anda – The nonprofit that organizes site-responsive exhibitions in empty public spaces has hired independent curator Raquel de Anda as director of public engagement in an effort to draw the public into cross-cultural, generational, and socioeconomic dialogue. (Press release)

FOR ART’S SAKE 

The Broad Releases 40,000 More Kusama Tickets – After the initial release of 50,000 tickets sold out in less than an hour, the museum will temporarily extend its opening hours during the exhibition to accommodate the extra visitors, whose tickets will go on sale October 2. (LA Times)

Rachel Whiteread Derides ‘Plop Art’ – The English artist has criticized public artworks that don’t engage with their surroundings, making them difficult to notice. “Art has got extremely popular which is great for many reasons but I think a lot of public sculpture is ill-thought-out and put in places it shouldn’t necessarily be,” she said. She goes on to say that London is one of the biggest culprits of this unfortunate phenomenon, since it’s “completely full of sculptures which no one bears a blind bit of attention to.” (The Guardian)

Hirshhorn Acquires Landmark Ragnar Kjartansson Series – All four installments of the Icelandic artist’s acclaimed ongoing video series, “Me and My Mother,” as well as any future iterations of the work, will head to the Hirshhorn alongside 17 other new acquisitions.