This N' That: Keep In The Know With Photography News
By Ashley Yu
Trump Kills National Endowment of the Arts
The Orange Man is at it again. In another temper tantrum to redirect funding for his wall, he has planned to eliminate the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH) in the next two years. This is hardly his first attack on the two agencies.
Touting a $4.7 trillion budget, his full proposal is the most expensive in federal history. The NEA and the NEH will receive, according to his proposal, “sufficient funding for orderly termination of all operations over two years.” It’s not just the funding for the arts and humanities that are withering away under tiny little fists of our man-child president; the Environmental Protection Agency, alongside funding for Medicare and scientific research in climate change, will suffer similar consequences.
Though the financial budget is not concrete as of yet, it still requires a Congressional effort to either stall or reject his outrageous proposal. However, if this situation were to come to fruition, artists will struggle with a lack of grants and funding, causing the slow painful death of galleries, museums, public programs and many more.
MET Museum to Become More Contemporary?
The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s steps have long been an iconic part of the New York landscape. From Gossip Girl to the MET Gala, almost everyone has at least taken one picture sitting on museum stairs, facing the racing cars on 5th Avenue. This fall, and for the first time since its inauguration, the MET will feature contemporary statues and sculptures outside the Museum.
Under the guidance of the new director, Max Hollein, the museum will kickstart a series of new artists commissions, beginning with the sculptures by Kenyan-American artist Wangechi Mutu. In a public statement, Hollein described the transformation of the building with this new initiative, as a “temporary platforms for presenting new work, offering powerful opportunities to display contemporary art for our broad audience.”
Alongside this bold incorporation of modern art with the classics, the Great Hall will also feature the colossal paintings of Kent Monkman in December, as well as hosting the world premiere of Ragnar Kjartansson immersive video installation Death is Elsewhere in May. Hollein’s introduction of the contemporary feels like a breath of fresh air, blowing the dust off of its Ancient Egyptian sarcophagi and, in my personal opinion, rather stuffy Rembrandts.
Pioneering Curator Okwui Enwezor Passes Away at 55 from Cancer
A peerless curator, poet, and an educator, Okwui Enwezor was deeply influential in shaping public perception around modern art, particularly African art, and greatly challenged the European canon. Born in Nigeria in 1963, Enwezor would come to establish non-Western art histories on equal footing with the unquestionable prevalence of European/North American art.
Having survived the Biafran Wars as part of an Igbo family, Enwezor moved to New Jersey to study political science, and later performed his poetry at the Knitting Factory and the Nuyorican Café in the East Village, New York. Featuring 30 African photographers, he received international recognition after curating the exhibition In/sight at the Guggenheim in 1996. The exhibition was one of the first shows to address the socio-political context of post-colonial African states in contemporary art.
Enwezor would later become the curator of Haus der Kunst in Munich, the International Centre of Photography, the Art Institute of Chicago and many more other art institutions. He became the first African-born curator of the 2015 Venice Biennial and shaped the careers of many other prominent figures in the art world, including Steve McQueen.
Art Dubai Opens with a Shaky Beginning
Expectations were not high at the 13th edition of Art Dubai that opened on March 19 in the United Arab Emirates’s capital of Dubai. With the wider region of Iran and its prophecies of economic downfall and political turmoil, the forecast of sold art pieces is not optimistic. Although an economic recession has yet to be announced by the UAE, many believe that the country, mired in $68 billion debt, will experience a crash worse than that of 2009. Compounded by its involvement with the war in Yemen, a storm is brewing in Dubai’s horizon and people would rather prepare for the deluge than buy art pieces.
Art Dubai was cloaked in uncertainty, even before the inception of its 13th edition. In September, fair organizers terminated a decade-long sponsorship with the Abraaj Group--the Middle East’s largest private equity dealmaker, after it collapsed within the span of four months, whilst also accruing $1 billion of debt.
“You can feel that we are passing through difficult times,” said Andrée Sfeir-Semler, owner of the gallery with the same name. “It is only when people are comfortable with their politics and economic situation that they think about buying art.” However, some remain hopeful that coming into contact with emerging Turkish and Arabic art collectors can help broaden the international art market in the long run.
Hudson Yards: Yay or Nay?
Basically carving for itself a new neighborhood just off of Chelsea, $20 billion was poured into creating the Hudson Yards. Replacing the brick warehouses, factories, and shoddy tenement buildings in the Far West Side of Manhattan, a colossal emerges from the long-ignored section of the city. Drowning in commercialized luxury brands and hulking corporate names seared across the sprawling development, the Hudson Yards faces either total disdain or mild curiosity amongst New Yorkers.
The spiraling sculpture/building, the Vessel, is armored in stainless steel and mirrored surfaces that were designed to reflect sunlight and illuminate the surrounding retail shops and restaurants. Not unlike the labyrinthian copper glitz inside the Trump Tower, the Vessel has come under the scorn of many who believe that it has tainted the city’s landscape.
Though the project claimed magnanimously to be for the sake of opening more public spaces, you must first reserve a ticket. To get one, you’ll have to wait for almost a month just to visit the architectural behemoth.
MTA Subway Cars Become New Aquariums in the Atlantic
Much like the sunken ships filled with treasures in stories and movies, the Metropolitan Transport Authority of New York’s abandoned subway cars have transformed into condos for fish around the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. As a surprising result of repurposing massive chunks of junk metal, photographer Stephen Mallon has documented this project, “Next Stop Atlantic” at the New York Museum of Transit.
Much of Mallon’s work captures the accidental beauty of major feats of engineering. From the rusting hull of a ship to the amazing salvage of Flight 1549 that landed in the Hudson River, his latest exhibition is yet another ode to the wonders of urban planning and the surprising beauty of repurposing. Featuring some of the older cars that still operate on the A or C trains, the throngs of the odd and exciting people that once crammed themselves into these cars have been replaced with various species of fish as they make themselves at home, safe from the predators that lurk in those waters.
In the places that we often forget, or perhaps deem as boring machinery, Mallon’s eye has sought out the unexpected elegance amongst the rust and rubble, and delights the viewers by documenting the repurposing of everyday subway cars into new reefs for fish.