Campaign launched to save artistic community in London's Hackney Wick, home to Chapman Brothers and Gavin Turk

One of the largest artistic communities in Londonand possibly Europeis under threat from plans to demolish a warehouse that is home to more than 100 artists and small businesses. The residents of Vittoria Wharf, formerly a tyre factory and series of car storage units, have launched a petition to save the arts hub in Hackney Wick, northeast London, which is due to be bulldozed to make way for a pedestrian bridge across a canal. Artists are facing eviction on 5 September.

The London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) owns half of Vittoria Wharf and the companys plans include building many unaffordable homes on the adjacent side of the canal, according to the petition, which has so far attracted more than 2,500 supporters. Campaigners say that new developments will change the soul of Hackney Wick and displace many of the people that work and create here.

For many years Hackney Wick had the highest concentration of artists per square foot in the whole of Europethe Chapman Brothers, Gavin Turk and Conrad Shawcross are all locals. But rising rents and rapid redevelopment across the UK capital is now forcing artists to leave. London is due to lose 3,500 artist studios in the next five yearsa third of the capitals creative workspaces.

According to the artists of Vittoria Wharf, the warehouse has been a safe haven where people can enjoy the relatively small privilege of being able to get on with their work and collaborate with their neighbours without the fear of having to be moved on. That is until now.

LLDC have told campaigners that the proposed bridge will benefit the community, but artists argue that they are the community. Our response is that you will be deleting us in the process, they say.

A spokesman for LLDC says: This new bridge will significantly improve connections around Fish Island, Hackney Wick and into Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, helping the area properly benefit from the regeneration investment being made there. This bridge received planning consent in 2012 and we have undertaken extensive consultation on these proposals. We are keen to work with local people to ensure the bridge benefits everyone.

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Making art (in aid of making babies)

Stuart Semple is giving a helping hand to the organisation The Fertility Partnership next month when six public art pieces by the UK artist will go on show in six cities. Semples installationsto be unveiled in Glasgow, London and Nottingham, among other locations  on 1 Septemberwill highlight the work of the partnership (a group of national and international clinics specialising in IVF). Semple will also give away on the day of the launch 1,000 limited edition screenprints on foil balloons, a gesture reflective of the generous act of egg donation, the organisers say. I’m hoping of course that these temporary public sculptures, and the art pieces that we are giving away, will encourage some important discussions about egg donation and fertility, Semple says (so you know: every year, around 2,000 children are born in the UK as a result of donated eggs, sperm or embryos but there is a dilemma as the UK just doesnt have enough egg donors).

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Artist Betsy Davis ends her life under California’s doctor-assisted dying law

The California multi-media and performance artist Betsy Davis was among the first people to end her life last month under the states new doctor-assisted dying law. The 41-year-old, who was diagnosed three years ago with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrigs disease, planned a two-day party on 23-23 July for her friends and family, who gathered at her home in Ojai, California to say goodbye.

You are all very brave for sending me off on my journey, Davis wrote in an email invite to her guests. Thank you so much for traveling the physical and emotional distance for me. These circumstances are unlike any party you have attended before, requiring emotional stamina, centeredness, and openness. And one rule: No crying.

More than 30 guests came from across the country for the event, which included music, pizza and tamales, and a screening of Daviss favourite film, The Dance of Reality, by the Chilean-French director Alejandro Jodorowsky. Under her guidance, Id put sticky notes next to items around the house, explaining their significance, Daviss sister Kelly wrote of the experience this week. She invited everyone to take a Betsy souvenir to remember her.

After her guests left on the final evening, Davis took a lethal combination of drugs prescribed by her doctor around 6:45pm, slipped into a coma and died four hours later.

Californias controversial End of Life Option Act went into effect in June, after years of failed attempts to pass a law allowing terminally ill patients to seek a physicians help in dying, making it the fifth state to legalise the practice. Opponents, including some medical groups and the Catholic Church, raised concerns that chronically sick people could be coerced into ending their lives and pointed to the difficulty in diagnosing when an illness is terminal.

My sister is an example of exactly what the law intended to do: allow a dying young woman the ability to assert control over the chaos and uncertainty of terminal illness, Kelly Davis wrote. She turned death into a reason to celebrate, and she was there to enjoy the party.

My work strives to produce a change in perception of the world around us, Betsy Davis wrote in an artists statement on her website. I aim to delight and engage people, while simultaneously demonstrating the lighthearted elegance of human nature.

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New York’s El Museo del Barrio loses another director

<img src='' alt="Jorge Daniel Veneciano at the El Museo Gala in May 2014. Photo: Patrick McMullan
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El Museo del Barrio in New York announced today that its executive director, Jorge Daniel Veneciano, is stepping down at the end of the month to pursue new opportunities, according to the press release. In his place, the museum will be co-directed by Berta Coln, the deputy director of institutional advancement, and Carlos Glvez, the deputy executive director.

Veneciano leaves the museum after only two and a half years, having started in March 2014. He came to New York from the Sheldon Museum of Art at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, Nebraska. Prior to his tenure, El Museo had a number of high-profile staff woes: in 2013 it fired its director Margarita Aguilar, who filed a claim of gender discrimination and a hostile work environment with the New York state division of human rights. Shortly after, the museum, which has had financial difficulties in the past, also lost deputy director Gonzalo Casals and chief curator Chus Martinez.

Veneciano, however, seemed to have some success with the job. This spring, he organised a show at the museum titled The Illusive Eye, a response to the Museum of Modern Art’s 1956 Op art show The Responsive Eye that highlighted Latin American contributions to the movement throughout the 1950s to 70s. The New York Times art critic Ken Johnson praised its intriguing conceptual urgency.

After almost three years at El Museo del Barrio, Jorge Daniel leaves a legacy of outstanding exhibitions and programmes, increased attendance, and deepened community engagement, Mara Eugenia Maury, head of the board of trustees, said in a statement. We are proud of what the staff and board have been able to accomplish under his leadership. Our board is growing in strength and number as a result of the museums continuing successes.

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Pioneering war photographer Gerda Taro's images vandalised in Leipzig

An open-air display of images by the war photographer Gerda Taro has been vandalised in Leipzig, Germany, Monopol reports. The works, which depict scenes of conflict including the Spanish Civil War, were covered in black paint on the night of Wednesday, 3 August.

The exhibition organisers, f/stop festival, say in a statement: How a work of art is handled in the public space is always a litmus test for the state of a community. Unlike the protected space of a museum or gallery, a work in the public realm is under the protection of us all. The organisers believe the act was politically motivated and a police investigation has been launched.

Taro was born Gerta Pohorylle into a German Jewish family in 1910. She escaped the Nazis in 1933, fleeing from Leipzig to Paris where she met the Hungarian photographer Robert Capa (then called Andr Friedmann). Together they travelled to Spain where they documented the Spanish Civil War. Taro was killed there on assignment in 1937, becoming the first female war photographer to die in action.

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Three to see: London

Found (until 4 September) at the Foundling Museum is a treasure trove of, as the title suggests, (mostly) found objects. Curated by the artist Cornelia Parker, the show brings together pieces belonging to, or works made by, artists such as Jeremy Deller, Laure Prouvost, Rachel Whiteread and Wolfgang Tillmans. Look out for Gavin Turks grotty-looking bronze sleeping bag installed beneath a Hogarth painting and the pop star Jarvis Cockers strange collection of Ceauescu-era Romanian magazines, which he found in a bin bag.

The strange swirling, near-abstract, watercolors by the Victorian artist Georgiana Houghton at the Courtauld Gallery (until 11 September) are made all the more haunting by her story. A Spiritualist medium, Houghton claimed that her hand was guided by artists of the past such as Titian, as well as by angels. Her interest in the afterlife became particular pronounced after she began attending sances in her 40s, having lost four of her nine siblings.

Mona Hatoums first major UK survey closes next weekend (21 August) at Tate Modern. The work of the Beirut-born Palestinian artist, who moved to England in the 1970s, is heavily influences by her Middle Eastern upbringing mixing the poetry of the Arabic language and script with themes of violence and incarceration. 

Three other must-see shows: Ragnar Kjartansson at the Barbican; William Eggleston at the National Portrait Gallery; Georgia O’Keeffe at Tate Modern.

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Three to see: New York

Human Interest: Portraits from the Whitneys Collection (until 12 February 2017) is an exploration of both the Whitney Museum of American Arts holdings and the melting pot of American identity. Through around 300 works that date from 1900 to the present, visitors can spot connections across the show: artists who depict one another, or family links like scattered depictions of the museums founder, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, her niece Gloria Vanderbilt and Vanderbilts sonbaby Anderson Cooper, snoozing (anonymously) in a photo by Diane Arbus.
Discover the multifaceted work of a pioneering 20th-century landscape architect at the Jewish Museum with the exhibition Roberto Burle Marx: Brazilian Modernist (until 18 September). Burle Marx was known for his lush, abstract gardens, his ecological focus and the black-and-white Copacabana boardwalk in Rio de Janeiro. Around 150 works chronicle his 60-year careerduring which he designed more than 2,000 gardens internationallyand also demonstrate his lesser-known talents, such as sculpture and textile design.

Unplug at Tom Sachs: Boombox Retrospective, 1999-2016 at the Brooklyn Museum before it closes this Sunday, 14 August, for a celebration of a cultural artefact of mobile music that predates the digital age. The fun and funky show, installed in the museums glass entrance pavilion, plays music from 18 of Sachss installations made of re-jigged speakers, tricked out with materials like animal horns and a mop (one even boasts a full bar).

Three other must-see shows: Bruce Conner: It’s All True at MoMA; Diane Arbus: In the Beginning at the Met Breuer; Moholy-Nagy: Future Present at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

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Robert Wilson, Ja Rule and Florence the dog celebrate performance at the Watermill Center

A squadron of angels and sword-bearing seraphs flanked visitors to the recent Watermill Center gala as they wended through trees to the entrance of the party. In hidden speakers you could hear the signature moaning of the artist now known as Anohni and omnipresent intonements like: IT IS DONE AND NOW AND FOREVER IT WILL BE A POINT OF FACT. All this was a piece by Jacques Reynaud titled Angels of Apocalypse.

Once inside, things were less apocalyptic. The July event raised $2m for Watermill, director Robert Wilsons labortory-cum-museum in the Hamptons, with its highest number of attendees ever.

Despite the weather, most guests remained well-quaffed, and obliged the society photographers. One woman brought an Italian Greyhound to the dinner, which she could do because she was beautiful. She spelled her name for a photographer, then without prompting also spelled out the dogs name: F-L-O-R-E-N-C-E.

Works by other artistsone standout, John Margaritiss One Ton Tank, had a swimmer wearing a weight belt struggling to stay above the waterdotted the forest as attendees gathered under a tent in the Watermill courtyard, hiding from the early rain. We come every year and its always like this, said the novelist Jay McInerney, pausing from saying his hellos to chef Eric Ripert. Burning up or pouring rain.

Margaritiss piece wasnt the only one involving water. In the centre of the tent, the Bruce High Quality Foundation presented As We Lay Dying: Marat, a rowboat sculpture mixed with a fountain in which a performer splashed. Off the roof of the space, theyd positioned a peeing cupid statue, which threatened to splash anyone coming out, and around the grounds they positioned lecterns at which performers gave passionate speeches, one about a woman leaving her husband and daughter: Now and forever it will be a point of fact, a speaker said She Has Left Him.

Those dont look like pillows, one partygoer said suspiciously, from the safety of the tent, eyeing a pile of bodies sleeping on a pyramid of pillows on a roof across the way (Brian OMahoneys cats sleep anywhere).

Soon everyone gathered under the tent to eat and auction. An enthusiastic Simon de Pury called the bids, selling the opportunity to be photographed by Nan Goldin for a whopping $140,000. He also auctioned the Fortress of Solitude-like lamps hanging over every diner: These lamps done by one of my favourite artists of all time the great Robert Wilson! The lamps were from Wilsons recent travelling production of La Traviata and each went for around $20,000.

After the dinner Wilson said he was pleased with the results and that funding such performances was more important than ever, now that we have all these political and religious issues that are dividing us.

During the dessert portion, which featured a dance floor near the silent auction works, Bob Colacellothe former Interview editor and Factory denizen, and current writer and Republicansounded off on some of those.

Im mad at Bloomberg for not running, he said when asked if he was supporting Trump. These do feel like end times, he said, like Rome at the sunset of the Empire. Yet here we were talking about transgender bathrooms. When Holly Woodlawn and Candy Darling wanted to use the womens rest room, they just used the womens restroom, he said. They didnt petition the government to do it.

In a corner near the bar, Ja Rule was meeting with anyone who wanted an audience.

I love art, he said, and detailed a few of his own recent purchases. I desperately want a Banksy, Im going to get one. I could buy a Basquiat, he added. But Im gonna go broke buying a Basquiat. So. Banksy.

The dance floor was still lively leading up to the events midnight cut-off and when the DJ started suggestively playing Ja Rule songs, the rapper took the hint, took the microphone and performed a handful.

I thought Id send you home with a few, he said, during one song. But of course youre not going home, youre going to the after partyyyy. Hey, wheres the after party?

That wasnt hype, he was actually asking. He didnt know where the after party was. And then there wasnt actually an official after party. So most people, Ja Rule included, just ended up at the home of Florence the dog, and her owner.

Look for more from Dan about town on our website and in the October issue

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Women dandies feature for first time in European premiere of acclaimed photography show

For its European premier this autumn, the Dandy Lion project will for the first time include photographs of women dandies in black communities throughout the world. Previous iterations of the acclaimed exhibition in Chicago and San Francisco have focused on black men who spurn stereotypical and monolithic understandings of black male identity through fashion and social attitudeshigh-styled rebels, as the curator Shantrelle P. Lewis describes them.

New to the project are a series of portraits of Kenya’s league of extravagant grannies with fictional pasts as government and corporate leaders in the 1970s. The Nairobi-based photographer Osborne Macharia depicts these distinguished women stepping off private planes nattily dressed in checked shirts with shorts and braces. One sports a black-and-white polka dot tie and sunglasses to match, a fat cigar held aloft in her right hand. Meanwhile, the South African artist Harness Hamese places women centre stage in his vintage-looking shots; their dandyism pictured alongside that of the men who surround them.

New Orleans-born Lewis says she has been asked many times over the years why her project, begun in 2010, did not include images of women. Initially I wanted to create a safe space where cis-gender black menregardless of sexualitycould have a dialogue, she explains. But in 2016, with our more sophisticated understandings of gender, one simply cant discuss masculinity, particularly in the African diaspora, and not include women.

Part of the Brighton Photo Biennial (1-30 October), the UK iteration of the Dandy Lion project will feature 150 images taken by more than 30 photographers and film-makers over the past decade. As with the women, the male subjectsdressed in audacious and colourful outfits: salmon pink or mint green suits, leopard prints and felt fedorashave been shot in diverse locations across the US, South Africa, the Congo and Europe.

Lewis says the project began in the autumn of 2010 out of necessity. Despite the phenomenal economic success of hip hop artists such as Jay-Z and Kanye West, there was a misrepresentation of black men that dominated mainstream media from here to Europe, she says. The dominant narrative generally involved some gang-related murder on the nightly news, mass violence erupting in continental African countries, or the modern blackface caricatures and their soap opera-esque dramas on reality television.

The curator says there is nothing rebellious about the image of todays sagging pants wearing youth, but that the African diasporan dandy cleverly manipulates clothing and attitude to exert his agency rather than succumb to the limited ideals placed on him by society.

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Peter Doig v Pete Doige: a case of mistaken artistic identity?

The artist Peter Doig is currently defending himself in an unusual authentication case involving a work created by an incarcerated young manalleged to be himin the 1970s. Robert Fletcher, a retired corrections officer from Canada, has brought a $5m lawsuit against the artist for denying that he painted a work owned by Fletcher. The Chicago-based art dealer Peter Bartlow, who intended to sell the work for Fletcher, is a co-plaintiff. The pair also wants the courts to officially authenticate the work in question, a desert landscape scene in acrylic on canvas, signed Pete Doige 76, which they say is the quintessence of the artists style.

This has become about much more than Peters painting, Gordon VeneKlasen, who sells Peter Doigs work at Michael Werner Gallery in New York, told the New York Times in July. Its about authorship. Its about being forced to put your name on another artists work.

A friend of Fletchers spotted the work at his home five years ago and prompted his research into Peter Doig, whose works often sell for around $10m. Fletcher claims that he knew Doig in the 1970s, first as an art student at Lakehead University in Ontario, and that he watched Doig paint the work when he was a corrections officer and Doig was an inmate for a drug-related offence at the Thunder Bay Correctional Center north of Toronto. He was also Doigs parole officer, he says, helped him find a job, and purchased the painting from him for $100. A friend of Fletchers spotted the work at his home five years ago.

Doig, meanwhile, says that he lived with his parents in Toronto during this time, and was neither a student at Lakehead University nor incarcerated. He alleges that the work was made the late Peter Edward Doige, whose sister, Marilyn Doige Bovard, says he was both a Lakehead University student and a Thunder Bay Correctional Center inmate. Bovards sworn affidavit says her brother took art classes while incarcerated and that she believes he painted the work.

The plaintiff and defendant reiterated these claims on the stand as the case opened at the United States District Court for Northern Illinois in Chicago on Monday, 8 August, and the plaintiffs lawyer questioned Doig over his working method for hours. The presiding Judge, Gary Feinerman, determined that there is sufficient evidence for a trial. He will rule on the case after further testimony, expected to last about a week, according to the New York Times.

In a statement quoted by the New York Times in July, Doigs dealer VeneKlasen said that in this particular trial, the artist and the dealer have the resources to carry on this fight, but I wonder about all the artists who might not. Do they simply acquiesce and let inauthentic works into the market if they are the product of a similar attempt at bullying and rampant greed?

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Tate adds Reynolds's aristocratic portrait to national collection

Tate has acquired a valuable portrait by Joshua Reynolds depicting the fifth Earl of Carlisle. Dating from 1769, it shows Frederick Howard at the age of 20, with his beloved dog Rover at his feet. The picture has descended in the family and has always hung in Castle Howard, their mansion in North Yorkshire (the filmed setting in Brideshead Revisited). The picture has been accepted by the government in lieu of inheritance tax due of 4.7m, although its open-market value would be significantly higher. Arts Council England, which administers the scheme, has now allocated the portrait to Tate.

The portrait by Reynolds will remain on view in Castle Howard, which is open to visitors except for four months over the winter. But Tate is now the legal owner of the painting and is responsible for ensuring its proper care. Tate will periodically show the work at Tate Britain and will decide on possible loans elsewhere.

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Qatar to stage largest-ever solo exhibition of works by Arab artist

Qatar Museums (QM) is due to stage a major retrospective of the Iraqi Modernist artist Dia Al-Azzawi in October. The exhibition is believed to be the largest-ever solo exhibition of works by an Arab artist. Spanning two venues in Doha, Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art and QM Gallery Al Riwaq, the exhibition will cover 9,000 sq. m and include 400 works.

Curated by Catherine David, the deputy director of the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the show includes works in a variety of media, including painting, sculpture, drawing, print and artist books, as well as original and limited editions of works on view for the first time. The two venues, across the city from one another, will highlight two different narratives in Al-Azzawis work. The first will focus on the artists use of image and text, and the other will trace the artists engagement with the political history of Iraq and the Arab world.

Al-Azzawi, who was born in Baghdad in 1939, has been a central figure in Iraqs art scene. Before moving to London in 1976, where he continues to live and work today, Al-Azzawi was the director of the Iraqi Antiquities Department in Baghdad and an active member of the countrys emerging art groups at the time. Al-Azzawi is considered one of the most important artists of the Arab world and for the first time a major retrospective will allow visitors to study the evolution of his practice and themes, says Sultan Sooud Al-Qassemi, the founder of the Barjeel Art Foundation, whose collection features many works by the artist.

Alongside 90 works from the QM collection, the exhibition will feature loans from 17 private collections and four institutions, including the Barjeel Foundation, Sharjah; Centro de Arte Moderna Fundao Calouste, Lisbon; Kinda Foundation, Riyadh; and Tate Modern, London. The Tate is lending one of Al-Azzawis most renowned works, the vast mural Sabra and Shatila Massacre (1982-85). Often likened to Picasso’s seminal painting Guernica (1937), Al-Azzawis painting depicts the massacre of Palestinian refugees in 1982 during the civil war in Lebanon.

I am the cry, who will give voice to me? Dia Al-Azzawi: a Retrospective (from 1963 until tomorrow),  Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art and QM Gallery Al Riwaq, Doha, Qatar, 16 October-16 April 2017

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UK Brexit vote gives the Ruhrtriennale arts festival extra edge

The Ruhrtriennale arts festival in west Germany, which opens this week (12 August-24 September), is more relevant than ever in light of the UK voting to leave the European Union and the debate about the future direction of Europe, says its current director Johan Simons.

In a statement on the triennials website, Simons says: Looking around Europe, one sometimes has the impression we are living on a knife-edge: there are so many tensions, so many ideological and religious conflicts. He adds that the Ruhr region, which lies at the heart of Europe, has over the centuries been a haven for immigrants. Sometimes we also need the freedom to transcend borders. These are the central values of the Enlightenment on which European culture is based, he says.

Asked about the UKs Brexit vote in June to leave the EU, he told The Art Newspaper that the decision is sad as it means we no longer stick together. Brexit is perhaps a protest vote from parts of society such as the unemployed. But the EU has difficulties, as it presents economic arguments which are not always easily understood.

The Ruhrtriennale is an annual multidisciplinary event held in former industrial buildings dotted around the Ruhr area in North Rhine-Westphalia. A new director is chosen to oversee the programme every three years; the Dutch theatre and opera director Simons is at the helm from 2015 to 2017. The theme of Simonss three-year programme is Seid umschlungen (be embraced), which he describes as a social, political and geographical gesture.

This years art offerings include Manifesto, the multi-screen film installation by the German filmmaker Julian Rosefeldt. The project stars the actor Cate Blanchett, who channels more than 50 artistic calls to action through 13 monologues, drawing on texts by the Dadaist, Futurist and Fluxus schools.

The Dutch design studio Atelier Van Lieshout will present a new sculpture called the Steam Hammer House, a vast post-industrial monument housing a toilet and kitchen. By appropriating its bowels, humans will literally become one with the machine, the organisers say. 

Ruhrtriennale (12 August-24 September), various venues, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

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Middle East goes West: show brings Saudi artists to San Francisco

Who knew contemporary art from Saudi Arabia could have such a strong feminist edge? That is one of the surprises awaiting visitors to Genera#ion: Contemporary Art from Saudi Arabia in San Francisco, a show running 11 August to 6 September at Minnesota Street Projects, the new gallery complex in the scruffy Dogpatch neighbourhood of San Francisco.

There isnt much presence of Middle Eastern contemporary art in America generally and in particular on the West Coasttheres more happening in New York, said Aya Mousawi, the shows creative producer. But things are changing slowly.

Come Thursday, the two-storey atrium of Minnesota Street Projects will be filled with an elegantly pointed sculpture by Manal AlDowayan: a cascade of paper-thin golden leaves that honour the ancestors of hundreds of Saudi Arabian women who participated in her project. They recreated their family trees through their matriarchaland typically suppressedlineages as far back as possible, writing the names of a female forebear on each leaf.

In a gallery downstairs, you will find Elementary 240, a 2016 video by Njoud Alanbari that features young Muslim girls playing cheerfully in front of a pink mural. The scene proves darker when you focus on the murals content: eight swooping swords underscore a list of eight things Muslim women are forbidden to do, from taking drugs to listening to music not sanctioned by the government.

The prominent Arabic artist and arts advocate Abdulnasser Gharem, who also helped to spearhead the show, is well represented with several works, including The Path from 2007, a video that shows a bridge outside the city of Khamis Mushait covered end to end with repetitions of the word sirat (the path). The work is a way of calling attention to the double disaster that occurred there: first when the bridge collapsed under the weight of people trying to escape a flood, killing many, and again when nobody from the press or state investigated the cause.

Rather than analysing art and society separately, the artists [in this exhibition] confront art as a reflection of society, positioning themselves as its mirrors, Gharem says. Several of the artists will be on hand for the opening of the exhibition, sponsored by the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, a space funded by the giant oil company Aramco, and organised by the London non-profit Culturunners.

The organisers behind this show also lined up projects for some of the same artists in other cities, including Parallel Kingdom at the Station Museum of Contemporary Art in Houston, Texas (until 2 October) and Gonzo Arabia (until 1 September) held in a pop-up space commandeered by the Gonzo Gallery in Aspen, Colorado. Next up is Phanton Punch: Contemporary Art from Saudi Arabia (28 October18 March 2017) at Bates College Museum of Art in Lewiston, Maine.

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Russian archaeologists uncover ancient Persian stele inscribed with a message from King Darius I

An archeological expedition sponsored by the Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska has announced the discovery of a stele with a signature in the name of Persian King Darius I in the center of Phanagoria, the remains of an ancient Greek city near Crimea and the Black Sea.

Vladimir Kuznetsov, the director of the Phanagoria Historical and Archeological Museum-Preserve and of the Phanagoria expedition of the Institute of Archeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences described it as a landmark find that is without exaggeration a scientific discovery of international significance.  Another discovery, of the ruins of ancient fortifications that researchers have preliminarily dated to no later than the end of the sixth century BC (destroyed earlier than the middle of the fifth century BC) can become a phenomenon in classical archeology for the entire Mediterranean and Black Sea region.

The writing on the marble fragment is in ancient cuneiform used only by the Persian king, according to a press release issued by Deripaskas Volnoe Delo Foundation. Researchers estimate that around 10%-15% of the message has survived and that the deciphered parts of the inscription make it clear that it was made on behalf of the famous king Darius I, who lived from 550-486 BC.

Kuznetsov says that the inscription is evidently devoted to the crushing of the Ionian revolt and places Phanagoria in the context of one of the most important events of ancient history, which had far-reaching consequences for the Greeks as well as the Persians, and makes is possible to trace the connections of this colony with other parts of the Greek world and analyze its significance in advancing Hellenistic civilization on the Black Sea coast.

A report on a separate Volnoe Delo-sponsored website devoted exclusively to Phanagoria says that one of the words in the inscription is Miletus, the name of the ancient Greek city in Ionia that was at the forefront of the revolt against Darius. Researchers surmise that Darius put up a marble stele to mark his victory and a fragment of it was later brought by ship to Phanagoria.

Volnoe Delos statement notes that most of the approximately 200 Persian royal inscriptions known today were uncovered in Persepolis.

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