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  • Dec 15, 2023

Weekly News Roundup: December 15, 2023

Portrait of AMY HAU and ISAMU NOGUCHI’s Akari 14A floor lamp. Photo by Cindy Trinh. Courtesy Asian American Arts Alliance.

Next Director of Noguchi Museum in Queens

On December 8, Amy Hau was appointed as the next director of the Noguchi Museum in Long Island City, New York. The role was left vacant by Brett Littman, who left this past June after having worked with the museum for five years. As stated by the museum board’s co-chair Spencer Bailey, Hau was chosen for her “extensive knowledge” of, and long history with the institution. Hau was an assistant to Isamu Noguchi, a Japanese-American sculptor and the museum’s founder, back in 1986. When Noguchi passed away in 1988, Hau helped to manage the museum for the following three decades. She currently works as the managing partner of the architectural firm WXY, and will start her tenure on January 8, 2024. Immediate concerns for the new director will be executing the long-awaited USD 19 million capital project that involves restoring Noguchi’s studio and creating a new building to house the majority of his works. Additionally, Hau will aim to focus on improving working conditions at the museum in regards to diversity, equity, accessibility, and sustainability.    

Portrait of BAKUDAPAN FOOD RESEARCH GROUP. Courtesy Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media.

Hong Kong Organizations Team Up for Indonesia Grant

Hong Kong-based nonprofit art space Para Site and the research and education organization Asia Art Archive (AAA) announced on December 11 the eight grantees of “Unconditional Trust: Indonesia Grant,” supported by arts philanthropist Virginia Yee. The recipients, each of whom will receive USD 10,000, are: Bakudapan Food Study Group (Yogyakarta), Aliansyah Caniago (Bandung), Indeks (Bandung), Jordan, jordan Édition (Jakarta), Studio Malya (Yogyakarta), Queer Indonesia Archive (Indonesia), Riwanua (Makassar), and Udeido Collective (West Papua). “Unconditional Trust” aims to develop collaborations between the Indonesian and Hong Kong art communities through long-term, sustainable practices and projects. One such project is from the Bakudapan Food Study Group, an eight-member collective that explores the connection between food and socio-political issues. Their board game Hunger Tales invites players to imagine ways to deal with and critically reflect on food crises through Monopoly-esque gameplay. With the grant, Bakudapan aims to expand solidarity with their network through residencies, forums, workshops, publications, and collective pot-making. 

(left) BEYONCE in Lanvin, styled by Karen Langley. All jewelry by Tiffany & Co. Hair by Neal Farinah and makeup by Rokael Lizama, at "Renaissance World Tour," Soldier Field, Chicago, July 2023. Photo by Mason Poole. Courtesy Renaissance World Tour. (right) HAJIME SORAYAMA, UNTITLED #14, 2015, Giclee on 100% Cotton Rag, 325g/m2 Natural White Archival Paper, set of 25, 48 × 33 cm. Courtesy the artist and NANZUKA

Japanese Artist Claims Beyoncé Copied His Work 

Japanese artist Hajime Sorayama took to Instagram to criticize Beyoncé for “plagiarizing” his trademark erotic androids in visuals and merchandise for her successful “Renaissance” tour, which garnered USD 575 million across 39 cities. In an accusatory post on December 12, Sorayama showcased images of costume and set designs from Beyoncé’s concerts and official tour merchandise alongside his own artworks of women wearing identical futuristic headpieces, implying the world-famous artist was inspired by his work. He wrote, “You should have asked me ‘officially’ so that I could make much better work for you,” before referencing his collaboration with Canadian musician The Weeknd (Abel Makkonen Tesfaye). For Tesfaye’s recent European tour, “After Hours Til Dawn,” the artist designed a towering robot centerpiece. However, Sorayama’s allegations were faced with derision by Beyoncé’s dedicated fans, with comments pointing out how his own artworks have taken inspiration from the iconic dystopian sci-fi film Metropolis (1927), as well as headpieces from designer Manfred Thierry Mugler. Neither Queen B nor her representatives have responded to the artist’s accusations. 

Portrait of MARCELLO DANTAS (left) and MAYA EL KHALIL (right), 2023. Courtesy Royal Commission for AlUla.

Curators of Saudi Desert Art Festival Plan for 2024 Edition

Maya El Khalil, a Beirut-born curator based in Oxford, and Brazilian curator and artistic director Marcello Dantas have been appointed co-curators for the open-air exhibition Desert X AlUla 2024. Under the theme “In the Presence of Absence,” the third edition will take place from February 9 to March 23, 2024, in the desert and railway stations across the historic region of AlUla in northwestern Saudi Arabia, home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hegra. “Both [Khalil and Dantas] have spent time in AlUla and understand its rich heritage as a place of cultural exchange and connect with the complex and spectacular landscapes of AlUla,” stated Nora Aldabal, executive director of the Royal Commission for AlUla, which is co-organizing the exhibition. By delving into the hidden aspects of the desert landscape and inviting artists to explore “the unseen and inexpressible,” Desert X AlUla aims to foster cultural dialogue and celebrate art in harmony with nature. The event is a highlight of the AlUla Arts Festival, featuring an array of exhibitions, workshops, and immersive art experiences, further enriching the vibrant contemporary arts scene in the Gulf region.

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