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  • Jul 14, 2023

Weekly News Roundup: July 14, 2023

ALEX SETON‘s sketch for Almost Always Pleasant, an installation at Sydney’s Hyde Park Barracks. Courtesy the artist.

Major Public Art Commissioned Canceled in Australia

On June 28, Australian sculptor Alex Seton revealed the termination of his public art project, Almost Always Picturesque, after 18 months in production. In his own Instagram post, Seton stated that the program, the Hyde Park Barracks Annual Art Commission, was permanently canceled by Museums of History New South Wales (MHNSW), which oversees the commission. Seton’s project included the placement of marble palms around the space that once housed transported convicts, as well as the construction of a moat representing the colonial conception of Australia as terra nullius (“nobody’s land”). The AUD 530,000 (USD 365,000) cost of the project was one factor considered in its suspension. In response to the artist’s post, the MHNSW explained that the project was merely “paused pending the outcome of an independent review,” and has yet to announce where the funds are being redirected to.

Portrait of LEULI ESHRAGHI. Photo by Rhett Hammerton. Courtesy Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Appoints Léuli Eshrāghi as Curator of Indigenous Arts

On July 10, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) announced Léuli Eshrāghi as the museum’s new curator of indigenous arts. In their new position, Eshrāghi will develop shows that feature Indigenous Canadian and international artists, while also expanding MMFA’s permanent collection to include a more diverse range of art. As an author, artist, curator, and researcher, Eshrāghi most recently curated the TarraWarra Biennial in 2023 and participated in the Sharjah Biennial in 2019, and has previously worked as curatorial researcher in residence at the art museum of the University of Queensland. Based between Canada and Australia, Eshrāghi graduated from Monash University with a PhD in curatorial practice and obtained a graduate degree in indigenous arts management from the University of Melbourne.

Installation view of "The Parallel Universe of Hsieh Chun-Te-The Final Chapter" exhibition. Courtesy Ministry of Culture Taiwan.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture Introduces “Withdrawal Mechanism” for Awards

In light of a new wave of the #MeToo movement in Taiwan’s arts and entertainment industry, the Ministry of Culture established a “withdrawal mechanism” for funding and awards to affirm their “zero tolerance” stance on sexual assault and harassment. This mechanism allows the Ministry to reserve the right to revoke given prizes, the subsidies of which take the largest proportion of the national cultural budget. The new policy is a response to an accusation that the renowned artist Hsieh Chun-Te sexually assaulted a thirteen-year-old, which was recently exposed in a Facebook post by a female netizen called Redhat Liang. The Taipei Performing Arts Center has then ended its collaboration with Hsieh and canceled the scheduled program “NEXEN,” led by Hsieh as its director, screenwriter, and artistic director. Funded by the Ministry, the show was originally scheduled to take place in September 2022 but was delayed because of the pandemic and is now canceled. Although they have finished the auditing process and closed the case, the Ministry is now reconsidering the distribution of the funds to the 143 personnel involved in the production case by case. This is not the first time Taiwanese governmental bodies have rescinded their funding or awards after reports of sexual assault emerged during waves of the #metoo movement. In late 2021, the Taipei Fine Arts Museum terminated their collaboration with Paiwanese artist Sakuliu Pavavaljung for the Taiwan Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2022 after allegations that Pavavaljung had committed rape and sexual assault.

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