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  • Nov 25, 2022

Weekly News Roundup: November 25, 2022

Photo of the eight red Mahsa Amini banners unrolled at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Image via Twitter.

Iranian Artists Carry the Protest to San Francisco

Following a demonstration at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, another group of anonymous artists unfurled eight red banners from the third floor of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)’s atrium to show their solidarity with the ongoing protests in Iran on the evening of November 17. While the banners, featuring the portrait of Mahsa Amini and the slogan “Woman, Life, Freedom,” were almost identical to those at the Guggenheim, the artists at SFMOMA are a different group who wanted to “re-perform” the earlier demonstration as “an act of solidarity to keep the message alive” and “to bring awareness about the current uprising in Iran and the lack of action within art communities and establishments.” This also followed the event organized by a group of activists in Los Angeles two weeks ago, during which they handcuffed themselves to Chris Burden’s Urban Light (2008) installation at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to mark the 40th day since the Zahedan “Bloody Friday” Massacre, which saw Iranian security forces open fire at protesters, killing at least 96 people. Amini’s death on September 16 sparked a series of protests in Iran, with women taking the lead to demand an end to gender-based injustice and state-sanctioned violence. Since mid-November, the Iranian government started sentencing protestors to death, while thousands remained detained.

JENS GALSCHIOT, Necklace: Victims of the Game, 2022, Cire Pedu casted bronze, stone, 94 × 35 cm. Courtesy the artist. 

Artworks Address Human Rights Issues at FIFA World Cup 2022

On November 19, before the opening of FIFA World Cup in Qatar, artists Andrei Molodkin and Jens Galschiøt revealed their respective sculptures that criticize the human rights issues raised during the construction of stadiums, which allegedly killed thousands of migrant workers. Molodkin’s The FIFA World Cup filled with Qatar crude oil (2022) fills a replica of the World Cup trophy with crude oil, which symbolizes the corruption of the government and millions in bribes received by FIFA officials. Galschiøt’s Necklace: Victims of the Game (2022) comprises 6,500 tiny skulls, each representing an individual who died in preparation for the tournament. Galschiøt, who is known for his Pillar of Shame (1997) in commemoration of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, said that the work was inspired by the use of human bones in ancient traditional Tibetan jewelry. In response to these accusations, the Qatari government said that the death figure of 6,500 among migrant workers is misleading as not all the deaths are related to the construction.

Aerial view of the construction site at the West Kowloon Cultural District, Hong Kong. Image via Wikimedia Commons. 

West Kowloon Finds Developer for the Artist Square Towers

Winner Harvest Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sun Hung Kai Properties Limited (SHKP), won the bidding of the Artist Square Towers Project (AST Project), a new development commissioned by Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA). The AST Project will consist of three commercial buildings spanning about 65,000 square meters, including 62,435 square meters for office use and 2,500 square meters for retail, dining, and/or entertainment purposes. According to Betty Fung, chief executive officer of WKCDA, the AST Project aims to “integrate arts and cultural facilities with commercial developments.” Winner Harvest Limited’s parent company SHKP will oversee its architectural design, financing, marketing, leasing, management, operation, and maintenance for 47 years.