Weekly News Roundup: September 29, 2023
By the editors
Megan Cope Revisits Indigenous Heritage of Sydney Opera House Site
For its 50th anniversary, the Sydney Opera House paid homage to the Indigenous land on which it was built by hosting Quandamooka artist Megan Cope’s public artwork Whispers (2023). The sculptures installed across the site utilize 85,000 oyster shells and 200 timber poles to reimagine the point of land known as Tubowgule to the Gadigal people, now Bennelong Point’s Northern Broadwalk, as Kinyingarra Guwinyanba, meaning “a place of oysters” in the Jandai language. Cope piled thousands more shells into a sculptural midden, an architectural form containing shells and animal bones, indicating a human settlement. The artist noted: “This work provides a space to learn local histories and see Country through an Indigenous lens. It has also provided an opportunity for thse community of Sydney to participate in the project through the evolution of the sculptures themselves.” The artwork was created over the past year in 100 workshops run by Cope where more than 3,000 volunteers cleaned, polished, drilled, and threaded the oyster shells together to realize the final installation, which is on view through October 31.
Asian Art Museum Foundation Sues Architects and Contractor Over Expansion
On September 25, the Asian Art Museum Foundation of San Francisco released a statement announcing it has filed a cross-complaint against WHY Architecture Workshop, the firm hired to design the museum’s new pavilion, and Swinerton Builders, the project’s general contractor, who had originally initiated legal action against the Asia Art Museum in December 2021. The conflict arose after WHY and Swinerton completed the museum’s 1,200 square-meter expansion—comprising a pavilion with a rooftop terrace—later than anticipated, in 2020. The Foundation, which donated the building to the city-owned museum, now claims that it “failed to meet even the minimum museum-quality standards” and has had leaks in multiple locations. WHY and Swinterton have each denied responsibility for the construction issues and associated costs. Although the new addition has since been renovated and is currently open to the public, the Foundation’s statement asserted: “It was only through substantial intervention . . . at [our] own significant cost, that these major issues were identified and corrected.” The Foundation originally planned to spend USD 38 million on the expansion.
Shanay Jhaveri Joins The Barbican as New Head of Visual Arts
Curator Shanay Jhaveri recently joined The Barbican Centre in London as the new Head of Visual Arts. With a PhD from the London’s Royal College of Art, Jhaveri was formerly associate curator of international art at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art from 2016 to 2022. He was the curator of “Phenomenal Nature: Mrinalini Mukherjee” in 2019 at the Met Breuer and “We Come in Peace,” Huma Bhabha’s Met Roof Commission in 2018. Expressing his excitement for the new role, Jhaveri stated: “We will endeavor to develop exhibitions, projects, and commissions, that will continue to probe what has always been at the heart of the Barbican’s original charge, how do we live with the arts, and what can we learn from them.” Jhaveri’s first project was to commission Ranjani Shettar to create five new sculptures inspired by natural forms and Indian craft heritage for the Barbican Conservatory. His upcoming projects include a February 2024 group exhibition about textiles with more than 40 artists and the first solo show in the United Kingdom of Paris-based artist Soufiane Ababri at The Curve gallery.
Ateneo Art Awards Announces 2023 Laureates
On September 26, the Ateneo Art Gallery in Manila announced the winners of the Ateneo Art Awards (AAA). The four artists selected for the Fernando Zóbel Prizes for Visual Art are: Doktor Karayom for the large-scale installation of cabinets containing tiny figures Sariling Sulok (2022) shown at the Art Fair Philippines; Luis Antonio Santos for the paintings of drapery and prints of fences in his 2021 exhibition “Threshold” at Silverlens gallery; Tekla Tamoria for “Kiliti Ng Taong Nakaupo Sa May Tabi” (2022) at Underground Gallery; and Vien Valencia for “your age, my age, and the age of the river,” held at Sampaguita Projects, about an indigenous group saving the local river from dam construction. Meanwhile, three writers were awarded the Purita Kalaw-Ledesma Prizes in Art Criticism: Sean Carballo, for his essay “Object Impermanence”; Sam Del Castillo for “The Artist as Artificer: Santiago Bose’s Self-Made Worlds”; and Noji Bajet in the Filipino category for his essay “Ang Pagong sa Kalye Pergolese.” (ArtAsiaPacific is a partner in the art criticism award.) Shortlisted artists’ works and essays are on view at the Ateneo Art Gallery through December 2.