Church converted into mosque for Venice Biennale shut down

23 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Church converted into mosque for Venice Biennale shut down.

A historic Catholic church that was converted into a mosque for Venice’s Biennale art fair will close down amid claims proper permissions hadn’t been sough to use the space as a place of worship A historic Catholic church that was converted into a mosque for Venice’s Biennale art fair has been ordered to close down by the city’s authorities. MILAN (AP) — Venice officials have ordered the closure of a working mosque in an ex-church, set up as Iceland’s exhibit for the 56th Venice Biennale contemporary art fair.— Icelandic Pavilion “Mosque” Shut Down in Venice: The artist Christoph Büchel’s temporary mosque installation that marks Iceland’s participation in the Venice Biennale was closed to the public Friday, ending weeks of speculation about its fate due to threats of closure made by Venice authorities.

The organisers of the provocative “installation” said their intention had been to probe the boundaries of religious freedom and to highlight the controversy that has arisen over plans to build mosques in Western countries. The apparent justification for the closure is visitor safety, with attendance at times reportedly exceeding the space’s 90-person limit, as well as unspecified security risks cited by municipal authorities.

They claimed false arrest and improper seizure of Illuminator Collective property by the NYPD. [Hyperallergic] Amy Brandt, curator of modern and contemporary art at the Chrysler Museum (as well as the recent successful “Tseng Kwong Chi: Performing for the Camera” exhibit at Grey Art Gallery), has died. [Hampton Roads] In a statement on their website, the organizers of the Icelandic pavilion said they had been in negotiations with Italian authorities since mid-April and claimed that the work itself would not be “stopped” should its physical site be closed. “The Mosque is the type of artwork that can be experienced simply by hearing or even reading about it,” Björg Stefánsdóttir, the director of the Icelandic Art Center, wrote. City officials said that the provocative stunt had also contravened safety regulations because the number of visitors, including Muslims worshiping in the temporary mosque, had exceeded the building’s capacity.

Swiss-Icelandic artist Christoph Buechl’s exhibit created the first mosque ever in the historic center of Venice, which for centuries served as a crossroads between East and West and is infused with Middle Eastern architectural influences. The work is the second official Venice participation to run into trouble, with the Syrian collective Abounaddara having pulled out of the central exhibition amid claims, denied by organizers, of censorship. [TAN, Icelandic Art Center] — First Gurlitt Painting Goes to Auction Block: A painting returned to its rightful heirs after being seized from Cornelius Gurlitt’s Nazi-tainted trove by German authorities in 2012 is heading to Sotheby’s in London on June 24. Max Liebermann’s “Two Riders on a Beach,” 1901, is the first such work to go to auction, and is expected to bring in an estimated $540,000-850,000. The mosque opened two weeks ago in the deconsecrated church of Santa Maria della Misercordia and was Iceland’s contribution to the Biennale, an international art fair that is held in the lagoon city every two years. The painting is one of two that have been returned since authorities confiscated the Gurlitt collection, and has been restituted to David Toren of New York, great-nephew of the Liebermann’s original owner, David Friedmann, a Jewish industrialist in Western Poland. [WSJ] — Havana Biennial Opens Amid Thawing US-Cuba Relations: The 12th Havana Biennial features extensive participation by US artists and a special exchange with the Bronx Museum, which will exhibit works from its collection alongside Biennial projects by American artists Duke Riley and Mary Mattingly, among others.

A ‘mihrab’ – a niche in the wall that indicates the direction of Mecca – was installed in the church, which is located in the Cannaregio district of Venice, and prayer carpets laid on the floor. Tania Bruguera remains detained in Havana since her arrest earlier this year in connection with her “Tatlin’s Whisper” series, and earlier this week announced a new project involving the reading of Hannah Arendt’s “The Origins of Totalitarianism.” [Ardaily] — Analyzing this Year’s “Most Speculative” Auction Season: The current auction season, begun in November, has been dominated by auction resales, according to data cited in a recent analysis of the auction market by Scott Reyburn in the New York Times.

Reyburn references a Skate Art Market Research report finding this to be “the most speculative auction season ever,” with 28 percent of lots being previous auction resales — a record high since the firm began recording such figures in 1985. [NYT, Skate’s] — Eric Fischl Quits Mary Boone Gallery: Citing a desire to focus on his studio work and misgivings about the present market environment, the painter Eric Fischl has withdrawn from Mary Boone gallery. The mosque had become “one of the most visited exhibitions outside of the main exhibition area of the Biennale,” despite being located in a part of Venice that was hard to find, he said. “It was an initiative aimed at tolerance but the reaction of the city was hardly balanced – this was a temporary mosque that was only meant to stay open for seven months,” said Mohamed Amin Al Ahdab, the leader of the Muslim community in Venice.

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