OMA-designed Chinese Pavilion now open at 2015 Venice Art Biennale

23 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Church converted into mosque for Venice Biennale shut down.

MILAN: Venice officials have ordered the closure of a working mosque in an ex-church, set up as Iceland’s exhibit for the Venice Biennale contemporary art fair. 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. City officials declared the art project a ‘security hazard’ and said that the Swiss-Icelandic artist who created it, Christoph Buchel, had not obtained proper permits and had violated city laws by allowing too many people inside, The New York Times said in a dispatch from. Swiss-Icelandic artist Christoph Buechel’s exhibit inside a former Roman Catholic Church creating the first mosque ever in the historic center of Venice sparked controversy from the outset. 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 notion of opening a mosque as an art pavilion in the city of Venice is the type of shocking gesture that gets attention and headlines, but not one that leads to building strong bonds between communities. 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. Responding to the notification of closure, a local imam reportedly commented: ‘It is like throwing a match on a pile of hay,’ according to a dispatch in NEWSWEEK, a mass-circulation American weekly magazine.

Iceland chose the deconsecrated Church of Santa Maria della Misericordia for the exhibit titled “The Mosque” in 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. But even before the installation, called ‘The Mosque,’ opened for its first Friday Prayers on May 8, it upset Venetian city officials and police authorities, who warned that it posed a security threat because of possible violence either by anti-Islamic extremists or Islamic extremists.

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. Since the opening, the report said, hundreds of Muslim residents of Venice and surrounding areas have visited to see or worship at the mosque, without incident. 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. I visited the Icelandic Pavilion on a Sunday afternoon earlier this month and found it a largely mundane experience with odd details, like its ‘Mecca’ cola machine, its no-photo policy, its two groups (one male and one female) sitting in different areas of the mosque while staring at tourists, and a smattering of art visitors looking around from the designated area by the front door. I’ve visited mosques around the world — most of which welcome photographs — and the experience in Venice was not particularly notable (there are numerous mosques around the world in repurposed churches).

It is fair to say that this goal has been achieved,” Björg Stefánsdóttir, the director of the Icelandic Art Centre, the institution behind the initiative, wrote in an open letter. 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. No mention of whether the generic-sounding “mosque” was Sunni or Shia (coincidentally, there are also Islamic sects that don’t use mosques) or any insight into the people who used the institution — I didn’t find anyone who could answer my questions during my visit. I just don’t think Büchel’s project has done much to promote understanding, but it is part of a troubling trend in contemporary art — particularly those works that often fall into the category of social practice — to create pieces that end up being amateur adventures into the highly specialized field of social work.

The human rights group’s secretary general Salil Shetty said the two are “an inspiration to thousands more human rights activists, from across Asia to America and beyond.” [AFP] — Amy Brandt, the Chrysler Museum’s McKinnon Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art since 2011, has passed away at 37 after an illness. [Chrysler Museum] — American Contemporary gallery in New York’s East Village is closing after four years. Today, the closed the pavilion, citing numerous violations (including security concerns, occupancy issues, and proper permitting) and rejecting claims “by Mr.

I’m not happy to hear that the Venetian authorities closed the “Mosque” project, but I’m also not surprised, considering the artist cut corners and didn’t do the essential legal and community work required to realize his vision.

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