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Ai Weiwei Criticises UK Politicians Over Human Rights

12 November 2015

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Ai Weiwei: Human Rights are ‘Dirty Words’ in UK | Ai Weiwei has criticised British government policy towards nations with tarnished human rights records, reports The Times. Speaking ahead of the launch of his ‘wearable art’ series at London’s Elisabetta Cipriani gallery, Ai attacked British politicians for compromising their values for ‘short term gains’. ‘With human rights… (it’s) more like they are talking about pornography or dirty words’, the artist said.

San Francisco Palace of Fine Arts may be Converted into Luxury Hotel | San Francisco residents have been angered by proposals to convert the city’s Palace of Fine Arts to include a luxury hotel or restaurant complex, reports the San Francisco Examiner. The structure, which was built for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, is currently occupied by non-profit arts organisation Innovation Hangar, whose lease expires in March 2016.

Records Broken at Sotheby’s | Last night’s auction at Sotheby’s set new records for work by Cy Twombly, whose Untitled (New York City, 1968) fetched $70.5 million, and Mike Kelley, with Memory Ware Flat #29 selling for $3.1 million. Overall, the auction raised $294.9 million, a total The Art Newspaper described as ‘strong but expected’: perhaps this is the best summary of what is best described as a ‘mixed’ week for New York’s auction houses.

Massachusetts Rejects ‘Percent for Art’ Programme | Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has rejected a new public art scheme that would allocate 0.5% of the cost of construction or renovation for any state owned property to public art, reports MassLive. This ‘Percent for Art’ initiative, which has already been adopted by 27 authorities across the USA, would have amounted to around $400,000 per annum.

Taylor Wessing Prize Winner Announced | London photographer David Stewart has won the 2015 Taylor Wessing photographic portrait prize, reports The Guardian. Stewart’s entry, entitled Five Girls 2014, is a restaging of a group portrait he took in 2008. The winning image, for which Stewart has been awarded £12,000, depicts his daughter and four friends at a table eating salads and sushi. One hopes they don’t feel they got a raw deal.

Palermo Named as Host City for Manifesta 12 |Manifesta has announced that its 12th biennial festival is to be held in Palermo, Sicily, in 2018. The city has been chosen for its traditional status as a cultural meeting point between Europe and the Middle East, and the historical status implied by this in light of the ongoing refugee crisis across the Mediterranean.