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Art Basel seeks to reassure nervous exhibitors ahead of fair

Plus: MOCA LA appoints Johanna Burton as its first executive director | Robert E. Lee statue can be removed from Richmond, rules Virginia supreme court | Director of Estonian National Museum becomes President of Estonia

3 September 2021

Art Basel has responded to concerns raised by several galleries in an open letter to the fair earlier this week. On Monday, US authorities advised against travel to Switzerland owing to rising rates of Covid-19; in his letter to exhibitors, global director Marc Spiegler laid out a number of concessions from the fair, including the rollover until next year’s edition of booth fees by any exhibitors barred from entry to Switzerland (or forced to quarantine), and to provide resources (including personnel) for any exhibitors who wish to send art but not staff to the fair. ‘To be frank up front, the current conditions are not what we had hoped for when we rescheduled the fair to September,’ Spiegler writes.

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles has appointed Johanna Burton as executive director, a newly created role at the museum which she will take up at the start of November. Burton, who is currently executive director at Ohio State University’s Wexner Center for the Arts, will helm the institution alongside artistic director Klaus Biesenbach. The restructuring of MOCA’s senior leadership was announced earlier this year, with Biesenbach previously serving as its sole director.

The supreme court of Virginia has ruled that a statue of Robert E. Lee, which has stood on Monument Avenue in the state capital of Richmond since 1890, can be removed. The governor of Virginia had announced that the six-metre-high equestrian figure would be taken down last June, ten days after the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked a wave of protests across the United States and beyond. The court ruling rejects two separate lawsuits filed by Richmond residents seeking to block the statue’s removal. It follows the removal, also contested in court, of another statue of the Confederate general in Charlottesville in July.

Alar Karis, who has served as director of the Estonian National Museum since 2018, has been elected as president of Estonia. Karis ran uncontested in the election for the largely ceremonial role, winning the vote of 72 of the country’s 101 members of parliament.

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