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British Museum in talks with indigenous leaders over sacred bark objects

Tibetan Artwork Covered Up at Dhaka Art Summit | Marta Kuzma Named Dean of Yale School of Art | Judge Suspends Knoedler Trial

10 February 2016

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Breakthrough in Talks Between British Museum & Indigenous Australian Leaders | The British Museum has entered ‘detailed negotiations’ with Australian Aboriginal elders demanding the return of three sacred bark artefacts taken by the British in the 1850s, says the Guardian in an in depth report. Dialogue between the BM and the Dja Dja Wurrung’s Yung Balug clan leader began last year, and hopeful progress so far points to a compromise between the two parties. This week, BM deputy director Jonathan Williams issued a draft memorandum of understanding, which stipulated the ‘shared interest relating to the objects.’ It is hoped that the British Museum will pack the three exhibits off to Australia on short term loan for an exhibition in 2017, with the possibility of a longer term loan or similar arrangement.

Tibetan Artwork Covered Up at Dhaka Art Summit | Filmmakers Tenzing Sonam and Ritu Sarin have complained of ‘bullying’ after Chinese officials objected to a work they were displaying at the Dhaka Art Summit, prompting organisers to cover it up. According to the Indian Express, the Chinese ambassador to Bangladesh deemed Sonam and Sarin’s work ‘offensive’ when he visited the summit at the weekend, and as the artists themselves put it, ‘exploded as soon as he saw it.’ Sensitive wording here: the work in question is a film commemorating the 149 Tibetans who have set themselves on fire in protest at China’s conduct.

Marta Kuzma Named Dean of Yale School of Art | Yale School of Art has appointed curator Marta Kuzma as its new Dean, the first time in the institution’s 145-year history that a woman has ever been awarded the position. Kuzma, who is currently head of Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Art, has 25 years’ experience under her belt, having also worked as Director of the Office for Contemporary Art Norway, and as artistic director of the Washington Project for the Arts. She will take over from the formidable Robert Storr, who has headed the school since 2006.

Judge Suspends Knoedler Trial | Judge Paul Gardephe brought a halt to court proceedings due to ‘unexpected developments’ in the Knoedler fakes trial yesterday afternoon – just before gallery owner Michael Hammer and former director Ann Freedman were due to testify. Gardephe instructed the jury to reconvene at 9:30am this morning amid speculation that a final negotiation might be in the works. Watch this space… UPDATE: The Art Newspaper reports that a spokesman for the De Soles has announced his clients are ‘thrilled’ to have reached a settlement with Knoedler and its parent company. Knoedler’s lawyers have stressed that the settlement will have no implications for the four other lawsuits pending against the gallery.

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