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British Museum to open storage facilities outside London

Plus: Art made in Guantanamo declared US government property | Activists complain about ‘profanation’ of July Column in Paris | Artists sign second open letter in defence of Documenta | and recommended reading

4 December 2017

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

British Museum to move objects in storage out of London | The British Museum has announced plans for a large storage facility outside Reading, reports the FT. The museum plans to move most of the two million exhibits it keeps in storage at Blythe House to the new location before the west London site is sold in 2023. The museum is undertaking the project in partnership with the University of Reading. No costs have yet been announced, but an application for planning permission is expected to be submitted in the coming months.

Art made in Guantanamo declared property of the US government | The US Department of Defense has ruled that works of art created by inmates of the notorious Guantanamo Bay facility are the sole property of the US government, reports the New York Times. Detainees have been offered art classes in the prison facility for some years, and have until now been permitted to give their work to their lawyers – a practice that has now been sanctioned. The announcement comes in response to an exhibition of the detainees’ work in New York; the NYT suggests that the military has been ‘unsettled’ by the media attention it has received.

Activists complain about ‘profanation’ of July Column in Paris | A group of activists known as the Résistance à l’Agression Publicitaire (‘resistance to the aggression of advertising’) have complained that advertising hoardings on the July Column in the Place de la Bastille are desecrating the memory of Republican heroes the monument commemorates. Le Figaro (French language article) reports that the group filed a complaint on 23 November, protesting that the adverts amount to a ‘profanation’ of the site.

Artists sign second open letter in defence of Documenta | Artists who took part in this year’s edition of Documenta have penned a second open letter in support of the exhibition’s controversial expansion to Athens. The letter describes criticism of Documenta’s financial model and curatorial concept as a pretext for increased ‘political interference’.

Recommended reading | In the New York Review of Books Jenny Uglow praises Rachel Whiteread’s retrospective at Tate Britain and the artist’s ‘cool yet passionate’ sculptural aesthetic. In the Guardian, Oliver Wainwright visits the new outpost of the V&A in Shenzhen. And in recognition of the Stephen Shore’s retrospective at MoMA, ArtNews digs out Phil Patton’s negative review of the photographer’s first exhibition at the museum in 1976. Compare this to the New York Times piece on the current show to see just how much critical appreciation of photography has changed in the past 40 years. The New York Times also asks 21 cultural organisations that have accepted money from the family foundations of Raymond and Mortimer Sackler how they vet donors – and meets with a significant degree of silence.

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