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Director of Forensic Architecture barred from travelling to United States

Plus: Staff at UK art schools join nationwide strike | Louvre cancels show of Bulgarian religious art | Ethiopian crown repatriated from the Netherlands | and new £20 note celebrating JMW Turner enters circulation

20 February 2020

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Director of Forensic Architecture barred from travelling to USA | Eyal Weizman, who founded the research group Forensic Architecture in London in 2010, has said that he was prevented from travelling to the United States, where he was due to attend the opening of the group’s first American survey in Miami last week. In a statement, Weizman said that he received an email informing him that he would not be permitted to board his flight to Miami on 14 February, and that ‘my authorization to travel had been revoked because the “algorithm” had identified a security threat’. The work of Forensic Architecture, which incorporates architecture, design, and filmmaking, has focused in recent years on issues such as Syrian prison conditions and police shootings in Chicago; a survey exhibition was dedicated to the group in 2018 at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, and it was nominated for the Turner Prize that year.

Staff at UK art schools join nationwide strike | Staff from 74 universities across the UK are walking out on strike today in protest at zero-hours contracts, devaluation of salaries, workloads and inequality in the workplace. The most widespread industrial action ever seen by the country’s higher-education sector is joined by more than 800 members of staff at London-based art and art-history schools, including the Royal College of Art, the Slade, and the Courtauld Institute, as well as by staff at Glasgow School of Art. The strikes are due to take place on 14 non-consecutive days between 20 February and 13 March.

Louvre cancels show of Bulgarian religious art | An exhibition of Bulgarian religious art, originally scheduled to take place this June at the Musée du Louvre in Paris, has been cancelled. Last week, the Bulgarian Ministry of Culture withdrew its support for the exhibition, which was to explore the relationship between Christian and Islamic art in Bulgaria between the 16th and 18th centuries; some experts in Bulgaria had previously made public pronouncements that claims in the exhibition regarding the influence of Islamic upon Christian art were inaccurate.

Ethiopian crown repatriated from the Netherlands | A stolen 18th-century crown discovered by an Ethiopian expatriate in Rotterdam in 1998 was presented to the Ethiopian prime minister in a ceremony earlier today. Sirak Asfaw, who fled Ethiopia during the Red Terror purges of the 1970s, had looked after the crown in his flat for more than 20 years. Bearing depictions of the Holy Trinity and the disciples of Christ, the crown is thought to be one of 20 of its kind in existence.

New £20 note celebrating JMW Turner enters circulation | The painter JMW Turner is the new face of the £20 note in the UK, as the Bank of England today began the process of placing around 2bn polymer notes into circulation. The note includes a reproduction of Turner’s 1799 self-portrait, as well as of his painting The Fighting Temeraire; it also shows an image of the Turner Contemporary gallery in Margate.