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Marina Abramović clarifies ‘inflammatory’ remarks about Indigenous Australians

Plus: Altarpiece thought to be the work of Thomas Hardy discovered in Windsor | Verdict expected for ‘bizarre’ Peter Doig case | Activists announce plans for ‘lynching museum’ | and Yayoi Kusama to get touring exhibition

17 August 2016

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Marina Abramović criticised for ‘inflammatory’ remarks on Aboriginal people | Marina Abramović has faced criticism for perceived slurs against Indigenous Australian people in a passage from an uncorrected proof of her memoir. Describing her stay with people of the Pitjantjatjara tribe in 1979, Abramović referred to Indigenous Australians as ‘really strange and different’, adding that ‘to Western eyes, they look terrible’. The passage in question was circulated on social media, and provoked widespread criticism. Abramović has since responded, affirming that she has the ‘greatest respect’ for Aboriginal people. ‘The description contained in an early, uncorrected proof of my forthcoming book […] reflects my initial reaction to these people’, she wrote in a statement. ‘[…] It does not represent the understanding and appreciation of Aborigines that I subsequently acquired through immersion in their world and carry in my heart today.’

Altarpiece thought to be the work of Thomas Hardy discovered in Windsor | Two parishioners at All Saints Church in Windsor have by chance discovered a hidden altarpiece that is believed to have been in part designed by the novelist Thomas Hardy. Prior to becoming known for his writing, Hardy trained as an architect, and worked on designs for a number of churches. Drawings showing plans for the elaborate reredos, to which Hardy probably contributed, were discovered in the church in the 1970s, but until now it was thought that the design remained unrealised. The church is aiming to raise £9,000 to remove the panelling hiding the altarpiece so that it can be restored.

Verdict expected for ‘bizarre’ Peter Doig case | The unusual court case involving the artist Peter Doig, who has been accused of falsely denying authorship of a painting, concluded in Chicago yesterday, reports ArtNet News. The case, which has been described as ‘bizarre’ by art historian Bendor Grosvenor, has seen Doig himself appear in court to testify to the fact that he did not paint the work in question. Though the artist’s lawyers have demanded an immediate decision, Judge Feinerman, who is presiding over the case, insisted that he needed more time to evaluate the painting. A verdict is expected in the coming weeks.

Activists announce plans for ‘lynching museum’ | Activists in Alabama have announced plans to open a museum in the state devoted to the history of the lynching of African Americans, reports the Independent. The Equal Justice Initiative, an activist group that campaigns for the legal rights of prisoners denied a fair trial, intends to open a museum dedicated to the memory of those who were murdered in racially motivated lynchings on a six acre plot close to a former slave auction site. ‘The museum will connect the history of racial inequality with contemporary issues of mass incarceration, excessive punishment, and police violence’, the EJI said. The group hopes to open the museum in 2017.

Yayoi Kusama to get touring exhibition | A major exhibition devoted to the Japanese-born artist Yayoi Kusama is to tour cities across North America, starting at Washington D.C.’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden next February. The show will then travel to the Seattle Art Museum, the Broad in Los Angeles and the Art Gallery of Ontario, before finishing up at the Cleveland Museum of Art in 2018.

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