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President Macron calls for French restitution of African heritage

29 November 2017

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

President Macron calls for French restitution of African heritage | In his first stop during a three-day tour of West Africa, French president Emmanuel Macron yesterday delivered a speech at the University of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso, outlining his country’s new approach to African policy. Describing the ‘crimes of European colonisation’ as ‘a past that needs to pass’, the speech made direct reference to the question of restitution of African heritage held in French national collections: ‘African heritage must be highlighted in Paris, but also in Dakar, in Lagos, in Cotonou. In the next five years, I want the conditions to be met for the temporary or permanent restitution of African heritage to Africa.’ Macron’s comments signal a marked change in policy; in spring 2017, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs rejected a formal request, delivered in an open letter from Beninese and French lawmakers and civil society groups to former president François Hollande, to return Benin’s ‘colonial treasures’.

Addison Gallery of American Art associate director Susan Faxon retires | The Addison Gallery of American Art at the Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts yesterday announced the retirement of its associate director Susan Faxon. Faxon, who joined the Addison in 1986, will be awarded emerita status for both her roles as associate director and curator of art before 1950 upon her departure at the end of the month.

Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2018 shortlist is announced | The shortlist for this year’s edition of the £30,000 Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize has been announced. The four nominees for the award, which rewards living photographers for specific bodies of photographic work exhibited or published in Europe over the previous year, are French photographer Mathieu Asselin; Rafal Milach, from Poland; Swiss artist Batia Suter; and New Zealander Luke Willis Thomson. An exhibition of each shortlisted artist’s work will be on display at the Photographers’ Gallery in London from February 2018, with the winner to be announced on 17 May.

American Federation of Arts appoints Frances Wu Giarratano as director of exhibitions | Artnews reports that Frances Wu Giarratano has been appointed director of exhibitions at the American Federation of Arts. Giarratano joins the New York-based organisation from Hong Kong art space Para Site, where she served as deputy director; former positions include that of associate director of exhibitions for Independent Curators International in New York.