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The week in art news – plan to demolish and rebuild Royal British Columbia Museum scrapped

24 June 2022

The plan to demolish and rebuild the Royal British Columbia Museum was put on hold on Wednesday. CBC News reports that British Columbia’s premier John Horgan made the announcement at a press conference in which he said that the $789m development unveiled only last month was the ‘wrong decision at the wrong time’. A poll published by the Angus Reid Institute last month found that 69 per cent of British Columbians were against what would have been the most expensive museum project ever undertaken in Canada. Horgan also said that while the museum would now stay open indefinitely, instead of closing this September, he still supports a demolition and rebuild plan – as does the tourism minister Melanie Mark who described the museum’s current state as ‘not functional’.

A banner installed at Documenta 15 in Kassel, which opened this week, has been removed after widespread criticism in Germany for bearing anti-Semitic imagery. People’s Justice (2002), a 60-foot-long work by Indonesian art collective Taring Padi that reflects on the brutal Suharto regime, was installed last Friday. On Monday, the artists and the show’s organisers concealed the work behind black. Taring Padi denied any anti-Semitic intent and apologised for ‘the hurt caused in this context’. After further criticism from, among others, the German culture minister Claudia Roth, Documenta’s director Sabine Schormann announced on Tuesday that she and the event’s curators, ruangrupa, had decided to remove the piece. A spokesman for the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has told the Jüdische Allgemeine that he would not visit Kassel this year, despite having ‘probably not missed a Documenta in the past 30 years’. Ruangrupa has been accused of anti-Semitism in the German media on several occasions in the months leading up to the exhibition – allegations that the collective has vehemently denied.

A marble head, thought to depict Hercules, has been retrieved by archaeologists from a shipwreck off the Greek island of Antikythera. The Roman-era cargo ship was discovered in 1901; among the statues, ceramics and glassware dredged up by divers was the astronomical device that has become known as the Antikythera Mechanism, often described as the world’s first analogue computer, as well as the body of the Hercules statue, now in the collection of the National Museum of Archaeology in Athens. In Saxony, meanwhile, an illustration believed to be by Albrecht Dürer has been identified in a book in the Oldenburg State Library. The ancient Greek text published by the Venetian printer Aldus Manutius in 1502, has been in the collections of the library since 1791; the drawing was identified by researchers during a recent inventory audit.

Jérôme Sans, co-founder of the Palais de Tokyo in Paris with Nicolas Bourriaud, has been named as the first creative director of Lago/Algo, a new cultural centre in Chapultepec Park in Mexico City. The centre, described a ‘laboratory for and social and cultural models’, is part of a project costing around 1bn pesos (£368m) to redesign Chapultepec Park, which is directed by the artist Gabriel Orozco; critics have called into question the artist’s oversight of such a large portion of the country’s federal arts budget. In Ottawa, Angela Cassie has been named interim director and CEO of the National Gallery of Canada, taking over from Sasha Suda who is leaving for the Philadelphia Museum of Art. And Noah Davis, head of digital sales at Christie’s who spearheaded the sale of a work by Beeple for $69.3m, has announced that he is leaving the auction house to work as brand lead for CryptoPunks, an NFT collection owned by Yuga Labs.