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Top prizes at Venice Biennale go to Lithuania and Arthur Jafa

Plus: Art exports from Britain at a 3-year high | Ethiopia renews demands for return of Ethiopian prince’s remains | Preserving Weeksville, former free black haven in New York City | Recommended reading

13 May 2019

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Top prizes at Venice Biennale go to Lithuania and Arthur Jafa | The Venice Biennale has awarded Lithuania the Golden Lion for best national participation; their offering, Sun & Sea (Marina) by Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, Vaiva Grainytė, and Lina Lapelytė, is a opera about climate change staged on a man-made beach. Arthur Jafa won the Golden Lion for best artist with contributions including his 2018 video The White Album. On Sunday, police cleared the Lithuanian pavilion area following a bomb threat, later declared a false alarm.

Anticipating Brexit, art exports from Britain reach a 3-year high | According to an analysis by the law firm Boodle Hatfield, some £240m worth of artworks and antiques were exported from the UK to the European Union in 2018—an increase of 64 per cent over the previous year. ‘It is a concern that many dealers and galleries are unwilling to take the gamble on a smooth Brexit and have begun moving their assets out of the UK’, said Fred Clarke, an associate at the firm’s arts team.

Ethiopia renews demands for return of Ethiopian prince’s remains | This weekend, Ethiopia’s ambassador to London renewed demands to repatriate the remains of Prince Alemayehu, brought to England following his father’s death during an 1868 British invasion. He died in 1879, likely of tuberculosis, and was buried in the catacombs of St George’s Chapel. According to the Ethiopian embassy, the Palace is concerned that exhuming Alemayehu’s body would disturb other remains.

Preserving Weeksville, former free black haven in New York City | The Weeksville Heritage Center – a preserved village in central Brooklyn built by free African-Americans, established soon after the state abolished slavery in 1827 – announced that they were in danger of closing due to budget shortfalls. In response, donors on GoFundMe raised over $240,000 in twelve days, a sum that will cover operations, programmes, salaries, and insurance. ‘It would be a personal tragedy if it didn’t survive,’ said playwright Lynn Nottage. ‘So much African-American history in New York City has been erased.’

Recommended reading | In The Guardian, Rachel Cooke looks at the legacy of painter Lee Krasner; in Harper’s, Max Nelson reviews a retrospective of the films of Abbas Kiarostami.

 

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