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The week in art news – Ukrainians try to safeguard cultural heritage

Plus: Raphael from the Hermitage no longer to travel to National Gallery | Smithsonian in talks to return Benin Bronzes | and Dayanita Singh wins Hasselblad Prize

13 March 2022

The head of Unesco’s World Heritage Centre has said that it is receiving ‘more and more reports of the destruction of cultural heritage in several cities,’ reports the Guardian. Lazare Eloundou of the World Heritage Centre expressed particular concern for Kharkiv and Chernihiv, adding that, ‘There are many others. The whole of cultural life has been affected, and we have grave concerns about what will happen next.’ The same report cites the efforts of volunteers identifying archive material in cultural institutions in the Saving Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Online project.

Raphael’s The Holy Family, which belongs to the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, will not be loaned to the National Gallery in London for the exhibition that will open in April due to what the National Gallery’s spokesperson describes as ‘the situation that has arisen due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine’.

The Washington Post reports that the Smithsonian Institution is in talks to return the 39 Benin Bronzes in its collection. In an agreement with the National Commission for Museums and Monuments in Nigeria, likely to be signed as soon as April, the two parties will also arrange long-term loans, shared exhibitions and educational programmes in Nigeria.

The photographer Dayanita Singh is this year’s winner of the Hasselblad Prize. Previous winners include Alfredo Jaar, Nan Goldin, Walid Raad, Cindy Sherman, and Wolfgang Tillmans. The prize money is 2 million Swedish krona. In its citation, the Hasselblad Foundation said, ‘Through her extensive photographic oeuvre Dayanita Singh has paved new ways for engaging with images. From a humanist approach to portraiture to a consistent interest in the archive, her wide-spanning photography is innovatively presented in books and installations.’

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