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UN Advisors Urge Saudi Arabia to Drop Death Sentence for Palestinian Artist

4 December 2015

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

UN Appeals to Halt Execution of Palestinian Artist in Saudi Arabia | Advisers to the UN’s Human Rights Council have pleaded with the Saudi Government to repeal the death sentence it imposed on Palestinian artist and poet Ashraf Fayadh for alleged ‘blasphemy’. Describing the sentence as ‘arbitrary and thus unlawful’ and based on ‘seemingly unreliable evidence’, the UN team believes Saudi Arabia has violated international law, having refused to allow Fayadh legal counsel.

Riba Launches Investigation into Claims of Racism & Sexism | The Royal Institute of British Architects has commissioned an investigation into claims made by architect Elsie Owusu, who has spoken out against the racism and sexism she believes is running through her discipline ‘like a stick of rock’. Owusu, 62, is a leading architect who was awarded an OBE for her work as chair of the Society of Black Architects. She has said she plans to take her former employer Feilden & Mawson to an employment tribunal on grounds of ‘age, race and gender discrimination’. Whatever the findings of the investigation, it can only be positive that Riba is taking Owusu’s claims seriously.

Unauthorised Festival ‘to Carry on as Scheduled’ Despite Tate’s Objections | According to a release from environmentalist group Platform, the ‘unauthorised’ Deadline festival that is scheduled to take place in London’s Tate Modern this weekend is to go ahead despite preventative efforts of the museum’s security. Earlier today, organisers bringing in artwork and eauipment for the event were challenged by the Tate’s security managers. While Platform critises the institution for failing to ‘take climate action seriously’, due to its sponsorship arrangements with BP, it might also be argued that the museum is well within its rights to impede unsolicited ‘invasions’.

French Culture Minister Attacks Le Pen’s ‘Incoherent’ Appeal to Artists | France’s Culture Minister Fleur Pellerin has criticised National Front leader Marine Le Pen for ‘double standards’ towards artists. Pellerin accuses Le Pen, who launched an appeal to artists of the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region earlier this week, of styling herself as a defender of freedom of expression while simultaneously dismissing certain art forms out of hand. Politicians, said Pellerin, should not have the right to define ‘what counts as culture and what does not’. Without erring too far from objectivity, it is hard to disagree.

New Tower Selected for Broadgate | Plans for a 32 storey tower to be built on the site of a 1980s office block on London’s Broadgate have been revealed today, prompting criticism from opponents of the construction boom raging through the British capital. In a bizarre twist, Arup Associates, who produced the designs, is the same firm that designed the structure the tower will replace. Pragmatism or absurdity? You decide.