Thursday, May 27, 2010

Vasif Kortun named to curate UAE pavilion at 2011 Venice Biennale

Vasif Kortun named to curate UAE pavilion at 2011 Venice Biennale
Vasif Kortun, one of the inspired forces behind the rising passion for contemporary art in Istanbul -- and the success of many of Turkey's young artists -- has been named to curate the UAE pavilion for the 2011 Venice Biennale. Kortun, whom I met years ago in Istanbul when I wrote a story about the Istanbul art scene for Art & Auction, was the founding curator of the Elgiz Museum; subsequently, he founded Platform Garanti Art Center, an alternative space and archive for works by young artists.

The appointment, though, is not without irony; in 2006, the New York Observer observed:

"Next year, in 2007, I think it's like the year of the suicide—the art world commits suicide," said Vasif Kortun. "It starts with Moscow, and then there's the Emirates, and then there's Venice, then in Istanbul; there's Documenta, there is Muenster Sculpture Projects—there's like fifty biennials next year."

Mr. Kortun, whose polite patience punctuates his lengthy disquisitions on the state of the contemporary art world, holds some responsibility for this biennial blitz. After all, it was he who founded the one in his native Istanbul.

But Kortun's eye for talent is sharp, and his instincts are striking-hot. I look forward to seeing what he does for the UAE - and the response.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

too long away!

Has it been so many months? Been furiously finishing my new book, Radical State: How Jihad Is Winning Over Democracy In The West, which comes out May 31 (find it here), writing a couple of articles on Islamic Contemporary collections, dealers, and collectors, and working on two exhibitions of works by Iranian, Iraqi, and Turkish artists that have been underway for over a year now.  

Meantime, Ms. Kino picks up the slack for me once again, following in my trails with a simple interview in the Times with Shoja Azari based on his exhibition at LTMH. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

My article on Iranian photography is this month's Art & Auction cover story! 

Read it here  - but if you can get a copy of the magazine, even to browse through (try Barnes & Noble; they usually have it), you should, as the images are just stunning!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Okay. This one has been making me crazy all day, and I'm now at the point where I can't possibly keep quiet about it - so here we go.

  Over a month ago, when I was writing an article on Iranian photography,  I requested a catalogue from Bonham's auction house for their most recent sale of Middle Eastern contemporary art.  They sent me 20, yes, 20 catalogues, all for other sales, but not the one I requested, despite several repeat requests.  Only yesterday, after twice informing them that I did not want their other catalogues and that it was too late to send me the one I'd asked for in the first place, did the Middle Eastern art catalogue arrive.

So, you know, I looked it over.

And to my astonishment, I found, among its pages, a lot for a sculpture by Arman.

Now, that might have made sense if Arman were from the Middle East, or worked in the Middle East, or had been Islamic.  But Arman was born in France. In the 1970s, he became an American citizen.   He lived in New York, Paris, and Vence.  And he was Jewish.  So why, I asked Bonham's, did they include one of his works in a sale of Middle Eastern art -- and not only that, but one that their staff specifically referred to (despite its actual title) as a sale of "contemporary Islamic art"?

I've just received word back. The answer: because its a sculpture made from  a lute, which is a Middle Eastern instrument, and therefore the expert in charge of the sale thought that it might be interesting to Middle Eastern buyers.

To which I can only say: "oh." 

(Actually, I could say a lot more, but I think it pretty much all speaks for itself.)

The good part is: it got me back to blogging.

Happy new year.