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As Coronavirus Escalates, Sotheby’s Relocates Modern and Contemporary Hong Kong Sales to New York

Amid increasingly turbulent conditions in Hong Kong around the spread of coronavirus, Sotheby’s has relocated its major April Hong Kong modern and contemporary sales to New York. The announcement coincides with an increase in travel restrictions as the impact of the epidemic continues to grow in severity, reaching the Middle East and Europe. This follows initial concerns around the city’s stability as a trade site after the outbreak was declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization in January.

The firm’s modern art evening sale and its contemporary evening and day sales will be held the week of April 16 at the house’s headquarters on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The venue change in the leading category sales requires a heavy lift for specialists, not only in terms of managing consignors’ expectations, but also in pivoting attention towards the U.S. base of potential buyers.

Sotheby’s has seen success in Asia in the last four years and the news comes with an imperative goal of matching last year’s robust regional sale results. In a statement, Kevin Ching, CEO of Sotheby’s Asia, said the “strategic decision” came “after careful consideration and reflection on nearly 50 years of working with our clients in Asia.” The remaining series of Hong Kong sales, which include offerings in the categories of Chinese works of art, classical and modern Chinese paintings, modern art, Southeast Asian art, jewels, and luxury will be postponed until the first week of July. Sotheby’s top competitor, Christie’s, has scheduled the Hong Kong 20th century and contemporary art evening and day sales for the end of May.

The relocated Hong Kong sales, which come on the heels of the New York contemporary mid-season auctions slated for early March—Sotheby’s contemporary curated, Christie’s Postwar to present, and Phillips’ New Now sales are focused on the core market and offer a wide range of works by emerging artists— are not the first coronavirus-related disruptions to the international art market. Earlier this month, the top auction houses confirmed that the regular Spring Asia Week sales in New York would be postponed until June. And Art Basel has canceled its annual Hong Kong edition. Each announcement has been a serious signal to the global art industry of the current trade limitations in the region.

From ARTnews Site

San Antonio City Attorney Removed Video Work by Queer Chicana Artist, Calling It ‘Obscene’

In a move that some have said harkens back to the culture wars of the late 1980s and early 1990s, a city official has pulled an artwork from an exhibition on the grounds that it is “obscene.” San Antonio City Attorney Andy Segovia made the decision to remove a video work by Oakland-based artist Xandra Ibarra from an exhibition of contemporary Chicanx art at the Centro de Artes, which is under the control San Antonio’s Department of Arts & Culture.

Hours before the show, titled “XicanX: New Visions,” opened on February 13, Segovia notified the art center that the work had to be removed for its “obscene content.” Ibarra’s piece, titled Spictacle II: La Tortillera (2014), was to appear in a black-box viewing space in the show alongside other artists’ work, and a description nearby it was also scrubbed of Ibarra’s name and any mention of her art.

Ibarra’s performances and artworks have appeared at numerous international venues, including the Broad museum in Los Angeles, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art in New York, El Museo de Arte Contemporañeo in Bogotá, and ExTeresa Arte Actual in Mexico City. In August, she had a solo exhibition at the Knockdown Center in Queens.

In a letter sent to San Antonio’s mayor, Ron Nirenberg, the National Coalition Against Censorship expressed concern about the work’s removal “because of your apparent discomfort with its unconventional viewpoint on representations of sexuality and the challenge it presents to gender stereotypes.” The letter continues, “This act of censorship flies in the face of the city’s First Amendment obligations.”

From ARTnews Site

Fake Kardashians and CGI Porn Stars: Heji Shin’s “Angel Energy”

Heji Shin’s exhibition at gaga & Reena Spaulings Los Angeles, “Angel Energy,” pushed deeper into the themes of birth, beauty, and celebrity that she explored in her controversial mural-size portraits of Kanye West in 2018 and her gorgeously gory 2016 photographs of crowning babies. In a series of five composited images, “Angel Energy 1–5” (all works 2019), Shin places photos of human infants at the digitally rendered breast of Jedy Vales—a computer-generated “brand ambassador” for the website YouPorn that has been designed as a compilation of users’ most searched-for traits. In Shin’s prints, she appears in several different guises, all white-presenting: in one, she has a long magenta ponytail and ice-blue eyes; in another, watery green irises and a perfectly bald head. There are even slight variations in her nipples. Vales is, in other words, a malleable fantasy of a narrow kind, representing a statistical mean of desirability. The babies are an ironic addition, turning her into a packaged brand of womanhood.

Shin correlates the crowdsourced porn star with another kind of body built for mass consumption, that of the Influencer—and more specifically, the Kardashians. Interspersed among the “Angel Energy” prints were staged photos of Kardashian impersonators, pouting and staring in a generic, bleach-white loft. In one, Thank You for All the Love, a Kim look-alike is shown breastfeeding while on the phone. Almost all the Kardashian women are mothers, but here it’s their images that have spawned.

In the exhibition, the “Kardashians” duck-lipping in their underwear were actors, but the uncomfortable fact is that Shin has access to the real ones. To make another series of works on view, Shin peeled apart Polaroids of the actual Kardashians that she took while photographing them for CR Fashion Book, and printed the ruined film on polished metal panels, titling each print with the first name of its subject. The results recall the formal distortion of Warhol’s bespoke celebrity silkscreens: one shows a high-contrast image of Kris Jenner—Kardashian matriarch—on the phone wearing sunglasses, the contours of her face and hands outlined in bright red; in another, a dark purplish abstraction is all that remains of Kylie, the youngest daughter. These authentic pictures are also, teasingly, the least legible in the show.

He-Ji Shin: Angel Energy 1, 2019, inkjet print, 38 by 28 inches; at gaga & Reena Spaulings Los Angeles.

From ARTnews Site

Forensic Architecture Founder Barred from Entering U.S. as First American Survey Opens

Forensic Architecture, the London-based collective known for its investigations into crimes around the globe that bridge the gaps between architecture, art, design, and filmmaking, is no stranger to controversy. Having explored topics as diverse as police killings in Chicago and the torture of inmates at a Syrian prison to the business dealings of a museum board member, the group is accustomed to making headlines on a regular basis. On Wednesday, February 19, as the group’s first American survey opened to the public, Forensic Architecture’s founder said he was barred from entering the country.

In a statement sent to the Architect’s Newspaper, Eyal Weizman, who founded the group in 2010 in the British capital, said he was told last week in an email that he could not board a flight to Miami on February 14 for the opening of “True to Scale,” Forensic Architecture’s show at the Miami Dade College’s Museum of Art and Design. Weizman, who holds British and Israeli passports, said that, after attempting to re-apply for a visa at the U.S. Embassy in London, he was told that he could not travel.

“In my interview the officer informed me that my authorization to travel had been revoked because the ‘algorithm’ had identified a security threat,” Weizman’s statement reads. “He said he did not know what had triggered the algorithm but suggested that it could be something I was involved in, people I am or was in contact with, places to which I had traveled (had I recently been in Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, or Somalia or met their nationals?), hotels at which I stayed, or a certain pattern of relations among these things.”

A representative for the MDC Museum of Art and Design declined to comment, saying that the matter was “not an issue involving the college.” The exhibition is slated to run through September 27.

From ARTnews Site