Briefing: Trevor Paglen’s ‘Weeping Angel’ Flag Protests US Surveillance State

In further news: arts institutions cut ties with architect Richard Meier after harassment claims; Shenzhen Biennale removes curator Gary Xu Gang

Trevor Paglen, Weeping Angel, 2018, installation view. Courtesy: Creative Time; photograph: Guillaume Ziccarelli

Trevor Paglen, Weeping Angel, 2018, installation view. Courtesy: Creative Time; photograph: Guillaume Ziccarelli

Trevor Paglen, Weeping Angel, 2018, installation view. Courtesy: Creative Time; photograph: Guillaume Ziccarelli

Seventeen arts institutions across the US are flying a protest flag designed by artist Trevor Paglen, as part of New York public art nonprofit Creative Time’s ‘Pledges of Allegiance’ project. Titled Weeping Angel, Paglen’s banner shows an angel with its face in its hands – the title refers to a CIA technology used to hack into Smart TVs in order to spy on people. Participating institutions include the Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit, Atlanta Contemporary and the University of South Florida Contemporary Art Museum in Tampa. Artists involved in the ‘Pledges of Allegiance’ series include Marilyn Minter, Jeremy Deller and Tania Bruguera. ‘It’s our fervent hope that Pledges inspires others to join us in solidarity, flying these symbols of unity and shared identity on their own grounds and so establishing more such spaces nationwide,’ Creative Time’s Artistic Director Nato Thompson commented at the project’s launch last year.

Helen Molesworth is out from her job as chief curator of Los Angeles’s Museum of Contemporary Art. The museum cited ‘creative differences’ for her departure but former employees, who wish to remain anonymous, have suggested to frieze that Molesworth’s tenure was more problematic and claimed that she was a ‘poor manager’. Initial news reports suggested a conflict over curatorial values between Molesworth and director Philippe Vergne. Read our full story here.

Arts institutions have moved to cut ties with architect Richard Meier, following claims of sexual harassment made against him by five women, reported by the New York Times. The J. Paul Getty Trust has cancelled a dinner in Meier’s honour (Meier designed LA’s Getty Center), Sotheby’s New York is closing an exhibition of his work early, and Cornell University has declined a recent gift made by the architect.

The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., has been hit by claims from security staff that it has created a working environment of ‘fear and intimidation’. The allegations include instances of discrimination, retaliation and sexual harassment. The Washington Post has the story. ‘People are intimidated. They will not make much noise’, one employee – a 65-year-old Army veteran – told the paper. 

Algerian artist Adel Abdessemed has removed his provocative video work Printemps (2013), which features a row of chickens ablaze, from an exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC) Lyon. The work had attracted significant criticism from animal rights activists online. Read more here.

Meanwhile the Shenzhen Biennale has cut ties with curator Gary Xu Gang following misconduct claims. The allegations emerged online when Wang Ao, an academic at Wesleyan University, Connecticut, claimed in a now deleted social media post that Xu, who held a post at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, had a history of harassing female students. This was followed by an anonymous account of Xu’s sexual misconduct on the Chinese question and answer platform Zhihu. ‘Given that the center’s attitude and mission is to spread positive energy of art, we, after deliberate consideration, decided to terminate our cooperation with Xu Gang for the 2018 Shenzhen Biennale’, the Luohu Museum of Art in Shenzhen said in a statement. Xu denies the allegations.

Artist Paul Chan and his publishing outfit Badlands Unlimited have produced banners for students in the US protesting for gun reform. The signs have an unlikely inspiration, taking their visual cues from the placards used by the Christian hate-speech group Westboro Baptist Church. Read our full report here.

The UK’s Liverpool Biennial which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, running from 14 July to 28 October 2018, has announced the programme for its 10th edition. Titled ‘Beautiful world, where are you?’ after a 1788 Schiller poem, the programme includes filmmaker Agnès Varda’s first UK-made film, a healing garden created by Mohamed Bourouissa, a shipping container pavilion designed by Mae-ling Lokko, and a series of war zone paintings by Francis Alÿs.

In awards and appointments news: the Graham Foundation has named its inaugural fellows, Torkwase Dyson, Brendan Fernandes, David Hartt, Martine Syms and Mark Wasiuta, who will be supported to produce new works for an exhibition series in the foundation’s Madlener House, Chicago; Michelangelo Pistoletto has won the Roswitha Haftmann Prize which recognizes artists with ‘an oeuvre of outstanding quality’ and comes with a CHF150,000 (GBP£113,000) award; Michael Morgner has been named as recipient of the inaugural Schmidt-Rottluff Art Prize which comes with USD$25,000 (GBP£18,000); Oscar Munoz has won the Hasselblad Prize for Photography; Helen Legg, currently director of Spike Island, Bristol, has been named the new director of Tate Liverpool; and Emily Pethick has been named as the new director of Amsterdam’s Rijksakademie.

In gallery news: Waddington Custot have announced representtion of American sculptor Jedd Novatt, with a solo exhibition planned in London for 16 November 2018; and Kurimanzutto is collaborating with Thomas Dane – the Mexico City gallery will be hosted at the London gallery this June; the galleries will switch roles later in the year.

And New York art school Cooper Union has committed to free tuition – the board has voted to approve a 10-year-plan to provice free education for each student, one of the institution’s founding principles (the introduction of fees in 2014 caused much controversy).

Most Read

If artificial intelligence were ever to achieve sentience, could it feasibly produce art? (And would it be good?)
The punk activist-artists have been charged with disruption after they charged the field during the France vs Croatia...
27 educators are taking the London gallery to an employment tribunal, demanding that they be recognized as employees
In further news: Glasgow School of Art to be rebuilt; Philadelphia Museum of Art gets a Frank Gehry-designed restaurant
Highlights from Condo New York 2018 and Commonwealth and Council at 47 Canal: the summer shows to see
Knussen’s music laid out each component as ‘precarious, vulnerable, exposed’ – and his conducting similarly worked from...
Nods to the game in World Cup celebrations show how dance has gone viral – but unwittingly instrumentalized for...
‘You can’t reason with him but you can ridicule him’ – lightweight as it is, Trump Baby is a win for art as a...
Anderson and partner Juman Malouf are sorting through the treasures of the celebrated Kunsthistorisches Museum for...
From Capote to Basquiat, the pop artist’s glittering ‘visual diary’ of the last years of his life is seen for the first...
‘When I opened Monika Sprüth Galerie, only very few German gallerists represented women artists’
Can a ragtag cluster of artists, curators and critics really push back against our ‘bare’ art world?
In further news: German government buys Giambologna at the eleventh hour; LACMA’s new expansion delayed
Gucci and Frieze present film number two in the Second Summer of Love series, focusing on the history of acid house
Judges described the gallery’s GBP£20 million redevelopment by Jamie Fobert Architects as ‘deeply intelligent’ and a ‘...
Is the lack of social mobility in the arts due to a self-congratulatory conviction that the sector represents the...
The controversial intellectual suggests art would be better done at home – she should be careful what she wishes for
Previously unheard music on Both Directions At Once includes blues as imposing as the saxophonist would ever record
In further news: Macron reconsiders artist residencies; British Council accused of censorship; V&A to host largest...
In our devotion to computation and its predictive capabilities are we rushing blindly towards our own demise?
Arts subjects are increasingly marginalized in the UK curriculum – but the controversial intellectual suggests art is...
An exhibition of performances at Foksal Gallery Foundation, Warsaw, unfolds the rituals of sexual encounters
An art historian explains what the Carters’s takeover of the Paris museum says about art, race and power
Artist Andrea Fraser’s 2016 in Museums, Money and Politics lifts the lid on US museum board members and...
The Ruhrtriennale arts festival disinvited the Scottish hip-hop trio for their pro-Palestinian politics, then u-turned
The Baltimore’s director on why correcting the art historical canon is not only right but urgent for museums to remain...
Serpentine swimmers complain about Christo’s floating pyramid; and Hermitage’s psychic cat is a World Cup oracle: the...
The largest mural in Europe by the artist has been hidden for 30 years in an old storage depot – until now
Alumni Martin Boyce, Karla Black, Duncan Campbell and Ciara Phillips on the past and future of Charles Rennie...
In further news: po-mo architecture in the UK gets heritage status; Kassel to buy Olu Oguibe’s monument to refugees
The frieze columnist's first novel is an homage to, and embodiment of, the late, great Kathy Acker
60 years after the celebrated Brutalist architect fell foul of local authorities, a Berlin Unité d’Habitation apartment...
The British artist and Turner Prize winner is taking on the gun advocacy group at a time of renewed debate around arms...
The central thrust of the exhibition positions Sicily as the fulcrum of geopolitical conflicts over migration, trade,...
The Carters’s museum takeover powers through art history’s greatest hits – with a serious message about how the canon...
The 20-metre-high Mastaba finally realizes the artist and his late wife Jeanne-Claude’s design
‘What is being exhibited at Manifesta, above all, is Palermo itself’
With the 12th edition of the itinerant European biennial opening in Palermo, what do local artists, curators and...
In the age of Brexit, why Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s pledge to return the ‘stolen’ Parthenon marbles has never been...
The curators seem set to ask, ‘how civilized is the world’s current state of affairs?’
US true crime series Unsolved takes two formative pop cultural events to explore their concealed human stories and...

On View

Latest Magazines

frieze magazine

April 2018

frieze magazine

May 2018

frieze magazine

June - August 2018