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    Judge Rejects Art Expert's New Yorker Lawsuit
    gavel

    Conde Nast— along with Gawker Media, and famed art blogger Paddy Johnson — can take a deep breath as a case brought by art expert Peter Paul Biro against these defendants, among others, was dismissed Thursday by a federal court in New York, which claimed that Biro failed to show that the defendants acted with actual malice.

    Biro, a man is perhaps best known for having analyzed a work bought for $5 and deeming it to be an authentic work by Jackson Pollock— made famous by the movie “Who the #S&% is Jackson Pollock?” — launched his $2-million suit two summers ago in response to a 2010 article that was published in the New Yorker by David Grann, “The Mark of a Masterpiece: The Man Who Keeps Finding Famous Fingerprints on Uncelebrated Works of Art.” That piece, which was some 16,000 words long, raised questions about Biro’s processes of authentication, which included methods such as fingerprinting and forensic science.

    In succeeding suits, Biro also named as defendants several organizations (including Louise Blouin Media, which publishes this website) and an individual (Johnson), which had published stories based on the Grann piece.

    Before the court were several motions: 1) Grann and Advance Magazine Publishers (of which Conde Nast is a division) sought an order finding Biro a “public figure,” 2) Grann and Advance made a motion for judgment on the pleadings, and 3) Yale University Press, Johnson, Gawker Media, and Business Insider made motions to dismiss. The court granted all of these motions.

    One of the biggest issues before the court, papers indicate, was the defendants’ motion to find Biro a “limited purpose public figure.” Because public individuals have greater access to media and “channels of effective communication” than the average individual, they’re in a better position to protect themselves from false statements. They are, consequently, held to a higher standard in court when attempting to charge others with libel, and that higher standard is “actual malice.”

    Biro had invited public attention by writing scholarly articles, had regularly given lectures on art authentication, and even appeared in a film, he was deemed to have attempted to influence public discourse one of the issues to consider when determining whether one is a public figure. He had also injected himself into the controversy surrounding the authentication of the famed $5 painting Jackson Pollock painting. It was therefore deemed that Biro was indeed a “limited purpose public figure.”

    Next, the court needed to determine whether or not the defendants had acted with “actual malice.” “Actual Malice does not simply connote ill will or spite,” judge Paul Oetken wrote on behalf of the court. “Rather it is a ‘term of art denoting deliberate or reckless falsification.’” Meaning the defendant must have had “serious doubts” as to the truth of the publication.

    “Not only has Biro failed to provide factual allegations rendering it plausible that the New Yorker Defendants acted with actual malice,” wrote Justice Oetken, “but there is evidence in the record suggesting that it is implausible that they acted with the requisite intent — most notably, the Grann Article itself.” The court also noted the New Yorker’s reputation for assiduous fact-checking and that the article appeared to be “an even-handed product of an extensive degree of research.”

    With regard to its act of tossing the case out in the early, pleading stage (before discovery and trial), the court noted the particular value to the early resolution. Protracted litigation, it said, might “chill the exercise of constitutionally protected freedoms.”


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    Artists in Front of the Camera at Nitehawk Cinema
    In July, Neil Berkeley's "Beauty is Embarrassing: the Wayne White Story"

    Deep amid the wild bush of artisanal cheese shops and towering condos stands Nitehawk Cinema, a cavernous theater located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It’s a relaxing place where you can get a beer in the lobby, enjoy the newest independent fare with a date, or sit alone and slobber over brunch for one (served right to your seat!). If watching the newest indie rom-com isn’t your thing, your best bet is to head down on Saturday mornings for ART SEEN, a program of artist related films ranging from documentaries to experimental shorts.

    “We wanted to head out with new stuff to get people familiar with the program and then show some deeper cuts along the way,” said Caryn Coleman, programmer of the series, in a phone conversation. So far this summer, they have screened “The Cool School,” Morgan Neville’s documentary about the origins of Los Angeles’ contemporary art scene, and “Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters,” a deeply personal documentary about the famous photographer which Coleman said was “probably one of the best artist documentaries I’ve ever seen.”

    For Coleman, who works at Nitehawk, ART SEEN is a personal project. “My main background is in art, not in film. It was a good way to combine the two. And my interests, maybe in the past four or five years, have been leaning toward artist moving images. So it made sense.”

    As the summer closes, the program will move away from documentaries, for a time, toward more narrative and experimental films. Documentaries “tend to get more people in the door,” Coleman said, and the response so far has been very positive. “Beautiful Losers,” Aaron Rose and Joshua Leonard’s documentary about the intersection of the art world and skate culture in the 1990s, will be the final documentary to screen this summer, part of a group of films Coleman informally calls “underground heroes making it.”

    In September, ART SEEN will offer a double feature, presenting the work of Chris Marker and avant-garde filmmaker Ben Rivers on the same program. “[Rivers] was on top of my list when we started the series,” Coleman said. “We’re having this time travel-post-apocalyptic September programming with our other rep programs, and I thought it was perfect to put ‘Slow Action’ with ‘La Jetee.’ Both films are short, and it will be interesting to see the two of them together.”

    In the next couple of months, Coleman plans to screen films from artists such as Aida Ruilova and Shezad Dawood, along with a dip into old Hollywood with Albert Lewin’s classic Oscar Wilde adaptation “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” and Edgar G. Ulmer’s 1944 “Bluebead,” something of a dream pick by Coleman for the program. “I think it’s the ultimate depiction of failure of an artist on film,” she said.  

    If you’re an artist, you might want to skip that one.


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    Zaki Nusseibeh on the Ongoing Cultural Evolution of the UAE
    Zaki Nusseibeh

    Born in Jerusalem in 1946 and educated in England, Zaki Nusseibeh arrived in Abu Dhabi in 1967 eager to help build a new state. As an interpreter for Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, president of the United Arab Emirates, he embarked on a road that led to his current post: vice chairman of the capital’s Authority for Culture and Heritage. He spoke with Benjamin Genocchio about his own collecting, as well as the UAE’s cultural rise and the construction of the art district on Saadiyat Island, future home to the Louvre and Guggenheim museums.

    Was art a part of your childhood?

    I grew up in the eastern [Arab] part of Jerusalem, which was a truly cosmopolitan city full of ancient mosques and churches. The city had several European consulates keen to organize cultural activities, showcasing art, music, and literature. Art at home was mostly of the orientalist genre. My older sister was an aspiring painter who went to the Beaux Arts College in Paris, and we went to a lot of exhibitions together.

    What led you to collect art yourself?

    After visiting my sister in Paris in the early 1960s, when we were both students, I wanted to bring art into my personal environment. A job in Abu Dhabi in 1967 allowed me to start my own collection, first orientalist prints by artists such as David Roberts and later, contemporary art from the Middle East. I also bought work by friends whose exhibitions I visited or helped organize, some of whom became recognized later, such as Iraq’s Laila Kawash, Syria’s Fateh Moudarres, and the UAE’s Abdul Qader Rayyes. I am particularly proud of two early watercolors by Palestinian-Lebanese Paul Guiragossian, as well as a calligraphic lithograph series by Palestinian-American artist Kamal Boullata. Not everything I bought then was from MENASA [Middle East/North Africa/South Asia], although I buy exclusively from that region now.

    Who are the MENASA artists you most admire currently?

    There is a great deal of exciting new art that complements the great modern work by artists such as Louay Kayali and Shaker Hassan Al Said. Contemporary artists I am proud to have in my modest collection include Iraqi Dia Al Azzawi and Iranians Ramin and Rokni Haerizadeh, Farhad Moshiri, Parviz Tanavoli, and the late Farida Lashai. Recent purchases include a Nadim Karam sculpture, drawings by Susan Hefuna and Khaled Hafez, and a rare, early Guiragossian oil on canvas.

    How has the UAE changed since you became a citizen?

    Imagine arriving in a small, quiet fishing village by the sea in an isolated and barren part of the Arabian Peninsula with very little green to soften the full blazing sun and no urban infrastructure. It was a new state trying to create a political and economic presence in a turbulent region. Fast-forward 50 years to see some of the world’s most advanced cities with booming economies and thriving cultural environments. Of course, oil revenue helps fuel modernization, but it can be an equally destructive force. It took a lot of good governance to make this place a cultural haven and a role model for the region.

    How does art investment fit into the country’s strategy for modernization?

    The UAE has always been fully invested in the development of its people by importing skilled and professional manpower from abroad to prepare the next generation to interact with an expanding global civilization. The current strategy is to nurture growing industrial technologies such as renewable energy, reform education curricula to respond to evolving economies, and create international partnerships. Culture is an integrated part of this process. We work to preserve our heritage while promoting cultural evolutions that build bridges across the world. Culture is the universal language that binds communities together.

    What are the plans you most look forward to seeing completed?

    I hope to assist at the grand opening of Abu Dhabi’s universal museums. However, it will be up to my children and their children to fully appreciate and benefit from what is going to be, undoubtedly, a qualitative transformation in the cultural and educational visage of the region. These investments are long-term and slow in maturing, but the end product is always worth the initial pain and expense.

    This article was published in the July/August 2013 issue of Art+Auction. 


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    Billy Hayes to Perform “Riding the Midnight Express” in L.A.
    Billy Hayes in New York in 2012.

    LOS ANGELES – Arrested for marijuana possession in 1970, Marquette University student Billy Hayes spent five years in a Turkish prison before a daring escape that brought him back to the U.S. and made him a celebrity.

    His story was chronicled in his autobiography, which was turned into the Oscar-winning movie “Midnight Express,” directed by Alan Parker and starring Brad Davis and John Hurt.

    Hayes tells his story in his one-man show, “Riding the Midnight Express,” which he will perform at L.A.’s Blank Theater on August 5 and 12. Later this month he’ll take it to Scotland’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where it will run August 23-25.

    Here, he talks to ARTINFO about his daring escape, murder, suicide, and lessons learned.

    How does the movie differ from what really happened?

    There are many major differences between my story and the film. Some of the major ones, of course, are the escape itself. In the movie “Midnight Express,” [it] was almost like an afterthought. I actually got transferred after more than four years in the Istanbul prison and with several aborted escape attempts, one of which cost my oldest friend in the world his life, who came to help me escape. I got myself transferred to Imrali Island prison out in the Sea of Marmara. I was able to escape off the island in a little rowboat one stormy night and rowed to the mainland of Asia Minor and went through Turkey for three days dying my hair, and I eventually made it to Edirne and swam across the Maritza River.

    You were originally sentenced to four years, but that turned into life in prison.

    Fifty-four days before I was supposed to go free. The American Council shows up for an unexpected visit — “Yay! The Turks are letting me out early!” And then as soon as I see his face, I know it’s bad news — somebody home is hurt or sick. For me, I’m out of here in 54 days. But then they said the high court in Ankara had rejected my original four-year two-month sentence and I’m going to be retried and I will be resentenced to life in prison.

    Did you consider suicide at that point?

    I actually looked very seriously at suicide once. A lot of guys kill themselves in jail. Actually a lot try, a few do, but a lot try. You break a window, take a chunk of glass, and they start cutting up their arms. If you really want to kill yourself, there’s a vein right on the inside of your wrist. Cut that and you’ll do it. I looked at it and I really thought about it ’cause it was a way out.

    What’s the worst part of prison?

    Friends who have been in Vietnam agree with my description of jail as long periods of endless fucking boredom broken up by moments of sheer terror, then back to the boredom again. The boredom is the hard part.

    And you almost killed someone?

    I actually tried — how weird is it to say this now — I actually tried to kill this guy. He had gotten a friend of mine beaten real bad and he was just a very amoral individual. I attacked him but the guards broke it off, luckily for both of us, I guess, pulled me off. I was just trying to choke him to death.

    What will we see in “Riding the Midnight Express”?

    I had actually made three trips to Turkey smuggling marijuana, hash, prior to getting arrested. I just couldn’t say this when I first came home due to the legal jeopardy it could put me in. Once I was arrested, the rest of the story is what “Riding the Midnight Express” is talking about, the bizarre transition between becoming a mini celebrity and having a film open at the Cannes Film Festival all for being an escaped convict drug smuggler. Not the proudest incident in my life.

    And it changed your life.

    Strangely enough, getting arrested and imprisoned for life in Turkey was the best thing and the worst thing that ever happened to me. I learned a lot of stuff in prison that I needed to learn. I was 23 and running wild, following my dick around the world, no responsibility, not thinking about anybody but my selfish self. And suddenly the world collapsed on me and one of the things I realized is actions have consequences. Suddenly I realized that not only have I fucked up my own life, but my parents have to deal with this. My mother has to deal with this every night and go to sleep with pain in her heart because of her son, who’s so far away. I needed to learn a lot of things and prison was my way of learning about them.

    What did you learn?

    Life was so easy for me. I’m an American. Right there that makes life easier for me no matter how bad things are. I was from a middle-class family. Everything was easy. I got good grades in school. I was on the sports team. I got all the girls. Not a problem. Suddenly everything changed and I had to change. Change reveals things, strengths, weaknesses that you don’t know about. Eventually I learned what was important. What I wanted to live for and what I’m literally willing to die for.


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    Christie's Hired to Appraise DIA Collection for Potential Sell-Off
    Detroit Institute of Arts

    In the wake of Detroit’s bankruptcy filing last month, today’s confirmation from Christie’s that it has been hired to appraise a portion of the Detroit Institute of Art’s (DIA) city-owned art collection is setting off alarm bells in the art world.

    According to a statement from DIA, officials there “learned that Christie’s, at the request of the Emergency Manager, plans to proceed with a valuation of the DIA collection, and we will be cooperating completely in that process.

    The museum, however, made it clear where it stands on the potential sell-off, adding, we continue to believe there is no reason to value the collection as the Attorney General has made clear that the art is held in charitable trust and cannot be sold as part of a bankruptcy proceeding. We applaud the EM's focus on rebuilding the City, but would point out that he undercuts that core goal by jeopardizing Detroit's most important cultural institution.”

    Institutions that are members of, or that adhere to guidelines set by the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) are not permitted to deaccession or sell works for any purpose other than making further acquisitions. This is intended to prevent the proceeds of sales of artworks from being redirected towards other costs such as museum operations. However, the latest news indicates that Detroit officials are seriousy considering selling — or at the very least, leveraging — some pieces in the valuable collection to relieve its debt-related issues.

    A statement from Christie’s went out of its way to play down the likelihood of a sell-off. Its specialists “will also assist and advise on how to realize value for the City while leaving the art in the City’s ownership,” the auction house said, adding, “We understand that a valuation of all the City’s assets (extending well beyond the art) is one of the many steps that will be necessary for the legal system to reach a conclusion about the best long term solution.”

    However, the forceful tone of DIA's own statement seemed to suggest that, at the very least, the news that Christie's was moving into position was viewed with alarm: “any forced sale of art would precipitate the rapid demise of the DIA. Removing $23 million in annual operating funds — nearly 75% of the museum’s operating budget — and violating the trust of donors and supporters would cripple the museum, putting an additional financial burden on our already struggling city. The DIA has long been doing business without City of Detroit operating support; any move that compromises its financial stability will endanger the museum and further challenge the City’s future.”


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    VIDEO: Art Heats up Minus 5° Ice Bar
    Minus 5°  Ice Bar, Ice Bar, Ice Art, Peter Slavin, Hilton Hotel

    Minus 5° Ice Bar opened in Midtown Manhattan just in time to help New Yorkers beat the heat this summer. The bar is the first of its kind on the east coast. It's in the Hilton Hotel Midtown and made completely of ice. Drinks are served in glasses made of ice in 23 degrees fahrenheit -- or minus five degrees celsius. World Champion Ice Sculptor Peter Slavin has carved a dozen ice sculptures into walls, benches, and the bar. The current display of the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, and the Brooklyn Bridge reflects New York City, but will change every 90 days. The 20 dollar entry fee comes with a coat and gloves. But be aware, most people only last 20-30 minutes. 


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    Jay Z's Sad "Picasso Baby" Vid Touts Art as the Mature Rapper's Bling
    Jay Z "Picasso Baby"

    “Not as horrific as it could be, actually.” That was how one friend who had been at Jay Z’s marathon Pace gallery performance last month summed up Mark Romanek’s HBO clip for “Picasso Baby,” which cuts together footage captured that day into a more or less conventional music video. That is perhaps the best thing you could say about it. The finished 10-minute opus is subtitled “A Performance Art Film.” In reality it bears the same relationship to performance art that a Lawrence Weiner text piece bears to a magazine ad for Viagra.

    Essentially, after a short introduction where Jay Z talks in very general terms about himself as a performance artist, the film shows the 43-year-old rapper holding court at the middle of the white box, a screaming throng of arty admirers surrounding him. One after another, a parade of New York creatives take their turn in front of Jay Z, copping a pose, or laughing self-consciously, or awkwardly dancing: Weiner, RoseLee Goldberg, George Condo, Jemima Kirke. And so on.

    Romanek makes it all look like a good time — but, oy, I can’t even imagine what hours of boring footage were left on the cutting-room floor. The art world does not distinguish itself here as a particularly interesting subject. Marina Abramovic tries to push Jay Z around. Judd Apatow pretends to be taking a call. Actress Taraji Henson kicks her feet in the air in delight as Jay Z raps about how he wants “a wife who will fuck me like a prostitute.” The ever-whimsical Marcel Dzama waves an animal mask. There’s some breakdancing. Mainly, everyone cheers as if they’re at a high school pep rally. Edgy stuff.  

    The clip is out to strip-mine the art world for cachet. It has a problem, though, in that it is spectacularly hard to make the art world look less pasty white than it is. Some self-conscious effort has been made to get black faces in the room, and a parade of worthy African-American artists get their moment, from graffiti pioneer Fab 5 Freddy to wizardly conceptualist Fred Wilson (to get the idea of how incongruous it would look without the conscious effort at color-correction, think of Kanye West’s impromptu performance of “New Slaves” at Art Basel earlier this year). If this film does one positive thing, it might be to serve as a platform to promote artists of color. Maybe somewhere, some kid sucked in by Jay Z's monster hype machine will discover Wilson's thoughtful pieces about race. 

    Other than that... Jesus, this is one silly exercise.

    Jay Z is a very gifted performer indeed, and the film does give you the sense of how he is still capable of winning over a crowd with pure charisma. The lumbering “Picasso Baby,” however, is far, far, far from his best work. Instead of making songs inspired by the streets, he’s making songs inspired by sales pitches from his art dealer (“Picasso Baby” being the subject line of an email from Salon 94’s Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn, pitching him an artwork). The cringe-inducing lyrics are a cartoonish homage to art excess at its most brainless: He brags about having “twin Bugattis outside Art Basel” and “going to Christie’s with my missy.” The track is so much about money, in fact, that it makes it hard to take seriously his overture that this video is somehow about celebrating the kinship of artists and musicians. Every single lyric is about art, not as a vehicle to expand your mind, but as something to own, as a symbol of rich-guy power. It's the anthem of an art collector not an art maker, the nadir being the following weird and hilarious directive he gives to his daughter: yellow Basquiat in my kitchen corner / go ahead lean on that shit Blue / you own it.

    The track sees Jay Z declare himself the “new Jean-Michel.” Fair enough. But he is aware that the story of Jean-Michel Basquiat's collision with the art world's culture of ruthless hype and materialism did not have a happy ending, right?

    To his credit, back in July, just after the filming of “Picasso Baby” at Pace, Jay Z and Beyonce put in an appearance at the rally for Trayvon Martin at One Police Plaza in New York. He declined, however, to address the crowd. Perhaps he was just tired from rapping for six hours straight for this epic piece of “performance art.” If it is credibility he craves, however, he’s got his priorities backwards.


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    Robert Wilson Moves Into the Louvre, Frida's Photos Rescued, and More
    Robert Wilson

    Robert Wilson Makes the Louvre His Living Room: The visual artist and stage auteur Robert Wilson will be theLouvre's artist-in-residence this fall, staging performances in the Parisian museum, and exhibiting works from his personal collection of contemporary art, found objects, and historical artifacts in a show titled "Living Room." Wilson will also perform John Cage's "Conference on Nothing" (1949) in the museum's auditorium on November 11 and 14. [AFP]

    Frida's Photos Get Restored: Some 369 photographs from Frida Kahlo's collection of more than 6,500 will be restored thanks to a six-month conservation grant from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, among them photos taken by the artist herself as well as her father Guillermo Kahlo and greats of modern photography, including Man Ray, Edward Weston, and Henri Cartier-Bresson. "These photos [provide] important historical evidence of Frida and Diego [Rivera]’s life," said Hilda Trujillo, director of La Casa Azul, a museum housed in Kahlo's former home. "They enable us to understand many aspects of Frida’s personality, her family life, her relationship with Diego and friends, her political, social and sexual vision, her peculiar way of dressing and grooming, her illness and many back surgeries, her frustration at not being able to have a child and her intense social life." [TAN]

    Israeli Dealer Busted in Global Forgery Scheme: In June art dealer Itzhak Zarug was arrested at his apartment in Wiesbaden following a joint Israeli and German investigation on suspicion of being the mastermind behind an international art forgery ring, with over 1,000 artworks being seized and another 18 accomplices arrested in subsequent raids at galleries and homes in Israel, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, and Cyprus. Among other suspected forgeries, German police suspect Zarug and a partner of selling seven supposed modernist Russian paintings in the last two years for a total of more than $3.35 million. [Tablet]

    How Sandy Will Change Art Insurance Rates: In the wake of Hurricane Sandy and the havoc it wreaked on galleries, studios, and art storage facilities in New York City, experts predict that insurance companies are likely to respond in one of three ways: excluding flood coverage in at-risk areas, raising deductibles and retentions, or jacking up premiums. [ARTnews]

    Top 20 Female Artists at Auction: Joan Mitchell and Mary Cassatt lead the pack in terms of women artists' auction revenue, with Mitchell alone grossing $239.8 million between 1985 and 2013 — compared to Andy Warhol's $380.3 million in 2012 alone — while Yayoi Kusama and Cindy Sherman top the list of living women artists at auction. [Bloomberg]

    – The Museum of Modern Art may have more Twitter handles than you can count on your fingers and toes, but it has just launched its very first Tumblr, MoMA Teens, in an effort to connect with teenagers. [NYT]

    Danielle Rice, the executive director of the Delaware Art Museum since 2005, is leaving to helm a new graduate program in museum leadership at Philadelphia's Drexel University. [News Journal]

    – As its 800th anniversary approaches, one of four copies of the Magna Carta will go on view at Massachusetts's Clark Art Institute in Massachusetts in 2014. [Berkshire Eagle]

    ALSO ON ARTINFO

    Christie's Hired to Appraise DIA Collection for Potential Sell-Off

    EarthCam to Honor Warhol by Live Streaming His Grave, in Pop Art Style

    Marion Pike's Coco Chanel Portraits to Be Shown at London College of Fashion

    Check our blog IN THE AIR for breaking news throughout the day.


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    Simon Fujiwara's Strange Confessions at Andrea Rosen
    Simon Fujiwara at Andrea Rosen Gallery

    Explaining the autobiographical themes that run through his work, Simon Fujiwara once offered an anecdote from his art-school days in Germany. Because he hailed from an architecture background, his peers tended to dismiss his sculptures as the work of an architect. Turning to his own story, then, was a means to an end, not the end itself: “What we do as artists is almost always read against our biographies, and… the only way I could take control of this would be to use my biography as the material for my works.”

    The British-Japanese artist, now based in Berlin, has since mined his personal history to good effect in sly multimedia installations: In 2010 he won Frieze Art Fair’s Cartier Prize, and last year, at 30, he scored a career survey at Tate St Ives. His current project at Andrea Rosen, “Studio Pietà (King Kong Komplex),” marks his first solo presentation in the United States. In the rear gallery, a series of three large photos centers on the image of a blonde model cradling a shirtless man in her arms, Pietà-style. The main gallery, meanwhile, features a documentary film in which Fujiwara narrates, in the form of a Q&A interview with himself, his motives for staging this image and the process of realizing it. A series of bulletin boards adorned with actor head shots, family photos, and other documents shown in this film surround the projection.

    Here is what we learn, from Fujiwara’s voice-over: His intent was to re-create a photo of his own mother, taken on a beach in Lebanon during her days as a traveling showgirl, in the arms of a man other than his father. The image, he suggests, had a personal erotic kick for him; he recalls finding the features of the man in the photo exotic. In the process of telling his story of restaging the image, Fujiwara takes off on a variety of asides: explicating what he calls the King Kong Complex (that dark-skinned men have served as symbols for repressed European sexuality); investigating water pollution on the beach where the original photo was taken (he remembers the figures in the photo as wet—but could they even have been swimming?); and detailing the challenges of casting “Middle Eastern–looking men” in Berlin.

    In the age of over-sharing, Fujiwara’s obsession with confession might seem a bit cloying. That’s why, in a kind of reversal of figure and ground, his detours from autobiography are probably the real thing of interest here. The final photo deliberately flips the one Fujiwara set out to re-create, with the woman holding the man. In one of the more poignant turns of his film’s narrative, Fujiwara recounts that the actor playing his mystery man, who once portrayed a terrorist in Stephen Spielberg’s Munich, 2005, told him during the shoot how he resented being continually typecast because of his ethnicity. The final inversion is framed as a coy response to this, and the whole installation then can be read as less about the artist’s personal story and more about how that story, bound up with that of others, becomes restructured and reshuffled. And in that sense, Fujiwara does indeed still think like an architect, in that architecture is the art that pits us most directly up against the challenge of living together.

    Simon Fujiwara, “Studio Pietà (King Kong Komplex),” runs at Andrea Rosen Galley from June 28 to August 9, 2013.

    To see images, click on the slideshow.

    This article will appear in the October 2013 issue of Modern Painters.


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    VIDEO: American Rockers Upset Ukraine and Russia by Desecrating Flags
    Bloodhound Gang

    Members of American rock group Bloodhound Gang, barred from Russia after a band member shoved its flag into his underpants on stage, could face criminal charges in Ukraine after a video showed him urinating on its flag.

    According to a text accompanying a YouTube video, bassist Jared Hasselhoff performed the stunt during a concert in Kiev on July 30, one day before the Russian flag incident.

    Kiev police said in a statement they had been informed about the incident on Monday and described Hasselhoff's actions as showing disrespect for the Ukrainian people.

    The police said they had launched an investigation, classifying the way the flag had been used as "hooliganism" and an “outrage against state symbols”.

    A spokeswoman for Ukraine's Foreign Ministry described both flag stunts as “unacceptable”.

    “Such actions involving the desecration of state symbols cannot be justified by (their intended) shock value,” she said.

    Russia last week barred Bloodhound Gang, which is known for its sexually explicit songs and on-stage antics, from performing at a festival in the Krasnodar region by the Black Sea.

    The band could also face criminal charges in Russia and a member of the upper house, the Federation Council, has called for the band's members not to be allowed to return to Russia.


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    "Laramie Project" Sequel to Open in L.A.
    A scene from a production of Moises Kaufman's The Laramie Project

    LOS ANGELES – “The Laramie Project,” Moises Kaufman’s searing look at the life and death of hate crime victim Matthew Shepard, debuted 13 years ago to rave reviews and was turned into a HBO movie that earned four Emmy nominations.

    The 2009 sequel, “The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later,” directed by Kaufman and members of New York’s Tectonic Theater Project, will make its Los Angeles debut at Hollywood’s Gay and Lesbian Center, running from September 13 through November 15.

    As with the first play, the script was compiled from interviews with residents of Laramie, Wyoming, the town where Shepard was murdered, including Aaron McKinney who, along with Russell Henderson, was convicted of the crime.

    Shepard, a University of Wyoming student, was tortured and killed near Laramie in October 1998. During the trial, it became clear the killers were motivated by homophobia, claiming temporary insanity brought on by Shepard’s alleged sexual advances. The murder made international headlines and Shepard has since become an icon in the fight against homophobia.

    “Matthew Shepard needed killing,” convicted murderer Aaron McKinney reportedly told Tectonic company member Greg Pierotti, during his first interview since 2004. “As far as I’m concerned, I don’t have any remorse.”

    Shepard’s murder resulted in the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act being signed into law by President Obama in 2009. James Byrd, Jr. was an African-American who died at the hands of two white supremacists in Texas.

    The measure added to the existing 1969 Federal Hate Crime Law, broadening it to cover crimes motivated by gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability.

    “I think there was a very strong political side to Matthew that would have made him proud as hell to have been the namesake of this movement,” Tectonic’s Stephen Belber told the Denver Post. “But I think there would be a bit of bemusement, as well.”


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