Art Industry News: Burning Man Ethos Comes to Chelsea in Tech-Elite ‘Soul Salons’ + Other Stories

Plus, Ethiopia wants its tablet back from Westminster Abbey and Alfredo Jaar on the image that changed the immigration conversation.

Oskar Dawicki's “Homage to Bruce Lee” (2011) at Postmasters Gallery's former location in Chelsea. Courtesy of Postmasters Gallery.

Art Industry News is a daily digest of the most consequential developments coming out of the art world and art market. Here’s what you need to know this Tuesday, July 3.


Heads of Art Collective Take Plea Deal Over Fire – Derick Almena and Max Harris, who faced involuntary manslaughter charges following the fatal fire at the Ghost Ship warehouse in Oakland, have agreed to a plea deal and will accept jail terms of nine and six years. The art collective’s warehouse was hosting a music concert when the fire broke out in December 2016, killing 36 people. (East Bay Times)

Ethiopia Seeks Return of Westminster Abbey’s Loot – The Ethiopian ambassador in London is doubling down on his government’s claim for the return of a sacred tablet that was looted by the British during the battle of Maqdala in the 19th century. Known as a tabot, the object is currently hidden in an altar in Westminster Abbey, so the Queen may have to give her permission in order for the work to be restituted. (TAN)

Tech A-Listers Bring Burning Man to Chelsea – New York tech entrepreneurs are flocking to so-called “soul salons” to recreate something of a Burning Man bonding session in the Big Apple (without the pyrotechnics). Themes such as the emptiness of consumer culture are popular, as is Jess Magic, an in-demand New Age performer, who says she got Elon Musk to smile. One recent event was held at a Chelsea gallery alongside a photography exhibition. (New York Times)

Alfredo Jaar on the Image That Shamed Trump – John Moore’s shocking photograph of a crying two-year-old Honduran girl became the defining image of the Trump Administration’s controversial policy of splitting up migrant families at the US border. The image was used in a viral Facebook donation campaign that raised more than $20 million for an immigrant legal services network and was adapted for the cover of TIME magazine. “It has been said that there were one or two photographs that stopped the Vietnam War, and I believe that,” artist Alfredo Jaar says. “Images still have that power.” (The Art Newspaper)


Susanne Vielmetter Expands in LA – Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects is opening a second gallery in the City of Angels. Her new 11,000-square-foot downtown space on South Santa Fe Avenue will launch with a group show in the fall. (ARTnews)

Myrna Ayad Steps Down as Art Dubai Director – Ayad will leave the role in August after two years heading the fair. “My decision to leave was personal; I am excited to pursue my own endeavors,” she said. She plans to establish a cultural strategy, publishing, and art advisory consultancy. (TAN)

Tanya Bonakdar Announces LA Gallery’s Inaugural Show – The gallery’s new location will open with a solo exhibition of new work by the American sculptor Charles Long titled “husbands sons fathers brothers,” which will run from July 14 to August 18. (Press release)

Independent Brussels Announces Lip-Smacking Performance – Curator Vincent Honoré’s commissions for the fair, which runs November 8 to 11, include the European premiere of a performance by Oliver Beer in which pairs of singers will lock lips to perform a composition based on their earliest musical memories. Other performances by Julie Béna, Adam Christensen, Mathilde Fernandez, and Ola Maciejewska are also on the agenda. (Press release)​


Sharjah Architecture Triennial Names Director – Amin Alsaden has been appointed director of the new platform dedicated to architecture and urbanism in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia. The first Sharjah Architecture Triennial is due to open in the United Arab Emirates in November 2019. (Artforum)

How a Barn Became an Art Gallery – Ex-farmer Stephen Dale has revamped a former barn into Canwood Gallery and Sculpture Park. He was inspired as young man by seeing Carl Andre’s bricks at the Tate. The historic building outside Hereford, in the English Midlands, has presented large-scale works by leading British artists. (Guardian)

Getty Names New Paintings Conservator – Ulrich Birkmaier has been named the J. Paul Getty Museum’s new paintings conservator. Previously at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut, Birkmaier will be responsible for the study and care of the Getty’s collection of Old Master and 19th-century European paintings. (Press release)


China Plans First Major Louise Bourgeois Show – Shanghai is getting its first large-scale exhibition dedicated to the French-American artist, her first of this scale in China. Opening in November at the Long Museum, the show will include early drawings and Bourgeois’s signature spider sculptures. (Press release)

Hirshhorn Creates a Museum Guide for the Future – The Smithsonian has unveiled the Hirshhorn Eye (Hi for short), a digital museum guide that lets you hear artists talking about their own work. The app, downloadable to smartphone, scans a work and then tells its story in the maker’s own words. (Fast Company)

How Arts Organizations Can Prepare for Hurricane Season – The Harvey Arts Recovery Fund, formed in the wake of last year’s Hurricane Harvey, has developed an arts and culture hurricane preparedness toolkit in advance of storm season (now through November 30). Click through for helpful advice on securing flood insurance, safely storing artwork, and what to do after a storm has passed. (Glasstire)

All Aboard Ernesto Neto’s GaiMotherTree – The artist’s Amazon-inspired canopy is working its magic in Zurich’s central train station. A group of Huni Kuin, the Brazilian artist’s longstanding collaborators, helped launch festivities under the textile sculpture dominating the Hauptbahnhof. Organized by the Fondation Beyeler, the spectacle runs through July 29, making it a great place to hang out during Brazil’s World Cup run. See the artist raise the big, knitted tree here. (Instagram)

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