Art Industry News: Ai Weiwei’s Childhood in the Cultural Revolution Is the Subject of a Film Premiering in London + Other Stories

Plus, Expo Chicago opens with a section dedicated to climate change and London gets a feminist museum.

Artist and activist Ai Weiwei and director Cheryl Haines at the premiere of 'Ai Weiwei: Yours Truly' at 2019 San Francisco International Film Festival, April 14, 2019, in San Francisco, California. Photo by Miikka Skaffari Getty Images.

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 on this Thursday, September 19.


An Ancient Mosaic of Jesus Has Been Discovered Near Galilee  – A 1,500-year-old mosaic that experts believe depicts the miracle when Jesus fed the five thousand has been discovered during an excavation of an ancient Greco-Roman city near the Sea of Galilee. The mosaic floor of a church, which burned down around 700 AD, miraculously survived and has been well preserved by a layer of ash. A team from the University of Haifa found the church at the site of Hippos in 2005, but only began the dig this summer. Experts believe it depicts that New Testament story because the floor includes fishes and loaves in a basket. (Daily Mail)

Berlin Museum Works With Namibia to Identify Looted Art – The Ethnological Museum Berlin has joined forces with the Museum Association Namibia. Together, Namibian and German experts are now researching the colonial collection of Berlin’s state museum with a view to eventual repatriation of looted art. To launch the collaboration, Germany has announced that it will loan 23 objects to Namibia for further research on their provenance. The loan is a first step towards what could see Germany eventually agreeing to the permanent return of looted art and artifacts from what was German South West Africa in the colonial era. (Monopol)

Ai Weiwei Documentary Traces His Early Life – A new documentary made by the curator of Ai Weiwei’s installation at Alcatraz gets its premiere in London. Directed by Cheryl Haines, Ai Weiwei: Yours Truly, will be screened at the Raindance Film Festival on September 28. The documentary, first shown in San Francisco, includes the Chinese artist and activist’s memories of internal exile as a child with with his poet father during the Cultural Revolution. It also includes interviews with Ai’s mother and brother, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at the process of making his monumental 2014 exhibition out of Lego bricks at Alcatraz. (Press release)

The Vagina Museum Will Open in London – The world’s first museum about the myths and misconceptions surrounding the vagina and the vulva is set to open in London on November 16, after a successful crowd-funding campaign that raised £50,000 ($62,430). The first exhibition at a temporary space in Camden Market is called “Muff Busters: Vagina Myths and How To Fight Them,” will be on view until February. The museum’s feminist mission includes giving women the confidence to talk about issues surrounding the gynecological anatomy and erasing stigmas. It also aims to champion women’s rights and the LGBTQ and intersex community. (Evening Standard)


Expo Chicago Devotes a Special Program to Climate Change – The art fair, which opens today, September 19, through September 22, is hosting special projects dedicated to the climate crisis. For the first time, the Garage Museum in Moscow will present a selection from its current exhibition, “The Coming World: Ecology as the New Politics 2030–2100,” as part of a partnership with the fair. (Observer)

How a Cancer Diagnosis Inspired a Collector – New York dermatologist Ellen Marmur says that cancer made her focus on finding daily joy in life, which includes having art in her everyday life. “Part of that life means collecting beautiful art because art gives me such joy,” says the collector, who owns works by Chuck Close, James Turrell, and Tara Donovan. (New York Times)


New Director of Paris’s Musée de Cluny Announced – Séverine Lepape has been tapped as the new head of the museum of Medieval history in Paris. She leaves the Louvre, where she is responsible for the Edmond de Rothschild collection. (Connaissance des Arts)

Betelhem Makonnen Wins Tito’s Prize – The Texas-based artist, curator, and co-founder of the Black Mountain Project has been awarded the $15,000 prize for artists working in and around Austin. (Glasstire)

Glasgow International 2020 Announces News Commissions – The Glasgow International in spring 2020 will include new commissions by Martine Syms, Ana Mazzei, France-Lise McGurn, Yuko Mohri, Nep Sidhu, Duncan Campbell, and Jenkin van Zyl. There will also be film commissions by Georgina Starr and Sarah Forrest. (Press release) 

Palermo Biennial Focuses on Borders – The second edition of Palermo’s Biennale Arcipelago Mediterraneo (November 6 – December 8) is inspired by the fall of the Berlin Wall. It will feature works by artists by Shilpa Gupta, Alfredo Jaar, and Damian Ortega among others on the theme of boundaries and borders. The exhibition in Sicily is curated by Beatrice Merz, the president of Merz Foundation in Turin. (Press release)


The Chicago Architecture Biennial Takes on Urban Displacement – The city’s third architecture biennial focuses on gentrification, segregation, and colonization. Called …and other such stories,”  it includes an installation at the main venue, the Chicago Cultural Center, that reveals how the grandiose building stands on land appropriated from Native Americans. The artist Theaster Gates’s urban regeneration of dilapidated properties on the South Side of Chicago features as a positive story of gentrification. (The Art Newspaper)

Charles Ray Curates a Show of Tom Hill’s Bronzes – The artist Charles Ray will show his sculptures alongside Renaissance and Baroque bronzes in the Hill Collection. The exhibition opens on September 28 through February 15, 2020, at the billionaire J. Tomlinson Hill’s foundation on Tenth Avenue in Chelsea, New York. (Press release)

See The Twist, Norway’s Spectacular New Private Museum – The Norwegian collector Christen Sveaas has opened a spectacular art museum that spans a river at his sculpture park north of Oslo. Designed by the architects Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and called The Twist, the museum/bridge frames panoramic views of Kistefos, the open-air art museum in a forest founded by the Sveaas in 1996. Ingels says his novel structure is “another sculpture among the sculptures of the park.” (DesignBoom) (Instagram


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A museum. A sculpture. A bridge. #kistefosmuseet #museums @kistefos #architecture #norway @big_builds

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