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Grenfell Tower to Become Memorial; Steve McQueen Working on Tribute

In other news: Tania Bruguera and Laurie Anderson bring political banners to Times Square; Polish artists protest country’s right-wing nationalism

Grenfell tower. Courtesy: Flickr, Creative Commons; Photograph: ChiralJon

Grenfell tower. Courtesy: Flickr, Creative Commons; Photograph: ChiralJon

Grenfell tower. Courtesy: Flickr, Creative Commons; Photograph: ChiralJon

The site of London’s Grenfell Tower is to become a memorial to the victims of the devastating blaze of 14 June 2017. Kensington and Chelsea council said that it had not other plans for the site, and its future would be determined by the community: ‘The common assumption is that the consultation will lead towards agreement on a fitting memorial to remember those who lost their lives’. Shahin Sadafi, chair of Grenfell United, commented: ‘We hope working together to create a fitting memorial will be part of a healing process for everyone affected.’ Performing at the Brit Awards last month, South London grime star Stormzy criticized the UK’s prime minister in a closing freestyle: ‘Theresa May, where’s the money for Grenfell?’, he asked. Downing Street later defended itself, saying the government had invested millions of pounds in the community following the fire. Meanwhile artist Steve McQueen is currently at work on a film memorial to Grenfell, using a helicopter to film the ruins of the tower block last year.

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Public art organization Times Square Arts and artists’s collective House of Trees are holding the second edition of Word on the Street. The project, which brings protest banners and signage by female artists to the city centre, runs from now until August – this year’s edition includes work by Tania Bruguera and Laurie Anderson. Word on the Street was originally the creation of House of Trees, exhibiting banners from last year’s Women’s March – ‘We use the form of the protest banner as a platform for poetic language and imagery that exists both as an institutional art and a resistance object in the streets’, the collective has commented.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and Shanghai’s Yuz Museum (established by Budi Tek in 2014) are in talks with the aim of launching collaborative programmes next year. ‘For the last several years, the Yuz Museum and LACMA have been in discussion to share our collections and programmes, which would bolster our offerings both in Shanghai and in Los Angeles’, a Yuz spokesperson told Artnews. Philanthropist Tek has been fighting pancreatic cancer for the past few years, and is currently considering the future of his institution, which he intends to transform into a public nonprofit space.

500 Polish artists, curators and other art world professionals have signed an open letter to the National Museum in Kraków asking the institution to hold an exhibition that will engage with the country’s rise in right-wing nationalism. ‘In the context of the brutal contempt demonstrated towards minorities (whether ethnic, political, ideological, or sexual), and with the creeping spread of the low-level insensitivity to violence inculcated by this xenophobia and nationalism – the National Museum in Krakow has an important mission to fulfill’, their letter states. They propose a show exploring how artists have countered eras of violence and authoritarianism. Art historian Paweł Brożyński, who took part in drafting the letter, told the Art Newspaper: ‘This appeal to the museum and its directors has to do with marking the line between conservative nationalism and far-right extremism’.

American collector Pamela Joyner has been appointed Chair of the Tate Americas Foundation. Joyner begins in the role on 1 April 2018, and succeeds Jeanne Donovan Fisher. Director of Tate, Maria Balshaw commented: ‘We are delighted that Pamela Joyner has agreed to take on a leadership role as Chair of the Tate Americas Foundation. Pamela has been a close friend and supporter of Tate, contributing significantly to our recent “Soul of a Nation” exhibition and championing the work of African-American artists who are very important to Tate.'

In gallery news: abstract painter McArthur Binion has joined Lehmann Maupin (Binion’s work will be on show at the gallery’s Hong Kong outpost later this year); and New York's Regina Rex is closing its Lower East Side space – though the gallery have plans to continue contributing to the city’s exhibition scene, as well as participating in the upcoming Condo gallery share in Mexico City this April.

And in further New York news – the city’s art nonprofit Swiss Institute has annouced that it will open a new space in the East Village designed by Selldorf Architects, after raising USD$3.5 million. Its new space launches on 21 June 2018 with an inaugural exhibition, ‘Readymades Belong to Everyone’, looking at the exchange between artists, architects and found urban objects. Board Chair Maja Hoffmann commented: ‘We are committed to continuing a legacy of generative experimentation and to fostering an environment in the East Village in which art can thrive, and be open to all.’ The art space has been located at a temporary site in Tribeca since August 2016.

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Parker Curry at the National Portrait Gallery. Courtesy: Ben Hines, Fair Use

Parker Curry at the National Portrait Gallery. Courtesy: Ben Hines, Fair Use

A photo of an awestruck 2-year-old girl, Parker Curry, looking up at Amy Sherald’s painting of Michelle Obama at the National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC, has gone viral. At the portrait’s unveiling earlier this year, the former first lady said she was thinking of how ‘girls of colour ... will come to this place and they will look up and they will see an image of someone who looks like them on the wall’. The Obamas made history in commissioning Kehinde Wiley and Sherald for their portraits – the first black artists chosen to paint a presidential couple. Don’t miss Ian Bourland writing on Sherald’s palette: ‘muted, restrained, but somehow more vivid in spite (or because of) its economy of means’.

And this year’s Oscars has cemented the term ‘inclusion rider’ into public consciousness, after it was mentioned by Frances McDormand in her best actress acceptance speech. The term is a reference to an ‘equity clause’ that A-list actors can demand be added to contracts, which requires that minor on-screen roles reflect the demography of the film’s setting. The concept was coined by researcher Stacy Smith, attorney Kalpana Kotagal and producer Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni in 2016, discussing how more women, ethnic minorities and people with disabilities can be better represented on screen.

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