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Trevor Paglen’s ‘Orbital Reflector’ Lost in Space; Artist Blames Trump’s Shutdown

In further news: roving biennial Manifesta reveals 2022 location; inaugural Triennial of Asia announced

Trevor Paglen, design concept rendering for Trevor Paglen: Orbital Reflector, co-produced and presented by the Nevada Museum of Art, 2017. Courtesy: the artist and Nevada Museum of Art, Courtesy: Nevada Museum of Art, Nevada

Trevor Paglen, design concept rendering for Trevor Paglen: Orbital Reflector, co-produced and presented by the Nevada Museum of Art, 2017. Courtesy: the artist and Nevada Museum of Art

Artist Trevor Paglen’s USD$1.5 million satellite-artwork Orbital Reflector has been lost in space. Following a successful launch via a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on 3 December, contact with the satellite was lost during the US government shutdown. The Nevada Museum of Art, which supported the realization of the work, announced that they now cannot track the satellite or deploy the artwork – a 100-foot-long diamond-shaped mylar balloon. ‘I blame it completely on the government shutdown,’ Paglen said. ‘In order to deploy the balloon, you have to coordinate with the FCC, the military and NASA, but the FCC and the part of the military we need to deal with were both shut down so there was literally nobody we could call to get the approval for deployment.’ Don’t miss Nicole Miller writing on how Trevor Paglen’s Orbital Reflector asks who gets to exercise power over our planetary commons: ‘An artifact of our surveillance state plucked from black space, the work reveals the dimensions of militarized space and the infrastructure of neoliberal democracy.’

A lock of hair believed to have belonged to Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci will undergo DNA testing, it has been reported. Originally discovered in a private collection in the US, the lock of hair was labelled with a tag reading ‘les cheveux de Leonardo da Vinci’ (Leonardo da Vinci’s hair). The lock will be assessed against DNA from the artist’s descendants as well as bones from what is believed to be the artist’s burial site. On 2 May the lock of hair will be revealed at a press conference at the Leonardiana Library in Vinci, Italy and will kick off year-long celebrations to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death. In a statement, the two scientists set to test the hair said:  ‘This extraordinary relic will allow us to proceed in the quest to carry out research on Da Vinci’s DNA’.

A Russian man has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison for vandalizing a painting in the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow last year, it was reported by AP News. Igor Podporin was found guilty of damaging the iconic painting Ivan the Terrible and his Son Ivan November 16, 1581 (1885) by Russian artist Ilya Repin. Podporin reportedly used a metal stanchion to smash the glass and rip the canvas in three areas, later claiming that the painting ‘distorts historical facts’, a view held by some Russian nationalists. The painting depicts the Tsar Ivan the Terrible holding his dying son, after mortally wounding him, and is one of the most famous and controversial paintings in Russian art history.

The inaugural Triennial of Asia will open in Spring 2020 in New York, it has been announced. Themed ‘We Do Not Dream Alone’, the Triennial will include an exhibition in multiple venues, policy discussions, forums and a programme of performances. Bringing together around 40 artists and scientists, historians and other cultural figures, the festival will open on 5 June 2020 and will run until 9 August. Josette Sheeran, the president and CEO of Asia Society, who will launch the event said: ‘The Triennial of Asia will be the world’s first festival celebrating the top artists and innovators of Asia on a global platform. In a time of crises and divisions we will invite Asia and the world to dream of a new future.’

In further news: Lévy Gorvy now represents Jutta Koether; David Kordansky has added Linda Stark to their roster of artists (her first show with the gallery will be in early 2020); Miriam Katzeff has been named Deputy Director of New York’s Artists Space; and the nomadic European biennial Manifesta will hold its 2022 edition in Pristina, the capital of Kosovo.

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