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John Waters.

Myanmar’s Artists Fight Military Coup, Takashi Murakami Designs Hotel Room, and More: Morning Links from February 17, 2021

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The Headlines

TWO WEEKS AFTER THE MILITARY SEIZED POWER IN MYANMAR, protests are continuing, and artists are playing an active role, Deutsche Welle reports. Painter Htein Lin, who leads the Association of Myanmar Contemporary Art , was involved in a failed 1988 uprising in the country, and said that, then, “we were fighting against what we had experienced—military rule and socialism—whereas now we are fighting for what we fear we will lose.” Nathalie Johnson, an American curator in Yangon, told DW that “young artists in the country know how to live under censorship. They know how to live under a military dictatorship. They just don’t want to.” They have been posting photos and artworks on social media to spread information about the coup; Artnet News has a roundup of their work, and Art Review has reports from the ground.

Related Articles

John Waters.

THE FILMMAKER AND ARTIST JOHN WATERS HAS A NEW SHOW at Sprüth Magers in Los Angeles, and he spoke with the Los Angeles Times in a rollicking and wide-ranging interview. Asked about his decision to leave his art collection to the Baltimore Museum of Art , despite his objections to its proposed deaccessioning, he responded, “I disagreed with it. But what am I going to do, have a hissy fit and not give them the work?” Also, directing movies saved him from going down a dark path, he suggested. “I would be in jail ’cause I wouldn’t have had the outlet to do all the antisocial things I’ve been able to do on film.” In the mood for more Waters? In 2018, writer Ana Final Honigman interviewed him for ARTnews on the occasion of his BMA retrospective.

The Digest

The National Gallery in London is planning a £25 million ($34.7 million) architectural upgrade in advance of its bicentennial in 2024. [The Architect’s Newspaper]

Political opponents of South Korean president President Moon Jae-in are continuing to attack his artist-son, Moon Joon-yong, for receiving funds from a government-backed program aimed at supporting arts workers affected by Covid-19 restrictions. [The Korea Herald]

Bernd M. Scherer said he will step down as director of the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin at the start of 2023. He’s held the position since 2006. [Monopol]

Maria Eichhorn will represent Germany at the 2022 Venice Biennale. [Art Review]

A letter reportedly signed by more than 80 anonymous staffers at Newfields, the home of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, is calling for CEO Charles L. Venable to resign in the wake of a job posting that spoke of the need to attract a more diverse group of visitors while maintaining its “traditional, core, white art audience.” [The Indianapolis Star]

Previously unpublished work by Marcel Proust is finally going to be released. Its publisher, Gallimard, has trumpeted the fresh material as an “essential piece of the puzzle” in relation to Proust’s masterwork, In Search of Lost Time. [The Guardian]

Artists Theaster Gates and Michelle Grabner will curate the 2021 edition of the outdoor Sculpture Milwaukee exhibition. [Chicago Gallery News]

Artist Takashi Murakami has collaborated on the design of a hotel room at the Grand Hyatt Tokyo, which features more than a dozen of is artworks. One-night stays for two go for a formidable ¥450,000 (about $4,250). [The Peak]

Artist Divya Mehra’s current show at Night Gallery in Los Angeles uses large-scale sculptures of emoji to mourn the millions lost to the coronavirus. [The New York Times]

Artist Hadi Fallahpisheh discussed his sui generis photographic drawing practice: “I go into pitch darkness without vision and draw with light on photo paper.” [Cultured]

Snow fell on Athens, giving the Acropolis a very unusual, very beautiful appearance. [The Guardian]

The Kicker

THE VATICAN MUSEUMS REOPENED EARLIER THIS MONTH, after being closed for nearly 90 days because of the pandemic, and some tour guides complained of overcrowding this past Saturday, the Religion News Service reports. One alleged in an open letter that there were “scenes of individual and collective hysteria, primordial chaos, shock and fear among visitors.” Others defended the institution, like Isabella Ruggiero , the president of the association for accredited tour guides, who said that claims of mayhem were “grossly exaggerated” and that everything was cleared up after an hour. Travel+Leisure notes that the museum last shuttered for an extended period during World War II because the area was being bombed. Fun fact: the person responsible for literally opening the Vatican Museum is Gianni Crea, its clavigero or chief key-keeper. The Associated Press  recently followed him as he went about his work, keychain in hand.

Thank you for reading. We’ll see you tomorrow.

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