Thursday, May 25, 2017

Venice Biennale: Whose reflection do you see?

By Holland Cotter
Roberto Cuoghi’s “Imitazione di Cristo” (“Imitation of Christ”) at the Italian Pavilion of the 57th Venice Biennale.
VENICE, Italy---Timing isn’t everything, but it’s a lot. If the bland, soft-power 2017 Venice Biennale, called “Viva Arte Viva,” had arrived two, or four, or six years ago, it might have passed muster, even made sense. But coming post-Brexit and post-Trump, it feels almost perversely out of sync with the political moment, and nowhere near strong enough to define a moment of its own. At the Arsenale, Zad Moultaka’s sound-and-light apocalypse in the Lebanon Pavilion, with a bomber fuselage at its center, is something to see, as is Roberto Cuoghi’s sexy sculptural mortuary at the Italian Pavilion, organized by Cecilia Alemani. [More]

"The Journey of the Great Unknown" at the Asian Art Museum

Shahzia Sikander "Portrait of the Artist Ayad Akhtar," 2016 (Image courtesy- Pace Editions) 
SAN FRANCISCO---“Energy sparked by creativity is full of potential.” So begins Shahzia Sikander’s account describing the sense of exploration and excitement sparked by her recent collaboration with the Pulitzer prize-winning playwright, novelist and screenwriter Ayad Akhtar. Both Pakistani Americans, Sikander and Akhtar have incorporated their Muslim heritage into their separate practices in ways that challenge mainstream perceptions of American Muslim identity. The result of their original collaboration is on view in the Asian Art Museum's "Portrait of the Artist," describing a mystical night journey of the Prophet Muhammad.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

New Jersey town used zoning to discriminate against Islam

By Jim Dwyer
A rendering of the proposed mosque in Bernards Township, N.J., which has been entangled in a protracted battle over parking spaces. Credit Karsten Moran for The New York Times
BERNARD'S TOWNSHIP, NJ---This is the chronicle of how a founding principle of this country, the freedom to worship, crashed into a public bureaucracy in the venerable and prosperous New Jersey suburb of Bernards Township. More than five years ago, the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge sought permits to build a mosque big enough for 150 people on a four-acre parcel, where zoning permitted houses of worship. This week, there is still no mosque — but five years of hearings and litigation about the proposal are drawing to a close. The settlement would include the building permit long denied to the Islamic Society. [More]

Kenyan artist blasts National Museum for censoring his 'religious' art pieces

By Grace Kerongo
Soi explained his symbolic, not realistic, painting stands for the closeness of church leaders and politicians in Kenya, a highly religious country.
NAIROBI---Controversial artist Michael Soi has gone ham on the National Museum of Kenya for commissioning work for the Museum Day, then turning it down, claiming it has "issues revolving around nudity". Soi told Word Is, "We presented our work to the museum three days ago and a few hours later we got a call to go to the museum. They told us they 'looked at the work and felt that the work was not appropriate for our audience.' We were literarly told to present either new work as an option because this would never go up in the gallery." The theme for the Museum day was "Speak The Unspeakable". Soi opted to address this issue by painting art pieces about contemporary religion. [More]