BY Frieze News Desk in News | 08 FEB 19

Jenny Holzer’s Light Projections at Desert X Postponed Over Fears for Bighorn Sheep

In further news: Venice introduces tourist tax ahead of biennale; Jeff Koons embraces automation

BY Frieze News Desk in News | 08 FEB 19

Bighorn sheep, 2018. Courtesy: Getty Images, AFP; photograph: Don Emmert

Jenny Holzer’s light projections, due to appear at the Coachella Valley-based public art show Desert X, have been pulled over concerns for the local bighorn sheep population. A strain of pneumonia has spread across sheep in the southern California mountains. Holzer intended to show her new LED-light artwork BEFORE I BECAME AFRAID (2019), using texts by survivors of gun violence, at Whitewater Preserve in the San Bernardino Mountains. Commenting on the decision to postpone the work, Wildlands Conservancy’s regional director Jack Thompson told the Los Angeles Times: ‘The combination of sick animals, light projections, and large groups of people – it just seems insensitive and unpredictable.’ Holzer told the New York Times that she hoped another projection could be realized by the end of the exhibition ‘so that the writers’ important text can be seen, felt and echoed.’

Venice is to introduce a tax for day-trippers just ahead of the opening of the biennale, in a bid to control the numbers of tourists in the city. Day-trippers will be liable for a EUR€3 tax to enter the city – the charge is due to be introduced ten days before the opening of the Venice Biennale, and the cost is expected to double by 2020. Visitors to Venice who stay overnight already pay a charge. The plans by Venice authorities have been criticized by the country’s tourism minister and far-right politician Gian Marco Centinaio as ‘useless and damaging’.

Staff at the Vancouver Art Gallery are on strike over failed negotiations with management regarding wages. Nearly 200 unionized employees have gone on strike – they have been without contract since the summer of 2017. Holding protests outside the museum, employees held up placards reading ‘Show me the Monet’ and ‘Modern Art, Ancient Wages’. The union’s bargaining committee published a statement, which argues: ‘the gallery is asking that we accept wage increases that are below inflation, which puts us further behind.’

Italy’s former culture minister and art historian Vittorio Sgarbi has been caught up in a scandal around the authentification of fake works by the artist Gino De Dominicis. Artnet News reports that Sgarbi is being investigated by police over his alleged participation in a forgery ring, and its role in selling fake works by the late Italian avant-garde artist. Sgarbi has rejected the allegations.

At the opening of his blockbuster show at Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum, Jeff Koons has spoken of his recent studio downsizing and layoffs, and embracing automated ways of working, the Art Newspaper reports. ‘My work has become more based in 3D, in computer data, in the engineering and reverse engineering of that data,’ the artist said. He told the Art Newspaper that he was interested in allowing his sculpture department to ‘become more of a think tank.’

In galleries and appointments news: Galerie Bastian is opening two new posts in London and Berlin – its Chipperfield-designed space in central Berlin is being donated to the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation; the Ford Foundation is opening a gallery at its headquarters in New York devoted to the intersection of art and social justice; Galerie Lelong & Co. in New York now represents the artist Barthélémy Toguo, with a show planned next month; the Tate Americas Foundation has appointed Catherine Carver Dunn as executive director; and Philipp Kaiser is joining Marian Goodman Gallery as chief executive director of artists and programmes.