in News | 19 DEC 17

Jewish Museum’s Jens Hoffmann Out After Investigation Into Sexual Harassment

In other news: Knight Landesman files motion to dismiss harassment suit; French-Chinese artist missing after Liu Xiaobo tribute in Shenzhen

in News | 19 DEC 17

Jens Hoffmann. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

New York’s Jewish Museum has cut ties with curator Jens Hoffmann after carrying out an investigation into alleged sexual harassment of staff members. Hoffmann had earlier been suspended by the institution while it carried out a review of the allegations relating to Hoffmann’s time there. In a statement sent to frieze, the museum said: ‘The Jewish Museum has completed its review of the allegations regarding Jens Hoffmann and on 17 December 2017, terminated its relationship with him. As this is an internal and confidential matter, we will not be sharing further details.’ Hoffmann carried the title of director of special exhibitions and public programmes at the institution, which he has been with since 2012 (serving as deputy director until 2016). A number of other institutions moved to suspend their working relationships with Hoffmann at the beginning of the month, when the allegations came to light, including the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Mousse magazine and Buenos Aires’s Fundacíon Arte – they are yet to respond to the latest statement from the Jewish Museum. Lance Gotko, the lawyer representing Hoffmann, stated in early December that his client had not subjected anyone at the Jewish Museum to sexual harassment.

The former co-publisher of Artforum, Knight Landesman, has filed a motion in a New York court to dismiss a suit brought by former Artforum employee Amanda Schmitt who alleges that Landesman subjected her to sexual harassment throughout and after her time at the magazine. Landesman resigned from the magazine in October after the allegations came to light and Schmitt filed her lawsuit. Schmitt’s suit includes testimony from eight other individuals who allege they also had similar encounters with Landesman while employed at the magazine. Landesman’s attorneys say in their motion that the allegations in Schmitt’s suit are ‘irrelevant, scandalous, and unfairly prejudicial.’ Last week, Artforum also filed a motion in which it asked for the dismissal of Schmitt’s lawsuit (which named both Artforum and Landesman as defendants). Landesman remains a co-owner of Artforum. Schmitt was recently named by TIME magazine as one of its ‘People of the Year’, honouring women across the cultural industries who have spoken out against alleged sexual harassment.

French-Chinese artist Hu Jiamin has not been heard from since he was last seen being led away by police from Shenzhen’s Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture, which opened at the end of last week. The artist had created a mural in tribute to the late Chinese dissident and Nobel laureate, Liu Xiaobo, incorporating a vacant blue chair and a Chinese landscape painting interrupted by prison bars (a reference to the empty chair at the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, on which the prize was placed while Liu was imprisoned in China). Hu's work was promptly censored and the artist and his wife, who is a French national, were escorted away by police on Friday night, Hong Kong newspapers report. Earlier last week Beijing artist Hua Yong went on the run after releasing footage of migrant workers being evicted from their homes – he was arrested aover the weekend, and later released on bail. Read our contributing editor Carol Yinghua Lu’s reflections on 2017 from Beijing – in a country caught in an atmosphere of tightening censorship.

Artists have joined protests against the National Gallery of Victoria’s contract with Wilson Security, which manages services at Australia's offshore detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru – the company is the subject of controversial claims regarding assault against asylum seekers held in its detention centres. South African artist Candice Breitz announced that she was renaming her work, included in the inaugural National Gallery of Victoria Triennial which opened in Melbourne last week, from Love Story (2016) to Wilson Must Go, in an act of solidarity. Other Triennial artists have joined her: Rafael Lozano-Hemmer has renamed his work Redundant Assembly (2015) to Wilson Must Go/The Sequel while Richard Mosse has edited his video installation Incoming (2017) to include a statement from Kurdish filmmaker Behrouz Hoochani, who was previously held at the Manus detention centre. Breitz wrote on Facebook that it would be ‘morally remiss’ of her ‘to remain silent in the context of the current conversation that is taking place around the Australian government’s ongoing and systematic abuse of refugees.’

Canada has announced that the collective Isuma will represent the country at the 2019 Venice Biennale. The group – currently led by Zacharias Kunuk and Norman Cohn – was founded by Inuit artists in 1990 in order ‘to preserve Inuit culture and language and to present Inuit stories to Inuit and non-Inuit audiences around the world.’ National Gallery of Canada Director Marc Mayer commented: ‘Isuma's participation in Venice also marks the first presentation of art by Inuit in the Canada Pavilion. I am convinced that the international art world will be inspired by the insights that Kunuk and Cohn's collaborative work will elicit at the next Venice Biennale.’ Hayward Gallery director Ralph Rugoff was announced as the curator of the Venice Biennale’s 58th edition last week.

Diébédo Francis Kéré’s 2017 Serpentine Pavilion is headed for Malaysia after it was sold to Ilham Gallery in Kuala Lumpur. The Burkina Faso-born architect’s construction was inspired by a tree in his hometown of Gando, and was selected this year for the annual Serpentine Pavilion commission – Kéré was the first African architect to win the commission. Don’t miss Jack Self writing for frieze on Kéré’s socially committed architecture.

In gallery news: Waddington Custot now represents the estate of US artist Allan D’Arcangelo, who died in Manhattan in 1998 – his first solo UK exhibition at the gallery will open in January; and  Clearing Gallery has opened a third location in New York’s Upper East Side, joining the gallery’s spaces in Brussels and New York's Bushwick.

And finally, London’s Whitechapel Gallery has announced that Caterina Avataneo has won the 2017 NEON Curatorial Award, an annual prize for curatorial excellence. Avataneo’s proposal ‘And Yet They are Knocking at the Door’, which draws on a title of a short story by Italian novelist and artist Dino Buzzati, brings together artworks by Rebecca Warren, Rachel Whiteread and Jenny Holzer. The jury called the proposal ‘poetic, innovative, and well-articulated’.