BY Frieze News Desk in News | 05 JUL 19

Now You Can Take an LGBTQ Tour of the British Museum

In further news: Tania Bruguera to launch investigative journalism initiative; Smithsonian won’t remove Sackler name

BY Frieze News Desk in News | 05 JUL 19

The Warren Cup (detail), circa. 50 AD, cast silver. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

The British Museum in London will host LGBTQ-themed tours around its collection, it was reported by The Guardian. Volunteers will guide visitors to objects in the museum’s collection including an Ancient Greek wine amphora showing intimate same sex male relations; cups and saucers from the late 1700s which belonged to the Ladies of Llangollen, whose relationship was considered scandalous at the time; and an 11,000-year-old carved pebble depicting a gender ambiguous couple having sex. The tour will also take visitors to The Warren Cup, a drinking vessel from the Roman era which is considered crucial to gay history. On the cup are two scenes of male same sex intercourse.

At a press conference on Thursday, the museum revealed a collection of eight solid silver cups cast in the shape of The Warren Cup and available in the eight colours of the rainbow flag. The proceeds will be divided between the charity Stonewall and the museum’s own fund to work with the LGBT community. Hal Messel, the silversmith who made the cups, described the project’s aims to: ‘tackl[e] assumptions and rais[e] awareness around how gender identity and sexual orientation continue to remain on the fringes of so much contemporary art.’

Cuban artist and activist Tania Bruguera, whose work recently filled the Tate’s Turbine Hall in London, has announced her intention to start an investigative journalism initiative in her institution in Cuba, The Art Newspaper has reported. Bruguera will award prizes to Cuban investigative journalists as part of the initiative at the Institute of Artivism Hannah Arendt, which the artist opened in 2016. The decision comes at a time when the Cuban government is cracking down on freedom of expression. In 2018, Bruguera was arrested following her protests against Decree 349, a controversial law which critics say censors artistic freedom. Speaking at the Manchester International Festival, where she is running a ‘School of Integration’, Bruguera said: ‘Journalists in Cuba are not familiar with investigative journalism so we are adding to the prize an educational component where we bring in international investigative journalists to give workshops.’

The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC will not remove Arthur M. Sackler’s name from the Smithsonian’s Asia art museum. The decision comes at a time of intense scrutiny over the Sackler family’s involvement in the Opioid crisis. The Sackler Trust is managed by the Sackler family and certain family members also own Purdue Pharma, which manufactures the prescription painkiller OxyContin. It is alleged that the drug has been falsely advertised and now plays a major role in the opioid crisis.

The Washington Post reported that the Oregon senator Jeff Merkley sent a letter to Lonnie G. Bunch III, the Smithsonian’s new secretary, in mid-June requesting that the name be removed from the gallery: ‘The Sackler family hooked thousands of Americans on OxyContin through aggressive and misleading marketing tactics and profited from one of the deadliest public health crises in our country,’ the letter read. ‘The Sackler name has no place in taxpayer-funded public institutions, such as the Freer-Sackler Gallery.’

In further news: Kayne Griffin Corcoran now represents Sam Moyer, whose first solo show with the gallery is now on in Los Angeles; New York’s New Museum has appointed Andrew An Westover as the Keith Haring Director of Education and Public Engagement; Fridman Gallery in New York has hired Hillary Dvorkin as their new director; Hiwa K has been named as the winner of the Hector Prize and will be awarded USD$22,800; and American artist KAWS has left Perrotin gallery after 11 years.