This is the latest edition of BA’s digest of Southern contemporary art news-in-brief. Submissions for items to be included in future editions may be sent to the editor.
NEW YORK—Only a few days after artist Michael Rakowitz withdrew from the seventy-ninth Whitney Biennial, Turner Prize-nominated collective Forensic Architecture announced plans to use their commissioned artwork to address the controversial chairmanship of Warren Kanders, the wealthy “lethal-less” weapons manufacturer. The activist group Decolonize This Place has developed a calendar of interventions every week leading up to the opening of the biennial on May 17. Warren Kanders has responded to the outcry with an open letter, stating “I am not the problem.”
The roster of artists included in biennial, which is curated by Jane Panetta and Rujeko Hockley, includes Birmingham-based artist Joe Minter, whose artist environment the African Village in America is comprised of sculptures, monuments, signs, plantings, and totems related to African American history and the history of Black people in Birmingham in particular. Minter’s first museum survey, Once That River Starts to Flow, was on view at Atlanta Contemporary early last year. New Orleans-based artist Garrett Bradley, who recently received a Creative Capital grant, will also be featured in the upcoming biennial, as will Arkansas native Tiona Nekkia McClodden. Other featured artists who have recently shown in the South are Alexandra Bell, Lucas Blalock, John Edmonds, Matthew Angelo Harrison, Marlon Mullen, and Martine Syms (all Atlanta Contemporary), Ilana Harris-Babou and Tomashi Jackson (Zuckerman Museum of Art). Recent Georgia State University Welch School visiting artists Elle Perez and Paul Mpagi Sepuya will also be included in the upcoming biennial.
Sarah Kennel named photography curator at High Museum of Art
ATLANTA—The High Museum of Art has announced the appointment of Dr. Sarah Kennel as Donald and Marilyn Keough Family curator of photography. Kennel currently serves as The Byrne Family curator of photography at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts and will join the High on July 1, 2019.
The home of the most significant photography collection in the American South, the High Museum began acquiring photographs in the 1970s, ahead of many other institutions. In her new role, Kennel will supervise exhibitions and programs drawing from the museum’s collection of more than seven thousand photographs from the 1840s to the present. Kennel recently co-curated photographer Sally Mann’s exhibition A Thousand Crossings, organized by the Peabody Essex Museum and the National Gallery of Art, which will open at the High in Atlanta in October 2019.
“I am delighted to join the High at a vital moment of growth for the photography program and am inspired by the institution’s commitment to curatorial excellence, relevance, and equity,” said Kennel. “The High has played a key role in defining the range of American photographic practice, especially with its commitment to civil rights and Southern photography. I look forward to working closely with my colleagues and the thriving Atlanta arts community to further develop and expand an exciting and rich photography program that is at once locally grounded and nationally distinguished.”
Curator Sarah Higgins leaves the Zuckerman Museum of Art
ATLANTA—Sarah Higgins, former curator at the Zuckerman Museum of Art at Kennesaw State University, has resigned from her position. “It has been an honor to serve as a member of the ZMA [Zuckerman Museum of Art] team, and I’m extremely proud of the work we accomplished together,” Higgins wrote in a social media post on March 3. “I want to extend heartfelt thanks to the ZMA staff and the artists with whom I had the pleasure of working for all of their brilliance and support.” Since joining the museum in October 2015, Higgins organized exhibitions at the museum including Gut Feelings, a group exhibition exploring food and eating in contemporary art, and Interstate Love Song, the first solo museum exhibition by artist Tomashi Jackson. Higgins currently serves as interim editor of Atlanta-based magazine Art Papers.
RICHMOND—Three months into new director Dominic Willsdon’s tenure at ICA VCU, he has drawn more national and international voices to the museum’s advisory board. “The conversation that’s animating people is around what should a contemporary art institute even be for the next decade,” Willsdon said. “We have a great opportunity to think about that from square one. . . . I’m getting a sense of the possibilities here.”
Recent additions to the museum’s advisory board include Adrienne Edwards, curator of performance at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and conceptual artist Adam Pendleton, who is now based in New York but was born in Richmond. Pendleton’s solo exhibition Becoming Imperceptible opened at the Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans in 2016 before traveling to the the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver later that year. Current members of the advisory board include artist Diana Al-Hadid and Rachel Goslins, the director of the Arts & Industries Building at the Smithsonian Institute.
ATLANTA—Georgia state senators voted this week to increase penalties against those who damage the state’s public and private monuments. The senators’ decision takes place following a period of increasingly vocal calls for the removal of confederate monuments across the South. Critics of the legislation passed by the Georgia senate this week say the bill would make it more difficult for communities to remove confederate monuments to which residents object.
Although Senator Jeff Mullis of Chickamauga said he proposed the bill not to “protect any particular monuments,” Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center expressed disappointment “that some Georgia lawmakers are choosing to play politics with our history and promote divisiveness,” particularly regarding confederate monuments.
MARFA—Pete Schulte, Birmingham-based artist and drawing professor at University of Alabama, has been chosen as one of the 2019 artists-in-residence at the Chianti Foundation in Marfa, Texas. One of the most striking and isolated desert communities in the West Texas Chihuahuan Desert, the Chianti Foundation was founded by artist Donald Judd in 1989 and has exhibited works by national and international artists, mostly sculpture and other large scale works. Schulte is represented in Atlanta by Whitespace.