Paris auction house braces for Banksy sale after shredding

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A man takes a picture of an artworks by street artist Banksy prior to an Artcurial French auction house sale at in Paris. (AFP)
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A woman stands near an artworks by street artist Banksy prior to an Artcurial French auction house sale at in Paris. (AFP)
Updated 24 October 2018
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Paris auction house braces for Banksy sale after shredding

  • The Banksy works have been on show at Artcurial’s elegant auction house on the Champs-Elysees roundabout
  • ‘Banksy didn’t destroy an artwork in the auction, he created one’

PARIS: Paris auction house Artcurial held its breath Wednesday ahead of the sale of four works by Banksy, unsure what to expect following the enigmatic artist’s shredding of a painting just moments after it went under the hammer.
Artcurial said security would be tight for Wednesday evening’s sale and that this time, no hidden shredding devices appeared to be concealed in the frames — but with Banksy, you just never know.
“We are going to be particularly vigilant. We’ve put security measures in place but we’ll be looking to keep it discreet and as light as possible,” Arnaud Oliveux, the contemporary art specialist in charge of the sale, said.
“There won’t be 10 heavies in every room,” he added.
Banksy, a British street artist whose identity is known to only a handful of friends, caused a sensation this month when one of his paintings began shredding itself, just after selling for $1.4 million (1.2 million euros).
Experts say “Girl with Balloon” is now probably worth even more because the stunt created such a massive media stir.
Oliveux predicted that if anything out of the ordinary happens in Paris, “it won’t be a repeat” of the stunt that flabbergasted a room of champagne-sipping auction-goers at Sotheby’s in London.
For one thing, the frames around the three paintings up for grabs are on the slender side, meaning it would be difficult to hide a shredding device of the kind used in London, which Banksy concealed under a thick wooden frame.
Artcurial has nonetheless done background checks on attendees — not least after speculation that it may have been Banksy himself who triggered the shredding device inside the room at Sotheby’s.
“We’ve asked them to identify themselves, we’ve made a few enquiries,” Oliveux said.
The sale, which also features other celebrated street artists such as France’s JR and US duo FAILE, includes three silkscreens by Banksy as well as a plastic statuette of a rat holding a paintbrush.
Oliveux acknowledged there was more interest in this sale than there would have been pre-shredding.
The Banksy works have been on show at Artcurial’s elegant auction house on the Champs-Elysees roundabout, and many visitors have been pausing to take a look.
As for the shredding of “Girl With Balloon” — now renamed “Love Is In The Bin” — Banksy has admitted things didn’t go according to plan.
He posted a video on YouTube showing it was supposed to have been fully shredded, and that during test-runs it worked perfectly each time.
But when the prank was finally carried out, only the bottom half of the painting shredded — because, he revealed, it got stuck.
The woman who had just bought the work for £1,042,000 — a female European collector whose identity has not been revealed — said she was stunned when the device began whirring into motion.
“I was at first shocked, but gradually I began to realize that I would end up with my own piece of art history,” Sotheby’s quoted her as saying.
Alex Branczik, head of Sotheby’s Contemporary Art in Europe, has meanwhile hailed the self-destructing painting as “the first artwork in history to have been created live during an auction.”
“Banksy didn’t destroy an artwork in the auction, he created one,” Branczik added.


Jameel Arts Center: Inside the Gulf’s ‘first contemporary arts museum’

Jameel Arts Center in Dubai. (Supplied)
Updated 57 min 36 sec ago
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Jameel Arts Center: Inside the Gulf’s ‘first contemporary arts museum’

  • Jameel Arts Center is overlooking the Dubai Creek at the Jeddaf Waterfront
  • The center is home to a library that houses a thoughtfully selected collection of over 2,500 books and documents

DUBAI: Overlooking the Dubai Creek at the Jaddaf Waterfront is the newly inaugurated and much anticipated Jameel Arts Center. A non-profit independent arts institution, it was brought to life by Art Jameel, the Saudi foundation that has patronized artistic and educational initiatives across the Arab world since 2003.

The center — which opened November 11 — is a welcome and necessary contribution to the growth of the United Arab Emirates’ nascent cultural scene. However what distinguishes the Jameel Arts Center is its own singular vision of becoming the Gulf region’s first contemporary arts museum — accessible to all audiences. Aside from curating exhibitions, the organizers also plan to run talks, symposia, and art-writing commissions in 2019.

In addition, the center offers bespoke areas of tranquility, reflection, and curiosity in its courtyard gardens (containing 33 varieties of desert plants) and a spacious sculpture park. Masterminded by Ibda Design and developed by Dubai Holding, the Jaddaf Waterfront Sculpture Park bills itself as “the Gulf’s first open-air art park” and features sculptures from Emirati artist Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim, British land artist David Nash, and artist collective Slavs and Tatars, among others.

A research-driven space, the center is also home to a library that houses a thoughtfully selected collection of over 2,500 books and documents — including exhibition catalogues, monographs, and journals — focused on the cultural history of the Gulf and the Middle East.

“Over the last 15 years Dubai has become the art market center,” Antonia Carver, the director of the Jameel Arts Center, told Arab News. “There is a fantastic base of galleries, artist studios, and there is also an incredibly engaged public. But the one element that was missing was a contemporary arts museum.”

She explained that one of the key ideas behind the center is to establish a venue where local, regional, and international artists can present their works to UAE audiences, as opposed to always looking overseas for exhibition opportunities.

True to Carver’s word, throughout the center’s 10 gallery spaces, opening exhibitions display works from more than 40 multidisciplinary artists from around the world. In particular, four spaces are dedicated to “Artist’s Rooms,” which separately showcase conceptual works by female artists.

One of them is the Saudi artist Maha Malluh, whose eye-catching display of around 400 burnt cooking pots demonstrates her passion for collection items from flea markets and re-ordering them in a narrative that reflects “personal and communal histories.”

Taking over another room is Berlin-based artist Chiharu Shiota’s installation “Departure,” commissioned especially for the center. Using 2,500 balls of woven, blood-red yarn connected to a wooden dhow, Shiota drew inspiration from the UAE’s status as a “place of trade and confluence,” the center’s press release explained. Additionally, the complex, web-like installation bears emotional value “exploring themes of displacement and memory.”

At the heart of the center’s public programming is its inaugural group exhibition, “Crude,” curated by UAE art historian Murtaza Vali — a thought-provoking show in which contemporary artists tackle the vital and complex role that oil played in shaping the Middle East’s rise to capitalist modernization and consumerist culture, through an array of photographs, paintings, installations, and archival footage.

Shifting from the interior to the exterior, the building’s architecture looks modern with its large windows and elegant straight lines, but is, in fact, rooted in traditional aesthetics. Lead architect Christopher Lee of Serie Architects — designers of London’s BMW Olympics Pavillion (2012) and Patna’s Science Museum (2017) — pointed out that the box-like structure of the center was inspired by the UAE’s traditional housing style, known as Sha’abi. Composed of a cluster of rooms surrounding a courtyard, the Sha’abi style gives an impression of community, which is reflected in the center’s inviting and open atmosphere.

Art Jameel plans to open a similar venue — the Hayy: Creative Hub — in Jeddah toward the end of next year.