Sunday, November 25, 2012

Cultural Security News (Nov. 18 - Nov. 24)

China’s play in the political economy of art and culture
In politics, the discovery of a Renoir at a flea-market in Maryland illustrated the controversy over museum care of donated collections.  The relative of a donor to the Baltimore Museum of Art not only was disappointed that some of the entrusted paintings were not on display but also discovered that at least one painting had been stolen and missing from the museum for over fifty years. On a positive note, Yale returned the last of the artifacts from Machu Picchu in a process of repatriation that lasted almost two years.
In a crossover of politics and economics, Reuters reported on the “Occupy Museums” movement, which questions the cultural security of the art market in the face of high-end collectors bidding up the prices of “high-end” works with a seeming disregard for artistic or aesthetic merit. In the interest of cultural security, Dubai hosted an architectural conservation conference in the interest of protecting cultural heritage and identity during development in the Middle East.
3873f7d006e9064b1aae44ef2989f4a0.jpgIn a crossover of politics and security, a media initiative by the government in Beijing to promote Chinese culture and economy abroad aims to increase China’s soft power, while Joseph Nye remains skeptical of the changes for success in light of a repressive domestic policy.
In economics, major auctions houses, Poly International Auction and China Guardian Auctions, from China planned debuts in Hong Kong to coincide with annual auctions by Sotheby’s and Christie’s. Coincidentally, an article in South China Morning Post examined a range of information sources and investment vehicles to mitigate risk in the art market. In Egypt, on-line venues are starting to provide local collectors with access to affordable works and enable new local artists to market works globally, and India endeavored to create awareness of and access to local art with a fifth India Art Fair. Reportedly, Russian collectors prefer to acquire works in London, while galleries in Moscow are closing. Despite a stalling art market, the combined sales of post-war and contemporary art by Sotheby’s and Christie’s in New York totaled close to $1 billion in the past week.
In a crossover of economics and security, the success of the market for contemporary art in Istanbul has drawn criticism from the conservative Muslim majority in Turkey. In Australia, new regulations on insurance and storage for artworks in super funds have lowered the appeal for investors.
In security, an article in Foreign Policy provided history on calls by Islamists to demolish ancient Egyptian monuments. An article on BlouinARTINFO provided background on available evidence that suggests that trafficking in fine art and antiquities intersects with organized crime and perhaps funds terrorist groups. Meanwhile, the success of forgers in copying 20th-century abstract and expressionist artists has increased the risk of litigation for professionals and foundations that authenticate works. On positive note, the return of a mummified Maori head from Canada to New Zealand reflected efforts of the past twenty-five years to repatriate human remains for proper burial by the Maori.
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