Sunday, January 20, 2013

Cultural Security News (Jan. 13 - Jan. 19)

Outlook 2013 - Positive for the art market but Negative for cultural heritage
In politics, in the United States, government agencies and foundations made possible a gift of a collection of “digitized treasures” from the Library of Congress to Afghanistan. An article in CaixinOnline reported on China’s continued focus on cultural development. An abstract for presentation at the University of Religions and Denominations, Qom, Iran, contemplated the risk to meaning in translations of “names, titles, and concepts.” South Korean and Myanmar planned a monument for the victims of the attempt by North Korea to assassinate the president of South Korea in 1983. President Obama announced the appointment of Marta Araoz de la Torre as a member of the Cultural Property Advisory Committee. Chinatowns in Japan plan for New Year celebrations for February.
'Gifts of the Sultans'In a crossover of politics and economics, cultural tours reportedly provide an exception that allows American collectors to travel to Cuba and, thereby, bring exposure to Cuban artists. Sudan announced plans for a “first international exhibition for tourism, travelling, shopping” for March. The dispute between Russia and New York-based Chassidic Jewish group, Chabad, over the Scheerson Collection of historic religious books took on new financial dimensions when a federal judge in Washington DC declared the Russian Government in contempt and imposed fines of $50,000 per day. On a positive note, French flags are selling out in Mali, but reportedly Chinese vendors are supplying the merchandise.
In a crossover of politics and security, an article from Tehran cited a report from the Arabi Press news website, which implicated the French and Turkish governments in collaborating with the Free Syrian Army in smuggling invaluable artifacts and mummies from the Tadmor region under the guise of protecting the cultural property. In Dahshour, Egypt, construction for new grave sites caused a controversy by putting an ancient necropolis at risk and potentially enabling looting of cultural artifacts. In the Balkans, Albanians denied a request by Serbia to remove a “monument to Albanian terrorists” in Presevo. A review of the movie, Zero Dark Thirty, questioned the credibility of the director in claiming that “depiction is not endorsement” of torture.
In economics, an investment professional from the Liechtensteinische Landesbank in Dubai, gave a positive assessment of the global art market and commented on “new players” who bring wealth from emerging economies. An article in Reuters, reported on similar sentiments on the part of Christie’s and Sotheby’s, and a second article quoted the head of Christie’s as agreeing on the significance of new buyers. The Financial Times also reported on Christie’s success in 2012. An article in Romania-Insider.com reported on a summary by Artmark that described the extraordinary growth of the Romanian art market. An article in Jing Daily predicted positive developments for sustainable growth of the art market in China. Scholars continued to weigh in on the “complicit aesthetics” in contemporary art.
In a crossover of economics and security, reportedly, antiquities theft remains big business in Egypt.
In security, an article in the Yemen Times, reported on rampant looting of museums that the political instability and compromised security from the conflict between Al-Qaeda and the state enables. Threat to cultural heritage in Syria continued, and an article and video illustrated museums and archaeological sites that are at risk throughout the nation. A museum in Central Java experienced a theft of over 100 artworks by a master of Indonesian modern art. Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO, continued to appeal to military forces to protect cultural property in Mali by emphasizing the essential role of cultural heritage in sustainable peace and respect of human rights. On a positive note, an article in the Los Angeles Times reported on an initiative by the J. Paul Getty Museum to check the provenance of antiquities in the collection and publish the results in an online database.
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