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Newswire

Inaugural Toronto Art Book Fair Pages City’s Independent Print Culture

by Rea McNamara on June 16, 2016
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The rise of art fairs has not been all that bad. Yes, we’re stuck with the same galleries showing the same work, but we’ve also seen a rise in alternative venues, the most common being art book fairs. Whether it’s LA or New York, the fairs often have a frenetic energy, particularly the sections dedicated to artist-made zines, which in addition to artist books, often include performances, the sale of related ephemera (think buttons and stickers) and zealous trading. Fair sections divide exhibitors by rare book dealers, distributors and artists. Even the poorest of us can afford something at the fair, which means every visitor can leave with a sense of being able to directly support the livelihood of artists.

Here in Toronto, the arrival of the new Toronto Art Book Fair (TOABF) — which opens today in a historic schoolhouse in the West End, and runs to the end of this weekend — has been enthusiastically received by the local arts community. In fact, much of my Instagram has been filled for the past week with artists like Micah Lexier and Lido Pimienta proudly snapping the wares they’ll be selling. With a tightly-curated 75 vendors participating, it appears the free public event has been far more successful than either Art Toronto or the recently-ended Feature in attracting the involvement of international vendors. Art Toronto mostly attracts galleries outside Canada under its FOCUS curated section (for the 2016 edition in October, it’ll be Latin America) and because Feature was organized by Montreal’s Association des galeries d’art contemporain, it was criticized by local gallerists for its Quebec-heavy regionalism. Further, since Toronto isn’t a “traditional art capital”, those fairs have been challenged in representing a discerning edit of the local commercial gallery scene.

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.ART Re-Emerges as “The Art World’s Exclusive Domain”

by Rea McNamara on June 6, 2016
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Will the days of describing the internet as an ungentrified space finally be over? As the internet becomes an overcrowded domain space, ICANN’s new generic Top Level Domain (TLD) program is showing signs of an emerging virtual real estate boom—or at least that’s been the story for the last several years.

At the center of all this is .ART, which went live last week. The website, dotart.domains, comes less than a year after the widely-contested Top Level Domain (TLD) went to highest bidder UK Creative Ideas Limited. Judging by the art fair-esque logo and elevator pitch calling itself “the art world’s exclusive domain”, it seems the centralized online entity that is now .ART has truly been exploited by commercial interests.

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What Happens Now That Peter Brant Officially Owns a Big Chunk of the Art Media Landscape?

by Rea McNamara on June 3, 2016
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The concentration of media ownership is never a good thing. Integration leads to anticompetitive behaviour in the marketplace — especially among publications owned by the same parent company. So should the art world be concerned by the recent news that Brant Publications, owned by powerhouse collector Peter Brant, now owns all the assets of Art in America, The Magazine Antiques, Modern Magazine and ARTnews, which joins his flagship, Interview Magazine?

It depends on how you look at it. Brant was already a majority stakeholder, which gave him full control over the companies. In July 2015, as the Observer reported, Brant Publications sold its 100% ownership of Art in America to Artnews S.A., the publicly-traded company based in Warsaw, Poland that owned ARTnews. BMP Media, a Brant subsidiary then purchased a 60% stake in ARTnews for $16.9 million.

So the only difference now is that he owns 100% of the stock. The question then arises: now that ARTnews is under private ownership, how will that impact its coverage moving forward, especially since it’s no longer a publicly-held media entity?

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This is What Accessible, Barrier-Free Curating Looks Like

by Rea McNamara on May 27, 2016
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Toronto, as a whole, is not a very accessible city. While institutions like the Art Gallery of Ontario have multi-sensory and ASL interpreter tours, there are still stairs everywhere, and it’s not uncommon for smaller galleries or artist-run spaces to apologetically note their washrooms aren’t wheelchair accessible.

Over the past five years, though, there’s been a rise in art that addresses disabilities and madness, not to mention a demand that its paces are truly barrier-free. Last month, Harbourfront Center mounted Cripping the Stage: A Disability Arts Cabaret featuring local disabled artists like jes sachse, Syrus Marcus Ware and Lynx Sainte-Marie.

The event was co-presented by the British Council and Tangled Art + Disability. The local performing arts cum multidisciplinary non-profit supports artists with disabilities, and now has a new exhibition space. And it’s not just any space. They’ve moved into 401 Richmond, a building filled with high profile artist-run centers like A Space, YYZ and Gallery 44. It’s an entrenched arts hub that’s doesn’t just give a gallery space to any organization.  

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Is 2016 the new 1994? Feminism in the Art World

by Emily Colucci on May 26, 2016
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Is recent art history repeating itself? An increasingly long roster of new all-women group exhibitions and their corresponding press seem to suggest so. From blue-chip stalwarts Hauser Wirth & Schimmel and Saatchi to smaller project and artist-run spaces to last night’s Marc Straus opening If Only Bella Abzug Were Here, are all-female group shows an indication of a permanent commitment to gender equality in the art world or is it just another doomed-to-disappear trend?

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Claire Danes to Host New Art21 Program

by Michael Anthony Farley on May 26, 2016
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This is exciting. Claire Danes, Emmy and Golden Globe winner of My So-Called Life fame, will be hosting a new program from Art21: Art in the 21st Century.

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Herzog & de Meuron’s Tate Modern Expansion Looks Straight Out of Star Wars

by Michael Anthony Farley on May 25, 2016
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Following the trend of art museums expanding into weird pyramid shapes, the Tate Modern has completed a 10 story addition by Herzog & de Meuron. Today, they released images from architectural photographer Iwan Baan. And of all the art pyramids out there, the force is strong with this one.

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Three Georgia Politicians Think A Porta-Potty Would Be Better Than Art AIDS America

by Emily Colucci on May 24, 2016
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Who would have thought 90’s nostalgia would have resurrected the Culture Wars? Following the Catholic League’s pearl-clutching over Mark Ryden’s perceived “very anti-Christian and anti-Catholic” paintings at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art’s exhibition Turn the Page: The First Ten Years of Hi-Fructose, a group of local Georgia politicians are up in arms over Art AIDS America at the Zuckerman Museum of Art at Kennesaw State University [NSFW image featured]

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Catholic League: Mark Ryden Eucharist Painting is Like a Girl in Hijab with Machete

by Michael Anthony Farley on May 19, 2016
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In response to a controversial Mark Ryden painting at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, The Catholic League President Bill Donohue sent MOCA Director Debi Gray a letter describing a painting to offend Muslims. It’s pretty weird.

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Some Thoughts on the Turner Prize Shortlist

by Paddy Johnson and Michael Anthony Farley on May 13, 2016
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The prestigious Turner Prize shortlist has been announced, and true to precedent, provides plenty of fodder for the British tabloids. GIANT BUTT SCULPTURE UP FOR £25,000 ART PRIZE. RIDE A MODEL TRAIN AND CALL IT ART? But the four artists selected ,Michael Dean, Anthea Hamilton, Helen Marten, and Josephine Pryde, aren’t quite what we’ve come to expect from Britain’s highest-profile art circus. A lot of this work is dense, nuanced, and less overtly attention-grabbing than the butt cheeks would have us believe.

The prize won’t be awarded until December 2016, but in an effort to get out front of the nominations and award game, we’re debating the merit of these nominees today.

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