A giant bronze sculpture by celebrated artist Brian Jungen has been installed outside of the Art Gallery of Ontario, just in time for Indigenous History Month. The Art Gallery of Ontario revealed its first-ever public art commission, dubbed “Couch Monster” and described as “a poetic tribute to the plight of creatures in captivity.” Jungen, of European and Dane-zaa heritage, says he was inspired by the story of Jumbo, a captive circus elephant killed in 1885 by a train in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada. Designed from used leather furniture to create the four meter tall work, The work carries a Dane-zaa subtitle, “Sadz yaaghhch’ill,” which translates to “my heart is ripping.”
“Like the leather couches, the more people engage with the work, the more the bronze patina will change over time…I want people to lounge on and explore and really embrace this Couch Monster – it is yours and I am so thrilled to have it live here in the years to come.” Jungen said in a release.
In the wake of Truth and Reconciliation, the work’s prominent position at the coveted corner crossroad of the gallery situates an Indigenous artist as the centerpiece of the institution’s entrance and sets the tone of the museum experience. Since 2015, institutions have been making moves to diversify and include Indigenous voices in their programming and institutional framework. Funding for Couch Monster” came from private donors and government partners, including the federal government, the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) and the Canada Council for the Arts.
Noah Davis, Christie’s young NFT prodigy and head of digital sales, has joined Yuga Labs’ CryptoPunks and will serve as ‘Brand Lead’. “I’m humbled and honored to announce I’ll be leaving my current post in July to steward the CryptoPunks as Brand Lead under the umbrella of @yugalabs,” Davis wrote in the Twitter post announcing his departure from Christie’s. Davis helped initiate the NFT boom in the art auction market and facilitated the $69.3 million sale of Beeple’s Everydays, the First 5,000 Days (2021) which set the NFT market ablaze. The sale marked the first time Christie’s accepted cryptocurrency for a work and the first time a standalone NFT was sold by an auction house.
“Noah has been a dedicated colleague and senior member of the Christie’s 20th and 21st Century Art specialist department and has played a valuable role in establishing our leadership in the NFT and digital art space,” Christie’s said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to work with Noah in his new role.” He will finish his tenure with a final NFT sale at Christie’s this month that will see NFTs auctioned off to benefit the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies.
Interestingly, following the announcement, 39 CryptoPunks were sold on Sunday, which is more than double the amount sold on Saturday.
UK’s revenue and customs agency will begin handing out fines to art market players who have failed to register under the new anti-money laundering legislations. These fines are applicable to market participants who handle transactions of €10,000 and above, who have failed to register under the new legislations by the June 2021 deadline. In addition to carrying out increased due diligence, art market participants have been required to register their business with the government.
“This is going to be a wake-up call about the seriousness of registration and compliance alike,” says Susan Mumford, the chief executive of Artaml, a platform working to develop anti-money-laundering tools for the market. “Whereas many businesses have not yet registered or put in place full compliance procedures, we anticipate that this will start to change.”
“As for the impact on businesses, it is early days,” says Rebecca Davison-Mora, the community manager for the art market due diligence platform, Arcarta. “However, these fines are part of a long line of challenges galleries have had to face over the past two years that may affect their ability to participate in key events—such as art fairs—and make a significant dent to their operating overheads. With this in mind, we have decided to offer complimentary, one-to-one 45-minute assessments for galleries to check they are on track, as it has been made clear that many are ill-equipped for what is heading their way.” Important to make clear, “trading whilst unregistered” is now being pursued as a breach of the regulations. Fines for late or non-registration were due to start being issued as of the new financial year on 6 April.
Controversy at Documenta has erupted over anti-semetic images used in a sprawling banner by the Taring Padi collective previously shown at the South Australian art festival in Adelaide last year.
In a statement, the federal culture minister, Claudia Roth, said: “The removal of this mural, which shows clearly antisemitic pictorial elements, is overdue. The mere covering up and the statement by the Taring Padi artist collective on the matter were absolutely unacceptable.”
Roth said there would be an investigation into the decisions which led to the work being accepted and installed in the first place, however the work has been taken down at the time of this article. Documenta organizers said on Tuesday June 21st, “Due to a depiction of a figure in the work People’s Justice (2002) by the collective Taring Padi, which triggers antisemitic readings, the collective, together with the management of Documenta and the artistic direction of Documenta 15, has decided to cover up the work in question at Friedrichsplatz and to install an explanation next to the work.”
The 2002 work’s concept surrounded the militarism and violence of the Suharto dictatorship, with military figures depicted referencing corrupt bureaucrats and violent military generals. Taring Padi, from Yogyakarta, Indonesia stated: “It is not meant to be related in any way to antisemitism. We are saddened that details in this banner are understood differently from its original purpose. We apologise for the hurt caused in this context. Therefore, with great regret, we cover up the work. This work then becomes a monument of mourning for the impossibility of dialogue at this moment.”
Kaws is a “covergirl” on New York Magazine’s Cover for the week of June 20th. KAWS, a.k.a. Brian Donnelly, takes “cancel culture” as the inspiration behind the artist’s iconic character’s sullen figure. For the cover drawing, KAWS borrowed the same pose from his 2021 sculpture “Separated” and depicted in greytone, the character cross-legged, sitting atop a skateboard, a nod to the youth demographic being targeted with the imagery, with its head in hands, hiding from the viewer. The artist was commissioned for the coverpiece to complement the magazine’s cover story exploring the reality of cancel culture among American highschool students “where calls for accountability for bad behavior can often spiral into bullying, false accusations, and permanent ostracization,” the publication wrote in an Instagram post.
“As the father of two young children, imagining what life might be like when they become teenagers, I understand the concern that comes with navigating the complexity of relationships and how that is layered with the realities of the pandemic and social media,” KAWS told New York.
In line with the artist’s keen business skills, the piece is poignant and accessible to the youth demographic while aligning with the serious tone of the article. The New York Magazine cover is the most recent addition to the artist’s covers including two others for NYM, Hypebeast Magazine, Juxtapoz, Complex, Nylon and others.