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Artnet News
May 7, 2010 

The big news last week was the changing of the guard at Artforum International, still the art world’s most prestigious magazine. Tim Griffin, seven-year veteran of the editor-in-chief slot, is stepping down "to devote more energy to writing and teaching," and will become editor-at-large, according to a post at He is to be succeeded by Michelle Kuo, who has been "senior editor" of Artforum since 2008.

A PhD candidate at Harvard, Kuo is currently working on a dissertation about the ‘60s art group E.A.T. (Experiments in Art and Technology). She’s an articulate and well-liked critic, but the real question is whether she plans to take Artforum in a new direction; under Griffin it has been known for its sober tone. The Fall 2009 issue of the journal October, to which both Griffin and Kuo are contributors, may give a hint.

Responding to the issue’s theme about the state of contemporary art, Griffin writes that "the systems for the production, circulation, and consumption of art could be said simply to mirror the organization of mass culture and, in particular, its shift from economies of scale and volume to others more steeped in customization." On the other hand, Kuo cites unnamed art historians who postulate that contemporary art is "direct outcome of a neoliberal economy," adding, "I would caution, however, against drawing any such linear relationship of cause and effect." She goes on to advise being attentive to art’s relationship to "scenarios and possibilities that we cannot predict."

Could we be in for an Artforum that preserves the magazine’s admirable seriousness, but with a less claustrophobic tone? Hard to say. "I am thrilled to be appointed to this position," Kuo said when contacted by Artnet News. "Artforum has long been a central voice in contemporary art and criticism, and I’m honored to be a part of its great legacy as well as its exciting future." The same but different, then? Stay tuned.

The exhibition-cum-art festival "No Soul for Sale" was a huge hit when it appeared at the X-Initiative space in New York last year, as a platform providing free space for a motley crew of nonprofits to strut their stuff. Now, the initiative has gone global, with its second iteration set to go up at the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, May 14-16, 2010, on a dramatically expanded scale: This time it features some 70 art spaces from around the world, instead of the 40 who turned out for the Chelsea event. Participants range from 98Weeks (Beiruit), Arrow Factory (Beijing) and Artists Space (New York) to Viafarini (Milan), Western Bridge (Seattle) and Y3K (Melbourne).

Some 50,000 visitors are projected for the weekend, which coincides with the Tate Modern’s 10th anniversary celebrations. The event features free late-night performances by artists and musicians. The installation preserves the feeling of the New York show, with no walls, and spaces separated from one another by lines of tape on the floor.

"Strangely enough, instead of becoming more institutional, within the frame of Tate Modern the festival has become even more informal and open, more participatory," said Cecilia Alemani, one of the project’s curators. "It’s a bit like David and Goliath, or better it’s as if Goliath’s body were swarming with hundreds of Davids. Or maybe it’s like that famous scene in Gulliver’s Travels, when he is tied down by the Lilliputians. "No Soul For Sale" is the revenge of the Lilliputians."

Last month, Chelsea art dealer Max Protetch, who specialized in architecture and Chinese contemporary art and also showed artists like Oliver Herring, Byron Kim and David Reed, announced that he had sold his gallery. The buyer was 37-year-old, Dutch-born businessman Edwin Meulensteen, who obtained rights to the name and the lease to space, but no inventory. It was generally presumed that Protetch had sold because he was ready to retire.

Protetch was a little more candid about his motivations in an interview with the Art Newspaper: "There is a recession, and while I am quite adept at getting through it, I don’t enjoy it," he said. "We cut back our staff tremendously, and you are working harder for less." The unique succession scheme, he indicated, was about shielding artists and staff: "I was very concerned that I would have set loose a really great staff and incredible group of artists at a time when they wouldn’t be in a good position to get jobs," he said, adding that he "wanted to give the artists as much cover as possible." Protetch will continue to work for the gallery for one year without pay.  

If you are going to stage a student occupation, do it right, and get course credit for it! That’s the proposition of the "Guerilla Performance Art and Politics" class at Tufts University’s Experimental College. As a final project, teacher and performance artist Milan Kohout is having his class create a "temporary autonomous zone," taking control of a public space as their own personal 24-hour hang out with the hope of creating discussion about "topics of interest to them." Interviewed by Tufts Daily, many of the participating students seemed to view the gesture, set to take place during the school’s current reading period, as a protest against the school administration’s "over-regulation" of student life, as well as a more general commentary on breaking down "social walls."

So what does this experiment look like? According to one commentator (anonymous, of course) on the Tufts Daily website, "By ‘alternative culture,’ they mean running extension cords through someone’s room, blasting awful music deep into the night, and smoking so much pot that some of the dorm rooms on the second floor are starting to smell." This critique produced a swift response from another (also anonymous) commentator: "If you feel happy with the culture at Tufts as is, then I feel sorry for you."

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