“Cultural Reparations: The Drive to Deaccession in Museums”

“In November, the Horniman Museum returned Benin Bronzes to Nigeria (as announced in August) and Cambridge University pledged to return human skulls to Zimbabwe. Last week, Egypt requested the return of the Rosetta Stone from the British Museum and there have been reports of a discussion between the British Museum and Greek authorities regarding the Elgin Marbles. 

Barely a week goes by without news of repatriation of artefacts. So, why is this happening now?

Repatriation of items from one country to its supposed country of origin has been a hot topic for five years, since President Macron sent items from the French national collection to Burkina Faso. This is a form of deaccessioning, which is when a museum removes an item from its permanent collection. This can be by sale, exchange or destruction. The latter only usually for an object so deteriorated it is now worthless or dangerous. 

Although public museums in the UK rarely deaccession – it is effectively prohibited by legislation except in very limited circumstances – the practice is common in American museums…”

Read the full article for free here: https://www.lotuseaters.com/cultural-reparations-the-drive-to-deaccession-in-museums-16-12-22

New publication: “Artivism: The Battle for Museums in the Era of Postmodernism”

I am delighted to announce the publication of Artivism: The Battle for Museums in the Era of Postmodernism.

Here are the details:”From Banksy to Extinction Rebellion, artivism (activism through art) is the art of our era. From international biennale to newspaper pages, artivism is everywhere. Both inside museums and on the streets, global artivism spreads political messages and raises social issues, capturing attention with shocking protests and weird stunts. Yet, is this fusion of art and activism all it seems? Are artivist messages as subversive and anti-authoritarian we assume they are? How has the art trade commodified protest and how have activists parasitised art venues? Is artivism actually an arm of the establishment?

“Using artist statements, theoretical writings, statistical data, historical analysis and insider testimony, British art critic Alexander Adams examines the origins, aims and spread of artivism. He uncovers troubling ethical infractions within public organisations and a culture of complacent self-congratulation in the arts. His findings suggest the perception of artivism – the most influential art practice of the twenty-first century – as a grassroots humanitarian movement could not be more misleading. Adams concludes that artivism erodes the principles underpinning museums, putting their existence at risk.”

Alexander Adams, Artivism: The Battle for Museums in the Era of Postmodernism, Imprint Academic, 2 August 2022, 200pp, paperback, mono illus., £14.95, Kindle version available

Available worldwide from bookshops, bookselling websites and the publisher here: http://books.imprint.co.uk/book/?gcoi=71157100177520

I do have a few copies available for sale and signature. 

“How artivism captured the ICA – and why the Arts Council is to blame”

“Journalists get a slew of press releases every day, with press departments of arts venues seeking coverage to compensate for public lockdown. One must-read staple are the ICA’s daily list of recommendations, including music, cinema, books, talks and less orthodox material. One email links to a discussion on “what autonomous, feminist healthcare could be now” (ICA Press Release 25 March 2020); another link “explores the imaginaries created by [homosexual] public sex” (ICA Press Release 11 April 2020). Other recommendations promote queer visibility, transactivism, eco-activism, anarchism, anti-capitalism, anti-racist action, migration advocacy, anti-colonialism, radical feminism and other progressive causes. Not a single item among the hundreds sent is even mildly conservative.

“Staff of a publicly-funded arts venue see nothing improper about using emails to advance political causes. Promoting anal sex and polyamory to fight Nazism is just another day’s work for the ICA’s press department. Enter the sphere of publicly-funded fine art, where directors declare themselves activists, deem the public in need of moral tutelage and are intent on transforming museums and galleries into engines of social change. It is a field populated by firebrand curators, timid administrators, ignorant ministers and millionaires with saviour complexes…”

Read the full article in The Critic here: https://thecritic.co.uk/how-artivism-captured-the-ica-and-why-the-arts-council-is-to-blame/

(c) 2020 Alexander Adams

To see my books and art visit http://www.alexanderadams.art