The Walker Curates the News: 08.25.14

Ai Weiwei filming "The Sandstorm," directed by Jason Wishnow.

Ai Weiwei filming The Sandstorm, directed by Jason Wishnow.

Despite friction between artist and director and budgetary bumps that stalled production, Jason Wishnow’s short sci-fi film The Sandstorm is expected to premiere soon. In his acting debut, Ai Weiwei will play a tuk tuk-driving water smuggler in a dystopian, H20-free world.

  • Dubbing him a “groundbreaking counter-surveillance artist,” the online civil liberties group EFF (the Electronic Frontier Foundation) announced that it’ll be honoring Trevor Paglen with a Pioneer Award, created to recognize those who help us “understand how technology and civil liberties are interwoven into our lives and … work to protect our freedom and fight abuses.” Receiving the same honor at the October 2 ceremony in San Francisco will be United Nations Special Rapporteur Frank La Rue and U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren.
  • Considering Thomas Hirschhorn’s Gramsci Monument in the South Bronx one year later, Art F City’s Whitney Kimball connects with those who encountered it, from Hirschhorn and Dia curator Yasmil Raymond to neighborhood residents. “[T]he one-time nature of projects like these reinforce the idea that sympathies and political ideals can be compartmentalized and laundered only through an art project as a hypothetical, single-authored proposition,” she writes. “As is the case in so many recent large-scale public artworks, it comes down to a question not of how to implement a better system, but how to make the ethical compromise for art.”
  • Zaha Hadid is suing the New York Review of Books and its architecture critic, Martin Filler, for defamation over a book review that accused her of “showing no concern” for the deaths of hundreds of migrant construction workers in Qatar, where she designed the 2022 World Cup Stadium. Author and architecture critic Paul Goldberger tweeted in response: “Zaha proves Goldberger’s Law: the greater the success, the thinner the skin. Hadid sues over book review.”
  • Inspired by Robert Frank’s book/photo series The Americans, photographer Alec Soth is traveling the USA in a minivan with folk singers Billy Bragg and Joe Purdy. While he interviews railroad workers, Bragg has been singing: to striking teachers,  inmates, and—hopefully—protesters in Ferguson, Missouri. The trio will share the results of the trip in a photo/music performance in tribute to Frank at The Open Road Benefit Party in New York October 21, with proceeds going to the Aperture Foundation.
  • Passings: Richard Attenborough, an actor for 25 years before his directorial debut at age 46, has died at 90. His films include Cry Freedom (1987), A Chorus Line (1985), and Gandhi (1983), which won eight Academy Awards. And Deborah Sussman, designer of the 1984 Summer Olympics’ environmental graphics, died last week at age 81. She said the signature large, colorful “supergraphics” that animated urban landscapes were meant to be “bigger than the architecture.”
  • The Smithsonian American Art Museum has named nominees for its biennial James Dicke Contemporary Art Prize, created to encourage artistic experimentation. The 13 selected artists: Njideka Akunyili, Cory Arcangel, Trisha Baga, Paul Chan, Barnaby Furnas, Theaster Gates, KAWS (Brian Donnelly), Josiah McElheny, Dave McKenzie, Julie Mehretu, Frances Stark, Swoon (Caledonia Curry), and Mickalene Thomas. The winner, to be announced in November, takes home $25,000.

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