Afghanistan Cultural Institutions Face an Uncertain Future, and Other News

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Afghanistan’s cultural institutions face an uncertain future as Taliban forces have taken control.

The sudden victories of Taliban forces have taken Afghani museum curators and archaeologists by surprise, and many are scrambling to secure artifacts and sites that still remain under their control. As Taliban forces close in on Kabul, the 80,000 artifacts within Afghanistan’s National Museum are under particular threat. Afghanistan served as an important crossroads along the Silk Road for millennia, with a rich heritage that included Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity, Judaism, and Hinduism before the arrival of Islam in the seventh century. In 2001, however, the Taliban destroyed a host of objects and statues in the Kabul museum that spoke to the region’s pre-Islamic past, and many cultural leaders fear a similar fate as major Afghan cities fall. “We need to safeguard the artifacts, but the question is how to find a safe location,” a government source told National Geographic. “There is no way for them, or the staff, to leave the country.”  

In England, one of Banksy’s latest murals gets removed in consideration of a local tragedy.

As part of his self-described “Great British Spraycation,” the anonymous street-artist Banksy adorned several walls within the Norfolk and Suffolk areas with dystopian murals. The Great Yarmouth Borough council, however, covered up one that depicted two children being projected into the air on an inflatable dinghy in light of a local tragedy. The death of a three-year old girl near Norfolk’s Gorleston beach by a burst inflatable sparked concerns of insensitivity within the community; the council commented that removing the artwork was “the right decision, respecting local people and feelings.” Although the mural has the potential to be restored and relocated, the council thanked Banksy for the contribution and added “fully appreciate these circumstances would not have been known by the artist.”

Lake Como’s Il Sereno hotel unveils a new shoppable penthouse designed by Patricia Urquiola.

Milanese designer Patricia Urquiola has returned to Lake Como’s Il Sereno hotel, which she designed in 2016, to conceive its newest amenity—the Signature Penthouse, a bookable room that doubles as a design gallery and an e-commerce platform. Done up in Venetian Terrazzo floors, Canaletto Walnut ceilings, and Ceppo di Gre walls, the one-bedroom suite showcases floor-to-ceiling views of the lake and mountains. A hand-selected curation by Urquiola includes her own designs such as the ‘Love Me Tender‘ sofa for Moroso and ‘L60’ bed for Cassina, as well as picks from Italian master—Gio Ponti chairs and an ‘Infinito’ bookcase by Franco Albini and Franca Helg, among others. All of the pieces and other standouts adorning the interiors at the resort—accessories by Ginori, Venini, Bitossi, and Salvatori are on offer, as is a collection of custom rugs and blankets—will be available for purchase digitally on Il Sereno’s website.  

New York museums are requiring vaccination for all visitors amid rising Delta variant cases.

The rapid spread of coronavirus cases and the Delta variant has spurred New York City to mandate proof of vaccination for both museumgoers and staff. The effort is an extension of the city’s “Key to NYC” program that pushes numerous indoor establishments and cultural venues to require vaccination. Prepared to lead a $10 million media scheme to advise the public of the new requirements, mayor Bill De Blasio is preparing to engender a Covid-safe atmosphere to facilitate the operations of the city’s museums and other cultural centers. “Defeating the Delta variant is the best way to support cultural institutions, because it brings us all back,” says the mayor. “We believe, if we take these aggressive measures, this is going to encourage a lot of people—audience members and staff alike—to get vaccinated.”

The Obama Portraits by Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald go on display in Brooklyn next week.

Departing from the traditional style of presidential paintings, the colourful Obama Portraits by Kehinde Wiley and Amy Serhald unveiled in 2018 are packed with subtle messages. The former’s portrait is dotted with flowers in a forest of rich foliage, symbolizing Barack’s history: the jasmine and African blue lilies allude to Hawaii and Kenya, the birthplaces of the former president and his father, and the chrysanthemums depicts Chicago, the place where his political career commenced and he met Michelle. Enthusiasm for the portraits haven’t waned since they were unveiled in 2018, and both of them will embark on a cross-country tour in order to bring them to a wider audience. After being exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago, they’ll be on view at the Brooklyn Museum from August 27–October 24. 

Following severe weather conditions, the AIA Board in California declares a climate emergency. 

Subjected to another explosive fire season, the AIA Board in California has declared a state of climate emergency. Following the UN’s Climate Action Report, the board pushes for the legislature to include the updated building policies and implement them statewide in light of severe weather conditions that have scorched more than 60,000 structures since 2005. Architects have suggested multiple methods of mitigating fire damage ranging from exploring ICFed (insulating concrete forms) residences to fireproofing Quonset shelters. In light of the recent declaration, the AIA board says that “it challenges other organizations to join us in recognizing the importance of climate action and the immediacy of the issue.”

Today’s attractive distractions:

One TikToker’s lively ASL interpretation of WAP is sparking fierce debate online.

If responding to emails is making you feel miserable, you’re definitely not alone.

Someone paid more than $2,500 for a 40-year-old slice of royal wedding cake.

This artist struck up an unconventional musical duet with the Golden Gate Bridge.

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