A Mary Wollstonecraft Statue Sparks Backlash, and Other News

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In London, a new statue of the pioneering feminist Mary Wollstonecraft is sparking backlash

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A tiny, naked sculpture of the “mother of feminism” Mary Wollstonecraft sparks backlash.

Some critics are baffled at Maggi Hambling’s new statue of the pioneering philosopher and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, which was unveiled in London earlier this week. The sculpture, which depicts a tiny, naked “mother of feminism” held up by a “swirling mingle of female forms,” is the culmination of a decade of work by the Mary on the Green campaign, which raised more than $188,000 to finance the project. But many are dismissing the artwork as a missed opportunity, especially considering that less than three percent of statues in the U.K. are of non-royal women. “I honestly feel that actually this representation is insulting to [Wollstonecraft],” the writer Caroline Criado-Perez tells The Guardian. “I can’t see her feeling happy to be represented by this naked, perfectly formed wet dream of a woman.” The writer Tracy King echoes Criado-Perez’s concerns: “Any passing teenage boy isn’t going to think, oh, that’s an icon of feminist education. They’re going to think—tits!”

Many are standing up for Hambling’s work. The writer Bee Rowlatt, a key figure in the fight for the statue, defends the work as representing an idea of collaboration and the birth of feminism. “We could have done something really, really boring and ordinary, and very Victorian and old-fashioned,” she says. “It’s not inviting. It’s a challenging artwork, and it’s meant to be. And as far as I’m concerned, the more people that know about Mary Wollstonecraft, the better.”

The Architecture & Design Film Festival’s latest edition will stream 17 virtual film programs.

The Architecture & Design Film Festival (ADFF) will bring a selection of 17 virtual film programs to viewers across the U.S. and Canada from Nov. 19–Dec. 3. The robust program will touch upon issues such as environmental design, urbanization, and gentrification, and the role of women in architecture, while celebrating the life and work of prolific architects and designers like Charlotte Perriand, Alvar Aalto, Albert Frey, and more. Among the 17 film programs, ADFF:2020 will feature seven North American premieres, two short film programs, insightful Q&A sessions with the filmmakers, and conversations with esteemed industry leaders such as Bjarke Ingels, Francis Kéré, Glenn Murcutt, Paola Antonelli, Ryūe Nishizawa, and more. Tickets and all-access passes will remain on sale throughout the two-week festival.

Lillium operations hub in Orlando

Orlando is set to become a hub for America’s first regional electric aircraft network.

The Munich-based electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) manufacturer Lilium has announced plans to open its first U.S.-based operations hub at Lake Nona, a planned community in Orlando, in 2025. The five-seat Lilium eVTOL tops out at 185 mph and can travel an hour on one charge, giving it the capability to reach Tampa, Jacksonville, and Ft. Lauderdale in under an hour. “It’s a fantastic location,” says Dr. Remo Gerber, Lilium’s chief operating officer. “Orlando gets 75 million visitors a year and the traffic volume across Florida is huge. We can be part of the solution to help people move faster and cleaner while safeguarding untouched land.” Uber Elevate has also announced plans to launch eVTOL urban networks in Houston, Los Angeles, and Melbourne by 2023, though it hasn’t said which city will be first. 

For the first time, the Met appoints two leaders—one of whom is a woman. 

While COVID-19 cases continue to rise at an all-time high, cultural institutions around the U.S. are struggling with limited attendance, racial equality, and revenue losses. To combat this, the Metropolitan Museum of Art will elect two trustees to lead the board for the first time. On January 12, Hamilton E. James, executive vice chairman of investment firm Blackstone, and Candace K. Beinecke, senior partner at the law firm Hughes Hubbard & Reed, will replace Daniel Brodsky, the current chair. Brodsky’s third three-year term was originally set to expire in September, but it was extended through 2020 due to the coronavirus. “These are exceptionally challenging times and the opportunity to have two leaders with strong yet different experiences is a win-win for the museum,” Brodksy says of the transition. 

The pair will enter their new roles at a time when the Met projects $150 million in revenue loss through June resulting from the pandemic. To make up for the loss, the museum has made executive pay cuts, downsized staff, reduced programming, and raised nearly $25 million for emergency funding. Beinecke will serve as the first woman chair after being a trustee since 2010, a chairman of the museum’s legal board, and co-chair of the search committee that endorsed the museum’s current director, Max Hollein. James also joined the board in 2010 and has been chair of the museum’s finance panel since 2014. 

The Art Tower in Shanghai

Despite a new coronavirus case, Shanghai forges ahead with multiple art fairs.

All eyes are on Shanghai as November art week plans to forge ahead despite the city reporting its first new coronavirus case in five months, requiring a 14-day quarantine for all international visitors. Headlining the week’s programming are two flagship art fairs—Art021 and the West Bund Art & Design Fair—as well as the unveiling of the Art Tower, a monolithic cultural hub that will house 20 international galleries such as Ota Fine Arts, Phillips, and Arario Gallery. “At this point, any display of normalcy is a good sign and an ‘in-real-life’ fair is one manifestation,” Mathieu Borysevicz, founder of Shanghai gallery Bank, tells The Art Newspaper. He adds that “a local fair is better than no fair.” 

Meanwhile, other Shanghai art institutions are launching programming in tandem with art week. The 2020 Shanghai Biennale, titled Bodies of Water and curated by Andrés Jaque, may have been postponed until next April, but a series of six forums connected to the biennale theme will occur at its venue, the Power Station of Art. Prada Rong Zhai will open a solo exhibition of works by Alex da Corte; Zhang Daqian and Tomokazu Matsuyama will open at Yuz Museum and the Long Museum West Bund, respectively. And the Rockbund Art Museum, which is currently being renovated, will open by appointment for viewings of Jasphy Zheng’s Stories from the Room

Working from home could cause a housing emissions crisis, a new report warns. 

The coronavirus pandemic has triggered a paradigm shift in how the world works, ushering in the widespread adoption of digital technologies. In the U.K., a new report by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) warns of a potential pitfall of the dramatic shift: housing emissions. RIBA is warning the government that the increase in people working from home will lead to an emissions crisis unless energy efficiency is upgraded. “We need urgent government action—a National Retrofit Strategy—with front-loaded spending that would double as a fiscal stimulus and a new stamp duty policy to encourage homeowners to think twice about opting for substandard homes,” says RIBA President Alan Jones, warning the country’s housing stock is the least energy efficient in Europe. “When it comes to energy efficiency, our homes are below the mark.” The U.K. has a target of net-zero greenhouse emissions by 2050.

Foster + Partners is experimenting with robot dogs on building sites

Today’s attractive distractions:

The popular Instagram @cheapoldhouses is getting its own HGTV show.

Think you have the discipline for this 9,035-piece LEGO Colosseum set?

A Japanese town deploys robot wolves to scare away dangerous bears…

…while Foster + Partners experiments with robot dogs on building sites.

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