News Recap: March 22, 2019

A weekly recap of art world news.

Promotional materials for a 2017 conference at Harvard on the links between academia and slavery. The program bears the image of Renty, a slave from whom Tamara Lanier says she descended.

Promotional materials for a 2017 conference at Harvard on the links between academia and slavery. The program bears the image of Renty, a slave from whom Tamara Lanier says she descended.

Woman Sues Harvard Over Photographs of Ancestors
Tamara Lanier has filed a lawsuit against Harvard University over the rights to an 1850 daguerreotype. Lanier claims that she is the great-great-great granddaughter of the man in the photograph, Renty. After repeated requests that Harvard cease licensing the image of her ancestor were denied, Lanier sought legal representation. This image of Reny is among many photographs of slaves commissioned in 1850 by Harvard biologist Louis Agassiz, whose ideas were used to support the enslavement of Africans in the United States. For over 100 years these daguerreotypes were hidden away in an attic on the Harvard campus. Since their discovery in the mid-1970s, this particular image of Renty has become an iconic photograph in the representation of American slavery and has appeared on the cover of many books, with Harvard profiting from the image use.
Read the full story (PetaPixel)

Donation Denial: Sackler Family No Longer Able to Give Money Like They Used To
Just a handful of days ago, the National Portrait Gallery in London became the first major art museum to reject a donation of $1.3 million dollars from the Sackler family. The decision not to accept the donation is a result of massive media outrage on the Sacklers’ (who are major donors to the arts), involvement in family company Purdue Pharma and its role in the widespread opioid crisis. Museums on the Sackler donation list were met with protests, with some lasting for days. Yesterday, Tate also denied a donation from the Sackler family stating, “In the present circumstances we do not think it right to seek or accept further donations from the Sacklers.”
Read the full story (Hyperallergic)

Venice Biennale’s Kazakhstan Pavilion Cancelled, Curators Dismissed
The Vencice Biennale’s Kazakhstan pavilion has been cancelled, the event’s curators found out via a press statement on Facebook. The statement cited that due to budget cuts, the curator’s services were no longer required. One of the curators, Nadim Samman, is still awaiting payment from the commissioners of the pavilion for five months of work on the initiative. The other curator, Roza Abenova, has since resigned.
Read the full story (The Art Newspaper)