6 December

Here are this year's three most memorable art events according to artist Nicholas John Jones, the founder and director of PRAKSIS.

From the anti-Sackler-campaign at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. Photo: Arda Asena.

Anti-Sackler Protests at the Guggenheim New York

Few families have donated as heavily or as widely to the arts as the Sacklers, who have their names on numerous museums around the world. A significant portion of their incredible fortune comes from the family’s pharmaceutical company, Purdue Pharma. When the family was embroiled in the severe legal ramifications of knowing the company’s painkiller OxyContin to be highly addictive, the art world rallied in force. American photographer Nan Goldin, having herself become addicted to opioids after being prescribed OxyContin for tendonitis, became the figurehead of the anti-Sackler campaign. Goldin led a high-profile occupation of New York’s Guggenheim Museum (a major recipient of Sackler money) during which she and fellow campaigners scattered a mass of prescriptions and pill bottles into Frank Lloyd Wright’s landmark atrium. This protest started a movement that, combined with protests against public institutions accepting money from the oil and weapons industries, holds deep ramifications for art world institutions, demonstrating that artists and audiences will no longer overlook the arts being used for greenwashing.

Camille Norment at the event Imaginary Leaps into a Decanonized Future arranged by the Office for Contemporary Art Norway at Ingensteds in Oslo, 28 September 2019.

Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA), Imaginary Leaps into a Decanonized Future, Oslo

OCA described its one-day event, Imaginary Leaps into a Decanonized Future, as a programme rather than a symposium, seminar, etc. Looking to rethink standard formats, it encouraged higher levels of intimacy and longer interpersonal engagement among its invited participants through the exchange of letters before and after the event. This gesture is symbolic of the reassessment of norms that OCA has been championing in recent years: challenging widely accepted historical constructs and raising awareness of voices which have been subjugated within Western art historical narratives. We should all be paying attention to this work as it is potentially transformative for the way we think about the world.

Robert Bordo, crackup (crackdown), installation view, Bortolami, New York, 2019. Courtesy the artist and Bortolami Gallery, New York. 

Robert Bordo, crackup (crackdown), Bortolami, New York

Painter Robert Bordo combines a skilful command of the medium with striking symbolism to both seduce and confront his audience. In my capacity as director of PRAKSIS, I was fortunate to work with Bordo in March this year, and his exhibition (which I eagerly anticipated) at Bortolami does not disappoint. For his first solo-show there, Bordo continues his work addressing issues which are both pressing in his own life and have broader resonance. The series of large monochrome paintings of broken window panes – dark holes, surrounded by cracks that threaten to shatter further – is powerful, its presence holding the viewer and enveloping them with thoughts about how the damage was done – by what or whom? Being an artist in Trump-led America may not feel optimistic, but I hope that the broken glass gets replaced before the climate wreaks havoc inside.

Nicholas John Jones is an artist, writer, and organiser. He holds an MFA in Painting from Slade School of Fine Art, London and was a participant in CuratorLab at Konstfack, Stockholm. Nicholas is Founder and Director of the Oslo-based organisation PRAKSIS, which creates supportive environments for the development of creative practice, discourse and understanding