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Arts in the News: Virtual Reality Dance, U.S. Museums, Louvre Abu Dhabi, An Art Program for Teens

Virtual Reality Dance
Filmmaker and choreographer Lily Baldwin has co-directed virtual-reality film, “Through You,” with Saschka Unseld. Set to be released to the public this summer, “Through You” is an unconvential virtual-reality film, as the story is told entirely through dance, without words. Baldwain describes it as “an existential love poem,” with Juilliard-trained actor Amari Cheatom and contemporary dancer and choreographer Joanne Kotze playing the main couple. As a virtual reality creation, “Through You” features movement not only in front of the viewer, but all around them. The New York Times’ Gia Kourlas explains: “Watching it creates a sense of weightlessness–as if you’re floating as you move with the dancers or even seem to become them. You drift from feeling like the protagonist to a voyeur. You lose track of time. You twist, you turn, you move.” While many assume excessive camera motion, especially in virtual-reality, will result in motion sickness for viewers, Baldwin’s work successfully pulls off twists and turns, allowing viewers to take the point-of-view of dancers. What a fascinating way of putting viewers in dancers’ shoes, combining choreography and virtual reality!

The Legal Issues Facing U.S. Museums
Every year, museum lawyers and professionals meet up at a Smithsonian-sponsored law conference to discuss the legal challenges of the ever-changing art world. With performance art on the rise, particularly at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMa), museum counsel have to determine appropriate warnings for patrons–like posting signs warning that Alexandra Bechzetsis’s piece “Massacre” included nudity. Museum lawyers also have to navicate changes to charitable tax law and copyright law, the latter particularly in conjunction with the usage of digital services like scanning, 3D printing, and virtual reality. They are also involved in the prudent investment of endowments, and in collaborating with private collectors to house and display works. Museums must also prepare for emergency situations, putting in place action plans for events like that of an “active shooter”–plans that can involve the protocol of using priceless exhibit pieces to blockade doorways. These lawyers working behind the scenes help to make visits from patrons like us seamless, enjoyable, and safe!

Louvre Abu Dhabi to Open This Year
The Louvre Abu Dhabi, the first satellite location of the famous French museum, is officially set to open in November of this year. The building is in the final phases of testing before the art collection and loans will be installed. The project, contracted at 1 billion euros, has taken about a decade to complete. Some 1000 works are expected to be housed in the museum, 300 coming from museums across France and 700 from the Emirati museum’s own collection. The building itself was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel and features a mesh-like cupola 18 meters in diameter and basins filled with seawater. Officials expect the exact opening date to fall somewhere between Armistice Day on November 11th and a national holiday on December 2nd marking the union of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It is certainly exciting to see the Louvre expand beyond France’s borders; perhaps in the future we will see even more satellite locations across the globe!

An Art Program Keeping Teens Out of Jail
Rachel Barnard, an artist with architectural training, founded “Young New Yorkers” (YNY), an art/criminal justice program for youth, five years ago. The program works as a court-mandated alternative to incarceration or community service, allowing teenagers who have been arrested to minor offenses like jumping subway turnstyles or posessing a small amount of marijuana. Barnard calls the programs “Alternative Diversion,” working with the young offenders to redirect their lives, providing guidance and fostering self-reflection. Street artists comprise the main pool of those donating their time and talent to the program, with high profiled names like Shepard Fairey, Daze, Dan Witz, and the Guerilla Girls all having donated at a recent fundraising auction. Since 2012, Barnard’s program has given more than 400 city youth a second chance. YNY continues to build partnerships with artists, teachers, lawyers, volunteers, and social and criminal justice agencies. It regularly puts on art shows by graduates of the program, drawing members of the justice system and helping to strengthen community bonds; the most recent show was held on May 10. For more information on this inspiring program, visit their website at

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