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Dear readers of Kobel's Art Week and our newsblog,
Some people have Russian friends and wonder why the attack on Ukraine could happen. This does not sit well with those we call our friends. However, there is now a great deal of uncertainty, which also has a broad impact on cultural life. Sopranos and conductors are being disinvited and can no longer perform their art - but they had not distinguished themselves as advocates of peace either. Oligarchs close to Putin have also been deprived of their seats on the advisory boards of major museums. That was quicker than the sanctions imposed by the countries. However, emotions are running high because people are inclined to accuse every Russian who does not march in the streets of being in favour of this senseless war. There are still many who support the apparatus and even I am in danger if I travel to Russia again, according to our federal government, because a new media law there also puts critical statements outside Russia about the land of the bear under curatorship. This also makes dialogue on a human level increasingly difficult. The consequences of a blatant breach of taboo are just manifold - but we still hope that the great beginnings of freedom in Ukraine, which also produces good art, will not be stifled. Artists do not want to leave the country, even though they are in great danger.
There is a sense of awakening in Saudi Arabia at the moment. In Jeddah, there is an exhibition 21/39, now in its 10th year, which clearly shows that new currents are possible in the country. In 6 halls, the Riyadh Biennial shows what edgy positions are possible in a country that was once completely under censorship. The Ministry of Culture was built opposite the former royal palace of the Saudis, which as a national site is supposed to develop an awareness of its own history.
The art market has so far hardly reacted to the events in Ukraine. This is perhaps also due to the fact that the biggest sales are increasingly being made in the Asian region. In any case, the conflict does not play a major role in the public perception of many countries that may be described as unfree and dictatorially ruled. Nevertheless, it is astonishing that more than 140 countries in the UN General Assembly condemn Russia's belligerent invasion of its neighbouring country.
Insurers are now reacting in rows and pointing out the sanctions clauses in cover for foreign interests in Russia or are no longer available for these risks. Billions of foreign investments are hanging because the property rights can no longer be exercised. Some of this is insured through federal guarantees. But the full effects will only become apparent over time.
There was an art fair in Geneva and Madrid, almost as usual - Stefan Kobel reports
I wish you a week full of courage to believe in a peaceful tomorrow
Stephan Zilkens and the team of Zilkens Fine Art Insurance Broker GmbH in Solothurn and Cologne