Artist Trevor Paglen’s sculpture launched into space The American photographer, who is one of five artists shortlisted for the Artes Mundi Prize, has launched Orbital Reflector on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. It will orbit 350 miles above the Earth for approximately two months before diving back into the atmosphere. Measuring 100ft long by 5ft wide and coated in titanium dioxide, the diamond-shaped balloon made of polyethylene is expected to reflect sunlight back to Earth and appear as a point of light in the sky.

Paglan, whose photography ‘interrogates the secrecy and ubiquity of US surveillance’, has spent the last 11 years working with a network of amateur astronomers to track the more than 200 classified military satellites that orbit the earth. His work is currently on show at the National Museum Cardiff until 24 February 2019 as part of the Artes Mundi Prize exhibition, the winner of which is announced on 24 January 2019.

£3.4m JMW Turner painting blocked from leaving the UK by ministers Walton Bridges, which is thought to have been painted in 1806, was sold at auction in July for £3.4m. It depicts a bridge that ran across the River Thames between the locks at Sunbury and Shepperton in Surrey, and is believed to be the first landscape completed by the artist in the open air.

However, arts minister Michael Ellis has deferred a decision on its export licence after a recommendation by the reviewing committee on the export of works of art and objects of cultural interest, which is administered by Arts Council England.

Ellis said that although the deadline for a UK buyer has been set for 28 February 2019, this may be extended until 30 June if there is a serious intention to raise funds to match the auction price. He also said that offers from public bodies that are less than the recommended price may also be considered.

Ellis told the Guardian: “It has so much significance for artistic and historical reasons that it is right that we do all we can to save this masterpiece for the benefit of the nation.”

Cuban artists arrested for protesting government decree that aims to eradicate artistic freedom Tania Bruguera (whose work 10,146,323 is the current Tate Modern Turbine Hall commission, pictured) and Bienal de La Habana organisers Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara and Yanelys Nuñez Leyva were among a number of people who organised a sit-in at the Ministry of Culture in Havana. They are protesting a new piece of government legislation that will essentially give the state the power to censor art at will.

Due to come into use on 7 December 2018, Decree 349 will allow the Cuban government to target and punish artists, writers, filmmakers, musicians, and performers who create and commercialise art that was not approved by the state. It will also be able to punish the venues hosting the artists. Anyone who violates the law could face fines, seizure of property, and detainment.

Since the decree was announced in July of this year, numerous artists and critics have rallied against it. More than 1,350 people signed an open letter addressed to Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel in August which states that the decree does not declare how artists can legally create art.

MPs to assess ‘class ceiling’ in the arts The Performers’ Alliance All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), which comprises politicians from across the political spectrum, including the former culture minister Ed Vaizey, has launched a new parliamentary inquiry that will report on the barriers to social mobility and identify various actions that can be taken by charities and the government to address them.

It will collect oral and written submissions from performers and people working in the sector which will inform a report to be published in September next year.

In a statement, APPG said: “The main focus will be asking what works to address each of these challenges, and how can government respond. The absence of social mobility is partly because class is not a ‘protected characteristic’ in equality legislation, which has meant data collection and publication of statistics on class diversity and social mobility monitoring has been uneven across the arts workforce.”

Museums and auction houses close as protests rage in Paris The Jeu de Paume photography gallery and Arc de Triomphe were among the high-profile arts venues caught up in violent demonstrations during the ‘Gilets Jaunes’ (Yellow Vest) riots in Paris on Saturday. Several windows were smashed at the photography gallery, while images posted on social media showed a car in flames in front of the venue.

Alice Martin, the deputy director of the Jeu de Paume, said: “Faced with the worsening of the situation in the Tuileries gardens linked to the social movement, the public was evacuated from the building at 3pm [on Saturday]. A vehicle near the Jeu de Paume was burnt but did not reach the building and there were no intrusions or serious incidents. The assessment of the damage on the exterior of the building is currently underway.”

Meanwhile, The Arc de Triomphe on the Champs-Elysées was graffitied by rioters, with TV footage showing its interior ransacked and a smashed statue of Marianne, symbol of the French republic. The demonstrations, which began several weeks ago and were originally against fuel taxes, have since turned into an anti-government and anti-Macron movement.

1. A rendering of Trevor Paglen’s Orbital Reflector project Nevada Museum of Art; A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Dec, 3. Credit: SpaceX
2. Tania Bruguera’s Turbine Hall commission at Tate Modern. Installation view with Bruguera and members of the group of 21 people who live or work in the SE1 postcode who have worked with her to explore how the museum can learn from and adapt to its local community. Photo: Andrew Dunkley © Tate

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