WTF? Museum First Proposed to Celebrate Women Is Now Dedicated to a Serial Killer

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Photo via Wikipedia

We were going to enjoy insight into women’s history, now we’ll have to endure Jack the Ripper.

Women have a hard enough time in the arts, and in history. This kind of hoodwinking isn’t helping the situation.

This past fall, former Google diversity chief Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe won approval to convert an old Victorian-era shop (or, shoppe) into a museum that would examine East London women’s contributions to society throughout history. But this week, it’s been revealed the museum is now going to be about something a little…different. Namely, infamous London serial killer Jack the Ripper. Um. What?

“We did plan to do a museum about social history of women but as the project developed we decided a more interesting angle was from the perspective of the victims of Jack the Ripper,” Palmer-Edgecumbe said in a statement to the London Evening Standard. “It is absolutely not celebrating the crime of Jack the Ripper but looking at why and how the women got in that situation in the first place.”

“Got into that situation”? What? Who “gets into” being murdered? Instead of celebrating the accomplishments of women, they’re glorifying their deaths at the hands of a serial killer.

This is basically a snuff film in museum form.

 

Get a Stoner App Cooler Than the iTunes Visualizer

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Members of the band Yacht with the Reify app. Photo courtesy of NEW INC.

Remember how in college, you’d sit around the dorm with your stoner friends, listening to iTunes playlists and watching the iTunes visualizer dance and morph into the best music video ever?! Well, now there’s an app (or two) for that, and they come from NEW INC., the New Museum’s incubator — a collaborative workspace for a selected 100 members, supporting creatives in tech, design and art by allowing them to work through new ideas and figure out how to make it all work. Out of that incubator hatched REIFY, which launched on Kickstarter this week, and STYLUS.

REIFY is an augmented reality app that uses 3D technology to make “totems” that Stylus can read and turn into music and moving visuals. Now your trip is hand-held.

Basically, REIFY calls up bands and asks them to make 3D printed totems that are visual stand ins for their songs, complete with music and visual encoding read by Stylus. Use the app, and that’s when you get the gif-y, trippy stuff. It’s a way for hear, see and hold the music.

“At REIFY we’re using technology to create new forms of meaning between sound, sight and touch. Our platform is for creating physical totems and interactive visuals that represent songs,” said Allison Wood, CEO of REIFY in a press release. “The kind of cross-sensory immersion that happens when our totems are played through our mobile app is called ‘digital synesthesia.’ It’s a new medium of creative expression for artists. It’s a deeper, connected music experience for fans.”

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HEALTH’s totem for their new single “Dark Enough” 

David Hockney: The Reinventors’ Reinventor

David Hockney
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Photography by M. Sharkey

Old ideas are easy to fall back on. New ideas require vision — and courage. At 77, David Hockney remains one of the most innovative artists alive, not only for his central place in the pop art movement of the 1960s, but also for his constant delight in pushing boundaries. This is an artist who exhibited an early collection in London in 1961 under the title “Fuck,” drawing on sexual graffiti in public toilets — six years before homosexuality was decriminalized in Britain. More than 50 years later, Hockney was able to draw over 650,000 people to the Royal Academy of Arts in London, where his exhibition, “A Bigger Picture,” reflected his ongoing enthusiasm for new forms and technologies.

Critics have sometimes dismissed Hockney’s endless reinvention as a lack of discipline and seriousness, not that the artist would care what they have to say. These days, he prefers to follow the conversation on Twitter. “It isn’t just about a little comment of 140 characters, it’s much more than that because it’s notice- boards,” he told The Guardian a few years ago. “People post something, it takes you to another person, it moves along.” In other words: Who needs old media when you have new?

Lured by watching Laurel and Hardy movies as a child, Hockney left damp Yorkshire, England, for sunny California in 1964, eventually settling there in 1978. His work, from his hedonistic early paintings of Los Angeles swimming pools to his large-scale photoworks, amounts to a lifelong inquiry into perception and reality that never wavers. “I’m interested in all kinds of pictures, however they are made, with cameras, with paint brushes, with computers, with anything,” he told The New York Times in 2001. And so it remains. Since 2009 his favored medium has been an iOS app, Brushes, which he uses to create paintings on iPhones and iPads, a development that would be easy to dismiss as a novelty with a less ambitious artist.

These days, Hockney spends more time in Yorkshire, where he has reconnected with the landscape of his youth, but for a long time his spiritual home — the place that spoke to him — was Los Angeles. “I lived in L.A. so long I’ll always be an English Angeleno,” he said in an interview in 2012. “But to me now the big cities are less interesting and sophisticated than they were. To get something fresh, you have to go back to nature.”

Downtown LA, We’ve Got a Message for You

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Two things have exploded in the creative vortex over the last couple of years: Downtown Los Angeles and digital art. A class of innovators — from real estate developers to hospitality impresarios to artists of many mediums — have made DTLA the frontier of cool, and they’re getting their message out far and wide. This summer, Ace Hotel DTLA, the cool kid’s modern-day salon, is giving local and international artists a platform for expression through its collaboration with the digital content sharing platform WeTransfer. Starting this month and lasting through February 2016, the Ace is handing the reins of their billboard each month to an artist to showcase their work and broadcast their vision for LA to literal passersby.

The collab, aptly named Dear DTLA, is starting local with LA-based Brian Roettinger, an artist and graphic designer responsible for the art direction of music’s biggest acts (he’s the guy behind Florence and the Machine’s and Mark Ronson’s latest album art). His message to DTLA? “Never odd or even.” Short and sweet, definitely less than 140 characters, but we needed a little clarification, so we asked Roettinger to explain. His poetic response, below:

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A Palindrome Tome

Never Odd or Even
But residing in between
No man’s land or
Or merely limbo in another name

Nothing is “for sale,” I thought.
How fitting: WeTransfer
Along with Ace Hotel
Helped create this billboard spectacle

An artist’s rotation—sending volleys
Through lines—or interwebs
While this typographic feast
Nests along Broadway and 9th

This intersection represents
DTLA, as the acronym goes
A change in scenery
Something Cosmic or Chaotic grows

Who’s to tell?
Three blocks from
40s LA Noir-ish Skid Row
A hipster’s quagmire/paradise?

Laced with ecstasy
A message written in
Quivering fantastical type
A Farewell to Arms of a New Order

Favoring, instead, this notion
that we’re all in a movie
Caught (feverishly) between feuding
Liberty’s of libertines and real life

However tactical
One asks patiently:
What does that mean?
Or, does it mean anything?

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If you can’t view the billboard for yourself in DTLA, and even if you can, you can download the artist’s work digitally through WeTransfer. And check out BlackBook’s new curated city guides to Downtown LA for where to eat, drink, and hang right now.

David Altmejd: Artist, Fetishist, and Avid Bird Watcher (on Instagram)

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The Flux and The Puddle David Altmejd 2014 
Plexiglas, quartz, polystyrene, expandable foam, epoxy clay, epoxy gel, resin, synthetic hair, clothing, leather shoes, thread, mirror, plaster, acrylic paint, latex paint, metal wire, glass eyes, sequin, ceramic, synthetic flowers, synthetic branches, glue, gold, feathers, steel, coconuts, aqua resin, burlap, lighting system including fluorescent lights, Sharpie ink, wood 
129 x 252 x 281 inches (327.7 x 640.1 x 713.7 cm)
ARG# AD2014-001
Photograph by Lance Brewer

An interview with the artist David Altmejd, whose retrospective show “FLUX” opens at the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montreal on Saturday. Plus, David Altmejd’s Montreal City Guide, exclusively for BlackBook.

David Altmejd has been making overwhelming, room-consuming, energetically buzzing sculptures for 15 years. His first retrospective of work has three legs, the first two already settled up in Paris and Luxembourg. Next, the show heads to Montreal, where Altmejd was born and raised. The artist speaks with BlackBook about his fetishes, greatest influences (including parrots and Louise Bourgeois), who to follow on Instagram and the life of his sculptures.

If you live in Montreal or are headed there to see the retrospective, make sure to check out David Altmejd‘s recommendations below for where to eat, relax, and play in his home city — including the place to make like Magic Mike and see Montreal’s best male strippers.

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You’re in the midst of your first retrospective.

This is third retrospective — it’s been travelling through different cities. It started in France, then was shown in Luxembourg, and Montreal is the final installment of it. I just feel that the end of the series of retrospectives, which happens to be in my hometown, is really meaningful. All my family and friends from my hometown from before I even decided to become an artist are going to see what I’ve been up to for the last 15 years. In that sense, it’s extremely meaningful. The Montreal location also offers me a perspective to look at myself from a distance in a certain way. I am actually able to see myself when I started — when I decided to become a sculptor, it all started here. So it’s really interesting in that way.

I think that the museum, Musee d’Art Moderne, had shown interest and were actually looking for partners for a travelling show, and I immediately thought of Montreal and contacted the museum and they thought it was a great idea. It was purposeful [to come home].

What is the primary message you’re sending in this collection of works?

With this show, I’m trying to convey the diversity of approaching sculpture that I’ve been exploring inside my work for many years. I’m trying to show the diversity of types of practices and material and color and relationship to space. But throughout the show in every piece, what’s really important for me to really make clear is the fact that I really consider every sculpture I make to be some sort of energy generator. It’s really important for me to showcase the work in a way that people will really see that is a series of dynamic objects that feel alive — also that each sculpture feels that way and that the show as a whole feels that way. Within each object there’s sort of movement, energy and liveliness but that the whole show has the same sort of movement.

The first time I saw your work was at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver in 2007. I felt it — the energy you talk about — in the room. I walked in and was completely struck by the mixture of the natural fibers, the objects in decay, and also the modern feeling manmade materials. It felt very representative of our world. I can still recall the energy.

Thank you, that’s so great.

Do you think about the world and how we live? What strikes you or influences you when you’re working and thinking about the energy that you’re harnessing in your sculpture?

I think what I try to do is really focus. When I start to make sculpture, what I realize is really amazing about sculpture, is that it exists in real space. It exists in the same space as the viewer; it breathes the same air. It has this potential that it could exist the same way the body of a person does in the world. I’m aware of that potential and I always try to give that power to the object, to make it feel like it exists in the world, in the same world as you. I try to do everything I can to give that power to the object — the power of existing right now. It seems obvious but I think that’s what really defines my work.

fluxpuddle_altmejd_blackbook
Detail of: The Flux and The Puddle David Altmejd2014
 Plexiglas, quartz, polystyrene, expandable foam, epoxy clay, epoxy gel, resin, synthetic hair, clothing, leather shoes, thread, mirror, plaster, acrylic paint, latex paint, metal wire, glass eyes, sequin, ceramic, synthetic flowers, synthetic branches, glue, gold, feathers, steel, coconuts, aqua resin, burlap, lighting system including fluorescent lights, Sharpie ink, wood
129 x 252 x 281 inches (327.7 x 640.1 x 713.7 cm)
ARG# AD2014-001 
Photograph by James Ewing 

What does the word “flux” mean in relation to the show?

“The Flux and the Puddle” is the title of a piece and it turns out to be the biggest piece of the show. It’s the largest, most ambitious, most elaborate. When I made that piece — I made it in 2014 — my idea was to build a large plexiglass structure and just incorporate everything that I have ever done as a sculptor: use every material I’ve used, use the theme, movement, material contrast. It became a survey piece of my practice as a sculptor. It becomes a continuum inside the museum. It is the most important piece of the show. The word “flux” comes from that piece, but it’s also an idea that is always present in my work, this idea of connection, of liquid travelling, a flow of energy, a cycle. You can see it in each of my sculptures. Also I want the whole show to show acceptance, to become a sort of system of objects. I want people to be able to feel the flow, or the flux, in going through everything in the show.

Were there new pieces made for the show?

Yes, for every venue, I added pieces. It’s really important for me to try out new things and have the feeling that the show is super fresh and contains things that were just finished an hour before the opening, and to give it a sort of sense of emergence. I like that.

I’m making a piece right now for the Montreal show. The opening of the show is going to be in a couple of weeks and I’m actually making a piece here. I don’t know what it’s going to be called but it’s a large platform covered in smashed mirror and a series of evolving elements inside it. I don’t know how it’s going to evolve in the next two weeks but that’s what I’m doing.

This might be kind of off-topic, but because your sculptures have their own energy and take up space and have a world of their own inside them, what do you think of ISIS going into these historically rich sites in Syria and destroying them? I mean this metaphorically but can any of that energy be recovered?

Do you mean, how can we make up for the loss that is happening? I’m ­surprised bythe fact that I’m so touched by what’s happening. When you think about it, they’re just objects. My reaction instinctively is a reaction of disgust. I question myself for feeling that way because they are just objects. Of course they have this rich history but compared to the life of a person, it should not be considered that important. I’m just questioning my own reaction. I’m sorry I’m not really answering the question.

I’m profoundly hopeful and I don’t really look so much at the past. I really fetishize the near future. I really fetishize the present and future and mostly the present. For me, the most precious things are the things that are living right now, things that are being made now. What I focus on is the movement, the transformation. It’s not necessarily periods or objects of a certain time. I’m much more fascinated with artists are making right now and the way they’re making new things and the way culture is transforming. That’s what I’m obsessed with.

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Untitled (Dark) David Altmejd 2001 
Plaster, acrylic paint, synthetic hair, resin, glitter 8 x 14 x 8 inches
(20.3 x 35.6 x 20.3 cm)
ARG# AD2001-004
 Photograph by Jessica Eckert 

Who are some of the artists you’re looking at right now for inspiration? Who influences you?

It’s changing a lot because my way of looking at art is completely transforming because I started using Instagram. I’m completely new to all the social media. I didn’t use the Internet that much before. Now my way of looking at art is through Internet. I see so many images, so much art, every day, every hour of the day. Culture feels a little like a mush. Compared to a few years ago where it was very clear what I liked. Galleries and museums now are 95% of the time a big mash-up of things. Before, it was clear that I had a few favorite artists that I was influenced by, but not anymore.

What are your favorite Instagram accounts?

There’s a specific type of humor. I get a lot of memes; I don’t know if they count as memes. What I experience through social media is more of a sensibility than objects with clear artistic statements or propositions. Like humor or a certain type of visual sensibility.

I have to look at these accounts and then I’ll send them to you. I don’t know them by heart. Maybe I can look at my phone right now.

Okay, there is one called @davidhenrynobodyjr. Another, @contemporaryary. You’ll see, it’s a specific type of humor. I don’t know if I’m influenced by that.
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Images courtesy of @davidhenrynobodyjr and @contemporaryary 

We must be influenced by everything we see on some level and in some way. And with the onslaught of images…

Probably, probably. My work is anyway open enough that I can include a bunch of different things that don’t necessarily make sense together. I really love birds.

Birds?

Yea, so I follow a few of them — some parrot owners have Instagram accounts for their parrots. Is that interesting?

Definitely.

It’s @bibi_the_galah_parrot. Another bird I follow is @thekeetlife. Do you want more?

Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 7.07 Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 7.08
Images courtesy of @bibi_the_galah_parrot and @thekeetlife

Yes, give me one more non-bird.

Okay, it’s @ anti_cgi. That’s like mostly stills from horror movies.

Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 7.10
Image courtesy of @anti_cgi 

davidaltmejd_blackbook
Detail of: Man 2 David Altmejd2014
 fiberglass, epoxy clay, wood, feathers, synthetic hair, quartz, taxidermy lovebird, taxidermy par- akeet, pants, jacket, cotton shirt, tie, leather shoes, resin, metal wire, acrylic paint, latex paint, glass eyes, plastic bag, coconuts
77 1/2 x 24 x 26 inches (196.9 x 61 x 66 cm)
 Plinth: 8 x 30 x 30 inches (20.3 x 76.2 x 76.2 cm)
ARG# AD2014-026 
Photograph by Lance Brewer 

Before the Internet got to you, who were some of your greatest influences?

When I started art school, I was really into American artists like Cindy Sherman, Paul McCarthy, Tony Oursler, filmmakers like David Lynch and David Cronenberg. At the beginning, I was trying to define an attitude for myself and I thought that I was really into their attitudes – kind of weird, humorous or dramatic, sort of an uncomfortable space between the humorous and the dramatic. I was fascinated with that. After then when I started making sculpture, I was really into Louise Bourgeois. She’s the only one who made me understand the fundamental effects.

How do you think about your own work differently now, with the Internet and Instagram playing a bigger role?

It goes back to what I was talking about how in the past few years, my experience of art has completely changed because 95% of art can be seen through images online. It’s changing and I’m not against it. It just feels like it’s much more about a sensibility or energy. You know artists like Ryan Trecartin, what I think defines his work for me the most is a new speed. It’s such a right now kind of speed.­ I find it completely fascinating and exciting.

How do you relate that to your own work which seems really involved and not speedy, that’s something that’s best experienced in person?

I’m planning to start exploring these spaces more and more. I’d love to have a YouTube channel and start experimenting. Because these platforms are spaces. While virtual, the experience people have on them is real. I’m definitely going to explore that. We’ll see what happens. I’m sure I can find a comfortable place on these spaces. I’m sort of like a fetishist. I think it’s kind of exciting to explore new things as well.

You have to let us know when you create a YouTube channel.

[Laughs] Okay. I don’t know what it’s going to be but…

See FLUX, on view at Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montreal from June 20 through September 13, 2015.

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David Altmejd’s Montreal Gity Guide

Canada’s largest church, St. Joseph Oratory, 3800 Chemin Queen Mary, Montréal, QC H3V 1H6

Chinese food from La Maison KamFung, 1111 Rue Saint-Urbain M05, Montréal, QC H2Z 1Y6

Restaurant Le Filet, 219, ave. Mont-Royal Ouest, Montreal, QC, H2X 2T2

Hand-rolled bagels from St-Viateur Bagel, 263 Rue Saint Viateur O, Montréal, QC H2V 1Y1

The best place to walk around in Montreal: Summit Park area in Westmount

Campus Bar (for male strippers), 1111 Rue Sainte-Catherine E, Montréal, QC H2L 2G2

Cafe Olimpico for Italian, 124 St-Viateur Ouest, Montreal, Quebec, QC H2T 2L1

A Rare Tour of Donald Judd’s Home, the Judd Foundation in Soho

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An exclusive photo tour of the Judd Foundation in Soho, just above ‘Make art, not pipelines, Get in on the Ground Floor’ open now for limited public viewing.

Studio space featuring two works by Dan Flavin (and a few permanent Donald Judd installations) opened to the public on Friday and Saturday last weekend, available for free viewing for the first time. Make art, not pipelines, Get in on the Ground Floor is on view as the first part of the series of temporary installations at 101 Spring Street, the Judd Foundation in Soho. Just upstairs from the ground floor is the rest of the Judd Foundation, the site of the late artist Donald Judd’s New York home. Everything there is exactly as Judd lived and left it, from kitchen utensils to early Dan Flavin works (the artists were friends) to a personal library to bedding. Get an inside look at Donald Judd’s Soho home below, and get some minimal home design inspiration while you’re at it.

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101 Spring Street, New York, 1st Floor, 1974, courtesy Judd Foundation Archives. Image © Barbara Quinn, Licensed by VAGA
(Note: Whitney Independent Study Program Seminar with artist Donald Judd at his studio in 1974. On Judd’s left is Ron Clark, and on his right is artist Julian Schnabel.)

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101 Spring Street, New York, 2nd Floor. Photo credit: Mauricio Alejo-Judd Foundation Archives. Image © Judd Foundation. Licensed by VAGA

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101 Spring Street, New York, 2nd Floor. Photo credit: Mauricio Alejo-Judd Foundation Archives. Image © Judd Foundation. Licensed by VAGA.

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101 Spring Street, New York, 3nd Floor, Library. Photo credit: Joshua White-Judd Foundation Archives. Image © Judd Foundation. Licensed by VAGA.

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101 Spring Street, New York, 3nd Floor, Library. Photo credit: Mauricio Alejo-Judd Foundation Archives. Image © Judd Foundation. Licensed by VAGA.

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101 Spring Street, New York, 4th Floor. Photo credit: Joshua White-Judd Foundation Archives. Image © Judd Foundation. Licensed by VAGA.

 

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101 Spring Street, New York, 5th Floor. Photo credit: Joshua White-Judd Foundation Archives. Image © Judd FoundationFlavin artwork © 2012 Stephen Flavin/(ARS), © Chamberlain artwork/(ARS), © Claes Oldenburg. Licensed by VAGA.

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Second Floor, 101 Spring Street, New York, NY. Photo: Joshua White.

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Second Floor, 101 Spring Street, New York, NY. Photo: Joshua White.

 

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101 Spring Street, New York, Exterior. Photo credit: Joshua White-Judd Foundation Archives. Image © Judd Foundation. Courtesy Judd Foundation Archives. Licensed by VAGA.

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Donald Judd Portrait, 1991. Image © Judd Foundation. Courtesy Judd Foundation Archives. Licensed by VAGA.

MoMA Acquires Complete August Sander Photograph Series

August Sander
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“Film Actress [Tony van Eyck]“, 1933 + “Artists’ Carnival in Cologne”, 1931 by August Sander, courtesy The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Some new faces are popping up in MoMA after a landmark acquisition of August Sander photographs.

The German documentary photographer began chronicling the lives of the peasant class with stark sepia portraiture after serving in the German military and working as a miner in the early 20th century. Similar to the work Dorothea Lange did in the Dust Bowl, Sander’s work pierces the zeitgeist of a particular society with an anthropological lens.

In a recent milestone acquisition, MoMA can now boast having “People Of the 20th Century” in its entirety. Sander’s pivotal series, a set of 619 photographic prints, contains portraits of the German working class, mixing the faces of draughtsmen, farmers, mothers, soldiers, bohemians, and more in a diverse documentation completed over the period of about 60 years.

MoMA is the only museum in the world that has an entire set of Sander’s work like this, bestowed upon them from the artist’s family. No other can compare.

On the acquisition of some 600 works, Sarah Hermanson Meister, a photography curator at MoMA, exuded her excitement over the phone this morning, “[The 80 photographs the museum previously held] never felt sufficient, now it’s everything we could have dreamed of. [Sander’s] reputation rests on a couple dozen photographs that have become iconic, but with all 619 there are so many surprises.”

Meister also remarked on a sense of completion within the context of other works in MoMA’s collection, namely those of Walker Evans and Eugène Atget, two other important documentary photographers who influenced and were influenced by Sander. “These three figures can be now be understood completely in one institution.”