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Category: 1211DC (November)
It’s not a comfortable beauty (November 30 2012) It’s not a comfortable beauty (November 30 2012)

Beatriz Milhazes the 52 year old Brazilian artist known for her work juxtaposing Brazilian cultural imagery and references to western Modernist painting, has been profiled by Eileen Kinsella for Blouin Artinfo in an article titled ‘The Secrets to Brazilian Painter Beatriz Milhazes’s International Success’. Kinsella states “…They virtually explode with layer upon layer of intricate patterns and wild, rich colors. These derive from a vast variety of sources, including, in her earlier works, Baroque imagery and feminine lace or ruffle motifs that refer to 19th-century embroidery. Among continuing sources of inspiration are the rhythms of Brazilian music and the festive imagery of the Carnival, as well as the tropical flora and fauna of Brazil’s lush rain forests. Her studio in Rio de Janeiro sits next to the city’s botanical garden, and its influence on her practice — frequently studded with blooming rings of petals and elaborate floral designs — is palpable. Milhazes’s later works have less of the spiderwebby patterns and feature more mechanical-looking swirls, circles, and squares. …Milhazes described her work in a 2008 interview in the biannual art review RES as having “a healthy conflict. Many people say, ‘Wow, it’s beautiful,’” she said, “but on the other hand, it’s not a comfortable beauty.” Her meticulous process limits the number of paintings she can produce. Milhazes applies paint to plastic sheets and allows it to dry before transferring the pigment to canvas and then removing the plastic. The result is an exceptionally flat, smooth appearance. “I do not want the texture of the brushstrokes or the ‘hand’ of the painter to be visible on my canvases.” the artist explained…”


Inspired by Eileen Kinsella image source Wikipaintings

How hatred plays a role in politics (November 29 2012) How hatred plays a role in politics (November 29 2012)

Niza Yanay the 61 year old Israeli Professor of Sociology and Anthropology has been interviewed by Neve Gordon in an Aljazeera article titled ‘The Ideology of Hatred’ discussing how ‘hatred’ plays a role in politics. In the interview Yanay states “…distinction between hatred as an experience and hatred as ideology underscored the need to ask new questions about the relation between politics and hatred. And these new questions, I believe, need to focus on power relations between different groups, such as coloniser and colonised, ruler and subject, and not so much on the personal experience of specific individuals who experience hatred (though such questions are still important too). …Most people consider “suicide bombings” as motivated by hate, while very few people consider air strikes on populated areas to be hate crimes. The media often describes the suicide attack as a hate crime, but I have never come across a report describing the US drone attacks in Pakistan – that have killed over 3,500 people – as hate crimes. This suggests that hatred as ideology is at work. And this ideology helps determine who is blamed for being the initiators of hate, who becomes the target of hatred, and, in fact, when hatred counts as hatred at all. Let me give you an example to help clarify my claim. Think about a young adolescent Jewish girl in Israel who leads a comfortable life and has never interacted face-to-face with Palestinians. This is a very reasonable assumption, since Israel is a totally segregated society. Why, it is interesting to ask, would a girl who has never met a Palestinian speak with such vehemence and personal hatred against Palestinians and Arabs in general? Why do so many Jewish citizens of Israel, who have never been hurt by Palestinians, openly admit to intense hatred? This articulates a national ideology of hatred and not merely a personal hatred.”


Inspired by Redress image source Neve Gordon

Give women more time for political participation (November 28 2012) Give women more time for political participation (November 28 2012)

Saquina Mucavele the executive director of MuGeDe – Mulher, Genero e Desenvolvimento (Women, Gender and Development), a Mozambique-based non-profit organisation with a focus on sustainability, rural development and gender, especially as related to climate change, has been interviewed by Sabina Zaccaro for the IPS News. Mucavele states in the interview “Networks and cooperatives are the right strategy for farmers’ development (provided) they have support and good leadership. Working cooperatively is not only about being involved in common work, it also enables members to share their problems and find collective solutions. There is even the possibility of creating a common market, and other facilities such as hospitals, education centres and banks, for members. By gathering in a cooperative, rural women can strengthen their voice to advocate for rights. …In order to improve productivity and farming methods, rural women need technical advice, information and training. A good development strategy would recognise the (crucial) role of educating and training rural women to improve production and productivity; promote women-friendly farming technologies that could reduce (the work day) and give women more time for political participation within the community and for other income-generating activities; and institutionalise their involvement and participation in the conception, formulation and planning of policies. They cannot continue to be seen only as ‘beneficiaries’ but a group in possession of (valuable) knowledge that can advance rural development and also contribute to the national economy. Finally, it is vital to support and assist women in the registration of and access to land titles and facilitate the issue of credit, especially for smallholder women farmers. This should (ideally) be done through a fund to support women farmers and the creation of women’s banks in rural areas where members can access credit under favourable terms.”


Inspired by Sabina Zaccaro image source Poptech

She seems to be afraid of the photographer (November 27 2012) She seems to be afraid of the photographer (November 27 2012)

Jordi Ruiz Cirera the 28 year old Spanish documentary photographer based in London has won the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2012 for his photograph of ‘Bolivian woman who (only reluctantly) agreed to have her portrait taken’. Matilda Battersby for The Independent states “He won the trust of the Mennonite woman while journeying through South America. The winning portrait is part of a series called Menonos, in which Ruiz Cirera documents the daily life of a religious community. Margarita Teichroeb is pictured at the home she shares with her mother and sister in the Swift Current Colony in Bolivia.”Sitting in front of the camera was not easy for Margarita, photography is forbidden for Mennonites and having her direct portrait taken was quite difficult so I could only take two frames of her,” Ruiz Cirera said. “She seems to be afraid of the photographer, unwilling to expose herself to our gaze. Her awkward expression says a lot about the tradition, isolation and lifestyle of this community.” More than 50,000 Mennonites live in Bolivia, descendants of Christian Anabaptists who left Germany in the sixteenth century. Famously reclusive, the pacifist sect still speaks Low German and their society prohibits the use of cars and electricity. “It’s a very humble existence. They live as their ancestors did, in small, conservative communities devoted to God and sustained by hard work in the fields. Mennonite society is very patriarchal and gender roles are strict,” Ruiz Cirera said. Born in Spain, Ruiz Cirera studied Design at Elisava College, Barcelona, before moving to the UK and gaining an MA in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at the London College of Communication.”


Inspired by Matilda Battersby image source Twitter

Send Gaza back to the Middle Ages (November 26 2012) Send Gaza back to the Middle Ages (November 26 2012)

Michael Marder the Spanish Ikerbasque Research Professor of Philosophy has published an article on Aljazeera titled ‘Israel’s medievalism’ claiming calls to send Gaza “back to the Middle Ages” only reinforce Israel’s current state of medievalism. Marder states “In one of the most brazen and, at the same time, frank declarations to date, the Israeli Minister of the Interior, Eli Yishai stated regarding the war currently being waged on the Gaza Strip: “The goal of the operation is to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages. Only then will Israel be calm for forty years.” With these words, he revealed much more than the subtext behind the official reasons for the invasion, namely restoring Israel’s “deterrence capabilities” and destroying Hamas missile launchers. He also shed light on Binyamin Netanyahu’s vision of peace not as a relation among equals but as the calm of the defeated, the vision consistent with the use of war to bolster the Prime Minister’s domestic image as a tough, military leader in a run-up to his likely re-election in January 2013. Yishai’s Biblical allusions to forty years of wandering in the desert are not accidental. After all, his political party, Shas, is the utterly fanatical, religious faction in the Netanyahu government. Its ideal of Israel, too, is not very far from being medieval – a country where men and women would be segregated in public transport as well as in every area of public life, where freedom of religion would be a pipe dream, and where homosexuality would be deemed a plague “as toxic as bird flu”. In brief, both the domestic and the foreign policies of Yishai’s party are based on a venomous mix of anti-modernism, theocracy, religious parochialism, and disrespect for human rights.”


Inspired by Aljazeera image source Michael Marder

Fat Slag, engenders accusations of sexism (November 25 2012) Fat Slag, engenders accusations of sexism (November 25 2012)

Charles Alexander Jencks the 73 year old Scottish American architectural theorist, landscape architect and designer whose books on the history and criticism of Modernism and Postmodernism are widely read in architectural circles, is the subject of an article by Kyle Chayka for Blouin Artinfo relating to a Landart sculpture he designed. The article titled ‘U.K.’s Giant Woman-Shaped Earthwork, Nicknamed “Fat Slag,” Engenders Accusations of Sexism’. Chayka states “In British English, “slag” has a few different meanings. Most literally, it means the refuse from mining or metal smelting operations… In a more vernacular setting, the term can refer to a “coarse or dissipated girl or woman,” according to the venerable Collins English Dictionary. A huge new public artwork in Northumberland is both at the same time.  “Northumberlandia,” a 1,300-foot-long earthwork of a curvy woman created by the Banks Mining Group, Viscount Matthew Ridley, and landscape architect Charles Jencks, was molded from a 1.5-million-ton slag heap taken from the Shotton coal mine. She’s the largest human earthwork in the world, and her breasts (which feature walkway spirals) rise 100 feet into the air. The woman is traced with white pathways, reminiscent of the antique earthwork the Uffington White Horse. Unfortunately… hasn’t struck the same chord with its audience as the graceful horse. Jencks’s installation has been unkindly nicknamed the “fat slag” by locals, taking full advantage of the double entendre. …Despite the feminist critiques, the privately funded earthwork might prove a boon for Northumberland residents. The project’s planners hope it will attract 200,000 visitors annually and bring attention to the area. The artist sees no problem with what he considers to be a humanist gesture: “I don’t believe it is demeaning to women, men or the human species as a whole; in fact it celebrates all of that,” he said. “I profoundly believe that, given time, people will not find any offense in this, and will grow to love her.”


Inspired by Kyle Chayka image source Facebook

The Battle for the 21st Century (November 24 2012) The Battle for the 21st Century (November 24 2012)

David Wearing a postgraduate writer and researcher studying British foreign policy in the Middle East and North Africa, and co-editor of New Left Project has published an article on Aljazeera titled ‘The Revenge of History: The Battle for the 21st Century’. Wearing states “The triumphalist atmosphere in Western capitals following the demise of the USSR produced assessments of America’s status as the world’s only superpower that ranged from the hubristic to the outright irrational. As Bush the First announced a “New World Order” based on Washington’s military and economic supremacy. …In 2004, a senior presidential aide told a writer for the New York Times magazine, “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality… we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors… and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” In the end, the neo-conservatives’ “New American Century” lasted around seven years, from the al-Qaeda attacks on Washington and New York that fired the starting gun on the “War on Terror” to the departure from the White House of a much diminished George W Bush, with the quagmires of Iraq and Afghanistan having demonstrated “the limits, rather than the extent, of US military power”, in the words of British newspaper columnist Seumas Milne. Meanwhile, the banking crash of 2008 exposed the Anglo-American model of hyper-financialised, deregulated capitalism as a catastrophic failure. For the Nobel economics laureate Joseph Stiglitz, the fall of Wall Street was to “market fundamentalism” what the fall of the Berlin Wall was to Communism. The idea that “democratic market capitalism [is] the final stage of social development” and “that unfettered markets, all by themselves, can ensure economic prosperity and growth” had now been conclusively discredited.”


Inspired by Aljazeera image source The Guardian

Call for Ugandans to stop eating Chimps (November 23 2012) Call for Ugandans to stop eating Chimps (November 23 2012)

Lilly Ajarova the Ugandan Executive Director of the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary providing food, veterinary care, facilities for rehabilitation for orphaned rescued chimpanzees, within a rainforest habitat of 100 acres. Once the individuals have been rehabilitated they are integrated into the main chimpanzee group and live as part of a community, as they would in the wild. Henry Wasswa in an IPS News article titled ‘Conservationists Call for Ugandans to Stop Eating Chimps’ states “Conservationists struggling to protect the remaining population of Ugandan chimpanzees have raised concerns that people around wildlife reserves in the west of the country have taken to eating the primates. “There is now an issue of eating bush meat. We did not think Ugandans were eating primate meat but we are starting to observe that monkeys and chimps are being eaten. This is scary. The threat to their survival has been growing bigger,” according to Lily Ajarova …The sanctuary, which houses 48 primates rescued from human captivity, was set up with the help of the Jane Goodall Institute and is managed by the Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservation Trust. …Currently there are only an estimated 5,000 chimpanzees in Uganda …conservationists had first noticed people eating primate meat in western Uganda two years ago, those engaging in the practice had mostly been immigrants or refugees from neighbouring DRC. It was rare for locals in this East African nation to eat primate meat, she said. “There are many other parts of the world where primate meat is eaten but this had not been happening in Uganda. We began witnessing this over time. It has been developing slowly and we ourselves only got wind of it when we were in the field two years ago”


Inspired by Henry Wasswa image source Bornfree

Think before you shoot (November 22 2012) Think before you shoot (November 22 2012)

Kevin Macdonald the 45 year old Scottish director, best known for his films One Day in September, State of Play, The Last King of Scotland, Touching the Void and Marley; has been profiled by Ian Burrell for The Independent in an article titled ‘’The world is full of opinion. What we need is people who go out and find the facts’. Burrell states “Think before you shoot,” is the advice of the Oscar-winning director Kevin Macdonald to anyone with a newly acquired video camera who fancies themselves as a bit of a film-maker. …at the forefront of exploring the internet-driven phenomenon of amateur documentary making – celebrated in his crowd-sourced film Life in A Day, which was based on 80,000 clips submitted to YouTube, all recorded on 24 July 2010. Yet the remarkable snapshot of modern life, later shown on BBC1, did not convince Macdonald him that the age of the amateur is upon us. “You would find beautiful little moments and very talented people who had done something really special but that was the needle in the haystack,” he says. “It has become as easy to write a blog as it is to make a film or take a photograph – you don’t need any particular skill, you can just do it. There’s a democratising side to it but it also means that a lot of stuff gets sprayed out there. Nobody thinks before they switch on the video recorder.” …Documentary making has become harder than ever, Macdonald maintains. “These days if you had £120,000 for a documentary you would say that’s unbelievable. Today, 18 years later, you are expected to make something for BBC4 on the same subject for £40,000, which is the equivalent of £20,000 back then.”


Inspired by Ian Burrell image source BBC

Judge had courage to go against the prosecutor (November 21 2012) Judge had courage to go against the prosecutor (November 21 2012)

Kostas Vaxevanis the 46 year old Greek journalist and founder editor of the magazine Hot Doc, has been acquitted of charges relating to his publishing of the ‘Lagrade List’ of possible tax cheats. In an Aljazeera article titled ‘Crusading Greek journalist acquitted’, John Psaropoulos states “The late night acquittal … was met with an eruption of applause in courtroom number one, building two, of the Athens judicial compound. “The court has found you innocent,” was all the judge had time to say. Vaxevanis had faced a year in prison and a 30,000 euro ($38,500) fine for allegedly breaching Greek privacy law. His offence was to publish the names of what purports to be the infamous Lagarde List, a spreadsheet of more than 2,000 influential Greeks with Swiss bank accounts who might warrant investigation as tax evaders. It is named after the former French finance minister, now IMF chief, who handed it to her Greek counterpart, Yiorgos Papakonstantinou, in 2010. “A junior court judge had the courage to go against the prosecutor’s office which created all the fuss in the first place, to listen to society, to see the results of all this activity surrounding the revelation of the list and of course to see the truth.” Vaxevanis told Al Jazeera after the verdict was announced. …Vaxevanis offered an explanation as to why authorities have been so loath to prosecute the list. “Greece is being governed by a closed group of interests… comprising businesspeople, politicians and a few journalists,” he said. “The Lagarde List is a document that proves what everyone suspects – that a powerful elite… enjoys the privilege that no one dares move against them.”


Inspired by John Psaropoulos image source Facebook

Fighting the worst child obesity rate (November 20 2012) Fighting the worst child obesity rate (November 20 2012)

Miriam Tonietti the Argentinian secretary of the nutrition committee of the Argentine Society of Pediatrics, has been featured in an article by Marcela Valente for The International Press Service titled ‘Argentina – Fighting the Worst Child Obesity Rate in the Region’. Valente states “Pediatricians and nutritionists stress that there is no single factor explaining why Argentina is the country in Latin America with the highest rate of obese and overweight children.  …Dr. Miriam Tonietti … pointed to the serious risks associated with obesity in children. …“We are seeing that young children are also suffering from serious diseases related to obesity, such as hypertension, changes in the levels of blood lipids, and altered glucose metabolism, which precedes diabetes, we didn’t see these symptoms at such a young age in the past, the prognosis is complicated, and the life expectancy of these children is very poor.” The worst complications, she said, are type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. But there are a number of other problems associated with excess weight in childhood, including traumatological and psychological issues, she added. “Obesity is a multifactorial phenomenon, conditioned by genetics” …however, that what stands out in Latin America is the “nutritional transition.” As part of that transition, she mentioned the process of rural-urban migration by people seeking better employment opportunities. “People are uprooted, they lose their culture and their diet, and foods rich in fats and sugar become prevalent”. The experts said that foods rich in nutrients are more expensive, which also increases the risk of obesity among the poor. And they also point out that obesity is not the opposite of malnutrition, but part of the same problem.”


Inspired by Marcela Valente image source centrorespiratorio

I didn't realise how predatory he was (November 19 2012) I didn’t realise how predatory he was (November 19 2012)

Celia Paul the 53 year old British Indian painter who she was taught by Lucian Freud, becoming his muse and having his child named Frank Paul, who is also an artist.  In an interview with Matilda Battersby for The Independent Paul speaks about the effect their relationship had on her own work. Battersby states “Lucian Freud said it was “like walking into a honey pot” when he first saw Celia Paul’s paintings. What Paul, who met Freud as her tutor at the Slade in 1978, didn’t realise then, but laughs wryly at now, is that the sweet thing he was taken with was her 18-year-old self, as much as her artwork. “I really didn’t know anything about his womanising,” Paul says. “I didn’t realise how predatory he was.” She later discovered that he’d taken the job as visiting tutor at the famous London art school because his relationship at the time was going wrong and “he wanted to find a new girlfriend”. The teenage Paul was caught in Freud’s spell; and a potent one it proved. …”I was really quite disturbed by his predatoriness. It felt quite complicated, because obviously I was compelled by his art, which I admired so much.” But the 55-year-old Freud, whose mesmerising qualities had at that point already earned him 13 acknowledged children, won Paul over. It took several months for them to become lovers, and two years for Freud to paint Paul. But she would become a significant muse for him in the early 1980s.”


Inspired by Matilda Battersby image source Cassone

Phrasing is more important than the style (November 18 2012) Phrasing is more important than the style (November 18 2012)

Scurti Franck the 47 year old French photographer and videographer nominated for the Duchamp Prize discussed with Céline Piettre for a Blouin Artinfo article on being an Artist without a style. Franck states “I haven’t done a project for the Prix Duchamp. I work every day and I’ve chosen three works that seem to me to make sense together. I selected them from a group of works that I created over the last three months. In fact, I just decided. …When I prepare an exhibition I never think about money. I create and then I decide. The term “production” has gradually replaced “creation,” and facing what I consider to be a crisis of representation, my desire is to reflect, in the wider sense of the word, on the creative process. I work with “poor” means and oppose them to “big productions” and to what I consider to be spectacle. …Often it’s the idea that leads me to choose a medium. But sometimes it’s the opposite. When I work with found objects, for example. …I don’t see any difference between a stainless steel sculpture and a work that uses found objects. It’s the same act, and they’re the same thing. Judging a work only by its material aspects often means falling into the trap of facile spectacle. …Although I’m not interested in art for art’s sake, I like working on the meaning of my pieces and placing them at a certain level in the discourse on art. …I work on the whole, on a total oeuvre. If you really examine what I do, you’ll notice that my works sometimes have different styles and appearances but speak to one another. …I really think that things are happening elsewhere today. Don’t you kind of feel as if you’ve seen everything? The phrasing is more important than the style, I believe.”


Inspired by Céline Piettre image source laboralcentrodearte

Israeli policies reminiscent of apartheid (November 17 2012) Israeli policies reminiscent of apartheid (November 17 2012)

Heidi-Jane Esakov the South African researcher at the Afro-Middle East Centre, a Johannesburg-based think-tank, has published an article on Aljazeera titled ‘Israeli policies of dispossession reminiscent of South African apartheid’ discussing how plans to displace bedouins in Israel are reminiscent of the forced removals of blacks in Sophiatown. Esakov states “During the forced removals of the South African suburb of Sophiatown in 1955, around 65,000 residents were moved and “dumped in matchbox houses” in black townships. Only a few years before that, in 1948, Bedouins of Israel’s Naqab/Negev region, who Israel had not expelled, were also forcibly moved “from their ancestral lands into a restricted zone called the Siyag (literally, ‘fenced in’)”. And, just as Sophiatown was completely bulldozed, the Negev village of Al-Arakib was recently razed to make way for a Jewish National Fund forest. As a South African it is particularly difficult not to see the stark parallels between the experiences of black South Africans under apartheid and of Palestinians today. …The villagers of Umm al-Hiran and Al-Arakib are citizens of Israel: Its Arab citizens that Israel prides – and parades – as proof of its democracy. They are, however, not Jewish, a critical determiner of who is entitled to what land and how rights are allocated. …It is not for the oppressor to decide how the oppressed should understand their oppression. But, how is whites-only different to Jewish-only? And, if the forced removal of 30,000 Bedouins to make way for 250,000 Jews is not “systematic oppression… with the intention of maintaining the regime”, what, then, is it?”


Inspired by Aljazeera image source Twitter

Abstract art through lens of technology (November 16 2012) Abstract art through lens of technology (November 16 2012)

Wade Guyton the 41 year old American artist regarded to be at the forefront of a generation that has been reconsidering both appropriation and abstract art through the 21st-century lens of technology, using Epson inkjet printers and flatbed scanners as tools to make works that act like drawings, paintings, even sculptures. Guyton has  been profiled by Rachel Corbett for Blouin Artinfo in an article titled ‘”A Weird, Perfect Storm”: What’s Behind the Rise of Inkjet Artist Wade Guyton?’  Corbett states “Nobody, it seems, has a bad thing to say about Wade Guyton these days. Critic Roberta Smith called the artist’s current mid-career survey at the Whitney Museum of American Art “beautiful” and “brilliant.” Art advisor Lowell Pettit described him as “a southern gentleman, the sweetest guy you’ll meet.” And perhaps the most generous compliments come from collectors, who have been shelling out upwards of $650,000 for his abstract inkjet prints. …He [] seems to have found an intellectual and financial sweet spot. His timeless, neo-minimalist aesthetic—typewritten Xs, inky monochromes, razor-sharp lines, all manufactured by an Epson inkjet printer—is highly collector-friendly, and his market was strong even before the Whitney exhibition. The intersections between painting and technology in Guyton’s work contribute to a larger historical conversation tied to Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol, and Agnes Martin. This is partly why observers bet that Guyton, along with perhaps his frequent collaborator Kelley Walker and Sterling Ruby, have the conceptual chops to outlast their peers.”


Inspired by Rachel Corbett image source ArtNet

Girls are even more malnourished (November 15 2012) Girls are even more malnourished (November 15 2012)

Thomas Chandy the Indian CEO of Save the Children has published an article on Aljazeera titled ‘India’s malnutrition problem is a systemic issue’ describing how girls in India are more malnourished as “inadequate resources of families are divided preferentially among men”. Chandy states “…India has still not managed to get a grip on the problem of malnutrition its children face, a fact that India’s prime minister this year called a “national shame”. The facts are daunting – as many as nearly half of India’s children below five years are malnourished. Girls are even more malnourished … grow[ing] up to be anaemic, deliver underweight babies who face an increased risk of dying and being sick right after their birth. India ranks 76 among 80 middle-income countries rated for the “best place to be a mother” according to the Save the Children’s Mothers’ Index released in May 2012. The problem of malnourishment in India is a reflection on its deeply entrenched poverty and a lack of functionality of its systems. Policymakers from the comfort of their oversized public-funded accommodation while examining the failure of their policies often argue that a country of India’s size – both in terms of geography as well as population – is difficult to administer. What they admit a little reluctantly is that the government-supported institutions are neither effective nor accountable to the people, and that the budget allocations in sectors critical for people’s well-being are still abysmally low. India’s wealth – no longer so new-found – has so far not filtered down to the areas which would make considerable difference to the lives of its common people.”


Inspired by Aljazeera image source Facebook

You've got about a minute to impress (November 14 2012) You’ve got about a minute to impress (November 14 2012)

Lenny Henry the 54 year old British actor, writer, and comedian has been profiled by Megan Connor for The Guardian in an article titled ‘This Much I Know’. Henry states “If you’re a famous comedian you’ve got about a minute to impress on stage. You get a clap at the beginning and “My mum used to like you!” and then there’s nothing to do but roll your sleeves up. A TV talent show changed my life [Henry won New Faces in 1975 with his impression of Stevie Wonder]. It took me from being a nobody in Dudley, where I was a welder, to being recognised on the street. Nowadays people have to go to Edinburgh for years to get noticed, and that is a shame. Of course there’s Britain’s Got Talent, but I think we need a more regular platform where people can perform in a non-competitive way. …Shakespeare has changed me. I was sad that I never got to grips with him at school, so when I was asked to play Othello it was like someone opening a door to something I’d never been involved with. I can feel him in my veins now. I tend to put things in boxes. I have to do one project at a time now, because I have been a workaholic, and that can lead to a nervous breakdown. …I will always remember a time in the 50s when we lived in a bedsit. There was me in a cot, my sister in a campbed, and my parents in a bed next to me, and I will never forget feeling the heat from a parafin lamp on my face.”


Inspired by Megan Conner image source Facebook

Naming and shaming hits Greece (November 13 2012) Naming and shaming hits Greece (November 13 2012)

John Psaropoulos the Greek Freelance journalist and Director of Development for AKTO College in Athens has published an article on Aljazeera titled ‘Naming and shaming hits Greece’ highlighting how a new website dedicated to sharing stories on corruption in the public sector is creating a flutter. Psaropoulos states “…Greece’s first website dedicated to sharing stories of corruption in the public sector. The response has been impressive – after just two weeks online, the site has logged 40,000 visitors and highlighted more than $85,000 in bribes requested and paid. “What we’ve noticed is how incredible the bribes can be,” says Panos Louridas, one of several volunteers who built the website. “The funniest thing I saw was a hospital patient who had bribed staff to allow his wife to sleep in an empty second bed in his room. It was reported by a patient in an adjacent room.” Anyone can make an anonymous entry on, loosely translatable as “Stop it. Period”. Names and dates are not mentioned, but institutions are – the top eight by number of entries are hospitals. …The site is a cast list of corrupt characters: the tax collector who blackmails a business, the surgeon who turns public healthcare into private practice, an official who wants a grigorosimo, or speed-up fee to avoid delays. Corruption is a big part of Greece’s unrecorded and untaxed economy, estimated by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development at roughly $90bn this year, dwarfing the deficit of $17bn. …”It is well known that the vast majority of tax collectors is deeply corrupt,” says a former minister who spoke on condition of anonymity. “This shop cannot be easily fixed. You have to break lots of eggs.”


Inspired by Aljazeera image source Aljazeera video

Through art we can change the world (November 12 2012) Through art we can change the world (November 12 2012)

David Sandum the 41 year old Swedish Artist and organizer of the first #Twitterartexhibit in 2010 in the belief that “Through art we can change the world.” The #Twitterartexhibit concept utilizes social media and public engagement to generate income for charities and nonprofit organizations. In the past, #Twitterartexhibit has generated funds for children’s books at a local library and resources for a Women’s shelter. Artists worldwide contribute a postcard-sized, handmade original artwork to the #Twitterartexhibit, which in turn organizes a local, physical showcasing of the art. The public is invited to buy the art at an affordable price, with100% of proceeds going to charity, providing artists with new avenues, audiences and benefactors, and appeals to art enthusiasts all over the world. Every participant, from artists to organizers, are working on a voluntary, unpaid basis. Sandum states we just care about “sharing your talent for a good cause.” It is his vision to get Twitter artists from as many countries as possible to participate. For the audience, one of the most fascinating parts of the exhibition is walking around the space and seeing where there all the artists come from. There is no theme. The idea here is to promote artists from all over the world for a good cause. “So paint/draw something that represents your style and work. As this will be a public event where children may be present, we ask you to consider making the subject matter appropriate for all audiences. The definition of “appropriate” is up for debate in the art world, but please use common sense. We reserve the right to withhold any artwork we find inappropriate.”


Inspired by Twitterartexhibit image source Facebook

We struggle every day against our obstacles (November 11 2012) We struggle every day against our obstacles (November 11 2012)

Mohammed Matter ‘Abu Yazan’ the Palestinian political activist, writer and a member of Gaza Youth Breaks out movement, writes “My story is marked by violence, persecution, arrests, abuse and resistance.” Matter has published an article on Aljazeera stating “It has been almost two years now since we wrote our manifesto. We called it a manifesto, but in reality, I’m not sure what it was. Was it a manifesto, or was it a cry for help? Perhaps, an accusation, or even perhaps a demand to the world and to ourselves; a demand for change from the outside and from within. It was before the uprisings began around us, and they have been roaring the last two years in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria and Bahrain. But we had felt like shouting in the dark, and while this raging had brought light into the darkness of the dictatorships around us, the night around us has not thinned even a bit. No, if anything, it has only become darker. … We struggle every day against our obstacles and for our dreams, and you can see that in all the amazing creativity coming out of Gaza, in our art, poems, writing, videos and songs, you can hear it and meet us in the talks we give all over the world. Yes, we wrote a manifesto, and maybe that was just the bright and loud outcry of the beginning of a journey, whose path is hard and tiring, thorny and also often very quiet and dark. But it is always there. So two years later, we say: We will be free. We will live. We will have peace. And we are always out there, fighting our daily struggle, full of the resistance we inherited from a long struggle for Palestine. We live and write and say and sing silent or loud manifestos every day. Just listen to us.”


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Leading a mission to wipe out illiteracy in Nepal (November 10 2012) Leading a mission to wipe out illiteracy in Nepal (November 10 2012)

Uttam Sanjel the 35 year old Nepalese is said to be a powerhouse of altruistic energy, dedication and optimism in leading a mission to wipe out illiteracy in Nepal with low cost private education. Aela Callan states in an Aljazeera article “On first appearances, Uttam Sanjel is almost a caricature. Dressed in a traditional Nepali dhaka topi hat and an over-sized blue blazer, he performs in front of 3,000 of his students at a bamboo “Samata” school assembly like the Bollywood actor he dreamed of one day becoming. His permanent smile and cheery turn of phrase show a determination for positivity, no matter what the challenge. …Uttam’s mission is to provide quality education for all children in Nepal. His schools are very cheap – students only pay 100 rupees (just over one dollar) each month. His students are from impoverished backgrounds. They have to find their own uniforms, but sometimes he even pays for their books. …Uttam seeks outside funding so that he keeps a good distance away from [the government] mess. He does not want the government, NGOs or even INGO’s meddling in his school and its affairs. Private donations from “education lovers,” as he calls them, fund 75 per cent of his operating costs. He claims to run all 19 schools on $250,000 in donations per year. “Give and forget,” is Uttam’s philosophy, and it works – almost.  The biggest limitation in what he is doing is that this is a one-man show. Each month, he looks in his bank account to see if there is enough money to pay his dedicated teachers. Sometimes there is not.”


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Slick, superficial and only for the super-rich (November 9 2012) Slick, superficial and only for the super-rich (November 9 2012)

Luc Tuymans the 54 year old Belgian contemporary artist considered one of the most influential painters working today with his signature figurative paintings has been profiled by Adrian Hamilton for The Independent in an article titled ‘Luc Tuymans: Slick, superficial and only for the super-rich’. Hamilton states “Are the painting “series” so fashionable with contemporary artists now becoming a means less of exploring the boundaries of their art than just producing repetitive works that can be sold as distinct items? The question is prompted by the showing of recent works by the Belgian artist, Luc Tuymans, at David Zwirner’s new Mayfair gallery. …At his best he paints works of shifting focus that unnerve the eye and genuinely challenge the viewer. His Zwirner show, it has to be said, is not his best. …The interest of the galleries (and we’re talking here about a million pounds or more per painting) is to play along with this by presenting every few years a new show of their artists’ ‘recent works’. It is in the interest of the painter, whatever his or her creativity at the time, to supply the market with a steady flow of new offerings. “Series” become the easy way for them to do it. In the hands of the Twomblys and the Richters, they provide a way of pushing the boundaries of their art, testing their limits. In the hands of lesser artists they can be simply a means of productivity. I felt this with Damien Hirst’s Spot Paintings and Gilbert & George’s London Pictures, to name two recent examples. I feel it with Tuymans now.”


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You need freedom, rule of law and justice (November 8 2012) You need freedom, rule of law and justice (November 8 2012)

Nasrin Sotoudeh the 49 year old Iranian human rights lawyer imprisoned for six years in solitary confinement has won the European Union’s prize for human rights and freedom of thought, the Sakharov Prize. Renowned for representing imprisoned Iranian opposition activists and politicians following the disputed June 2009 Iranian presidential elections, as well as prisoners sentenced to death for crimes committed when they were minors, had been imprisoned herself on charges of spreading propaganda and conspiring to harm state security. An Aljazeera articles states “…cut off from the outside world for defying the country’s leadership. Nasrin Sotoudeh, an imprisoned human rights lawyer, and Jafar Panahi, the filmmaker, were awarded the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for their courage in defending their own and others’ basic freedoms, the parliament said. Named in honour of Soviet scientist and dissident Andrei Sakharov, the prize has been awarded by the European Parliament annually since 1988. “The award … is a message of solidarity and recognition to a woman and a man who have not been bowed by fear and intimidation and who have decided to put the fate of their country before their own,” Martin Schulz, European Parliament president, said as he announced the winners. …”I know that you require water, food, housing, a family, parents, love, and visits with your mother,” Sotoudeh began in a letter written from prison to her children, who were prevented from seeing her after she refused to wear a chador, a full length traditional garment. “However, just as much, you need freedom, social security, the rule of law, and justice.”


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Admitted producing hundreds of fake paintings (November 7 2012) Admitted producing hundreds of fake paintings (November 7 2012)

Wolfgang Beltracchi (born Wolfgang Fischer) the 61 year old German art forger and artist who has admitted to producing hundreds of fake paintings has been sentenced to 6 years imprisonment. Beltracchi along with his wife and two other accomplices sold some of the fake paintings as original works by famous artists including Max Ernst, Heinrich Campendonk, Fernand Leger and Kees van Dongen. Police have identified 58 paintings suspected of having been forged by Beltracchi, however Beltracchi claims he has forged hundreds of paintings by over 50 artists. Beltracchi and his associates fabricated stories to provide a provenance for the fake works of art, claiming his grandparents had been art collectors in the 1920s. Beltracchi sold a fake 1927 Max Ernst painting to a dealer for €1.8 million after an appraisal had resulted in the issue a certificate of authenticity. The Galerie Cazeau-Béraudière lent it to the Max Ernst Museum for an exhibition and subsequently sold it to a collector for $7 million. Steve Martin also paid a Paris gallery Cazeau-Béraudière €700,000 for a work supposedly painted by Heinrich Campendonk in 1915, who in turn sold the painting through Christie’s to a Swiss businesswoman for €500,000. Beltracchi and his wife Helene are to serve their sentences in an open prison, as long as they maintain regular employment through a friend’s photostudio, leaving prison in the morning and returning after work. While serving his sentence Wolfgang Beltracchi is maintaining a collaboration with a photographer to produce a number of mixed-media works.


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Most powerful figure in the art world (November 6 2012) Most powerful figure in the art world (November 6 2012)

Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev the 54 year old American Art historian and curator has been listed by ArtReview as the number one world ‘mover and shaker’ in its Power 100 list, the first time the position has been occupied by a female. Christov-Bakargiev was the Artistic Director of the current year’s dOCUTMENTA 13 exhibition in Kassel, regarded generally as an outstanding exhibition with record setting attendances. Coline Milliard for an Blouin Artinfo article states “globe-trotting curator Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev is the most powerful figure in the art world, according to ArtReview’s Power 100 list. In this much-awaited Who’s Who — published yearly by the veteran art magazine for more than ten years…  That it has taken over a decade for ArtReview’s Power 100 to have a female number one might well be indicative of a lingering gender inequality in the visual arts. And to get there, Christov-Barkargiev has had to pull out the big guns. Her critically acclaimed dOCUMENTA(13) … was the most popular dOCUMENTA ever. 860,000 people saw her show in Kassel, and an extra 27,000 visited the Kabul outpost (in total almost twice as much as the number of visitors at the last Venice Biennale). …The Power 100 jury is undisclosed but it is said to be composed of twenty members from different parts of the world, including staff from ArtReview’s editorial team. Shortlisted high-flyers were considered for their activity between September 2011 and September 2012. The criteria – “local and international influence” and “impact” — are almost as nebulous as the concept of power they are supposed to pinpoint. Yet few art professionals would deny that ArtReview’s 2012 Power 100 feels like a credible snapshot of the art world in the last twelve months.”


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Fisherwomen organise against Climate Change (November 5 2012) Fisherwomen organise against Climate Change (November 5 2012)

Emilio Godoy the Mexican correspondent covering environmental, human rights and sustainable development for the Inter Press Service has published an article titled ‘Mexican Fisherwomen Organise Against Climate Change’, in which he states “The women’s [Mujeres Trabajadoras del Mar] cooperative emerged as a collective effort to adapt to climate change, the effects of which are increasingly being felt on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, which bathes the shores of this fishing village at the top of the Yucatan Peninsula in southeast Mexico, 1,700 km from the capital. San Felipe, which has a population of 1,850, is one of the 25 coastal towns in Mexico most exposed to the effects of global warming, in the form of stronger hurricanes, heavier and more frequent flooding and increasing changes in the availability of seafood species, which has caused problems for fishing, the town’s main economic activity. In 2002, Hurricane Isidore devastated 90 percent of the plants along the coast, including the mangroves lining the edges of the huge nearby lagoon. The women in the cooperative, who were trained in “mangrove ecology” a year after the hurricane, have played a key role in restoring the mangroves, which are vital to keeping water temperatures from climbing too high in the lagoon, an important breeding ground for species ranging from lobsters to the longnose spider crab. But here, as in the rest of Mexico, women are absent from government programmes to combat climate change. However, like the fisherwomen of San Felipe, women in communities affected by climate change are slowly starting to organise and get involved in adaptation and mitigation measures.”


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Severed rabbit's head that did it (November 4 2012) Severed rabbit’s head that did it (November 4 2012)

Rosy Canale the Italian Anti-mafia activist who nearly died in a brutal beating, is being threatened again after writing a book about the Calabria mobsters the Ndrangheta. John Hooper for The Guardian published an article titled ‘It was the severed rabbit’s head that did it’. Hooper states “Rosy Canale, a courageous anti-mafia activist, had had threats before. But when the bloodied head arrived at her parents’ house in a neat little package on her 40th birthday, she fled. …Canale knows all about its brutality. She used to own a restaurant and disco in the region’s biggest city, Reggio Calabria, and the ‘Ndrangheta wanted to push drugs there. “I was to turn a blind eye,” she said, speaking by telephone from an undisclosed location in the US. “If I had done so, I’d doubtless still be in Reggio Calabria, driving round in a brand-new Ferrari.” Instead, she refused. And the ‘Ndrangheta took its revenge. Canale was kicked and pistol-whipped almost to death. “Nearly all my teeth were broken. So was my upper jawbone. They broke my collarbone, several ribs and a leg. It was eight months before I left hospital. …In February, some men came to my parents’ home in Rome posing as postmen. They said they had a letter. My mother opened the door and they pushed past her. They told her that, if I published my book, they would cut me into pieces and feed me to the pigs. A book creates awareness,” added Canale. “And it remains.” The threats continued after she fled to the US…”


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Catalans press for secession from Spain (November 3 2012) Catalans press for secession from Spain (November 3 2012)

Sam Bollier the American online producer and regular contributor for Al Jazeera English based in Doha, Qatar has published an article titled ‘Catalans press for secession from Spain’ as a regional parliament votes to hold a referendum as surveys show record high support for independence. Bollier states “Could Catalonia become the world’s newest state? The Spanish region – with a culture, history, and language of its own – faces high barriers to becoming a fully independent country. But that hasn’t stopped an emboldened independence movement from trying. On Thursday, the parliament in Catalonia – an affluent but debt-laden region in Spain’s northeast – voted to hold a referendum on independence after elections in November. Some Catalans have long favoured full independence, as opposed to the semi-autonomous status the region currently enjoys. But as Spain’s economy continues to stagnate and unemployment rates remain sky-high, more Catalans are questioning whether they would be better off on their own. …Pro-independence Catalans cite their region’s strong national identity, and note that Catalan taxpayers pay more to the central government than the region receives in return. Long one of the richest and most industralised parts of Spain, data from 2011 shows the region’s GDP per capita is 18 per cent higher than in Spain at large. The central Spanish government, however, is annoyed with the calling of a referendum on independence, even if it is non-binding. Spain’s deputy prime minister, Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, told a news conference that there were “legal and judicial instruments” to stop such a referendum, reported AFP. “And this government is ready to use them.” Given Spain’s precarious economic state, the timing rankled the deputy prime minister, who added on a radio programme that “this debate, at this time, is creating tremendous instability”.”


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How I accidentally kickstarted domestic drone boom (November 2 2012) How I accidentally kickstarted domestic drone boom (November 2 2012)

Chris Anderson the 51 year old British American author and editor-in-chief of WIRED magazine has published an article titled ‘How I Accidentally Kickstarted the Domestic Drone Boom’ Anderson states “At last year’s Paris Air Show, some of the hottest aircraft were the autonomous unmanned helicopters – a few of them small enough to carry in one hand—that would allow military buyers to put a camera in the sky anywhere, anytime. Manufactured by major defense contractors, and ranging in design from a single-bladed camcopter to four-bladed multicopters, these drones were being sold as the future of warfare at prices in the tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars. In May, at a different trade show, similar aircraft were once again the most buzzed-about items on display. But this wasn’t another exhibition of military hardware; instead, it was the Hobby Expo China in Beijing, where Chinese manufacturers demo their newest and coolest toys. Companies like Shenzhen-based DJI Innovations are selling drones with the same capability as the military ones, sometimes for less than $1,000. These Chinese firms, in turn, are competing with even cheaper drones created by amateurs around the world, who share their designs for free in communities online. It’s safe to say that drones are the first technology in history where the toy industry and hobbyists are beating the military-industrial complex at its own game. …What are all these amateurs doing with their drones? Like the early personal computers, the main use at this point is experimentation – simple, geeky fun. But as personal drones become more sophisticated and reliable, practical applications are emerging.”


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Critical portrayal of life in Cuba (November 1 2012) Critical portrayal of life in Cuba (November 1 2012)

Yoani María Sánchez Cordero the 37 year old Cuban blogger, who achieved international fame and awards for her critical portrayal of life in Cuba under its current government, has been arrested along with her husband held while en route to attend the trial of Spanish activist. An Aljazeera states “Sanchez could not be reached by telephone, but her Twitter account includes entries from Thursday in which she recounted scenes from a cross-country trip, including two stops by police to fumigate her car, apparently for mosquitoes. Sanchez, through her blog Generation Y and other writings, has become Cuba’s best-known dissident and has won various awards overseas, but is never allowed out of Cuba to collect them. She was reported last week to have filed a complaint against Cuba with the Inter-American Human Rights Commission for repeatedly refusing to grant her a travel visa. The newspaper El Pais in Madrid said on its website Sanchez was its freelance correspondent and that it had tried to reach her by phone without success. Sanchez, her husband and others apparently were on their way to Bayamo for the trial of Carromero, who is charged with two counts of vehicular manslaughter for the death of Paya and his colleague Harold Cepero. Carromero was driving a small rental car with Paya, Cepero and Jens Arons Modig, a Swedish political activist, aboard when he lost control on a section of road under repair and crashed into a tree near Bayamo. He and Modig, who were not seriously hurt, said they were driving the dissidents to meet supporters.”


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