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Zimbabwean artist faces jail for depicting President Mugabe’s massacres

Zimbabwean artist, Owen Maseko is facing more than twenty years in jail for depicting the Gukurahundi massacres in which 20,000 people were killed.

In March last year, police shut down Maseko’s exhibition at the National Gallery, in Bulawayo, less than 24-hours after it opened. Called “Sibathontisele” (“Let’s Drip On Them”), an allusion to blood, and a method torture used during the Gukurahundi military offensive against Ndebele civilians in the 1980s.

The Gukurahundi is a Shona word for “the spring rains that sweep away dry season chaff”, and was President Robert Mugabe’s response to the bitter rivalry after independence in 1980 between his Zimbabwe African National Union (Zanu) and Joshua Nkomo’s Zimbabwe African People’s Union (Zapu). Mugabe is a Shona, whereas Nkomo was from the Kalanga, a tribe associated with the Ndebele from Matabeleland, whose capital is Bulawayo. Mugabe destroyed Nkomo’s power by attacking the people of Matabeleland. When Nkomo eventually retired from politics and the two parties merged into the Zanu-Patriotic Front.

Owen Maseko’s exhibition graphically detailed the atrocities committed during the early years of Mugabe’s rule.

Maseko has been charged with “insulting the president”, which could lead to along prison sentence of up to twenty-four years.  In an interview with Bulawayo 24 News, Maseko said he is “optimistic and says his paintings have given people a voice.”

“Those atrocities, you can’t talk openly about them in Zimbabwe, so my exhibition kind of made this issue come out and people began to talk about the exhibition,” he said.

“It’s difficult in Zimbabwe to separate what is politics and what isn’t politics because maybe people see Robert Mugabe in my paintings because it is what is on their minds and their faces and it is what is giving them quite a lot of stress at the moment.”

Bulawayo National Gallery curator Vote Thebe says he displayed the exhibition hoping it would help the healing process.

“Our whole aim was to start a debate on the massacres and let the people talk about what happened,” he said.

“And then that way, once you talk about the thing, you get healed as well.

“It wasn’t a way of pointing fingers but it was a way of making sure that people are aware that such things happened.”

Mugabe admits the massacres were an act of madness, he has never acknowledged responsibility.

A campaign to Free Owen Maseko is currently on Facebook, check here for details.


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Blade Runner’ Polaroids
01:21 pm


Blade Runner
Sean Young

Sean Young posted some of her personal behind-the-scenes Polaroids from the set of Blade Runner. There are a lot more of these fun pics over at Sean’s website.

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Sean Young’s Super-8 film diary from David Lynch’s ‘Dune’ (1983)

(via Super Punch)

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Pee-wee Herman, punk rocker
12:52 pm


punk rock
Pee-wee's Playhouse

Our new partner in art crimes, Nicole Panter, was involved in the formative years of the Pee-wee Herman Show and that got me thinking about Pee-wee’s punk connections. Here’s a clip from Pee-wee’s Playhouse circa 1986 of Pee-wee pogoing with his pal Larry Fishburne (Cowboy Curtis). Music by Mark Mothersbaugh.

I know 1986 ain’t exactly the year punk broke, but, keep in mind, Paul Reubens started working on his Pee-wee character in L.A. in 1978 in the midst of a very vital punk scene and that anarchic spirit suffused his program.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
‘Star Wars’ vs. ‘Withnail and I’
12:47 pm


Star Wars
Withnail and I

“The joint I am about to roll requires a craftsman and can utilise up to twelve skins. It is called a Camberwell Carrot.”

Yoda gets Danny the drug dealer’s lines from Withnail and I.

“This will tend to make you very high.”

Via Popbitch

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Creepy Finger Soap
11:29 am



I’m kind of digging this finger soap set by Etsy seller Love Lee Soaps. They’re so realistic!

If sliced fingers aren’t your thing, Love Lee Soaps also sell a nice Hot Chicken Wing soap set. 

(via Nerdcore )

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
GOP human punchline Rick Santorum pities his enemies because they’re going to Hell!

In an interview with, far-right Republican presidential hopeful Rick “frothy mixture” Santorm, that dogged dim-wit from Pennsylvania, reveals that he “feels sorry” for those who hate him… because hey, they’re goin’ to Hell:

RS: One of the things that I really work hard and try to do when it comes to the attacks that we get is understand that number one, these people don’t know me. They know the positions that I hold or they know at least the representation by some of the media as to the positions I hold and what I say. But they certainly don’t know who I am. And so the viciousness and the nastiness which unfortunately is so much a part of politics in America today, it has come over time not to bother me in the least. In fact, the more vitriol I see, and unfortunately I see probably more than my fair share, I tend to feel sorry for people who do that, who are so filled with hate and just seem to be preoccupied with this venomous need to lash out at those with whom they disagree. I make it a point every day to pray for all those people who say the things that they say and try to make sure that I understand it. There is a great line — actually, more than a line — from St. Thomas More who was asked by his daughter when he was in the Tower of London shortly before he was executed how he could have such equanimity towards his detractors and toward those who wanted to kill him.

GT: Yes.

RS: He drew a rather beautiful explanation, as you said, of having one foot in this world and another in the next, looking at ultimately what was going to happen to the people who were his prosecutors. He said, “Well, either they are right, and I am wrong. And if that’s the case, then why should I hate them because they were right and I was wrong. Or if I was right and they were wrong, then one of two things. That they will repent and they will be my brothers in heaven and so why should I think ill of them now just because right now they are doing things that are wrong. Or they will not repent and they will be damned to eternal damnation and what kind of man am I that would hate someone who is to be pitied as such?” And so, that’s sort of the way I look at it.

Rick, you’re just a fucking idiot. That hard-to-deny fact has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not anyone goes to Hell. People who hate you, Rick, hate you for the right reasons, such as you are a vile, outspoken homophobe, a science-denying ignoramus, a cretinous buffoon and a complete jackass. That’s why you lost your Senate seat by an 18 point margin. You have just about ZERO chance of being president of anything, Rick, because no one likes you, asshole.

Just to clear that up. You seemed confused.

Via RightWing Watch

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Live Nude Girl!
09:19 am



In 1963 Marcel Duchamp and writer-girl-about-town Eve Babitz sat in one of the galleries of the Pasadena Museum of Art and played chess.

One of them was naked.

The occasion was the Duchamp retrospective at the museum.  The match was not a live performance, it was actually staged and no viewers were present.

In an Archives of American Art oral history, self-described “art groupie” Babitz, talks about her participation in the creation of the piece.

Yeah. At the Pasadena Art Museum, and he said he had this great idea that I should play chess naked with Marcel Duchamp and it seem to be such a great idea that it was just like the best idea I’d ever heard in my life. It was like a great idea. I mean, it was, not only was it vengeance, it was art, and it was like a great idea. And even if it didn’t get any vengeance, it would still turn out okay with me because, you know, it would be sort of immortalized. I would be this, you know, here’s this Nude Descending the Staircase guy and now he’s going to be The Nude in the Pasadena Art Museum. But, of course, I said, you know, I didn’t think that the Pasadena Art Museum old ladies would go along with this.

The conspirators somehow snuck past the little old ladies, and the Duchamp/Babitz photograph became a defining image of the early 60s LA art scene.


Posted by Nicole Panter | Leave a comment
‘Pain in the buttocks’ crank call
08:45 am


Robert Popper
crank calls

Jesus helps “Robin Cooper” with his buttock pain (there was an eagle involved, apparently).

Brit wit Robert Popper makes some of the best crank calls I’ve ever heard. His innovation to the art-form is calling into live televised digital cable religious programs and going large with his calls. Praise the Lord!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Shock treatment: Ken Kesey hits back at critics of ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’


In the winter of 1963, Kirk Douglas returned to theater in the first stage production of Ken Kesey’s novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Douglas starred as McMurphy, with a supporting cast that included Gene Wilder as Billy Bibbit, and Ed Ames as Chief Bromden. What should have been a triumphant return for Douglas and a theatrical success for Kesey’s novel proved to be a disaster, which was savaged by critics and closed after 11 weeks.

On January 7th of 1964, sickened by the relentless stream of invective from the press, Kesey wrote the following letter to the New York Times, defending the production, its cast, and in particular, responding to the journalists who had criticized the play for its “unrealistic storyline”. Little did these reviewers know the truth of Kesey’s novel. Now read on.


January 7, 1964

From: Ken Kesey, [Redacted]

Drama Mailbag:

The answering of one’s critics has always struck me as doing about as much good as fighting crabgrass with manure. Critics generally thrive on the knowledge that their barbs are being felt; best to keep silent and starve them of such attention, let them shrivel and dry, spines turned in. So I have tried to keep this silence during the attacks on the Wasserman play of my novel, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest…figuring that the people who saw the play as being about a mental hospital, because it is set in a mental ward, are the sort that would fault Moby Dick for being an “exaggerated” story about a boat, also figuring that such simplemindedness is relatively harmless. And even keeping silent when the play was condemned because the subject of mental health as a whole was treated disrespectfully, or irresponsibly, or—god forbid!—humorously.

But when the defenders of “Cuckoo’s Nest” begin to show signs of suffering some of the same misconceptions as the critics, I feel I must speak out.

Mr. Friedman’s letter last Sunday was as good an argument as I’ve read for judging a work on it’s own terms. Still, by comparing the reality of the setting of “Cuckoo’s Nest” with “1984” or “The Trial,” he does injustice to a number of people connected with the research that went into that setting. First, the director, Alex Segel, who created an atmosphere so faithful to the wacky-weird world of a nuthouse ward (faithful to the real wards, not the public conception of what a hospital should be like) that a friend of mine, (a Speech Therapist in a V.A. Hospital who took time off to fly back to the opening), remarked after the final curtain, “I feel as though I just put in a hard day at the office.”

Second, the actors. Who capture that nuthouse feeling so completely with their characterizations that I found myself wondering where some of them had been sprung from. Just, for a small example, their movement: inmates have a way of walking that is both piticully random and terribly purposeful, and peculiar to no other place I know of save the mental ward. The cast has this peculiar movement. Watch Ruckly when he shuffles onto stage; he’s been shuffling that same path in those same slippers for centuries. Or watch Billy Bibbit’s neck contortions, or the caged-squirell frolicking of Marini’s madness. And Kirk Douglas..after watching his performance, in which the usual Douglas’ gestures and gyrations were secondary, to subtler actions (the way he will playfully punch another character’s arm as he passes, a gesture barely noticible, familiar, reinforcing..) I asked if he had visited any hospital in preparing for the part. “Spent a lot of time in Camarillo,” he told me. “Got to know a lot of the guys. I still correspond with one. “Quite a place. And different, you know? then you think it’ll be…”

And last, the notion that this setting is only a fictional and fantastic one does an injustice to thousands of patients in hundreds of wards almost identical to that ward on the stage of the Cort. While Cuckoo’s Nest is, as Mr. Friedman rightly points out, about more than just a mental hospital, it is also an attack on tyranny of the sort that is perhaps more predominant in mental hospitals then any place else in our land. It is by no accident that the acute ward was picked for the setting; after working for close to a year as an aide in two hospitals in California I could imagine no better backdrop for my parable. I only needed describe what I had seen and heard, what I had felt after endless swing shift hours talking with the broken and defeated men of our society, and what I concluded to be the stress thar broke them. McMurphy is, of course, fictional—a dream, a wild hope fabricated out of need in defeat—but the men he comes to save, and the menace he battles, these are real, live human being. While this world may be fantastic, it is not mere fantasy. Neither is it an exaggeration; when I hear of someone accusing the book, or the play, of “exaggerating the bad” I think of my last days at the hospital: the first draft of the book almost finished, I had handed in my letter of resignation (a day before, incidently, I received a letter from the superior nurse advising me I was being discharged for “a lack of interest in the hospital…”) and I had only one bit of research left: I wished to try shock treatment to get some idea why the patients thought it so bad. And I did. And I found out. And to those who think it is fictionally exaggerated I only say try it first and see.

Because it can never be as bad in fiction as it is in real life.

See Ken Kesey’s letter, after the jump…
Via Letters of Note

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Moby Grape in ‘The Sweet Ride’
01:25 am

Pop Culture

Moby Grape
The Sweet Ride

Moby Grape perform the title song in the 1968 hippie/surf/biker/drug flick The Sweet Ride starring Tony Franciosa, Michael Sarrazin, Jaqueline Bisset and Bob “Gilligan” Denver.

Cool shots of a very animated Skip Spence on stage. And, yes, that’s Lee Hazlewood on the dance floor and hanging out at the bar in a suit and acting surly.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
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