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Unplugged: Controversial Xmas ‘Tree’ sculpture deflated by vandals
10.18.2014
07:05 am

Topics:
Activism
Amusing
Art

Tags:
Paul McCarthy
Christmas tree
Tree

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This morning Parisians awoke to find Paul McCarthy’s controversial sculpture “Tree” looking like a discarded giant prophylactic after it was deflated by vandals at the Place Vendôme, Paris, during the night.

Since its installation the art work has divided opinion with many Parisians outraged by the 80 foot sculpture’s similarity to an… er… adult novelty item. Well, it now turns out that “Tree” was indeed inspired by that very item as artist McCarthy told Le Monde newspaper that “It all started as a joke.”

“...I realised it resembled a Christmas tree, but it is an abstract work. People can be offended if they want to think of it as a plug, but for me it is more of an abstraction.”

The “abstraction” was lost on some Parisians with one irate passerby slapping the 69-year-old artist in the face and shouting:

“You’re not French and this has no place in the square.”

McCarthy was allegedly dazed but unhurt by the assault and asked:

“Does this sort of thing happen often in Paris?”

The sculpture was specially created by the artist for Paris’s International Contemporary Art Fair (FIAC) that is being held in the city between 23rd-26th October. McCarthy’s previous work includes an enormous Santa Claus with what some critics claim is an unfeasibly large implement in his hand and a sculpture of former US President George W Bush getting intimate with pigs.

In the early hours of Saturday morning, vandals climbed the metal fence surrounding the giant sculpture before cutting the power supply that pumped air into the inflatable and slashing the tether that kept it upright.

According to the Daily Telegraph, McCarthy said he did not want the sculpture re-inflated or repaired. However, the paper also reported that organisers at FIAC said the sculpture would be “re-installed” as soon as possible. Now, that sounds painful…
 

 
Via the Daily Telegraph

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Nothing lost in translation: The ‘acute malevolence’ of Morrissey
10.17.2014
10:47 am

Topics:
Activism
Amusing
Heroes

Tags:
Morrissey

Morrissey hugs a cat
 
In an interview earlier this month with El País, the largest newspaper in circulation in Spain, Morrissey unleashed his thoughts on bullfighting, his musical peers, his tenth studio record World Peace is None of Your Business, and compared the British royal family to the brood of Syrian President, Bashar Hafez al-Assad. In other words, Morrissey is still behaving just like Morrissey.

Since I ran the interview through Google’s translator so I could read it in English, it ended up a bit rough. However this only made the interview all the more amusing. It starts off with journalist Diego A. Manrique (whose own translated Wikipedia bio says he’s been “specializing in criticizing music since 1975”) noting that after sending off a “questionnaire” to Moz, the answers that were returned to him were unequivocally “Morrisseynianas,” and could without a doubt be attributed to him as they were filled with “acute malevolence” and Morrissey’s “recognizable narcissism.” It also states that Morrissey always comes to interviews with “loaded guns.” Here’s a few highlights from Google’s translated version of the interview:

Morrissey on bullfighting:

Bullfighters are vermin: they should kill each other.


 
There’s a track on World Peace titled “The Bullfighter Dies.” Remember, Moz is giving this interview to the largest newspaper in Spain where bullfighting continues to be an important part of Spanish culture. But just like Sweet Brown and her bronchitis, Morrissey just ain’t got time for that.

On the autobiographies of his peers (again, the text is translated by Google and I haven’t adjusted it):

I’m surprised that so many colleagues who actually think they have something to say! When you read his books, it does not. My Autobiography exists, is self-explanatory. So I will not talk about the book on television, radio or newspapers.

Translation aside, this is pretty much classic Moz refusing to answer a question while using many words to communicate said refusal.

On parting ways with his former label, Harvest Records:

I was not me, kicked me! They tried to keep my record but found that they had no rights. A very stupid mess, caused by an officer named Steve Barnett, who has less brains than an artificial flower. The fact that someone like that carry a label is a sign of how bad things are in the musical world.

You may remember that at a gig in Lisbon on October 7th, Moz’s band all wore “Fuck Harvest” t-shirts in protest of Morrissey’s claims that the label had “dropped” him and “botched” the release of World Peace. Despite this, the record ended up in the number two spot on the UK charts back in July following its release proving the fact that nobody kicks Morrissey, Morrissey kicks YOU!

On the upcoming apocalypse and the never-ending ecological destruction of the world:

Industrial agriculture and factory farming are destroying the planet. Every time I see the yellow M of McDonald’s think about death. Governments tolerate whatever brings money; benefit from the inclination of the human race by suicide. It amuses me that there are countries where the suicide attempt is punished while governments spend billions on nuclear weapons, which facilitate collective suicide. Just to be used once to disappear all here.

And there you have it. Morrissey translated by Google from Spanish to English is just as morose and as acutely malevolent as he ever was. God save the Queen.

Posted by Cherrybomb | Discussion
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Cartoonists document Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement


Art by Luis Simoes
 
The last few days have seen no small amount of drama in Hong Kong, as disenfranchised students are calling attention to their lack of political freedoms. The students have taken up umbrellas to protect themselves from the massive amounts of tear gas the riot police have used as a means of restoring order. 

On Facebook you can find two groups dedicated to recording the scenes at the the Causeway Bay, Mong Kok, and Admiralty areas of Hong Kong. Urban Sketchers Hong Kong (USHK) and Sketcher-Kee have both been in existence for about a year, and have responded to the recent unrest with vigor. Its members have been posting sketches featuring unfriendly police, tense protesters, and poetically empty or chaotically crammed urban vistas dominated by umbrellas and the color yellow. 

At the moment the protests are in a bit of a lull, as protest leaders have met with government officials and agreed to meet for talks starting on October 10. Student leader Lester Shum has said that the protests would continue until “practical measures [have] been forged between the government and the people.”

USHK cofounder Alvin Wong emphasized to Hyperallergic‘s Laura C. Mallonee the value of documenting “the biggest pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong history,” no matter the risk. As Wong Suede of Sketcher-Kee says, “We want to use our ability to make awareness for the public, to share our observations, experiences, and thoughts via the Internet to the world. ... We hope we can support and encourage the protesters who are fighting for Hong Kong … since we are also protestors, we hope it may [achieve something] for the whole movement.”
 

Art by Rob Sketcherman
 

Art by Collins Yeung ART
 

Art by Wink Au
 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Graffiti artists reclaim the commons and obscure subway ads
10.06.2014
05:58 am

Topics:
Activism
Advertising
Art

Tags:
graffiti
NYC
subways


 
For what New Yorkers pay to ride “public transportation,” you’d think the MTA wouldn’t feel compelled to sell every square inch of subway car to bloodsucking corporate pirates—much less that aesthetic villain, Dr. Jonathan Zizmor. M.D.. But where there is a square inch to monetize, “public” space will never really be public. Two anonymous artists, going by SKI and 2ESAE, have decided to take the commons with some slick guerrilla tactics.

Now defacing ads is nothing new, and their messaging might be a little platitudinous (“be who you are don’t be sheep”), but the project itself is a kind of a cool ad campaign against ads. While the duo’s traditional idiom is graffiti, the plastering of polished “ad copy” is a subtler, more formal approach to anti-advertising protest—you have to look twice, something straphangers almost never do for a scrawl of Sharpie or an artless tag in spray paint. While very few people probably saw the installation itself (I’ve been on the J train at 3AM—it’s pretty dead), the folks at ANIMAL videotaped it for posterity—YouTube is the last town square, I suppose.

I’d hope actions like this might take off, but the MTA has already announced plans to put cameras in cars... you know… for safety.
 

 
Via ANIMAL

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Pirate Radio, Revolution and the rise of Radio Študent

00radiostu00.jpg
 
In the folly of my youth I was once involved with a student anarchist group. Alas, this hapless caucus of surly fellow radicals were more inspired by the swagger of The Sex Pistols and The Clash than by any reading of Kropotkin or Bakunin.

On those odd occasions when we met to discuss plans for the overthrow of capitalism, ahem, we did fire up a few interesting ideas. One such was to start an illegal radio station to broadcast revolutionary hymns (and punk rock) across the west end of Glasgow. Unfortunately, we never had enough radicals willing to take responsibility for setting the thing up and it all came to naught. Our lax attitude was (sadly) best summed up by a leather-jacketed Joe Strummer wannabe who kept asking, “Where’s all the free stuff?”

If only we had been a bit more like Slovenia’s Radio Študent who knows where we could have gone?
 
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Radio Študent came out of the political turmoil and student unrest of the late 1960s. Established in May 1969 by a handful of radical students at Ljubljana University, the station originally broadcast for just three hours a day, offering its listeners a potent mix of music and politics—an alternative voice to the country’s heavily censored and state controlled media. The station’s popularity grew during the 1970s as Radio Študent became the main source for dissent. With the influence of punk, the station attracted more journalists and campaigners and Radio Študent played in a major part in the movement for Slovenia’s independence in the Revolution of 1989.
 
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Now Radio Študent has over 250 contributors and broadcasts 24 hours a day. Though money is tight, people become involved with the station “because they believe in what they are doing.”

If you have an interest in radical media or in finding out how others have successfully created their own revolutionary outlet, then Siniša Gačić‘s short documentary on Radio Študent is a must.
 

 
H/T Voices of East Anglia

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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If everyone wore this mask, Big Brother’s facial recognition software won’t work


 
As with so much else, William Gibson got there before just about everyone else. In his 1984 novel Neuromancer, which despite its deservedly huge rep probably still doesn’t get name-checked as often as it should, Gibson foresaw the utility of citizen camouflage, the political necessity to stay anonymous, to hide in plain sight. Here are a couple of quotations from Neuromancer:
 

The Panther Modern leader, who introduced himself as Lupus Yonderboy, wore a polycarbon suit with a recording feature that allowed him to replay backgrounds at will. Perched on the edge of Case’s worktable like some sort of state of the art gargoyle, he regarded Case and Armitage with hooded eyes.

-snip-

The precis began with a long hold on a color still that Case at first assumed was a collage of some kind, a boy’s face snipped from another image and glued to a photograph of a paint-scrawled wall. Dark eyes, epicanthic folds obviously the result of surgery, an angry dusting of acne across pale narrow cheeks. The Hosaka released the freeze; the boy moved, flowing with the sinister grace of a mime pretending to be a jungle predator. His body was nearly invisible, an abstract pattern approximating the scribbled brickwork sliding smoothly across his tight one piece. Mimetic polycarbon.

 
Those things were written thirty years ago. It’s now 2014, and we’ve all seen Facebook find the faces in our pictures with alarming alacrity.

Leo Selvaggio wants to do something about it, and he wants to use the logic of crowdsourcing to do it. Using 3D printing technology, Selvaggio has developed a simple, hard resin mask based on his own face, and he would like as many people as possible to use it in public settings, to confound the cameras that are always watching us and tracking our movements. It’s called the URME Personal Surveillance Identity Prosthetic. The mask is an abstraction, but a highly effective one. If you saw someone with this face on the street, you wouldn’t stop to take notice—which is part of the point. It faithfully reproduces Selvaggio’s own pasty skin tone and understated stubble in a way that blends in. The mask costs $200 but you can also procure a paper version if that is too pricey for you. The whole idea is radical enough that some countries have anti-mask laws.
 

 
You aren’t the only who benefits when you wear an URME mask in public—you’re also helping Leo himself hide. “What is actually happening is that you’re creating disinformation,” he says. “What happens when there’s a hundred Leos walking in public spaces, all from different parts of the country? What is an automated system going to say about me then?” But it doesn’t—can’t—stop with Leo’s face. Responding to a questioner who volunteered to be his “black face” on the video for his Indiegogo project (see below), which was successfully funded, Leo wrote back, “Actually the next phase of the project involves asking others to donate their faces so that there is a variety of prosthetics and masks available.”

Selvaggio hails from Chicago, which he asserts is “the most surveilled city” in the U.S.—it’s home to Operational Virtual Field, a system of 24,000 cameras all networked into a single hub that enables users—the police—to find a specific individual and then bring up any other relevant records in the system. The ACLU has called Operation Virtual Field, “a pervasive and unregulated threat to our privacy,” even as Richard M. Daley, Chicago’s last mayor, gleefully predicted that by 2016, there will be a camera on “almost every block.”

As always, it’s virtually impossible to navigate the Scylla of the right to privacy and autonomy and the Charybdis of public safety. Will the URME mask enable bank robbers and bombers of the Boston Marathon type to do their business? Will the teenagers who tagged your local high school use it to perpetrate their harmless mayhem? Very likely, yes. We’re all worried about that. But the flip side is, do we let the authorities monitor our every movement at all times? Do we do so without weighing in on the process?
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Russia to cheeky Bulgarians: Quit messing up our war memorials

ukraine bulgaria
 
Vandalizing Soviet-era war memorials to fallen soldiers in clever ways in Eastern Europe has become an anonymous sport. Well, Russian diplomats call it vandalism. Others call it awesome street art.

The Russian government has gotten increasingly pissed off by the attacks on the frequently targeted bas relief sculptures on the west side of the pedestal of the Monument to the Soviet Army in Sofia, Bulgaria. The Russian embassy officially requested that Bulgarian authorities clean up the most recent incident this month, in which red paint was daubed on the monument on the eve of the 123rd anniversary of the founding of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, track down and punish those responsible, and do more to protect the statues instead of what they’re probably doing now, which is taking photos of it with their smartphones each time it’s vandalized.
 
bulgariancomicsoviet
 
Earlier this year the monument was spray-painted the colors of the Ukrainian flag. In 2011 the long-suffering soldier statues on the monument were notoriously painted to include Ronald McDonald, Wonder Woman, Robin, Santa Claus, The Joker, The Mask, Superman, Wolverine, Captain America, and an American flag. In 2012 balaclavas like the members of Pussy Riot wore were painted on the figures and, in separate incidents, Guy Fawkes “Anonymous” masks and ski masks were placed over the soldiers’ faces. Last August the monument was painted pink with apologies in Bulgarian and Czech for Bulgarian participation in the suppression of the Prague Spring uprising in Czechoslovakia in 1968. Pink was the chosen color in a tribute to Czech prankster and artist David Cerny, who painted a Soviet war memorial in central Prague (Monument of Soviet Tank Crews) pink in 1991. When Cerny was arrested, supporters repainted the tank pink. Similar defacement of Soviet monuments have taken place in Estonia and Romania.
 
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Cerny is also known for floating a boat on the Vltava River containing an enormous purple hand flipping the bird at the Czech government building last fall.

People who object to this sort of behavior have asked that the Bulgarian memorial be moved to the fairly new and apparently disappointing Museum of Socialist Art. The monument’s most hostile critics think it should have been destroyed after the fall of the Soviet Union, so it’s probably fair game as a focal point for political and cultural protests by activists and general mischief.
 

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Discussion
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‘Koyaanisqatsi’ director’s dystopian PSA for The New Mexico Civil Liberties Union, 1974


 
Godfrey Reggio is best known for the first installment of his avant-garde “Qatsi” trilogy, Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance. The 1982 film was a Philip Glass-scored non-linear experiment in slow motion and timelapse footage, depicting urban and natural scenes throughout the US. Koyaanisqatsi contains no dialogue at all, and its follow-ups, Powaqqatsi: Life in transformation (1988) and Naqoyqatsi: Life as war (2002), contain very little—all three films are named for words in Hopi, as Reggio believed “language is in a state of vast humiliation,” saying, “It no longer describes the world in which we live.”

Before all of this however, Reggio was a community activist working on issues of health care and gang violence in New Mexico, eventually forming a sort of media activist non-profit, the Institute for Regional Education. The IRE was commissioned by the The New Mexico Civil Liberties Union to create a public service announcement warning of the growing surveillance culture, resulting in the trippy, insidious short you see below. In addition to cinematographer Ron Fricke‘s trademark visual style, the PSA parallels Reggio’s later work pretty clearly in terms of theme. There is a palpable fear of an unfeeling, authoritarian modernity, a historical period of technology and industrialization, rather than humanity.

While the campaign ran on billboards, radio and in print ads, it was the television commercial that really caught on—viewers actually called stations to see when the ad would air again. Despite the success of the campaign, the ACLU stopped funding the IRE, and after an unsuccessful Washington fundraiser, Fricke suggested the remaining money be used to fund a full-length film—Koyaanisqatsi.
 

 
Via Network Awesome

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Disobedient Objects: How to make a tear gas mask & a bucket pamphlet bomb
08.05.2014
09:28 am

Topics:
Activism
Art
History

Tags:
V&A
Disobedient Objects

disobjcts123.jpg
 
If you’re in the UK or planning to head over to London this year, then it might be worth a visit to the city’s esteemed Victoria and Albert Museum where there is an exhibition of Disobedient Objects charting the history of protest through the “objects of art and design from activist social movement over the last 30 years.”

From Suffragette teapots to protest robots, this exhibition will be the first to examine the powerful role of objects in movements for social change. It will demonstrate how political activism drives a wealth of design ingenuity and collective creativity that defy standard definitions of art and design.

Disobedient objects are often everyday items that have been turned to a new purpose. But social change is about making as much as breaking. Sometimes designing a new object creates a new way to disobey.

The exhibition covers anti-globalization demonstrations, the Occupy movement, plus a wide array materials from Unions, activists and protestors down the year. Amongst the items on display are a robot that paints graffiti, union strike banners, placards, fake money and Occupy George stamps.

The V&A have also made available activist posters with instructions on how to make improvised tear gas masks and bucket pamphlet bombs.
 
howgasmask.jpg
 

How to Guide – Makeshift Tear-Gas Mask
Handmade gas masks were an essential response to police actions during the 2013 mass protests in Istanbul. These events saw the Turkish government release a record amount of tear gas to disperse demonstrators. Protesters devised a way to protect themselves with basic materials like plastic bottles, elastic, and strips of insulation foam.

Since 2013, the idea spread and handmade gas masks have appeared on protestors as far away as Caracas, Venezuela.

 
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How to Guide – Bucket Pamphlet Bomb
This bucket-type leaflet bomb used by the London Recruits, a group of mostly young non-South Africans working voluntarily for the African National Congress (ANC) and South African Communist Party (SACP). With these devices, the London Recruits distributed censored information in South African cities from 1969 onwards. The leaflet bombs harmed no one, but distributed hundreds of leaflets high into the air.

This how-to is based on sketch by Ken Keable, one of the Recruits, and is based on the research in his book The London Recruits. These devices were developed by ANC exiles in Britain, who tested prototypes in Bristol, the Somerset countryside, on Hampstead Heath and in Richmond Park.

 
Download your “how to” leaflets here.
 

Disobedient Objects runs from 26 July until February 1st, 2015, details here.
 
See more Disobedient Objects, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Men’s rights WTF commemorative coin mystery, solved?
07.18.2014
09:21 am

Topics:
Activism
Feminism
Politics
Sex

Tags:
coins
men's rights

A Voice for Men
 
A couple of weeks ago the “men’s rights” website A Voice for Men put up a post calling attention to a “commemorative coin” celebrating the First International Conference on Men’s Issues. The coin was designed by Peter Vinczer, the son of men’s rights activist Attila Vinczer; it contains 1 ounce of .999 fine silver and costs $58.88.

Readers of the Lawyers, Guns & Money and We Hunted the Mammoth websites have been trying to figure out what on earth the image is supposed to represent. David Futrelle, author of the post at We Hunted the Mammoth, wonders whether Judy Chicago designed it.

Readers at the two websites have thrown out the following suggestions:
 

“sperm bouncing off a diaphragm”
“a condom with a hole in it”
“a puckered anus”
“a carrot hovering over a poorly-made pizza”
“a weeping butthole”
“angry pancake”
“a surfacing/sinking beaver”
“a condom turned inside out, with the hand ready to sperm jack”
“a sphincter with a drop of lube and a hand gradually encroaching”
“a diaphragm with a hole poked in it”

 
“Joe from Lowell” is one of several commenters who have probably cracked the case: “They’re throwing one little stone of masculine rationality into the ocean that is a male-persecuting society, but that one little stone will send out ripples, you betcha.” This makes sense, because the inscription on the other side of the coin, from Robert F. Kennedy, reads as follows: “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
 
A Voice for Men
 
The text underneath the picture reads, “MHRA 2008-2014”—searching on “MHRA” yields extremely little on the Internet. It seems that “men rights association” or men’s rights activism” etc. are the most common phrases, but some in the movement have shifted to “men’s human rights” because it sounds less douche-y or something. In reality it just sounds confused, of course.
 
A Voice for Men
 
I’m not real sure what this video is (I certainly didn’t watch it—it’s nearly two hours long) but the coin image is at the very start, so maybe it has something to do with it.
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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