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Socialist artist Vladimir Mayakovsky’s agitprop posters for revolutionary Russia
03.16.2016
12:21 pm

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Activism
Art
Politics

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Vladimir Vladimirovich Mayakovsky (1893-1930) was a poet, playwright, artist and actor. He cut a rather dashing, nay swashbuckling figure—with his shaved head and Crowleyan features—during the height of the Russian Revolution. He dressed like a dandy. He was hailed as the “artistic genius of the Revolution.” Performed poetry exhorting workers to rally to the cause. Produced plays that were considered the greatest of their day. And he created a series of agitprop posters—promoting news and political ideas—that became an art form launching a whole new approach to Soviet propaganda and graphic design.

In the 1980s, I was fortunate enough to see an exhibition of Mayakovsky’s artwork at the the Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh. The exhibition was dominated by his bright, colorful posters with their (often simplistic) political messages. These fragile yellowed sheets of paper had once been displayed in shop windows or distributed to the countryside to inspire the largely illiterate Russian populace.

When he was a student in 1907, Mayakovsky claimed that he’d:

Never cared for fiction. For me it was philosophy, Hegel, natural sciences, but first and foremost, Marxism. There’d be no higher art for me than “The Foreword” by Marx.

He was expelled from college for non-payment of fees the following year. He then involved himself with the Bolsheviks—distributing leaflets, organizing meetings, and on one occasion he helped a female prisoner escape from jail. Such activities led to his eventual sentence of eleven months in prison. Here he started writing poetry and the fusion of “Revolution and poetry got entangled in [his] head and became one.”

On his release, Mayakovsky dedicated himself to the socialist cause. Not as a revolutionary leader but as an artist producing “Socialist Art.” He performed poetry, wrote plays, disseminated political pamphlets and produced agitprop posters. His work as a playwright and poet brought him considerable success and fame. He became the leading figure among the young revolutionary writers and artists of the day.

Come the Russian Revolution, Mayakovsky saw no question on what had to be done. He embraced the revolution wholeheartedly.  In 1919, he joined the Russian State Telegraph Agency (ROSTA). Here he was responsible for designing and writing many of the now legendary political posters. Unlike many of contemporaries, Mayakovsky kept to the tradition of hand-made posters—using linocut and stencils, rather than the more clean cut graphic design of Alexander Rodchenko—though the two did later collaborate on several designs.

Mayakovsky also embraced the artistic Futurist and Constructivist movements, which caused him to lose favor with some Party members including the new soviet leader Josef Stalin, who had replaced Lenin after his death in 1924.

During the 1920s, Mayakovsky became involved with the Left Art Front. In their manifesto the poet controversially stated the group’s policy as:

..[a] re-examining [of] the ideology and practices of the so-called leftist art, rejecting individualism and increasing Art’s value for the developing Communism…

As the decade progressed, Stalin implemented radical and oppressive changes which caused Mayakovsky to question the direction the Communist Party and the country were heading. He was deeply concerned by the oppression of the arts and the silencing of any dissenting voices. Mayakovsky raised some of his hopes and fears in a poem “Conversation with Comrade Lenin” in 1929, where he imagined himself giving a progress report to the dead soviet leader:

Without you,
        there’s many
              have got out of hand,

all the sparring
        and squabbling
                      does one in.
There’s scum
        in plenty
              hounding our land,

outside the borders
            and also
                  within.

Try to
    count ’em
          and
            tab ’em -
                  it’s no go,

there’s all kinds,
          and they’re
                  thick as nettles:
kulaks,
    red tapists,
          and,
              down the row,
drunkards,
      sectarians,
            lickspittles.
They strut around
            proudly
                as peacocks,
badges and fountain pens
                studding their chests.
We’ll lick the lot of ’em-
                but
                  to lick ’em
is no easy job
        at the very best.

Stalin and his cronies branded Mayakovsky as a “fellow traveler”—which damned the poet as untrustworthy. A smear campaign was orchestrated against him. He was denounced in the press and loyal party members barracked him during poetry readings. It seemed his fate had been sealed.

On April 12th, 1930, Mayakovsky committed suicide by shooting himself through the heart. His suicide note read:

To all of you. I die, but don’t blame anyone for it, and please do not gossip. The deceased terribly disliked this sort of thing. Mother, sisters, comrades, forgive me—this is not a good method (I do not recommend it to others), but there is no other way out for me.

Mayakovsky’s agitprop posters were never intended to be exhibited in galleries or museums. They were propaganda used to spread revolutionary ideas, to satirize and expose injustices, and inspire the mass of the Russian public to take control of their lives. Ironically, the message was lost and it was the museums and galleries that have kept Mayakovsky’s art and ideas alive.
 
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Do you want to join? (circa 1920).
 
More of Comrade Mayakovsky’s posters, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
NYC’s Beatnik ‘riot’: How singing ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ kicked off the 60s revolution
03.07.2016
02:13 pm

Topics:
Activism
History
Music

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The protestors were peaceful. They didn’t look like revolutionaries. They were dressed in suits and ties. They were singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

But the cops still attacked them with billy clubs.

In the spring of 1961, Israel (“Izzy”) Young taped a sign to the window of his shop in Greenwich Village, New York. The handwritten sign announced a protest rally at the fountain in Washington Square Park at 2pm on Sunday April 9th .

Izzy was the proprietor of the Folklore Center at 110 MacDougal Street, a shop that sold books, records and everything else relating to folk music. Since it opened in 1957, the Folklore Center had been the focal point for young folk singers, beatniks and assorted musicians to gather together, hang out, talk, play and listen to music.

After the Second World War, Greenwich Village was the gathering point for all the disaffected youth who wanted to escape the conformity and boredom of suburbia. They were brought by the district’s association with the Beats and jazz musicians who had lived and played there during the 1940s and early 1950s. Often their first point of call was Izzy’s shop. Among the many youngsters who visited there was a young Bob Dylan. Izzy arranged Dylan’s first concert at Carnegie Hall. He “broke [his] ass to get people to come.” Tickets were two bucks apiece. Only 52 people turned up—though later hundreds would tell Izzy they were there.
 
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Izzy Young in the Folklore Center circa 1960.
 
Since the late 1940s, folk musicians had gathered at the fountain in Washington Square Park. They brought their guitars and autoharps to play and sing songs. It was peaceable enough but some residents thought the Sunday gatherings brought “undesirables” to the neighborhood—by undesirables they meant African-Americans.

In April 1961, the new Commissioner of Parks Newbold Morris decided to take action. He banned singing in Washington Square Park. As Ted White later reported the events of that fateful day in the park in Rogue magazine, August 1961:

For seventeen years folksingers had been congregating on warm Sunday afternoons at the fountain in the center of the small park, unslinging their guitars and banjos and quietly singing songs. There would be a varied number of groups—perhaps ten or more—rimming the fountain, each singing a particular variety of folk music, from Negro work songs and blues to Kentucky hillbilly bluegrass, with perhaps an Elizabethan ballad from the West Virginia hills thrown in occasionally. As the years passed, the city government began showing an increasing hostility to the use of public facilities by the public, and for the last fourteen years, permits have been required before “public performances” could be given in any park. What this means is that a group of kids singing to each other on a weekday evening would be forcibly silenced by the ever-patrolling police for failing to possess a “permit,” or a young man playing a harmonica to himself quietly while sitting on a park bench might be suddenly ordered, “Move on, you!” and find himself run out of the park.

...

And now the new Parks Commissioner has refused a permit to the folksingers for their Sunday afternoon gatherings. Why? The same old story: “The folksingers have been bringing too many undesirable elements into the park.”

“Undesirable elements?” Yes, healthy young kids, racially mixed and unprejudiced enough not to care, concerned only with having the chance to assemble in the open sun and air and to be able to enjoy themselves harmlessly and happily. Sam Schwartz, a Brooklyn father, told me “Sure I let my kid—he’s a teenager—come and sing here. Why not? It’s a good, healthy activity. What’s wrong with folksongs?”

Ron Archer, a young jazz critic who lives in the West Village (an apparently less troubled area), said “Why shouldn’t people sing in the Square? If Morris is so concerned about the safety of the parks, why doesn’t he clean out the muggers and rapists in Central Park, where it isn’t safe to walk at night? Why doesn’t he go after the local punks who prowl the edges of this park at night? Why take after a group which is as harmless as the old men who play chess here, and who are just about as ’undesirable’?”

“You know what ’undesirable’ means, don’t you?” a name jazz musician told me. “It means ’Negro’. A few of the folksingers are Negroes.”

“I came up here from Mississippi,” says Bob Stewart, a Realist cartoonist who lives in the Village, “to get away from the prejudice, and now I get complaints from my landlord whenever I have a Negro friend up in my apartment.”

“The racial bias is definitely behind the whole thing,” Izzy summed it up. “It’s part of the big squeeze on the Italians.”

In response to the ban, Izzy applied for a permit to sing in the park. It was rejected. He therefore organized a protest rally.
 
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Izzy Young talks to a cop at the start of the demonstration.
 
On Sunday April 9th at 2pm, around 500 men and women—smartly dressed, some in suits and ties and carrying placards—peaceably approached the fountain at Washington Square Park. They were stopped by a cop. He wanted to know who was in charge. Izzy Young made his way to the front of the crowd and talked to the officer. He explained they were allowed to protest peaceably. It was within their constitutional rights to do so. The cop told Izzy they couldn’t sing, that singing was banned. They would be arrested if they broke the ban. Izzy countered by saying singing was a form of speech and they had a right to freedom of speech. He added:

It’s not up to Commissioner Morris to tell the people what kind of music is good or bad. He’s telling people folk music brings degenerates, but it’s not so.

The cops were not impressed. They began to move menacingly towards the demonstrators. Izzy thought if they started singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” the police would not hit them “on the head.” He was wrong. As the demonstrators sang the national anthem the cops started laying into them.
 
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Ten demonstrators were arrested. Dozens were injured. The press hyped the story up as a ‘Beatnik riot’ where some 3000 people attacked the cops. This story was quickly dropped as it was widely known not to be true.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The book that could kill someone
02.17.2016
04:33 pm

Topics:
Activism
History
Politics

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For intellectuals and leftists in continental Europe, the year 1968 has an iconic significance that it lacks in the United States and Great Britain. In France and Germany (as well as other places) the year was dominated by violent student uprisings, and to this day people are prone to identifying one another as being in or out of the group by just saying the all-important number 68: In Germany “ein 68er” is someone who developed a political consciousness during that pivotal summer. If you were born too early or too late to take part, well, tough titty, you missed out. The German student movement is interchangeably called the 68er-Bewegung, the movement of the ‘68-ers.

It’s now necessary to remind readers that when it comes to the German protest movement of the 1960s, we’re referring to West Germany, what was then known as the Federal Republic of Germany.
 

 
Born in Hamburg, Uwe Wandrey definitely qualifies as an ‘68-er par excellence. After getting trained as a shipwright in the late 1950s, he joined the army for a while and then enrolled at he University of Hamburg specializing in Germanistik (basically literature), and history and philosophy. In 1966 he founded a small independent press called the Quer Verlag (nothing to do with “queer,” the term Quer means “across” but also “oblique,” “askew,” etc.).

In 1968 he published a small volume called Kampfreime (War Rhymes), which is one of the few books in publishing history that was explicitly intended to be used in a confrontational protest context. It was small enough to fit in one’s pocket, and the edge of its metal sheath could be used to inflict damage of various types, not only against the bodily flesh of riot police, God forbid, but also for instance, to pry away the posters of the big bourgeois advertisements papering the walls where you would like to paste or scrawl your favored political message instead.
 

SHIT ON THE GERMAN FATHERLAND / RECRUIT THE RESISTANCE
 
Adam Davis at Spineless and Stapled writes:
 

I’ve often been told that the pen (and by extension, the book) is mightier than the sword. But what if the book is the sword?

Uwe Wandrey’s Kampfreime is a collection of rhymed chants meant for use during the German Student Movement. As far as my research can tell, it is also the first book to be designed as a weapon, and as such is a landmark in book design.

The book is small. It can be easily slipped into a protestor’s pocket. The chants are arranged thematically. The red card section dividers make it easy, presumably, to flip to the right chant even under the duress of a violent protest. The book takes full advantage of secrecy and random access - perhaps the two most historically useful aspects of the codex form.

The sharp fore edge of both of the aluminum boards extend about a quarter of an inch past the fore edge of the text. The book elegantly solves the structural problems inherent in a metal binding in that the upper board is curved at a 90 degree angle at the spine, while the lower board lies flat and is buttressed against the inward curve of the upper. Thus the book lies flat, yet is easily opened.

-snip-

Kampfreime had another use as well.

The business end of a book was also intended to tear away posters, flyers, advertisements - to clear an open space in an encroaching universe of bourgeoisie paper. After all, one of the main targets of the student protest was the Axel Springer publishing house. It belongs in the same lineage as another brilliantly designed book which in many ways laid a framework for the ‘68 protests—Guy Debord, Asger Jorn, and V.O. Permild’s psychogeographical masterpiece Memoires, which featured a sandpaper dust jacket to destroy any book it was shelved against.

 

FOR BANNERS, WALLS, WOODEN FENCES, STONE WALLS, POSTERS, LEAFLETS, WALL NEWSPAPERS, CHALKBOARDS, AND TO BE CHANTED IN UNISON // GENERAL-POLITICAL / BUSINESS / ARMY / SCHOOL / UNIVERSITY / MORAL LIFE / TOOL
 

 
Read on, after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Is this footage of a 21-year-old Bernie Sanders getting arrested in 1963?
02.17.2016
09:04 am

Topics:
Activism
Heroes
History
Politics
Race
U.S.A.!!!

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This sure looks like my Bernie to me.

Yesterday on the In These Times website, Miles Kampf-Lassin alerted readers to a newly posted video that purports to be of a young Bernie Sanders getting arrested at a civil rights protest against school segregation in Chicago in 1963. The future Vermont Senator and Democratic Presidential candidate was then just a 21-year-old student at the University of Chicago.

Clearly—if this footage is indeed Bernie Sanders and it sure looks like him to me, he was rather a distinctive-looking fellow even in his younger years—then this is visual proof positive that Sanders has been consistent in his beliefs—and fighting the good fight—for his entire adult life. And yes, this was back when a young Hillary Clinton was a confirmed “Goldwater girl.” Feel the burn?

The footage was taken from Kartemquin Film’s ‘63 Boycott project, which chronicles the Chicago Public School Boycott of 1963, and was filmed by Kartemquin co-founder Jerry Temaner.

The protest on Chicago’s South Side took aim at racist education and housing policies being carried out in Englewood—namely the proposed construction of a new school for black students made up of aluminum trailers known as “Willis Wagons,” named after the Chicago Public Schools Superintendent Benjamin Willis who first ordered them. These trailers were used by the city to deal with overcrowding in black schools, thereby preventing integration of black students into less-densely populated white schools.

 

 
Sanders was arrested for his civil disobedience—specifically resisting arrest—and fined $25.

Look at the glasses. Also, compare the big chunky watch in the clip below with the big chunky watch the young Sanders is seen sporting in the photo below:
 

 
I wouldn’t bet my life on it that it’s a young Bernie Sanders in this footage, but I’d surely wager a pinky or a toe…
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Tactics for Evolution: Industrial socialist pioneers Test Dept, live in Berlin, 1997
02.16.2016
12:03 pm

Topics:
Activism
Music
Politics

Tags:

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When Test Dept were at the end of their first incarnation, performing at the Island Open Air Festival in Berlin, during August of 1997, the group had progressed from their hard industrial sound (hammers hitting metal) to a more experimental electronica much related (a second cousin twice removed, perhaps) to rave culture.

Some artists and musicians need pricks to kick against in order to produce great art—otherwise they would all end up being as anodyne as Justin Bieber or as deluded as Kanye West. Test Dept had the extreme machinations of the British Conservative government to kick against when they formed in south London’s docklands in 1981. Test Dept described themselves as “an urgent reaction to the materialistic drift and reactionary conservatism of the prevailing musical and political culture.” They were the antithesis of the moronic inferno of commercial music and the perniciousness of right-wing politics. Their motto was:

EXTREME CONDITIONS DEMAND EXTREME RESPONSES.

Test Dept were in opposition to the extreme conditions being created by the ruling Conservative party under the prime ministership of Margaret Thatcher. Mrs. T. had been elected in May 1979 on a campaign that claimed the previous Labor government had created high unemployment. By 1981 the irony fairy had been working overtime and Thatcher’s policies doubled the number of unemployed. It eventually reached a massive high of over 3 million people by the mid-1980s.

Across the country, industries and businesses were closed. Essential social services were devastated by the Tory’s cuts, which will sound familiar to younger generations. Thatcher operated on the belief that the previous Labor government had made the British far too dependent on state hand-outs (welfare) and this was why she hacked away at the benefits system like a drunk gardener uprooting roses to kill the weeds.
 

 
Test Dept were a response to the obscenity of a new political order and the decay and poverty left in its wake. TD scavenged for the tools to make their industrial sonic attack—discarded sheet metal, hammers, oil drums. They were aligned to political activism—seeking like-minded collaborators—filmmakers, sculptors, dancers and politically active groups—to produce site-specific works to fight back and bring change. In 1984, at the height of the miners’s strike—when Thatcher closed the mines and starved the miners out of work—TD collaborated with miners and their families to draw attention to their plight and raise money for their funds.

Anyone who saw TD during this decade felt emboldened and empowered to fight back against the Tories and bring about a fairer more equal society. They are very much needed again now.

As if responding to some psychic Bat signal, Test Dept regrouped for the release of a book to commemorate their involvement with the miners’ strike. Next month they’ll premier their soundtrack to the recently rediscovered and restored Soviet silent film masterpiece An Unprecedented Campaign by Mikhail Kaufman. Test Dept will appear at the film’s premiere in Newcastle, details here.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds
EXTREME CONDITIONS DEMAND EXTREME RESPONSES: Test Dept’s industrial strength Socialism

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Comic trolls Donald Trump with a tough guy Cockney gangster accent
01.29.2016
08:44 am

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Activism
Amusing
Politics

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Sometimes a small change in perspective can reveal the whole truth of a subject. While most people know Donald Trump is a dangerous idiot, there are some (god help them…) who are deluded by his bluster, bullying and ranting xenophobic hatred. These poor souls are caught like a rabbit in the headlights or you know, a mouse hypnotized by a snake or whatever it is snakes do to fool mice into standing still long enough to become lunch… promise them some tasty cheese or something…

Hopefully this may all change as actor, comedian and writer, Peter Serafinowicz has done a truly marvellous thing. He has added a cockney tough guy accent to Donald Trump making sound like a cross between a Bob Hoskins’ villain in a British gangster flick and one of the Monty Python’s Piranha Brothers (Dinsdale).
 
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Mr. Serafinowicz has not altered any of Trump’s words, but his small and powerful tweak in presentation is like having subtitles for the hard of thinking. Do spread this far and wide, please.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Anti-capitalist artist trolls Kellogg’s and Tony the Tiger AND IT IS DARK and EPIC
10.19.2015
12:15 pm

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Activism
Advertising
Amusing
Animation
Art
Class War

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A couple weeks ago the most amazing thing started to percolate around social media, but then it was apparently stopped by lawyers from Kellogg’s. The “amazing thing” I refer to is the ultra-elaborate trolling—allegedly orchestrated by the brilliant Finnish anti-capitalist artist Jani Leinonen—of Kellogg’s and their Tony the Tiger mascot.

For generations, kids the world over have grown up eating Kellogg’s sugary, nearly nutritionless breakfast cereal and getting positive reinforcement from Tony’s “They’re GRRRREAT!” catchphrase, but some of the child actors who were actually in these commercials have apparently had tragic difficulties later in their lives.

Each new video that appeared saw Tony addressing the problems—via the use of his simplistic catchphrase basically—of a prostitute, a brutal cop and a suicide bomber.

Here’s the first one, launched on October 7th:
 

 
What Leinonen (I’m pretty confident he’s the mastermind)—whose “School of Disobedience” show is currently on exhibit at the Finnish National Gallery Kiasma—has done is, well, as I said before, ultra-elaborate trolling. Culture jamming of the Banksy or Ron English school and of the highest order, not only in terms of the wit employed, but in how perfectly this prank was pulled off. What you are about to see aren’t some amateurish commercial parodies, they are as professionally realized as something that you might see on Saturday Night Live, or indeed, as any “real” TV commercial for Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes. I used to work at a commercial production studio in New York that specialized in mixing live action and animation, usually in the employ of selling sugar to children, natch, and lemme tell ya, back then this would have taken a small army to pull off. This guy is a maniac! I really admire his dedication and work ethic. He might want to destroy capitalism—but Jani Leinonen is anything but lazy. He must be the hardest working anti-capitalist around.

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Renoir haters descend on Boston to stop the scourge of Impressionism
10.06.2015
01:40 pm

Topics:
Activism
Art

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This is weird, but I get it: a group of protestors took up signs against the Impressionist master Pierre-Auguste Renoir at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. The protest was organized via an Instagram called “Renoir Sucks at Painting,” which yesterday published a call for the resignation of BMFA’s curators. Via the Boston Globe:

It’s nothing personal, says Ben Ewen-Campen, he just doesn’t think French impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir is much of a painter. Monday, the Harvard postdoc joined some like-minded aesthetes for a playful protest outside the Museum of Fine Arts. The rally, which mostly bewildered passersby, was organized by Max Geller, creator of the Instagram account Renoir Sucks at Painting, who wants the MFA to take its Renoirs off the walls and replace them with something better. Holding homemade signs reading “God Hates Renoir” and “Treacle Harms Society,” the protesters ate cheese pizza purchased by Geller, and chanted: “Put some fingers on those hands! Give us work by Paul Gauguin !” and “Other art is worth your while! Renoir paints a steaming pile!” Craig Ronan, an artist from Somerville, learned about the protest on Instagram and decided to join. “I don’t have any relationship with these people aside from wanting artistic justice,” he said. The museum hasn’t commented on the fledgling movement, but a few folks walking by Monday seemed amused. “I love their sense of irony,” said Liz Byrd, a grandmother from Phoenix who spent the morning in the museum with her daughter and grandchild. “I love Renoir, but I think this is great.”

 

 

 
That Instagram is loaded with detail shots of Renoir paintings purporting to show the artist’s ineptitude, and, far more amusingly, museumgoers flipping off paintings. And again, I get it. While Impressionism is correctly heralded in art history as the birth of the avant-garde for its rejection of academia, I personally—apart from a huge soft spot for Degas—kinda fucking hate it. It’s great for museums, as it’s the one movement that’s guaranteed to earn loads of admissions from affluent suburbanites who otherwise know approximately dick about art, but all that damned pastel-iness is nauseating. Its historical importance aside, that shit is why we now suffer the infernal art of Thomas Kinkade. When I read the news of this protest, I flashed back to a 20-year-old piece in The Baffler #8 called “Pelf and Powder Blue,” completely torpedoing contemporary reverence for the movement as the basis for a colossal scam:

Monet—and Impressionism generally—is a cultural miracle-worker capable of triggering pious, near-unanimous wonder on a scale Americans rarely encounter anymore. Decades pass, the economy slips, but Impressionism remains the golden genre, the magic formula capable of drawing the sturdy bourgeoisie of our homeland up in reverent mannered lines stretching placidly around the block. In those soft-focus Victorian scenes we catch a glimpse of that prelapsarian time when the rebel yawp of modernism—later to become so menacing and theoretical and satanic—resulted in nothing more threatening than pastel colors and nice renderings of lawn parties.

The appeal of Impressionism is a simple thing, really. More successfully than almost any other cultural offering available in America today, Impressionism brings the two most potent elements of consumerism—safeness and rebellion—together into a commodifiable whole duly certified by almost ridiculously sanguine market approval. This is why it’s the lawn parties and flower gardens of Monet and Renoir that win the public’s plaudits—never the dark Communard tones of Courbet—and why any exposition of their works must always make loud and public declarations of their subversive, radical, even revolutionary, daring.

The magic of impressionism, the secret formula that keeps its prices so eternally high, is that it gets it both ways, enjoying the eternal approbation of both Oldsmobile and art professor alike. On the one hand it is nice art, profoundly appealing to the very people artists strive endlessly to offend. (Relax with the smiling soft-focus ladies of Renoir, always enjoying a vacation at some modest pleasure spot. Luxuriate in the pleasant pastels of Monet, those soft pinks, purples, blues, and turquoises that can be found to match any suburban bathroom.) On the other hand, just as the Red Dog never appears without prudish tamers of some kind for him to defy, one never reads a discussion or sees an exhibit of Impressionism that neglects to mention over and over again the Impressionists’ exalted status as the very first bourgeoisie-shockers, orthodoxy-resisters, and rule-breakers. Their famous rejection by the French Salon is viewed by many as the starting point of modernism, the original cosmic exchange between intolerant patriarchs and rebel bohemians. With Impressionism you can have nice pictures of flowers and fantasies of persecution by an intolerant establishment, all in the same package.

So there’s that. Here are some images from “Renoir Sucks at Painting.” We at DM wish them all the best in their future endeavors.
 

 

 

 

 

 
Via ArtNet News

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
San Francisco group proposes 300-mile, $7.3B wall to keep Burning Man attendees from returning
08.06.2015
10:29 am

Topics:
Activism
Amusing

Tags:


 
“The week of Burning Man is the only week that the rest of us don’t have to hear about Burning Man. What if that week could last forever?” asks a spokesperson for Cultivated Wit.

The group has created a crowd-funding site asking for a mere 7.3 billion dollars to build a 300-mile wall, from from Point Reyes to Santa Cruz, around the Bay Area during the week of Burning Man to keep the Burners from returning.
 

 

We want to help Burning Man attendees continue their favorite week of the year, and allow them to keep experiencing the genuine community and deep connections they can only feel while at Burning Man. To do this, we will build a 300-mile wall around the entire Bay Area during Burning Man.

For the rest of us, what’s normally our favorite week of the year… lasts forever!

 

 
Their (yeah, bogus) crowdfunding site, MegaGoGo,  also features projects like rerouting the Mississippi River to California to solve the drought, building a tunnel under the “boring” Midwest, and deploying a fleet of blimps in Los Angeles to alleviate traffic.

If such a project were actually gotten off the ground, it would certainly go a long way toward lowering some of the astronomical rent prices in the Bay Area. The team at Cultivated Wit seems to think it’s doable if everyone pitches in:

Building a 300-mile wall in one week will be difficult, but if we can get just 50% of the Bay Area population (minus Burning Man attendees) we’ll have about 3.5 million volunteer wall builders. That’s less than half a foot of wall per person!

So what do you say San Francisco? Are you up to the challenge? Just don’t tell the Burners what you’re up to.

You’ve got less than a month to put this thing together!

Here’s their modest (and hilarious) proposal:
 

 

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
‘Sexism,’ a disturbingly accurate board game from 1971
07.31.2015
11:02 am

Topics:
Activism
Feminism
Games

Tags:

Sexism board game - 1971
Sexism. A board game from 1971
 
Sexism was a board game, conceived back in 1971 by Carolyn Houger, a resident of Seattle, Washington. With the creation of Sexism, Houger hoped to “bring out the humor in the Women’s Liberation movement.” The idea for the game came to Houger after her four-year-old daughter returned home after playing the card game “Old Maid” with her friends and made the statement, “wouldn’t it be terrible to be an old maid?

According to the folks over at Board Game Geek, the goal of Sexism is to move from the “doll house,” to the White House (flash-forward 44 years and we’re still waiting, but I digress). The first player to move into the White House, wins. Sexism is compelling on so many levels it’s difficult to know where to start. Just take this game board square from Sexism called “Abortionist.” The square itself depicts a pregnant woman and a clothing hanger(!) with the following game instructions if you land on it:
 

 

The bill didn’t pass.

Go to the Maternity Ward

Laundry Service and Part-time You Know What!

 
Sexism encourages players to play as their opposite gender as it is known to produce “hilarious role-playing situations.” So, if you win as a “woman” the game will instruct the other players that, “You are now a person, and must be treated as such for 24 hours. Non-winners may be treated as usual.” If you play as a “man,” you are greeted by a cartoon of a large thumb pushing a woman down with the following message: “Congratulations, you’ve won — or have you?” Wow.
 
White House or Playboy Club game squares from Sexism
Decisions, decisions. White House or Playboy Club game squares from Sexism

When it comes to the cards that you might draw while playing Sexism,  playing as a woman you might draw a card that says “Go back two steps because you’re a woman. You’d just as well get used to this.” Whereas a man might draw a card that makes this incredible statement:

I staunchly defend motherhood, God and country. I’m against giving more money to ADC (Aid to Dependent Children) for each child. I’m against abortions. I’m against women earning as much as men. I’m against paying taxes for free child care centers. Go ahead three steps.

In an interview with Houger from 1972, she said that her intention wasn’t to create an “anti-male” game. In addition to enlightening folks to Women’s Lib, Houger had high hopes that the game would start a dialog about sexism, as well as help people understand that both men and women should be treated as “people.” Houger also said she wanted to highlight the fact that women can also be sexist, by “reinforcing sexism” with their actions or attitudes, especially when it comes to assigning gender-specific roles - a point that she makes rather directly on many of Sexism’s game squares.

More on Sexism after the jump…

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