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Activists Picket Guggenheim Gala over Labor Abuses

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A guest arrives at the Guggenheim’s International Gala as activists bang pots and pans in protest of labor conditions at the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi on the evening of November 6. (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)

Amid a phalanx of black-clad attendants, security, and ushers, the Guggenheim Museum welcomed guests to its annual International Gala. But not all who landed at the November 6 event were invited: gatecrashing the black-tie fete were protestors with Gulf Ultra Luxury Front (G.U.L.F.), the activist group that the day before had dropped a 39-foot banner inside the museum denouncing ongoing workers’ rights violations connected to the museum’s Abu Dhabi outpost. Patrons and gala-goers emerging onto a rain-slicked Fifth Avenue had to contend with shouted slogans — “Exploitation is your name!” — and a clanging cacophony of pots and pans (and one booming brass instrument) as they made their way past velvet ropes into the lobby, which bore an illuminated backdrop of Christian Dior and Guggenheim logos.

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“It’s a free society,” a bemused silver-haired Guggenheim guard told inquiring guests at the curb. “They do their thing, we do our thing.” Not all were satisfied by this party line, with many attendees accepting informational leaflets prepared by the activists, who numbered between 10 and 20 throughout the evening. One couple emerging from a black SUV told Hyperallergic that this was the first they’d heard of the issue as it affected the Guggenheim. “I’m very receptive to them [the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi] not abusing labor,” the man, wearing round black spectacles, said. “If that’s indeed what they’re doing,” his female partner added as they made their way inside.

A few moments later, a familiar face made his way down the block — the artist Lawrence Weiner, wearing a red leather jacket. He paused before the assembled protest with a serious expression, ignoring entreaties from ushers to continue, “this way please,” into the museum. Asked what he thought of the situation at the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, the artist replied, simply: “It’s disgusting.” “I was supposed to be on the façade [of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi], but I’m not — it’s not happening,” Weiner added, noting that he had initially worked on such a project with Thomas Krens, the Guggenheim’s previous director and initiator of the Abu Dhabi project.

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The protest, which alternated between a parade-like procession up and down the sidewalk in front of the museum and a barricaded pen at the north end of the block, lasted a little over an hour, beginning as guests started arriving just after 6:30 and concluding at around 8pm. An intermission of sorts featured speakers from activists in solidarity with the labor issues in Abu Dhabi, including the Marxist activist-intellectual Biju Mathew of the New York Taxi Workers’ Alliance, who stressed that the Abu Dhabi recruitment fees were especially deleterious to the South Asian communities where construction staffing firms operate. Kristin Bogos, from the Coalition for Fair Labor at New York University (NYU), spoke about NYU student and faculty involvement with calls to reform labor practices at the school’s outpost on Saadiyat Island, the cultural development that also contains the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.

Mona Kareem of Bedoon Rights, a Kuwaiti migrant rights organization, told Hyperallergic that Gulf activists such as herself were keen to hold the Guggenheim accountable. “Such institutions are complicit … they refuse to admit their role in enabling abuse.”

Judge Approves Historic Detroit Bankruptcy Plan, Protecting Its Museum

The Detroit Institute of Arts (photo by Michael Barera, via Wikipedia)

The Detroit Institute of Arts (photo by Michael Barera, via Wikipedia)

Judge Steven Rhodes approved Detroit’s bankruptcy plan today, allowing the city to move out of insolvency in the coming weeks and slowly towards financial independence. Rhodes called the plan “fair and feasible,” the Detroit Free Press reports, “providing the legal authority for the city to slash more than $7 billion in unsecured liabilities and reinvest $1.4 billion over 10 years in public services and blight removal.”

The fate of the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) has been bound up with the bankruptcy from the beginning; fears were first raised in May 2013 over the possibility that the city would try to force the sale of artworks from the museum’s collection in order to raise cash. In response, US Chief District Judge Gerald Rosen brokered a deal dubbed the “grand bargain,” which Rhodes approved today; it involves a number of nonprofit foundations, the state of Michigan, and the DIA itself committing a combined $816 over the next 20 years to a fund that will be used to pay off some of Detroit’s underfunded pensions. In exchange, the museum will be spun off from the city into an independent institution (to protect it should situations like the current one arise again).

Pensioners and creditors were initially resistant to the grand bargain, arguing that an appraisal conducted by Christie’s on behalf of the city did not reflect the true value of the museum’s collection, but the pensioners voted in July to accept the plan. Regarding the financial creditors, among them bond insurers Syncora and Financial Guaranty Insurance Co., the Free Press explains:

But they dropped their objections after reaching settlements in the middle of a 24-day trial featuring 41 witnesses and 2,327 exhibits on the viability of the city’s plan of adjustment. Both wound up with cash and city-owned property as part of their settlements.

“On the one hand, the received wisdom has been that the judge was going to rule in favor of the plan, and so we are thrilled and delighted that that particular projection turned out to be true,” DIA director Graham Beale told Hyperallergic in a brief conversation about the ruling. “We took pleasure and pride that the DIA presented a very strong case, because this has been consuming us for well over 18 months now, and in the end you learn nothing is certain. Here we were in a situation where there was simply no precedent anywhere. [And] because the collection belonged to the city, we, the private organization that runs the museum, were not central to the legal proceedings. This was the city that was in court, not the DIA.”

Beale explained that all the details are in order to enact the grand bargain — including the museum’s independence from the city — and “at the first moment” after a potential legal stay, “we will file the papers, our contributions to the grand bargain will be put into place, and the deal will be done. In a matter of moments.”

“Now, when people give money or art to the museum they know it’s going to the museum there’s no chance of it getting tangled up in city business,” he added. But Beale also pointed out that, although the bankruptcy battle is won, the museum still faces a long road to financial health. “We had a tax passed in 2012 so that we wouldn’t need to rely on [those donations] anymore, and this whole thing has taken two years out of a 10-year campaign. We’re going against the clock right now — we just lost two years in which we were hoping to have raised a target of $200 million. It’s back on that treadmill.”

Hopefully Rhodes’s ruling will help bolster the DIA in those efforts. A reporter for the Free Press, Nathan Bomey, has been tweeting some of the judge’s comments on the grand bargain and the importance of the museum to its ailing home city:

Judge Rhodes on the grand bargain: “It is a vast understatement to say that the pension settlement is reasonable. It borders on miraculous.”

— Nathan Bomey (@NathanBomey) November 7, 2014

“This settlement resolves all of the disputes” regarding legal rights to Detroit Institute of Arts property, Judge Rhodes says.

— Nathan Bomey (@NathanBomey) November 7, 2014

ALERT: Judge Rhodes concludes that the DIA and the attorney general “almost certainly would prevail” in a fight to prevent the sale of art.

— Nathan Bomey (@NathanBomey) November 7, 2014

Judge Rhodes: “To sell the DIA art would be to forfeit Detroit’s future. The city made the right decision.”

— Nathan Bomey (@NathanBomey) November 7, 2014

Get Your Fix of a Sinister Post-Human Future

Installation view of Saya Woolfalk's Chimatek Beta Launch exhibition at Smack Mellon (all photos courtesy Smack Mellon unless otherwise noted)

Installation view of Saya Woolfalk’s ‘ChimaTEK Beta Launch’ exhibition at Smack Mellon (all photos courtesy Smack Mellon unless otherwise noted)

Artist Saya Woolfalk has created a little utopian hive of serenity in the large front gallery of the Smack Mellon in Dumbo, Brooklyn. Her installation resembles the laboratories of science fiction, where hybrid humans are suspended as if they are hanging out to dry after being churned out of a machine.

ChimaTEK Beta Launch is part of the artist’s evolving vision of a post-human future, where a new species of genetically manipulated woman formed from a spectrum of identities and lifeforms, including plants, has come to life. Woolfalk visually invites the viewer into the space, and lulls them with the drone of techno-utopian music that offers escape into a world of meditative calm. Stunningly beautiful videos fill the walls with humanoid figures that move slowly, very conscious of each gesture, suggesting that the future is almost here, while rainbow-hued and almost recognizable glyphs float above. The mandala of radiating forms evoke the spiritual elegance of Yuan dynasty temple paintings, but they are thoroughly contemporary with their acid purples, electric greens, hot reds, cool yellows, and digital glow.

Another view of ChimaTEK Beta Launch

Another view of ‘ChimaTEK Beta Launch’

Even amid the soothing energy in the room, there’s an ominous edge to Woolfalk’s immersive world. A central figure seems engaged in a form of devotion while facing an altar dominated by a Kali-like form on a video screen flanked by centurions. There’s no semblance of ugliness anywhere to be seen, it has been engineered away.

This is the world of byzantine ritual and faith, where icons are living and breathing things but trapped in amber and therefore removed from our corporeal reality. You could be forgiven for ignoring this darkness from the shadows since the luminosity of the tableau is so intense and oddly numbing. I left the gallery wanting to return, without fully knowing why. Woolfalk’s world is seductive, perhaps even addictive.

A look at Saya Woolfalk’s excellent ChimaTEK Beta Launch exhibition

A video posted by Hyperallergic (@hyperallergic) on Nov 11, 2014 at 1:21pm PDT

Saya Woolfalk’s ChimaTEK Beta Launch continues at Smack Mellon (92 Plymouth Street, Dumbo, Brooklyn) through November 9.

NEWS: Franklin Furnace Integrates with Pratt Institute

The New York Times

PICKS: Luana Perilli

09.23.14-11.22.14 The Gallery Apart, Rome, review written by Pier Paolo Pancotto

Domestic Workers Air Their Dirty Laundry Onstage

Sister Sylvester's 'The Maids' The Maids' at Abrons Arts Center, with  Terence Mintern (background on table) and Sofia Ortega (background under table); Rita Oliveira and Laudiceia Calixto (foreground) (all photos by Jill Steinberg)

Sister Sylvester’s ‘The Maids’ The Maids’ at Abrons Arts Center, with Terence Mintern (background on table) and Sofia Ortega (background under table); Rita Oliveira and Laudiceia Calixto (foreground) (all photos by Jill Steinberg)

Laudicieia Calixto and Rita Oliveira enter the space of the Abrons Arts Center’s Experimental Theater and find themselves in a somewhat familiar scene: a slightly cluttered apartment, littered with fancy gowns, full-length mirror, desk, phone, assorted wigs. It’s a scene that depicts fairly standard metropolitan confines of a certain socioeconomic class, and the two women, professional domestic workers in New York City for the past two decades, put their hair back and begin straightening up. This is what they do on a regular basis, after all: clean the insides of strangers’ apartments. It’s unlikely, however, that they’ve ever “performed” these actions with an audience present — until now.

This is the theater company Sister Sylvester’s take on French playwright Jean Genet’s 1947 one-act The Maids. The new version, titled The Maids’ The Maids and directed by Kathryn Hamilton, re-envisions Genet’s work as an episodic, semi-biographical account of domestic workers who imagine what life is like on the other side. The original tale was decidedly more violent than this production, touching on the real-life story of Christine and Léa Papin, sisters and maids who murdered their employer and her daughter in Le Mans, France, in 1933. The vindictive crime rendered the sisters infamous, especially among French intellectuals at the time, including Sartre, Lacan, and Genet.

Rita Oliveira, Sofia Ortega, and Terence Mintern (background); Laudiceia Calixto (foreground) in 'The Maids' The Maids'

Rita Oliveira, Sofia Ortega, and Terence Mintern (background); Laudiceia Calixto (foreground) in ‘The Maids’ The Maids’ (click to enlarge)

There are a few dialogic intersections with the original script, but the current production is most compelling in its strange divergences. An interview scene, in the telling vein of devised theater, has each performer explain her personal involvement with the production. We learn that most of the performers had previously worked with Hamilton or were brought on for their language skills (the show uses spoken and subtitled English, Portuguese, and Spanish). One of the performers, Sofia Ortega, notes that she was hired to fill in when Oliveira had to miss rehearsal because of a conflict with her actual maid job — an interesting note that speaks to the lines between labor, obligation, and artifice that the production seeks to uncover.

We also find out that Calixto met Hamilton when the director was staying at a friend’s apartment and was ushered into the neighbor’s place by the unwitting maid to sit on the much nicer couch. In a weird art-meets-life scenario, Hamilton later gave Calixto a copy of Genet’s play (a text Calixto did not even read all the way through, saying she found it “boring”) and enlisted her and Oliveira for the production. These women have since taken ownership of the material in a way that is admirable and endearing; there were very few moments in which they seemed to be “acting” and many more that felt like they were casually telling a familiar story to friends.

Ultimately, this is Calixto and Oliveira’s story, not the Pepin sisters. At one point, Calixto, in a candid interview sequence with performer Terence Mintern, admits to the delicate balance learned over years of cleaning homes: the disparity between being part of the family and being totally shut out. Hamilton, in turn, took a chance in exposing not only a real-life account of domestic work, in all its unglamorous difficulty, but also how Genet’s story can root itself in honest ground in a contemporary context. Calixto and Oliveira are gritty offsets to Genet’s seemingly polished and pristine maids. Scenes in which other actors depict the women’s previous lives, as a bank teller and a casino worker in their native Brazil, hilariously reveal how labor, work, and a zeal to make an honest living have for them, as for many of us, defined their lives.

Rita Oliveira, Sofia Ortega, and Terence Mintern in 'The Maids' The Maids'

Rita Oliveira, Sofia Ortega, and Terence Mintern in ‘The Maids’ The Maids’

It’s worth mentioning the wonderful cross-dressing efforts by Terence Mintern, a captivating storyteller expected to go from bougie mistress to Brazilian bank teller at a moment’s notice. His acting was illustrative of the compelling effects of zooming in and out of narrative and history that propelled the work. Overlapping and layered scenes allowed the performers to constantly comment on the action while still playing it out. When Mintern assumes his role as bank teller, Calixto advises her “former self” on the task. “He’s doing very good. This is what I used to do,” she tells us.

Though Sister Sylvester’s production doesn’t make a practice of explicitly referring to Genet’s text, themes of industry and class mobility come to the fore. In a humorous aside, Oliveira mentions her confusion over the seeming glamour of appearing in this production: “I thought I would be at Lincoln Center!” The most recent production of The Maids was this past August at the Lincoln Center Festival, but it’s unclear whether this is an honest statement by Calixto or sly hyperbole built in to the script (or both). The Maids’ The Maids accumulates these moments of aspiration and class-consciousness, only to pry at the edges of their innate absurdity.

I was too caught up in the chaos of scene changes, storytelling, and subtitles to remember the horrific events of the original narrative. However, a dramatic seed blossoms late in the production when the otherwise goofy Isabel Sanchez delivers a sedating monologue on the real-life implications of the Papin sisters’ brutal act. Sanchez explains that their crime was later revealed in court as an act of mental instability, not sick malevolence. This information caused the general public to lose interest in what had been a highly publicized case. Sanchez points out that their cloudy mental state lessened the legitimacy of their crime in the public’s opinion, making them immediately less interesting.

Rita Oliveira, Sofia Ortega (partially visible behind mirror), and Isabel Sanchez (floor) in 'The Maids' The Maids'

Rita Oliveira, Sofia Ortega (partially visible behind mirror), and Isabel Sanchez (floor) in ‘The Maids’ The Maids’

“How did the most famous maids in France get to be forgotten?” she asks desperately, naked and shaking, confronting us with her gaze and exhausted from retracing this tale. The Papin sisters may not have been seeking fame, but Genet, and now Sister Sylvester, allow them to live on. And rightly so. Sometimes a work of theater, however absurd or unfortunate, is the only way for stories to remain intact.

Sister Sylvester: The Maids’ The Maids continues through November 8 at Abrons Arts Center (466 Grand St, Lower East Side, Manhattan). Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online.

PICKS: Chris Ofili

10.29.14-02.01.15 New Museum, New York, review written by Ian Bourland

NEWS: Guggenheim Museum Creates New Curatorial Position

The New York Times

Finally, an App for Transcribing Medieval Manuscripts

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(screenshot by the author of Medieval Handwriting App/iOS)

A new app allows medievalists, aspiring medievalists, or medievally-minded scriveners to try their hand at transcribing 26 manuscripts on their smartphones. “I’ve been looking for an awesome medieval app like this for ages!,” says one Google Android reviewer, and we can’t help but agree.

Called simply “Medieval Handwriting App,” the iOS version worked as smoothly as one might expect, its utilitarian ethos a respite from the over-designed pablum churned out by Silicon Valley. The app features primer pages mapping letters to their various handwritten versions and manuscripts ranging from Bede’s In Epistolas Canonicas to Manuel des Péchés. The scanned texts are divided into two categories: “Religious manuscripts” and “Other documents”; some of the manuscripts, like the Book of Hours (use of Utrecht) are illuminated.

Conceived by Andrew Booth, David Lindley, and Oliver Pickering with manuscripts from the Leeds University Library, the app is, like its subject matter, pleasingly monastic. The transcriptions do not go into “the cloud,” nor are the results “crowdsourced” or tweetable, and, beyond the game of life itself, there is no competition between would-be transcribers — but users can, for their solitary betterment, access prior saved attempts on their phones. Once a transcription is finished, Boethius is soon divided from Bartleby as errors are revealed with the push of a “Check” button. Spoiler alert: Transcribing medieval texts is not for dilettantes.

h/t Jo Livingstone

NEWS: Met Museum Names New Curator of Sculpture and Decorative Arts

The New York Times

500 WORDS: R. H. Quaytman

R. H. Quaytman talks about her latest work in New York and Inhotim, Brazil

Mixing Classical and Gay Male Teen Desire

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Stuart Sandford, “Sebastian” (2012–14), cast polished bronze from a digital source, 50 x 25 x 13 cm (courtesy the artist)

LONDON — In the Natural History, Pliny the Elder discusses the origins of sculpture by telling the story of Butades of Corinth, the first Greek modeler of clay. According to the story, Butades’s daughter, deeply in love with a young man about to leave, drew upon the wall the outline of his shadow. The father then used the outline to model a statue of the youth, creating a substitute of the loved one and inventing sculpture.

Classical Latin literature may not be the first topic to come to your mind when visiting Teen Dreams, Stuart Sandford’s homoerotic show at the Invisible Line Gallery. Sandford’s work has been exhibited widely and his images published in gay cult magazine BUTT (which in the pages featured photographs by a then young and unknown Wolfgang Tillmans), but this is his first solo show in the UK.

London has been experiencing a new batch of explicitly homosexual content. Last year’s show Keep Your Timber Limber at the Institute of Contemporary Art featured daring works on paper addressing the topic. Among those were some drawings by Tom of Finland, one of the most influential creators of gay erotic images. It doesn’t come as a surprise that Sandford is currently artist-in-residence at the Tom of Finland Foundation in Echo Park, LA.

Teen Dreams, produced in conjunction with Fringe! Film and Arts Festival, features a collection of recent works the artist developed during his residency there. Sandford often uses found images, from YouTube videos to selfies of young men available on the internet. In particular, he seems to have a soft spot for 1980s teen fan magazines. The C-type print series Noah (2014) and Teen Dreams (2009–14) — the former based on portraits of American actor Noah Hathaway — show decontextualized images of ’80s teen idols put in sequence to acknowledge hidden homoerotic inclinations.

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Stuart Sandford, ‘Noah’ (2014), suite of twenty-four framed 6 x 4 in C-type prints (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

The strategy of appropriation has been used extensively by gay artists for diverse reasons, often as a means of connecting with the established art system. These artists may seek social acceptance, they may want to conceal homoerotic contents — or they may use appropriation as a way of mining and subverting the heteronormative art world from within.

Initially it seems that Sandford keeps his work within the context of homosexual desire, mirroring the dynamics of a certain gay scene. But as “David (diptych)” (2014), a Polaroid diptych depicting the butt and genitals of a young man, makes clear, there’s more going on. The longer you look at the images, the more you realize that many of the features now often associated with homosexual desire — vanity, eternal youth, sculpted bodies — are also at the roots of the Western artistic tradition.

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Stuart Sandford, “Teen Dreams (Chad)” and “Teen Dreams (Jay)” (2009–14) C-type print, 40 x 30 in (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

After all, when he tells his story, Pliny feels the need to emphasize that Butades’s daughter was deeply in love with her young man and trying to eternalize him in art. The Greek myth of Pygmalion — the sculptor who fell in love with one of his works — further illustrates the connection between art and desire. So, the celebration of male youth that’s featured in Sandford’s works gradually moves from the vague category of “gay art” to a wider context.

Looking at “Sebastian” (2012–TBA), I couldn’t stop thinking about the classical representation of masculine beauty. To realize this small sculpture, Sandford contacted Sebastian Sauvé, one of the world’s leading male models, to pose for him. The artist used advanced high-resolution 3D-scanning technology to map Sauvé’s body, immortalized while taking a selfie. The individual 3D scans were then combined into a digital model for 3D printing. The result, cast in bronze, mashes up the classical canon of beauty with the cult of selfies and representations of homosexual desire.

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Stuart Sandford, “Sebastian” (2012–14), cast polished bronze from a digital source, 50 x 25 x 13 cm (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

The artist told me he’s currently working on another sculpture using the same technique. The commission came from a New York gallerist who sent his young, handsome lover to Sandford’s studio in LA to get a 3D scan of his body, which will be translated into an intimate sculpture.

If Butades were alive today, he would probably do something similar.

Stuart Stanford: Teen Dreams continues at the Invisible Line Gallery (87 Dalston Lane, London) through November 16.

Laida Lertxundi

Today from our friends at BOMB Magazine, we bring you an excerpt from Katie Bradshaw‘s interview with filmmaker Laida Lertxundi. The artist describes her process: “I rearrange and take apart these formal conventions and then you have to enter a new space, and maybe there’s something freeing in that. […] I think it’s productive, when there’s something happening in the form that’s uncomfortable.” This interview was originally published on October 20, 2014.

Laida Lertxundi. Still from Cry When it Happens / Llora Cuando Te Pase, 2010; directed by Laida Lertxundi.

Laida Lertxundi. Still from Cry When it Happens / Llora Cuando Te Pase, 2010; 16mm film, color, sound; 14 min.

Laida Lertxundi makes films using landscape and sounds. The first of Laida’s films I saw was Footnotes to a House of Love (2007), a thirteen-minute 16mm film in which a few people spend time in and around a dilapidated house in a southern California desert listening to Shangri-Las cassettes along with other, less immediately recognizable sounds. Footnotes struck me visually and sonically, though at the time I don’t think I was able to fully grasp the complexity in method or the way in which she, as Genevieve Yue has phrased it, “treats feeling as material.” As I moved through her filmography, Laida’s films felt threaded together. They could locate minutes that I felt I had already seen, previously collected but unnoticed until now, almost memories-in-progress—the sun at a particular time of day, the quiet feeling of being at home with another person, simply co-existing.

I am interested in her choice of careful frames, her relation to the body and its representation, and how uniquely and interestingly she succeeds in emphasizing the aural environment so that it directly influences and cannot be pulled apart from the image. There is a mysterious quality to her films that is both natural and unpretentious. I watch her films over and over again, the same way I’ve rewound a mix-tape over and over again to a specific track that pulls me out of myself.

Katie Bradshaw: You’ve talked about bringing your soundtracks to the foreground. I think the sounds in your films take precedence over the images. It’s as though they move the image and carry the film.

Laida Lertxundi: Yes, sound is not an accompaniment. I never disassociate the process of editing sound from that of images. There is this Michel Chion phrase I love about the predominance of sound: “a ‘heard space’ in which the ‘seen’ bathes.”

KB: Do you ever start making a film with a song in mind? Or do the songs usually come after?

LL: The song becomes this piece that responds in rhythm, emotion, or content to the environment it’s in, to the landscapes, people, props, and rooms but also to its location in the film. I try out different versions first.

KB: And how do you “cast” your films? Did you know you wanted Josette Chiang to be the woman on the bed in A Lax Riddle Unit?

LL: I’m interested in the comfort and intimacy you can feel with someone, while so much of them is unknown to you. I asked Josette if she’d be around to help with the Lax shoot and if she’d be in the movie, and she said, “Be in the movie? No way!” That’s the common denominator, if someone doesn’t want to be in the film or has resistance. If they don’t want to be on camera and if we can make it work, it’s like working through something and it’s an interesting challenge. If they’re going to act, you can see it in their face, and that’s going to ruin everything.

Read the full article here.

This interview, Laida Lertxundi by Katie Bradshaw, was commissioned by and first published by BOMB Magazine, October 20, 2014. © Bomb Magazine, New Art Publications, and its Contributors. All rights reserved. The BOMB Digital Archive can be viewed at www.bombmagazine.org.

The Graphics of the Great War in France

“Le kaiser et la mort.” La baïonnette, 4 novembre 1915

“Le kaiser et la mort,” illustration from “La baïonnette,” November 4, 1915 (all images courtesy University of Chicago Library/University of Chicago Press)

More than any conflict before it, World War I was a visual battle. Propaganda proliferated across the fronts, and magazines, newspapers, photography, early films, and even fashion and children’s books were involved in a rally of imagery on a large scale. En Guerre: French Illustrators and World War Ia new book and coinciding exhibition from the University of Chicago Library’s Special Collections Research Center, explores the specific impact of this artistic history on France.

Cover of "En Guerre"

Cover of “En Guerre”

Curated by historians Neil Harris and Teri J. Edelstein, who also contributed text to the accompanying catalogue, the exhibition commemorates the 1914 start of the “Great War” with over 130 pieces mostly sourced from the library. While the century mark has brought with it many exhibitions on World War I, much of those centered on art concentrate on propaganda posters, and Harris and Edelstein wanted to explore the depth of illustration in every area of wartime life. As Harris writes in the book:

The scale of the conflict and the enveloping mobilization meant that no aspect of life would remain untouch. […] And this in turn meant production of an unending flood of messages aimed at every sector of the population, messages of justification, inspiration, and vilification; messages that were visual and textual; and messages that were formulated to excite sentiments of solidarity and sympathy for the cause and hatred or contempt for the enemy.

Charlotte Schaller. En guerre! Paris: Berger-Levrault, [1914]. On loan from a private collection.

Charlotte Schaller, “En guerre!,” Paris: Berger-Levrault (1914) (on loan from a private collection)

Louis Lefèvre. “Sur le pont.” Rondes glorieuses. [S.l.: s.n., n.d.]. 1ière série. On loan from a private collection.

Louis Lefèvre. “Sur le pont.” Rondes glorieuses (on loan from a private collection)

France in particular had its groundswell in art deco graphics, children’s books, and comics rooted in World War I. The rich, elegant illustration of the 1920s and 30s was in part inspired by the intense production of harrowing art on the battlefields, including a transformation in the style of those working before the war, like Charles Martin. An established illustrator, after joining the infantry he gave his graceful style to scenes like the body of a soldier barely visible beneath a field of wheat pocked with poppies. Several illustrated journals that would carry on after the close of the war started at this time, some directly military-related, such as La baïonnette in 1915.

The most intriguing focus of the exhibition and book is in how children were targeted and used as a subject, whether it was as victims or future victors. In school, children were even encouraged to draw their perceptions of war. Louis Lefèvre contrasted playful melodies and children’s songs against imagery of battlefields — such as a piece of “Sur le pont d’Avignon” where two soldiers cross a plank over a trench while bombs explode overhead. André Hellé made an Alphabet de la Grande Guerre 1914-1916 for kids, with such letters as “F” for “Factionnaire” — “sentry.”

André Hellé.  "Batterie/Charge.” Alphabet de la Grande Guerre 1914–1916. Paris: Berger-Levrault, [1916]. On loan from a private collection.

André Hellé, “Batterie/Charge,” “Alphabet de la Grande Guerre 1914–1916,” Paris: Berger-Levrault (1916) (On loan from a private collection)

France lost around 1.4 million men in World War I, a brutal statistic that resonated through every community. In such a war, it was necessary to spark and never let extinguish the flame of patriotism and resilience, and as the first major engagement of the 20th century, the visual culture that would define the following decades was fanned by this fire.

Inside "En Guerre" (photograph of the book by the author for Hyperallergic)

Inside “En Guerre” (photograph of the book by the author for Hyperallergic)

Inside "En Guerre," showing the endpaper (photograph of the book by the author for Hyperallergic)

A comic by Lucien Laforge in “En Guerre,” showing the endpaper (photograph of the book by the author for Hyperallergic)

Inside "En Guerre" (photograph of the book by the author for Hyperallergic)

Art by Robert Bonfills inside “En Guerre” (photograph of the book by the author for Hyperallergic)

André Lhote. Sainte Geneviève. Paris: Librairie Lutetia, [n.d.]

André Lhote, “Sainte Geneviève,” Paris: Librairie Lutetia

Marcel Astruc. “Tipperary! Tippi.” Mon cheval mes amis et mon amie. Illus. by Charles Martin. Paris: La Renaissance du Livre, 1921

Marcel Astruc. “Tipperary! Tippi” Illustrated by Charles Martin. Paris: La Renaissance du Livre (1921)

“Les fossoyeurs de la mer.” La baïonnette, 22 juin 1916

“Les fossoyeurs de la mer.” La baïonnette, June 22, 1916

Robert Bonfils. “Sur mer.” La manière française. Paris: Librairie Lutetia, [1916]. On loan from a private collection.

Robert Bonfils, “Sur mer,” Paris: Librairie Lutetia (1916) (on loan from a private collection)

Odette Champion, “Modes de printemps: Berlin-Vienne-Constantinople.” Fantasio. Paris: Félix Juven, [1915]. Gift of Neil Harris and Teri J. Edelstein, The University of Chicago Library.

Odette Champion, “Modes de printemps: Berlin-Vienne-Constantinople.” Fantasio. Paris: Félix Juven (1915) (Gift of Neil Harris and Teri J. Edelstein, The University of Chicago Library)

En Guerre: French Illustrators and World War I by Neil Harris and Teri J. Edelstein is available from the University of Chicago Library, distributed by University of Chicago Press. The coinciding exhibition at the University of Chicago Library’s Special Collections Research Center Exhibition Gallery (100 East 57th Street, Chicago) continues through January 2. 

An Alternative to the Art Fair Marathon

A view of Independent Projects, with a felt banner by Mike Kelley on the right and David Zwirner's booth of Raymond Pettibon in the center back

A view of Independent Projects, with a felt banner by Mike Kelley on the right and David Zwirner’s booth of Raymond Pettibon in the center back (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)

I didn’t expect to say this, but Independent Projects is a lovely fair. Started by the creators of the Independent, Armory Week’s alterna-fair, and taking place in the same location, the former Dia Art Foundation building on West 22nd Street in Chelsea, Independent Projects simultaneously builds on and slims down its sister fair’s model. As with the Independent, the space remains quite open — galleries are given actual walls and differently sized, mostly angular areas to suit their needs, rather than the usual boxy art fair booths. And there are fewer galleries at Independent Projects (39 to the Independent’s 56), which means everyone gets a little extra space.

A large part of the reason the show feels so relaxed and open, though, is that each gallery has brought only one artist, and in some cases only one artwork. Though this model wouldn’t work for every fair, it does, as you’d expect, do wonders for the viewer experience; it allows you to spend quality time with the work.

And there is quite a bit of work worthy of that time at Independent Projects. Some of my favorite showings included glistening porno rocks by Aura Rosenberg at Martos Gallery, sculpted cat planters by June Hamper (the mother of Billy Childish) at White Columns, trippy and cheeky paintings and drawings by John Tweddle at Kayne Griffin Corcoran, obsessive woven paintings by Mark Barrow and Sarah Parke at Elizabeth Dee, beguiling work in a range of media by Gianfranco Baruchello at Massimo De Carlo, roughly tactile and sculptural paintings by Rosy Keyser at Maccarone, and Duane Hanson’s mind-bending “Flea Market Lady” (1990) at Karma. To name a few.

In a further attempt to subvert the traditional art fair model, Independent Projects will remain for a week, changing from a marketplace to an exhibition after this weekend. Guides will be on hand to lead visitors through the show and explain the work, while the dealers go home, leaving just the art behind.

Work by Stefan Brüggermann, with Parra & Romero, along the back wall, and by Thornton Dial, with Andrew Edlin Gallery, on the right

Work by Stefan Brüggermann, brought by Parra & Romero, along the back wall, and by Thornton Dial, with Andrew Edlin Gallery, on the right

Thornton Dial, "Lost" (2004), on view with Andrew Edlin

Thornton Dial, “Lost” (2004), on view at Andrew Edlin

Aura Rosenberg, "Dialectical Porn Rock Circle" (1990–93), with Martos Gallery

Aura Rosenberg, “Dialectical Porn Rock Circle” (1990–93), at Martos Gallery

Women and dog visit the booth of Max Wigram Gallery, showing 1989 paintings by John Giorno

Women and dog visit the booth of Max Wigram Gallery, showing John Giorno’s first paintings, from 1989.

A work by Virginia Overton, with Mitchell Innes & Nash

A work by Virginia Overton, at Mitchell-Innes & Nash

Sculptures by June Hamper, shown by White Columns

Sculptures by June Hamper, at White Columns

Duane Hanson, "Flea-Market Lady" (1990), at Karma

Duane Hanson, “Flea Market Lady” (1990), at Karma

Detail of Duane Hanson's "Flea-Market Lady"

Detail of Duane Hanson’s “Flea Market Lady”

Dominique Lévy has fabricated Yves Klein's "Sculpture tactile," which he conceived in 1957 with a prototype but never made. You're supposed to stick your arm in that hole.

Dominique Lévy has fabricated Yves Klein’s “Sculpture tactile,” which he conceived in 1957 with a prototype but never made. You’re supposed to stick your arm in that hole.

Work by Nina Beier, at Croy Nielsen

Work by Nina Beier, at Croy Nielsen

A woman rests on a chair by Bunny Rogers, at Société.

A woman rests on a chair by Bunny Rogers, at Société.

Work by Prem Sahib, at Gallerie Lorcan O'Neill and Southard Reid's shared booth, in the foreground, and Emanuel Röhss at Project Narrative Informant in the background

Work by Prem Sahib, at Gallerie Lorcan O’Neill and Southard Reid’s shared booth, in the foreground, and Emanuel Röhss at Project Narrative Informant in the background

Paintings by Mary Ramsden, at Pilar Corrias

Paintings by Mary Ramsden, at Pilar Corrias

Haroon Mirza's "Access Boot" (2014), at Lisson Galery

Haroon Mirza’s “Access Boot” (2014), at Lisson Galery

Joan Jonas, "After Mirage" (1976), at Gavin Brown's Enterprise

Joan Jonas, “After Mirage” (1976), at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise

Mike Kelley, "Winner" (1987) and "Wood Nymph" (1985), at Skarstedt

Mike Kelley, “Winner” (1987) and “Wood Nymph” (1985), felt banners from his ‘Half a Man’ project, at Skarstedt

Work by John Tweddle, at Kayne Griffin Corcoran

Work by John Tweddle, at Kayne Griffin Corcoran

David Medalla, "Cloud Canyons," at Venus Over Manhattan

David Medalla, “Cloud Canyons,” a bubble machine, at Venus Over Manhattan

Work by Mark Barrow and Sarah Parke, at Elizabeth Dee

Work by Mark Barrow and Sarah Parke, at Elizabeth Dee

Detail of a work by Mark Barrow and Sarah Parke

Detail of a work by Mark Barrow and Sarah Parke

Work by Raymond Pettibon, at David Zwirner

Work by Raymond Pettibon, at David Zwirner

Cleaning Liam Gillick's mirrored room, which houses his film "Hamilton: A Film by Liam Gillick" (2014), at Marueen Paley

Cleaning Liam Gillick’s mirrored room, which houses his film “Hamilton: A Film by Liam Gillick” (2014), at Maureen Paley

Detail of Gianfranco Baruchello's "La Grande Biblioteca" (1976), at Massimo De Carlo

Detail of Gianfranco Baruchello’s “La Grande Biblioteca” (1976), at Massimo De Carlo

Work by Rosy Keyser, at Maccarone, on left in foreground, and by Allora and Calzadilla, at Gladstone Gallery, in back right

Work by Rosy Keyser, at Maccarone, on left in foreground, and by Allora and Calzadilla, at Gladstone Gallery, in back right

Independent Projects continues at Center548 (548 W 22nd St, Chelsea, Manhattan) through November 15.

St. Louis Museum Scores Slam Dunk with $50M Art Gift

Chinese, "Ewer with Design of Floral Scrolls and Spout in the Form of a Lion-Dog," (10th–11th century) (all images courtesy the Saint Louis Art Museum, Spink Asian Art Collection, bequest of Edith J. and C.C. Johnson Spink, unless indicated otherwise)

“Ewer with Design of Floral Scrolls and Spout in the Form of a Lion-Dog,” Chinese (10th–11th century) (all images courtesy the Saint Louis Art Museum, Spink Asian Art Collection, bequest of Edith J. and C.C. Johnson Spink, unless indicated otherwise)

The Saint Louis Art Museum (SLAM) has received a gift of 225 artworks worth upwards of $50 million from the collection of the late Edith Spink and Charles Claude Johnson Spink, who died in 2011 and 1992, respectively. Most of the trove, about 200 pieces, consists of arworks from China and Japan, while the rest are pieces by American artists including Norman Rockwell, John Singleton Copley, Andrew and Jamie Wyeth, and a portrait of George Washington by Rembrandt Peale.

Rembrandt Peale, "George Washington" (circa 1845) (courtesy the Saint Louis Art Museum, bequest of Edith J. and C.C. Johnson Spink)

Rembrandt Peale, “George Washington” (circa 1845) (courtesy the Saint Louis Art Museum, bequest of Edith J. and C.C. Johnson Spink) (click to enlarge)

“The Spink Collection represents such a high level and wide range of collecting in Chinese art that is not likely to be repeated or surpassed in St. Louis for many generations, if at all,” Philip K. Hu, SLAM’s associate curator of Asian art, wrote in the acquisition proposal that he presented to the museum’s collections committee. “The gift will enable the Museum to display, for the first time, a complete presentation of Chinese ceramic history starting from prehistoric times to the end of the imperial system.”

The Spinks, both of whom were natives of St. Louis, began collecting art in the 1970s. Several works from their collections of Asian and American art are already on view at SLAM, as they’ave been on long-term loan to the museum since 2004.

C.C.J. Spink was the last member of the Spink family to run the weekly magazine The Sporting News, which his great uncle Alfred G. Spink founded in 1886. C.C.J. took over the publication in 1962 and sold it to the Times Mirror Company in 1977. He remained involved in the magazine until 1987.

Chinese, "Dish with Design of Gardenia Sprays," early 18th century

“Dish with Design of Gardenia Sprays,” Chinese (early 18th century)

Edith “Edie” Spink trained as a lawyer, and though she never formally practiced law, her 20-year tenure as the mayor of the wealthy St. Louis suburb of Ladue was exceptionally litigious. Her administration successfully filed lawsuits to prevent an unmarried couple from living together and to stop a family from building a pyramid-shaped house. But Spink lost her most high-profile case when, in 1994, the US Supreme Court ruled that the municipality of Ladue could not force local resident Margaret Gilleo to remove an antiwar sign from her own front yard.

“Some called her a little dictator,” Edie Spink’s friend Mary Ann Rober told the Ladue-Frontenac Patch at the time of her death, “but the people of Ladue just loved her.”

Next year, dozens of the Chinese ceramics from the Spinks’ gift will go on view following the reinstallation of one of SLAM’s permanent collection galleries.

Chinese, "Rectangular Food Vessel (fang ding) with Flattened Feet in the Form of Kui-Dragons" (11th century BCE)

“Rectangular Food Vessel (fang ding) with Flattened Feet in the Form of Kui-Dragons,” Chinese (11th century BCE)

Chinese, "Standing Figure of a Horse Groom" (early 6th century)

“Standing Figure of a Horse Groom,” Chinese (early 6th century)

Chinese, "Ritual Object in the Form of a Prismatic Cylinder (cong)" (3000–2000 BCE)

“Ritual Object in the Form of a Prismatic Cylinder (cong),” Chinese (3000–2000 BCE)

Art and Friends Don’t Mix

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Islamist Militants Suspected in Tripoli Statue Disappearance

The "Gazelle and the Beauty" fountain in Tripoli (photo by Корниенко Виктор/Wikimedia Commons)

The “Gazelle and the Beauty” fountain in Tripoli in 2008 (photo by Корниенко Виктор/Wikimedia Commons)

A beloved landmark by Italian artist Angiolo Vannetti, “Gazelle and the Beauty,” that stood in a fountain in the center of Tripoli, Libya for more than 80 years was removed sometime during the evening of November 3 and the early hours of November 4. Though the cause of its disappearance is unknown, many suspect Islamist militants removed the bronze statue of a nude woman petting a gazelle, BBC News reports. The statue was struck by a rocket in August. Reports indicate that the sculpture was crudely removed with the use of a mechanical digger without any warning.

The empty pedestal where the "Gazelle and the Beauty" sculpture once stood (photo via @alwahieshi/Twitter)

The empty pedestal where the “Gazelle and the Beauty” sculpture once stood (photo via @alwahieshi/Twitter)

“We were very sentimental about the statue,” Amal Shibani, a resident of Tripoli, told the Libya Herald. “They have deprived us of one of the most beautiful landmarks of our city.”

In an official statement, Tripoli’s municipal government deplored the piece’s removal:

We call on our Libyan brothers to protect Libya’s heritage and antiquities. We have contacted the authorities and they have opened an investigation into the matter and we promise the residents of Tripoli that we will get the criminals.

The statue was inaugurated in 1932, when Libya was under Italian rule. “She is not intended to be seen as an object of sexual desire, but rather an as allegorical figure,” David Rifkind, an assistant professor at Florida International University, told Bloomberg. The work’s original title was “Sorgente di Vita” (or “Source of Life”), and, in the artist’s own words, symbolized that “the country had the sweetest to offer: the gazelle and the woman.”

The "Gazelle and the Beauty" fountain in Tripoli circa 1960–70 (photo via Wikimedia Commons)

The “Gazelle and the Beauty” fountain in Tripoli circa 1960–70 (photo via Wikimedia Commons)

The public art piece became a target of Islamist militias in February 2012. At the time, a group of intellectuals and journalists gathered at the statue to protest threats made against it, as a Libyan television report cited by CNN shows.

The statue was often referred to as the “mermaid fountain,” a reference to Tripoli’s allegorical nickname, “The Mermaid.”

DIARY: Dancing with the Stars

Linda Yablonsky at LACMA’s Art + Film gala

NEWS: Philippe Van Cauteren Named Curator of Iraq's Pavilion at Venice Biennale

artforum.com

NEWS: Philippe Van Cauteren Named Curator of Iraq's Pavilion at Venice Biennale

artforum.com

NEWS: Philippe Van Cauteren Named Curator of Iraq's Pavilion at Venice Biennale

artforum.com

NEWS: Philippe Van Cauteren Named Curator of Iraq's Pavilion at Venice Biennale

artforum.com

NEWS: Philippe Van Cauteren Named Curator of Iraq's Pavilion at Venice Biennale

artforum.com

NEWS: Philippe Van Cauteren Named Curator of Iraq's Pavilion at Venice Biennale

artforum.com

Television Tycoon Donates Modernist Trove to LACMA

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Edouard Manet, “M. Gauthier-Lathuille fils” (1879) (all images courtesy LACMA)

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) announced today that it has received a significant bequest of modern art from the aging chairman of Univision Communications, Jerry Perenchio. Amassed over several decades by the reclusive 84-year-old talent agent–turned–broadcast magnate, the gift is conditioned upon the museum’s completion of a $600 million new building project, which is slated to be finished in 2023. Earlier this week the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a plan involving a design by Swiss architect Peter Zumthor that would see 21 percent of the project’s financing come from public coffers.

Pablo Picasso, "Tete (Head of Fernande)" (1909), gouache and pencil on paper, 24 1/2 x 18 1/4 in. (62.2 x 46.4cm) (©2014 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society, NY) (click to enlarge)

Pablo Picasso, “Tete (Head of Fernande)” (1909), gouache and pencil on paper (©2014 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society, NY) (click to enlarge)

Comprising “at least” 47 works worth, according to the LA Times, a total of over $500 million, the collection includes significant 19th and 20th century paintings by Edgar Degas, Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Fernand Léger, Gustave Caillebotte, René Magritte, and others.

LACMA director Michael Govan described the donation as a “coup” for the institution, adding that such acquisitions would otherwise be financially “unthinkable.”

The donation includes a mixed media work by Degas, “Au Cafe Concert: La Chanson du Chien” (1875), and Monet’s “The Artist’s Garden at Vethéuil,” which bears a strong similarity to another painting at the Norton Simon Museum in neighboring Pasadena. Another important work in the collection, Gustave Caillebotte’s “Un Soldat” (1881), was acquired at auction in 2002, and has been compared to Manet’s “Le fifre” (1866).

Perenchio is best known for his role producing major Hollywood motion pictures, including Blade Runner (1982), the Academy Award-winning Driving Miss Daisy (1989), and Kahlo (2002). Select works from Perenchio’s promised gift will be on view at LACMA in the spring of 2015.

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Claude Monet’s “The Artist’s Garden at Vethéuil” (1881)

Edgar Degas, "Au Cafe Concert: Le Chanson de Chien" (1875), essence, gouache, pastel and monotype on joined paper, 22 5/8 x 17 7/8 in. (57.7 x 45.4 cm)

Edgar Degas, “Au Cafe Concert: Le Chanson de Chien” (1875), essence, gouache, pastel and monotype on joined paper, 22 5/8 x 17 7/8 in. (57.7 x 45.4 cm)

Fernand Leger, "Femme au bouquet" (1924), oil on canvas, 45 3/4 x 32 in. (116.2 x 81.3 cm) (© Artists Rights Society, New York / ADAGP, Paris)

Fernand Leger, “Femme au bouquet” (1924), oil on canvas, 45 3/4 x 32 in. (116.2 x 81.3 cm) (© Artists Rights Society, New York / ADAGP, Paris)

Rene Magritte, "Les Liaisons dangereuses" (1936), oil on canvas | 28 3/4 x 21 1/2 in. (73 x 54.6 cm) (©C. Herscovici, Brussels / Artists Rights Society, New York)

Rene Magritte, “Les Liaisons dangereuses” (1936), oil on canvas | 28 3/4 x 21 1/2 in. (73 x 54.6 cm) (©C. Herscovici, Brussels / Artists Rights Society, New York)

Paul Cézanne, "La Maison et l'arbre" (1874)

Paul Cézanne, “La Maison et l’arbre” (1874)

Gustave Caillebotte, "Un Soldat" (1881), oil on canvas, 42 x 29 1/2 in. (106.7 x 74.9 cm)

Gustave Caillebotte, “Un Soldat” (1881), oil on canvas, 42 x 29 1/2 in. (106.7 x 74.9 cm)

NEWS: Philippe Van Cauteren Named Curator of Iraq's Pavilion at Venice Biennale

artforum.com

NEWS: Philippe Van Cauteren Named Curator of Iraq's Pavilion at Venice Biennale

artforum.com

NEWS: Philippe Van Cauteren Named Curator of Iraq's Pavilion at Venice Biennale

artforum.com

NEWS: Philippe Van Cauteren Named Curator of Iraq's Pavilion at Venice Biennale

artforum.com

NEWS: Philippe Van Cauteren Named Curator of Iraq's Pavilion at Venice Biennale

artforum.com

In Jerusalem’s Old City, a Different Kind of Cubism

A creative interpretation of the kaaba in Mecca (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)

A creative interpretation of the kaaba in Mecca (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)

EAST JERUSALEM — Walking through the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City it is hard not be to fascinated by the folk paintings appearing on the homes of pilgrims who returned from the Hajj in Mecca. The freestyle aerosol paintings and stencils decorate the doorways and alleys of the ancient city’s narrow streets. In other places, Hajj paintings are often a more developed art form, revealing personal traits of the pilgrim (even portraits) or religious tales, but here they are expressive, simple, and vibrant images on largely uneven walls. They are dominated by Hajj-related blessings, images of the rectilinear kaaba, the Prophet’s Mosque, and a number of abstractions that are harder to decipher. There are even local landmarks like the Dome of the Rock, but there are no images of living creatures, which is not typical of Hajj paintings elsewhere.

We often don’t associate this type of street art with religion, but historically graffiti has been the mark of pilgrims to a holy site, like the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Even during last century, modern graffiti pioneer Arthur Stace scrawled the word “Eternity” throughout Melbourne beginning in the 1930s an act of Christian devotion. Today, other Christians have continued what he started and turned his act of personal faith into a communal tradition.

Like most folk art, the Hajj paintings in the streets of Jerusalem have the aura of authenticity, that elusive sense that something comes from a raw unadulterated energy born from utility rather than style. They appear to follow few aesthetic rules as they cluster and breathe in a visual stream of consciousness that crawls across walls.

The study of Palestinian Hajj paintings is still a young discipline, but as author Hafida Talhaoui explains in Religious Folk Art as an Expression of Palestinian Identity: Jerusalemite Hajj Paintings and Platesthere is a regional character to these painting, and a political dimension as well. The reds, blacks, and greens of the Palestinian flag dominate the color schemes, while the image of the Dome of the Rock “is used to make Palestinian presence visible in an environment which is hostile to this identity.” Even the presence of olive branches, which are not really found in Egyptian Hajj paintings, have a pointed meaning in an occupied land. It’s inevitable that local aspirations meld with folk art.

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