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Holocaust Selfie

Migrants flood European cities, rape white women, rob taxpayers by living off benefits, and enforce their Sharia laws on the enlightened average Westerner.

Now, if this were true, as some right-wing media claims it to be, would you have at least a modicum of sympathy for anti-immigration rallies and the average Western strongman punching some sense into the unenlightened average refugee?

Don’t stand up indignantly just yet. Social experiments on the rise of fascism have proven that getting a “yes” to my question takes a few days of work in an average US classroom.

Recently, a group of refugees waiting to be transported to Finland from Russia were beaten up by local men for groping Russian girls at a disco. It was hailed nationwide as the right (Russian) way of dealing with the refugee problem.

I am sure a sizeable proportion of Calais residents would cheer up Frenchmen doing the same to the Jungle camp residents.

What comes next?

Vigilante militia and patrols, of course. Easily identifiable by their uniforms and shoulder bands. Strong men would patrol the streets without being slowed down by police regulations. That will order things up.

And next, obviously, a system of identification needs to be set up. Syrians would be required to wear, say, a yellow star. Afgans would be assigned a green one. North Africans… I don’t know, pink? And, of course, how could I forget, before their papers are properly checked, to prevent terrorists entering the EU, they all would have to be detained in some special places, let’s say, temporary migration camps. A simple electical fence, barbed wired, will protect them from justifiably hostile local populations.

If you think a reinvention of the Holocaust is impossible, think again. There’s a generation of people now who are barely aware of the dreadful events taking place more than 70 years ago. Collective human memory is, perhaps, as selective as the individual mind and tends to bury painful moments under the thick blanket of cute cats, X-Factor winners, and loan payment dates.

Alexander Mikhalkovich, a Latvian artist, who describes himself as a web-terrorist, set it his purpose to make people remember the Holocaust.

He inserts Holocaust photographs in web-services such as Foursquare or Google at the exact geo locations where the events depicted took place so that whenever a visitor checks in, they are getting a scene of mass execution or something similar innoculously inserted in the user-generated galleries of splendid views and relaxed passtimes.

This is his statement and some of his work:

I believe that the Latvians have begun to forget about the Holocaust. It is difficult to know about it if you are not interested in this topic specifically. People are often in places where terrible things happened recently, but they do not know it. Finding some terrible photo evidence, I wanted to remind people about the Holocaust in Latvia. I decided to bypass the security systems on popular photo hosting services on maps, such as Google Earth, Panoramio and Foursquare and dilute our usual photoblog of travel photos with examples of Nazi atrocities. On these giants, there is an automated system for testing the photos before making them available to the public. With the help of special programs I changed the GPS data about the location of my smartphone. So I make minor visual changes in the picture, trying to make it invisible to the verification system of copyright. Amazingly, the little Stamp tool – and Google Image (service to search for identical pictures) can no longer find the picture. But the trick of such a giant like Google is not so easy. My photos were uploaded to Google Earth, moderated during two days and as a result were not put in the public domain Perhaps at some stage of the inspection, the robot had suspicions and he sent the photos to the moderation man Because of this, I had to concentrate on Foursquare, because my elaborated algorithm perfectly bypassed secunty of the service. Now I feel like Abba Kovner, a member of the Jewish Avengers; a terrorist group after the war who dreamed of taking revenge on Germany by poisoning the Dresden water supply. I’m a terrorist, but in the name of Memory. I’m invading your world of sunsets, selfies, kittens and happy meals; reminding you of what lies beneath the beach you are lounging on.

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Once, Foursquare commented on a photo of a group of Jewish girls lining up to be executed, “You’ve got gorgeous hair today!”.

This is the kind of digital art that should make the headlines.

 

Tortured Babies and Chained Black Slaves

Now that we have explored the ground floor of the Giovanni Fattori museum and haven’t yet seen anything from Giovanni Fattori himself, we need to get one floor up, to finally get to know the painter.

And what a staircase is it to climb! On my scale of gaudy, it stands a notch behind Jeff Koons.

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Yes, ceramic banisters of traditional Tuscany design are interspersed by putti.

As you climb the first flight of stairs they face you, the next flight presents you with a spectacular view of their very un-childish bottoms:

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They are far from being happy, what with the iron rods stabbed in their heads! If you bend down to get to know them better, you get a feeling that something creepy must have been happening in this luxuriant and opulent villa when its owners were alive.

Once you’ve mastered the stairs, catching an unhealthy dose of putti suffering along the way, you get to a spacious hall with a lot of people on the ceiling.

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It is an interesting moment in the history of Livorno, and art history, in general.

It is the unveiling of an addition to a monument to Ferdinand I de Medici in 1624. The statue itself was erected in 1601 to celebrate naval victories of Ferdinand over Moorish Corsairs. The statue was made by Bandinelli, an admirer and rival of Michelangelo but without any talent for large forms. I wrote about the guy here, and if you have been to Florence, you must know his major work that stands next to David.

More than 20 years later after Ferdinand the Victorious was erected, it was decided to add captive Moors, who – coming from North Africa – were usually dark-skinned or black. Painted bronze was seen as a fitting material, and Pietro Tacca, a former pupil of Giambologna, was commissioned to make four figures of defeated pirates.

It’s not often that one can see a sculpture which accessory part is better sculpted and more expressive than the main one.

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An observer cares more about the Moors than the dude who defeated them.

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Everything about them is spectacular: their twisted bodies, their faces, of which some are rebellious, and some quite resigned.

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There is a legend that Tacca used two real slaves as models for his sculptures who were set free when the work was completed. One of them settled in Florence, but would take his family to Livorno whenever possible to boast of the likeness of his face to one of the bronze Moors.

Of course the Moors don’t look as black today as in the ceiling fresco, but someone who doesn’t know the real history behind this sculpture may see the whole composition as an offensive symbol of racial superiority. And, believe me, in the presence of black people selling fake bags nearby with white tourists taking pictures of the monument with their uber-expensive Leicas, Canons, and Nikons, this modern interpretation of a historic sculpture does not seem all that irrelevant.

Enough of the creepy stuff. Our next stop is at Italian art of the 19th century.

 

On the way to living happily ever after. Or not.

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This marriage chariot is taking couples to a happy marriage. The fairytale kind of partnership, in which they would never have disagreements based on taste. For they have none. Isn’t it a blessing?

Russian luxury is something to behold in awe.

I thought a weekend diversion from thinking about nudes  would be nice, before we get back to them.

Is it your first time here? To sample stuff the blog has on offer, click on ABOUT at the top. You’ll find links to some of my best or typical posts there. There’s an Art & Fun shelf there if you feel like in need of a laugh. And don’t forget you can sign up for my new posts: there’s a “Follow this blog” form on the right.

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “On the Way.”

cloister

Fate cuts it short

What do you do when you are stressed out? Storm outside, lit a cig, down a shot, hit a wall, murmur nasty things about people responsible for your being tensed? Medieval monks would step out to the cloister of their monastery: a peaceful courtyard used for contemplation and murmuring, usually surrounded by a columned gallery around the perimeter.

Visual arts (sculpture) at the time was meant to make them realise the stress they’d brought out to the cloister was insignificant in the general scheme of things.

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Fate can have your head on a plate in the most awkward manner at the most inconvenient of times. What petty stress can compare to that? A 10-minute meditation, and – done! Cured of stress free and better than a shrink could do in an hour.

For those who read my previous post about medieval sculpture, this is the cloister of San Zeno Basilic, through which we would enter the Cathedral in the next post.

Should he stay or should he go?

Today’s Daily Prompt makes me deviate from the art scene for a bit. It says,

“Pick a divisive issue currently in the news. Write a two-part post in which you take on two personas and approach the topic from both sides”

Edward Snowden. Should he stay or should he go?

Media says Obama called Putin to talk it through. Here is the transcript.

Obama (what his aides hear)

Barack Obama

Vlad, hello. How’s your fishing? Good, good. Twenty one kilograms?

(covering the handset: can anyone tell me what’s that in pounds? Anyone? Just tell me if it’s big or small, he’s waiting for my reaction, for god’s sake! Big?)

WOW, Vlad, that’s huge! 

Now, there’s another huge issue we need to talk about. 

No, I don’t hang out with pretty girls right now. No, it’s not about you joining the party. This is Barak, not Silvio!

It’s that American guy in your Moscow airport. We want him back.

Because everything the little jerk exposed was a perfectly legal activity and he was bound by whatever oath he took when he accepted the job. The US Congress clandestinely approved a classified act on secret info gathering. You may scoff at it, but you can’t take it to court.

I can hear your snickering, and I know this is not bad connection. Even Khruschev couldn’t fool Kennedy with it, and they used an undersea cable to talk!

This guy Snowden is a theif of information, without any modicum of legality on the Russian territory and thus HE SHOULD BE SENT to the country that claims him to be its citizen. People have been kicked out of Russia for less, is it so difficult to put him on a plane? You have small-scale presidents flying in and out, choose some Zhurididistanian airline and we’ll tug him over in no time!

Putin (what his aides now hear)

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Barak, were you wiggling your finger at me while talking, honest? I was imagining you doing that, you know. Very funny. I’ve just missed a chance to catch a 25 kilos catfish. One hand busy holding the phone, you know. It was one-third of Snowden’s weight already. But it is not why I can’t give him back.

When he was taking the oath it didn’t say he should follow the Goverment when that government moves away from the Constitution so much the founding fathers turn in their graves like sync swimmers at Olympics.

He is a patriot of his country who is going to be prosecuted by people who betrayed everything that country stood for. And because of that he should stay for he can’t expect fair treatment back home.

Of course I am joking. I just love teaching a smug democrat a lesson or two.

Barak, you know I’ve been doing the same PRISM stuff since the time I learnt it had been done in Russia since electricity was invented. Yes, I know I am a lucky tyrannical bastard (I wish that would work for fishing too!), but I still can’t give him back.

The most undemocratic enemy of the most democratic state! You know, I’ve just realised I can enjoy it both ways. Like, having you put on the spit and being turned. This is actually what I am doing right now with the fish. You want a photo? My prime minister can send you a link, he’s the iPhone guy on board here. Oh, yes. Yes. I see. You already have it from the NSA.

You mean you have all the party photos from Silvio’s Facebook page too? (aside: Silvio thought Facebook was private!) When who was visiting? Are you sure that “who” looks like the Vlad we both know? I mean there were a dozen men with bodies like Apollo. What do you mean there’s only one Apollo in his 50s? I thought it was illegal in the States to look at stuff like that. Oh, presidential immunity. So you can watch it. Well. Don’t. Just don’t.

You know, I think I have a solution. We’ll grant Snowden asylum. In Siberia. And you can tell anyone who would want to follow in his steps that those steps will take them all the way to where Snowden went. He’s got a fitting name. Snowden from Siberia. Frosted and iced.

Do we have a deal? Good!

And, by the way, Angela is mad. And the French guy with the Dutch name. Holland, yes. You know why Europeans get mad? 5% ’cause they got rabies,  10% ’cause their cell battery is dead, and 85% ’cause you spied on them. No, it is funny.

Beep-beep-beep.

Beeeeeeeep. Beeeeeep. Beeeeeeep.

Silvio?! Just calling to tell you you’re a f***ing idiot. Literally and Instagramically. What? Sentenced? Congratulations! You know the Russian saying, “the sooner you get behind bars, the sooner you get out”? Well, you know now, old chap, exactly when you need it – that’s what friends are for. Yeah, keep in touch. Ciao!