Saturday, January 31, 2009

Iraq: Orphans' shoe monument

A monument to a shoe thrown at former President Bush is unveiled at the Tikrit Orphanage complex.

A monument to a shoe thrown at former President Bush is unveiled at the Tikrit Orphanage complex.

A huge sculpture of the footwear hurled at President Bush in December during a trip to Iraq has been unveiled in a ceremony at the Tikrit Orphanage complex.

Assisted by children at the home, sculptor Laith al-Amiri erected a brown replica of one of the shoes hurled at Bush and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki by journalist Muntadhir al-Zaidi during a press conference in Baghdad.

Al-Zaidi was jailed for his actions, and a trial is pending. But his angry gesture touched a defiant nerve throughout the Arab and Muslim world. He is regarded by many people as a hero. Demonstrators in December took to the streets in the Arab world and called for his release.

The shoe monument, made of fiberglass and coated with copper, consists of the shoe and a concrete base. The entire monument is 3.5 meters (11.5 feet) high. The shoe is 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) long and 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) wide.

The orphans helped al-Amiri build the $5,000 structure -- unveiled Tuesday -- in 15 days, said Faten Abdulqader al-Naseri, the orphanage director.

"Those orphans who helped the sculptor in building this monument were the victims of Bush's war," al-Naseri said. "The shoe monument is a gift to the next generation to remember the heroic action by the journalist."

"Then their parents will start talking about the hero Muntadhir al-Zaidi, who threw his shoe at George W. Bush during his unannounced farewell visit."

Al-Zaidi marked his 30th birthday in jail earlier this month. One of his brothers said he is "in good health and is being treated well."

Al-Zaidi's employer, TV network al-Baghdadia, keeps a picture of him at the top left side of the screen with a calendar showing the number of days he has spent in detention. The network has been calling for his release.

By tradition, throwing a shoe is the most insulting act in the Arab world.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Whitechapel Art Gallery: Guernica tapestry

United Nations - preparing for shipment to London
A tapestry of Picasso’s Guernica, which was at the centre of a row just before the invasion of Iraq, is to go on display at the Whitechapel Art Gallery on 5 April. It currently hangs at United Nations headquarters in New York, just outside the Security Council chamber.
On 5 February 2003, the day US Secretary of State Colin Powell addressed the council on Iraq (in a vane attempt to get UN sanction for a US led invasion), a blue curtain was temporarily draped in front of the tapestry. A UN spokesman explained that as press interviews were given there, the plain hanging provided “an appropriate background for the cameras”.

However, Mr Powell’s advisors apparently felt it would look wrong for him to speak of war in Iraq in front of such a powerful anti-war work even if it was covered by a curtain. The tapestry is a full-scale replica of the original painting, done in 1937 after the bombing of the Basque town. Now at the Museo de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, the painting has long symbolised the horror of wa, particularly the bombing of civilians.

So why is the Picasso tapestry coming to the Whitechapel? In January 1939 Guernica was temporarily displayed at the gallery as an artistic protest against Franco's atrocities during the Spanish Civil War. This has inspired Polish-born London artist Goshka Macuga to create an installation featuring the Picasso tapestry for the reopening of the Whitechapel, following a £13.5m expansion project. Her work will explore the links between art and propaganda. The one-year installation is sponsored by Bloomberg which is owned by Michael Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Company, mayor of New York and art lover. Whitechapel director Iwona Blazwick came up with the audacious idea of borrowing the tapestry. Commissioned by Nelson Rockefeller in 1955, it was placed on long-term loan at the UN in 1985 by his widow Margaretta. She has just agreed to the Whitechapel loan.

A major renovation of the UN building starts in November, which makes the loan easier, but the 6.7m long tapestry will have to be taken down before then. It is unclear whether it will be returned to the UN after completion of work in late 2011.

Nelson Rockefeller had a strong attachment to Guernica, since he had been president of New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1939 when Picasso sent his masterpiece there (it remained until 1981, when it was transferred to Madrid). A former US Vice President, as well as art collector, Rockefeller died in 1979.

Rockefeller would presumably have opposed the covering up of his tapestry at the UN in 2003, although something similar had occurred in his family. In 1933 he and his father had tried to get Picasso to paint a mural for New York’s Rockefeller Centre, but the job ended up going to Diego Rivera. Among figures depicted in Rivera’s mural was one of Lenin. When the Rockefellers asked him to remove Lenin, Rivera refused. The Rockefellers initially had the mural covered with a drape and it was then destroyed. Art and propaganda do indeed have close links, providing a challenging subject for Macuga’s Whitechapel installation.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Katoomba ... garden

ivy dies ...

no dig grows ...

insect rests ...

flower sits

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Pete Seeger at Lincoln Memorial

Seeger and Springsteen

Pete Seeger, Tao Rodriguez-Seeger and Bruce Springsteen (and thousands more!) sang Woody Guthrie's 'This Land is Your Land' at the Lincoln Memorial Obama Inaugural Celebration Concert last night. They sang the extra and often censored verses Woody wrote.

Pete Seeger first sang at the Lincoln Memorial when Martin Luther King Jr made his historic 'I Have a Dream' speech on 28 August 1963 during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

Pete Seeger offered Barack Obama an "old school" method of staying in shape when the president-elect asked the 89-year-old entertainer how he stays fit.

The singer and Obama spoke after Seeger's performance of "This Land is Your Land"

Rodriguez-Seeger told the Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Journal that Obama asked Seeger how he stays so fit. According to the grandson, Seeger told Obama that he stays healthy by living out in the woods and chopping and hauling firewood.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Bert Lloyd Centenary

18 January Illawarra Folk Festival, 12.15-1.45
A.L. Lloyd Australian Songs Concert

Alan Musgrove
Mark Gregory (MC)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Peter Neilson in Austria

Australien Phantasies

Click to close

An exhibition of paintings – Australien Phantasies - by Peter Neilson will be held at Galerie Seywald, Salzburg, Austria opening January 13 and continuing until February 21, 2009.

The gallery’s address:
Galerie Seywald
Rainbergstrasse 3c,
A-5020 Salzburg

The gallery’s website:

Peter Neilsons Leinwände und Papierarbeiten spiegeln in mehrschichtigem Sinn: Es finden sich Spiegelungen im Bild selber, Spiegelungen der Seele, Verdoppelungen ohne sichtbar vorhandenem Spiegel in mehrschichtigem Sinn. Seine Bilder muten wie eine Spiegelung des Surrealismus an, aber ohne den negativen Beigeschmack des Eklektizismus.

Monday, January 12, 2009

1836: Charles Darwin reaches Sydney

173 years ago Charles Darwin sailed into Sydney Harbour.

Aboard the HMAS Beagle, Darwin made a brief stopover as part of a wider voyage that influenced his seminal work - On The Origins of Species.

To commemorate the occasion, the federal government has announced $100,000 for two events to mark the 200th anniversary of his birth on 12 February 1809.

The money will go towards a conference of international experts in evolutionary theory in Melbourne next month.

And a festival in November to celebrate of the 150th anniversary of the publication of - On the Origin of Species.

see also National Museum

Friday, January 02, 2009

Thursday, January 01, 2009