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Art?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008
From The Observer via The Guardian:

"Chaining up a dog and forcing it to go without food and water in the name of art is a surefire way of making yourself unpopular with animal lovers."

Guillermo Vargas, also known as Habacuc, "has been called an animal abuser, killer and worse over claims that a stray dog called Natividad died of starvation after he displayed it at an exhibition last year at the Codice Gallery in Managua, Nicaragua. Vargas tethered the animal without food and water under the words 'Eres Lo Que Lees' - 'You Are What You Read' - made out of dog biscuits while he played the Sandinista anthem backwards and set 175 pieces of crack cocaine alight in a massive incense burner. More than a million people have signed an online petition urging organisers of this year's event to stop Vargas taking part."

Not to defend Mr. Vargas's actions, or those of the gallery in which Natividad was chained, but it seems as if animal rights activists may be erroneously reporting that the dog died when, in fact, he did not. According to Juanita Bermudez, the director of the gallery, the dog "was untied all the time except for the three hours the exhibition lasted and it was fed regularly with dog food Habacuc himself brought in." Of course, it makes a good deal of sense that people would be up in arms about this sort of thing. Still, if Natividad did escape with his life, that fact will undermine the authority of some of the understandably concerned animal rights activists who have (either mistakenly or in a deliberate manipulation of information) presented a far bleaker picture of the installation. I mean, there are scads of people already clustering "animal rights activists" under the broad umbrella of alarmist extremists. Let's not give those people any fuel.

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Faces of Death

Thursday, April 10, 2008
From the Guardian:

"The German photographer Walter Schels thinks it not only odd, but wrong that death is so hidden from view. Aged 72, he's also keenly aware that his own death is getting closer. Which is why, a few years ago, he embarked on a bizarre project. He decided to shoot a series of portraits of people both before and after they had died. The result is a collection of photographs of 24 people - ranging from a baby of 17 months to a man of 83 - that goes on show in London next week. Alongside the portraits are the stories of the individuals concerned, penned by Beate Lakotta, Schels' partner, who spent time with the subjects in their final days and who listened as they told her how it felt to be nearing the end of their lives."

"Some of the subjects, says Schels, were bitter about how lonely the business of dying had made them feel - for some, this was why they agreed to take part in the project. "Some of the dying said, 'It's so good you're doing this - it's really important to show what it's like. No one else is listening to me, no one wants to hear or know what it's really like.'""

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Frontotemporal Dementia Produces Great Art, Pain

Wednesday, April 9, 2008
From BoingBoing.net:

"In 1994, Dr. Adams became fascinated with the music of the composer Maurice Ravel, her husband recalled. At age 53, she painted 'Unravelling Bolero' a work that translated the famous musical score into visual form.

Unbeknown to her, Ravel also suffered from a brain disease whose symptoms were identical to those observed in Dr. Adams, said Dr. Bruce Miller, a neurologist and the director of the Memory and Aging Center at the University of California, San Francisco. Ravel composed 'Bolero' in 1928, when he was 53 and began showing signs of his illness with spelling errors in musical scores and letters..."
[Full Post]

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