Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Artists Responding to the BP Disaster

I've been coming across some sites and news about artists addressing the BP sponsored disaster in the Gulf Coast. These are small actions but they matter.

The Tate Britain has recently "celebrated" 20 years of sponsorship by BP which has to be the most ill timed celebration in museum history. The sadness of this is beyond words. Platform reports on a group of artists denouncing the event and the practice of BP sponsorship. Some major names on the list are Hans Haacke, Lucy Lippard and Rebecca Solnit.

A letter today was published in the Guardian today signed by 171 figures from the art world condemning BP’s sponsorship of cultural institutions in the UK. The letter has been published on the day that Tate Britain is hosting a party to celebrate 20 years of BP’s sponsorship. [1] A group of artists under the banner of ‘The Good Crude Britannia’ are planning on protesting outside the event, and will be handing out the “Licence to Spill’ briefing to people attending the party.[2]

Arts/activist organisation Platform [3] has gathered 171 signatories from the international arts community, for a letter that says:

“As crude oil continues to devastate coastlines and communities in the Gulf of Mexico, BP executives will be enjoying a cocktail reception with curators and artists in the Tate Britain. These relationships enable big oil companies to mask the environmentally destructive nature of their activities with the social legitimacy that is associated with such high profile cultural associations.”[4]

continue here

Also, I've just come across Poets for Living Waters which describes itself as a poetry action in response to the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. There is a call for entries and I thank Poet Brett Evans for leading me to the site.

image: Poets for Living Waters

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Call for Entries: INDEX: Design Challenge - Designing for Education

This looks like an amazing opportunity!

Via CORE 77:

INDEX: Design to Improve Life has just opened the doors to their 2010 challenge with the theme "Designing for Education," in partnership with the children's rights organization UNICEF. If you are a student, a recent grad, or faculty, you are invited to submit in the following three areas: improved educational facilities, sanitation and hygiene, and gender parity in education.

Here's an excerpt from the brief:

According to UNESCO's 2010 Education for All report (EFA), the number of children out of school has dropped by 33 million worldwide since 1999. South and West Asia more than halved the number of children not in school - a reduction of 21 million. But the latest numbers show that 72 million children are still out of school, and if the trend continues, 56 million children will still be out of school in 2015. Equally important, besides ensuring more children enroll in school, those children already in school must get a good education.

Literacy remains among the most neglected of all education goals, and millions of children are leaving school before acquiring basic skills. In some countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, young adults with five years of education have a 40% probability of being illiterate. About 759 million adults lack literacy skills today. Two-thirds are women.

The gender disparity in education is another problem in developing countries today. Even though the share of girls out of school has declined from 58% to 54%, and the gender gap in primary education is narrowing in many countries, the difference is still a problem. In Sub-Saharan Africa alone, almost 12 million girls may never enroll. In Yemen, nearly 80% of girls out of school are unlikely ever to enroll, compared with 36% of boys.

Submissions are due by November 26, 2010. Click here for guidelines.

image: Cy Twombly

Twitter as Hangman

I'm for a transparent bureaucracy but this isn't what I had in mind. Social media as medieval spectacle. More death tweets at Infocult.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Tracking BP's Disaster

If you're looking for a map that really puts you there and helps with understanding this ever changing oil spill then check out the following from NOAA.
An interactive map with information about the oil spill’s trajectory, the position of NOAA’s research ships, spilled oil’s coastal location and the areas closed to shipping and more.

hat tip: Cheryl Rofer

Friday, June 11, 2010

Sigmar Polke RIP

Ok so yet another titan of the post-war era has passed. Its getting out of hand. Bloomberg reports that Sigmar Polke has lost his battle with cancer.

June 11 (Bloomberg) -- Sigmar Polke, one of Germany’s best-known artists, died last night from cancer at the age of 69, his dealer Erhard Klein said in a phone interview.

Polke, a painter, graphic artist and photographer, was “one of the most important and most successful representatives of German contemporary art,” Culture Minister Bernd Neumann said in a statement. “He was a critical, ironic and self-ironic observer of postwar history and its artistic commentators.”

Born in 1941 in eastern Germany, Polke emigrated to the west in 1953. He settled in Dusseldorf, where he studied at the Art Academy. In 1963, he founded the “Capitalist Realism” painting movement with Gerhard Richter and Konrad Lueg. The three artists mocked both the realist style that was the official art of the Soviet Union and the consumer-driven pop art of the west. Polke moved to Cologne in 1978.

He experimented with a wide range of styles, subject matter and materials. In the 1970s, he concentrated on photography, returning to paint in the 1980s, when he produced abstract works created by chance through chemical reactions between paint and other products. In the last 20 years, he produced paintings focused on historical events and perceptions of them.

Here's a nice slide show at the NY Times.

image: Sigmar Polke

Andrei Tarkovsky's Polaroids

I've had a love for Polaroid film since I first saw the magic unfold as a small child. In addition to a Walker Evans book, a book on Tarkovsky's Polaroid photos is among my prize possessions. A continual yet subtle influence on my painting palette. The book is difficult to find so I am very happy to learn that the works have been digitized by a Russian blog. If you are unfamiliar with the great Soviet director and his particular genius for color and light, please see the following films - Solaris, The Mirror, Nostalghia, and The Sacrifice.

via: flavorwire


World Cup starts today and the majority of the world goes nuts! Congrats to South Africa for being the host country and go team USA.

For an innovative graphic on the teams and matches, see

Sites to stay on top of the action (besides ESPN):

official FIFA World Cup site,
The Guardian (though a bit slow thus far),
L'Equipe (French),
TNR World Cup blog.

hattip: helmut

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

YOU are responsible for spills

Some irony from BP stations around the country. Climate Progress is asking people to send in more images.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Save NY Libraries - Read In

It always seems to come down to an assault on the humanities. NYC as you may know is suffering more than its share of economic woes and the cuts are coming. One thing on the chopping block is the public library system where job cuts have begun. This comes at a time where the high number of unemployed need library resources more than ever. According to the Library Journal.com the Mayor's office issued his Executive Budget, and the cuts are even worse, nearly 25 percent, representing a 30 percent reduction over two years. That would lead to perhaps 1500 layoffs (30 to 40 percent of staff), some 40 closed libraries, and drastically curtailed hours and materials.

In addition to calling elected officials, here is another way you can try and stop these cuts.
Read-in coming June 12
Library workers and advocates gathered under the Save NYC Libraries banner are backing that call with a series of actions, notably a 24-hour Read-In to be held in front of the Brooklyn Public Library's Central Library at Grand Army Plaza beginning at 5 p.m. on Saturday June 12.

Start Time:
Saturday, June 12, 2010 at 5:00pm
End Time:
Sunday, June 13, 2010 at 5:00pm
Steps of BPL Central Library
10 Grand Army Plaza
Brooklyn, NY

From the organizers:

Come out and support libraries during the 24 hour We Will Not Be Shushed Read-In. This is going to be a unified libraries effort with readers and library workers from all three tri-li systems. We already have the full endorsement of Brooklyn Public Library and Queens Library administration. This is going to be a huge event in support of libraries.

To Volunteer: savenyclibraries@gmail.com

We need volunteers for the event, not to read though. No we need people for the hard boring work, to get petition signatures and make sure that people fill out postcards and sign petition and then sign another, then another. We need people who will work the crowd and man the tables. We need people to do the heavy lifting.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

the gender and geography of (un)employment

The above employment map comes from Stuart Staniford, representing trends in the United States by county. Lot's of data and resulting questions regarding gender and geography in the US. Outstanding map design as well.

hat tip: Kevin Drum

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Louise Bourgeois 1911 -2010

Yet another light has gone out. I think everyone was wishing she would continue making art into her second century. Here's a good bio from Art 21.
Louise Bourgeois was born in Paris in 1911. She studied art at various schools there, including the Ecole du Louvre, Académie des Beaux-Arts, Académie Julian, and Atelier Fernand Léger. In 1938, she emigrated to the United States and continued her studies at the Art Students League in New York. Though her beginnings were as an engraver and painter, by the 1940s she had turned her attention to sculptural work, for which she is now recognized as a twentieth-century leader. Greatly influenced by the influx of European Surrealist artists who immigrated to the United States after World War II, Bourgeois’s early sculpture was composed of groupings of abstract and organic shapes, often carved from wood. By the 1960s she began to execute her work in rubber, bronze, and stone, and the pieces themselves became larger, more referential to what has become the dominant theme of her work—her childhood. She has famously stated “My childhood has never lost its magic, it has never lost its mystery, and it has never lost its drama.” Deeply symbolic, her work uses her relationship with her parents and the role sexuality played in her early family life as a vocabulary in which to understand and remake that history. The anthropomorphic shapes her pieces take—the female and male bodies are continually referenced and remade—are charged with sexuality and innocence and the interplay between the two. Bourgeois’s work is in the collections of most major museums around the world.
More on the artist's life here and here.

image:Louise Bourgeois, Femme Maison, 1947, ink on paper, 9-15/16 x 7-1/8 in.,Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, photo by Eeva Inkeri, © Louise Bourgeois.