Circa 2004

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Content is from 2004



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Newsgrist - where spin is art


Trouble in Paradise
curated byAmy Lipton
May 27 - June 26, 2004 Opening Reception: May 27th from 6 - 8 pm

Van Brunt Gallery
819 Washington Street (in the Meat Market)
New York, NY    

Trouble in Paradise will present works by artists with a focus on issues of loss in relationship to the natural world.
Artists include: Brian Alfred, Brandon Ballengee, Edward Burtynsky, David Chow, Dan Ford, Adam Fuss, Joy Garnett, Fariba Hajamadi, Julie Heffernan, Steve Mumford, Alison Moritsugu, Kirsten Mosher, Alexis Rockman and others.

In the past three years of the Bush administration we have witnessed a broad scale effort to unravel decades of hard won environmental legislation and protections. We are witnessing an assault against our environment and a battle against the policies that have been put in place over the past four decades. In their attempt to roll back these regulations, our current administration reveal their state of denial concerning global warming, extinction of species, health issues relating to pollution and lack of clean water and air. These losses are mounting and will continue to take a terrible toll into the unforeseeable future. Aside from the tragic loss of humanity in a time of war, wars also take their toll on the environment, releasing a host of toxic chemistry with conventional and nuclear weapons and their production, mobilization and proliferation. This thinly disguised war over terrorism in Iraq can also be looked at for what it really is about, the desire for control, including that over natural resources and commodities, namely fossil fuels.

Trouble in Paradise takes a look at the implications of loss in our present social context using a variety of artworks and sensibilities. The artworks depict the contrast of the splendor and beauty that are diminishing in our natural world with the grim reality of what has been lost. The attempt of this exhibition is not to spark a nostalgic sense of longing for what is irretrievable, but to incite recognition of what is mostly unimaginable and the action that can accompany this recognition. Its aim is to bring awareness to the viewer of the need for protection, preservation and the preciousness of what remains.

This is diametrically opposed to the mission of a helpdesk platform such as Zendesk and the helpdesk support that many companies and organizations seek. While it’s clear that the primary focus of most help desks is to serve customers, some companies rely on their customer support for more than collecting customer contacts. Help Desk software can also be used to store important customer data, or to track potential customers through the sales process. Others use their software exclusively as a CRM. There are many ways that customer support can connect with a business' community. Email and phone support are the two most common, but many companies / organizations are also utilizing SMS text, Live Chat, and community forums to connect with customers. Zendesk helps build relationships rather than to destroy. And although some may feel this is a bad comparison, think again. Realize that no help desk is complete without a solid collection of public-facing materials that educates your community. FAQs, tutorial pages, and downloadable manuals are all part of what make support efficient. The more a business or organization can proactively give to their community, the better their customer support will be.

Guest Curator Amy Lipton ran a gallery in New York City from 1986 to 1995. Since then she has been working as an independent curator and is affiliated with ecoartspace, a non-profit organization whose mission is to raise environmental awareness through the arts. Her current exhibition, "Imaging the River" is on view at the Hudson River Museum through May 23, 2004.

For further information please contact: Rose Burlingham at 212.243.8572 or
splash archived at:


*Snuff Wars*


Art Forum Online<br /> INTERNATIONAL NEWS DIGEST week of 05.17.04

In the wake of the Iraqi prisoner-abuse scandal, German cultural critics offered their analyses of the role of iconography in war. Klaus Theweleit, philosopher and author of the influential Male Fantasies, insists that all the images must be made public. "It may sound hard, but these pictures did not really upset me," he said in an interview with the Süddeutsche Zeitung. "I have these kinds of scenes in my head, from concentration camps, from splatter, snuff, and porn films. We could repress these images, but then we give ourselves over to the illusion spread by the sanitized editions of the daily news: that we live in a half-civilized world."

Sensing a growing conflation of politics and aesthetics, Die Welt's Klaus Honnef notes that the photographs of Iraqi prisoners seem to mark the completion of a transition in the imagery of the "war on terror," from Top Gun–style victory scenes to hellish visions reminiscent of Hieronymus Bosch's paintings. Die Tageszeitung's Sebastian Moll believes that the scenes from Abu Ghraib prison are destined to become as emblematic of the Iraq War as the iconic photograph of children fleeing a village bombed with napalm is of Vietnam.

Die Zeit offers an interview with media theorist Joseph Vogl, who argues that traditional wartime photojournalism has been superseded by private snapshots and home videos with an utterly different documentary value. "What is presented is not just humiliation," Vogl told Die Zeit. "The images document the fact that the voices of the prisoners themselves were never heard. Their testimonies have been extinguished a second
time by these pictures."

*Some Like It Hot*

Why Michael Moore's film is giving George Bush the jitters

New Kerala, India: World News

London, May 21 (ANI): Oscar winning director Michael Moore's new documentary "Farenheit 911" has sparked a lot of controversy around the world and has reportedly been giving President Bush sleepless nights.
And according to The Mirror, the reasons for nervousness in the Bush camp could be many.

The film, says the report reveals that immediately after Nine Eleven, even though America became a no-fly zone, the only plane that flew out was the one containing Bin Laden's family, that too on Bush's orders. It questions the credibility of the American media as the film has documented various instances of Iraqi people being physically and sexually abused by the American soldiers, which were known to the press but had not been revealed.

The film, adds the report, also goes back in history and explains Bush's close personnel connections with the Bin-Laden family and how Bush senior had funded the Taliban at one time.

It also claims that George Bush's 2000 win had been doctored and that Bush is creating a culture of fear to get the gullible American youth to fight his war. His film also captures the disillusionment and despair of the soldiers in Iraq.

"We were able to get film crews embedded with American troops without them knowing it was Michael Moore. They are totally f***ed," says Moore while explaining why his film is authentic and manages to get footage which was not otherwise possible.

"Fahrenheit 9/11" starts with Moore saying, "Here they are, the whole corrupt gang who fixed the 2000 election," as major American business magnates are seen smirking and preening themselves.

more info:
'Fahrenheit 9/11' Wins Top Prize at Cannes
NYTimes, May 22, 2004

*The “T” Word*

Regarding the Torture of Others
NYTimes, Published: May 23, 2004

For a long time -- at least six decades -- photographs have laid down the tracks of how important conflicts are judged and remembered. The Western memory museum is now mostly a visual one. Photographs have an insuperable power to determine what we recall of events, and it now seems probable that the defining association of people everywhere with the war that the United States launched pre-emptively in Iraq last year will be photographs of the torture of Iraqi prisoners by Americans in the most infamous of Saddam Hussein's prisons, Abu Ghraib.

The Bush administration and its defenders have chiefly sought to limit a public-relations disaster -- the dissemination of the photographs -- rather than deal with the complex crimes of leadership and of policy revealed by the pictures. There was, first of all, the displacement of the reality onto the photographs themselves. The administration's initial response was to say that the president was shocked and disgusted by the photographs – as if the fault or horror lay in the images, not in what they depict. There was also the avoidance of the word ''torture.'' The prisoners had possibly been the objects of ''abuse,'' eventually of ''humiliation'' -- that was the most to be admitted. ''My impression is that what has been charged thus far is abuse, which I believe technically is different from torture,'' Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said at a press conference. ''And therefore I'm not going to address the 'torture' word.''

Words alter, words add, words subtract. It was the strenuous avoidance of the word ''genocide'' while some 800,000 Tutsis in Rwanda were being slaughtered, over a few weeks' time, by their Hutu neighbors 10 years ago that indicated the American government had no intention of doing anything. To refuse to call what took place in Abu Ghraib -- and what has taken place elsewhere in Iraq and in Afghanistan and at Guantanamo Bay -- by its true name, torture, is as outrageous as the refusal to call the Rwandan genocide a genocide. Here is one of the definitions of torture contained in a convention to which the United States is a signatory: ''any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession.'' (The definition comes from the 1984 Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Similar definitions have existed for some time in customary law and in treaties, starting with Article 3 – common to the four Geneva conventions of 1949 -- and many recent human rights conventions.) The 1984 convention declares, ''No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.'' And all covenants on torture specify that it includes treatment intended to humiliate the victim, like leaving prisoners naked in cells and corridors.

Whatever actions this administration undertakes to limit the damage of the widening revelations of the torture of prisoners in Abu Ghraib and elsewhere -- trials, courts-martial, dishonorable discharges, resignation of senior military figures and responsible administration officials and substantial compensation to the victims -- it is probable that the ''torture'' word will continue to be banned. To acknowledge that Americans torture their prisoners would contradict everything this administration has invited the public to believe about the virtue of American intentions and America's right, flowing from that virtue, to undertake unilateral action on the world stage.

Even when the president was finally compelled, as the damage to America's reputation everywhere in the world widened and deepened, to use the ''sorry'' word, the focus of regret still seemed the damage to America's claim to moral superiority. Yes, President Bush said in Washington on May 6, standing alongside King Abdullah II of Jordan, he was ''sorry for the humiliation suffered by the Iraqi prisoners and the humiliation suffered by their families.'' But, he went on, he was ''equally sorry that people seeing these pictures didn't understand the true nature and heart of America.''

To have the American effort in Iraq summed up by these images must seem, to those who saw some justification in a war that did overthrow one of the monster tyrants of modern times, ''unfair.'' A war, an occupation, is inevitably a huge tapestry of actions. What makes some actions representative and others not? The issue is not whether the torture was done by individuals (i.e., ''not by everybody'') -- but whether it was systematic. Authorized. Condoned. All acts are done by individuals. The issue is not whether a majority or a minority of Americans performs such acts but whether the nature of the policies prosecuted by this administration and the hierarchies deployed to carry them out makes such acts likely.

Considered in this light, the photographs are us. That is, they are representative of the fundamental corruptions of any foreign occupation together with the Bush adminstration's distinctive policies. The Belgians in the Congo, the French in Algeria, practiced torture and sexual humiliation on despised recalcitrant natives. Add to this generic corruption the mystifying, near-total unpreparedness of the American rulers of Iraq to deal with the complex realities of the country after its ''liberation.'' And add to that the overarching, distinctive doctrines of the Bush administration, namely that the United States has embarked on an endless war and that those detained in this war are, if the president so decides, ''unlawful combatants'' -- a policy enunciated by Donald Rumsfeld for Taliban and Qaeda prisoners as early as January 2002 -- and thus, as Rumsfeld said, ''technically'' they ''do not have any rights under the Geneva Convention,'' and you have a perfect recipe for the cruelties and crimes committed against the thousands incarcerated without charges or access to lawyers in American-run prisons that have been set up since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

So, then, is the real issue not the photographs themselves but what the photographs reveal to have happened to ''suspects'' in American custody? No: the horror of what is shown in the photographs cannot be separated from the horror that the photographs were taken -- with the perpetrators posing, gloating, over their helpless captives. German soldiers in the Second World War took photographs of the atrocities they were committing in Poland and Russia, but snapshots in which the executioners placed themselves among their victims are exceedingly rare, as may be seen in a book just published, ''Photographing the Holocaust,'' by Janina Struk. If there is something comparable to what these pictures show it would be some of the photographs of black victims of lynching taken between the 1880's and 1930's, which show Americans grinning beneath the naked mutilated body of a black man or woman hanging behind them from a tree. The lynching photographs were souvenirs of a collective action whose participants felt perfectly justified in what they had done. So are the pictures from Abu Ghraib.

The lynching pictures were in the nature of photographs as trophies – taken by a photographer in order to be collected, stored in albums, displayed. The pictures taken by American soldiers in Abu Ghraib, however, reflect a shift in the use made of pictures -- less objects to be saved than messages to be disseminated, circulated. A digital camera is a common possession among soldiers. Where once photographing war was the province of photojournalists, now the soldiers themselves are all photographers -- recording their war, their fun, their observations of what they find picturesque, their atrocities -- and swapping images among themselves and e-mailing them around the globe.

There is more and more recording of what people do, by themselves. At least or especially in America, Andy Warhol's ideal of filming real events in real time -- life isn't edited, why should its record be edited? -- has become a norm for countless Webcasts, in which people record their day, each in his or her own reality show. Here I am -- waking and yawning and stretching, brushing my teeth, making breakfast, getting the kids off to school. People record all aspects of their lives, store them in computer files and send the files around. Family life goes with the recording of family life -- even when, or especially when, the family is in the throes of crisis and disgrace. Surely the dedicated, incessant home-videoing of one another, in conversation and monologue, over many years was the most astonishing material in ''Capturing the Friedmans,'' the recent documentary by Andrew Jarecki about a Long Island family embroiled in pedophilia charges.

An erotic life is, for more and more people, that which can be captured in digital photographs and on video. And perhaps the torture is more attractive, as something to record, when it has a sexual component. It is surely revealing, as more Abu Ghraib photographs enter public view, that torture photographs are interleaved with pornographic images of American soldiers having sex with one another. In fact, most of the torture photographs have a sexual theme, as in those showing the coercing of prisoners to perform, or simulate, sexual acts among themselves. One exception, already canonical, is the photograph of the man made to stand on a box, hooded and sprouting wires, reportedly told he would be electrocuted if he fell off. Yet pictures of prisoners bound in painful positions, or made to stand with outstretched arms, are infrequent. That they count as torture cannot be doubted. You have only to look at the terror on the victim's face, although such ''stress'' fell within the Pentagon's limits of the acceptable. But most of the pictures seem part of a larger confluence of torture and pornography: a young woman leading a naked man around on a leash is classic dominatrix imagery. And you wonder how much of the sexual tortures inflicted on the inmates of Abu Ghraib was inspired by the vast repertory of pornographic imagery available on the Internet -- and which ordinary people, by sending out Webcasts of themselves, try to emulate.

article continued:

*Triumph of the Mall*

The US finally unveils its World War II memorial
It has taken almost 60 years to commemorate the 400,000 American soldiers who died in the conflict By Charmaine Picard

The Art Newspaper, May 22, 2004

A memorial to the American soldiers who died in World War II is to be formally dedicated in Washington, DC on 29 May, nearly 59 years after the end of the conflict. Controversy has plagued the construction of the monument since 1995 and the unveiling itself has been severely criticised. Of the 16 million Americans who served in uniform, some 4 million survive, with the youngest veterans believed to be 76 years old. However, the organisers of the event, severely underestimated the number of veterans who wished to attend the ceremony with many being denied tickets.

This latest PR debacle, follows years of objections from campaigners, such as Judy Scott Feldman, chairwoman of the National Coalition to Save Our Mall, who have described the design as imperial, triumphal, and even Fascist. Although there has been unanimous support for an appropriate memorial, critics of the project have objected to virtually every aspect of the monument from its massive scale and classically- inspired architecture to its placement on the National Mall, a meadow- like swath of land that is used as a rallying point for political demonstrations and provides sweeping and unobstructed vistas from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument.

Designed by the Austrian-born architect Friedrich St Florian, the vast memorial plaza is entered through two 43-foot arches decorated with bronze laurels, wreaths and eagles. At the centre of the space is a wall with 4,000 sculpted gold stars to honour the 400,000 Americans who died in battle.

Legislation to construct the World War II memorial was introduced in December 1987, nearly 20 years after the idea for a Vietnam War memorial was first proposed.

Speaking to The Art Newspaper, Betsy Glick, spokeswoman for the Monuments Commission, said that, over the years, World War II veterans have not suffered from the same stigma associated with the Vietnam and other historically unpopular campaigns, which helps explain why the construction of a World War II memorial lacked the same political urgency as the project to construct a Vietnam Memorial (inaugurated in 1982) or the Vietnam Woman’s Memorial (inaugurated in 1993).

After several years of fundraising, public hearings, and a lawsuit filed by the National Coalition opposition group, President George W. Bush signed legislation into law on 28 May 2001 ordering construction on the memorial to begin without further delay and effectively overriding any further dissent.

The dedication ceremony will be accompanied by a series of events and exhibitions including a Norman Rockwell show at the Corcoran Gallery of Art (until 7 September).

*Beyond Memory*

Memorial Din
by Tyler Green

Artnet Magazine, May 18, 2004

America deserves a National World War II Memorial that is better than this. Maybe we can tear it down and start again.

While the dedication ceremony for the new National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., is still to come -- it’s slated for May 29, 2004, at the start of the Memorial Day weekend -- the memorial itself opened to the public several weeks ago. An oblong $175 million plaza, flanked by two 43-foot-tall arched gates and 56 granite columns, each holding a pair of bronze wreaths, surrounding an oval reflecting pool with fountains, it is the strangest, ugliest major memorial in Washington.

The new monument feels as if a Fascist architect had designed a food court for the Mall of America, and then accidentally shipped it to Washington, where it was installed on a 7.4-acre plot located on the National Mall between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.

A memorial to some of America’s greatest war-time heroes should provide a place for contemplation and appreciation of the sacrifices made by those who fought for the freedom of not just America but of the entire world. And, as vague and jingoistic as this notion may sound, such a memorial should look and feel American. It should be a place that, when experienced, gives rise to thoughts of country and service.
Nothing like that can be found here. The plentiful fountains and running water create a din that drowns out all but the loudest conversations, let alone allow quiet contemplation. (This is not the gently running water that contributes to the serene spaces at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt memorial. These fountains belong at your local Six Flags.) The wide open space in the center of the memorial allows it to serve as a run-around for the children of visitors, further destroying the opportunity for introspection. Only the size of the $175-million memorial is even remotely American -- the design, by Friedrich St. Florian (whhose first large-scale project was the Providence Place Mall, according to Los Angeles Times critic Christopehr Knight), puts a premium on size. This is a memorial meant to be photographed, not absorbed.

In fact, there is nothing about the memorial design that seems to have much to do with World War II. Sure, there are some engravings that talk about the war, but is there anything about granite pillars and arches and bronze wreaths that tie them specifically to World War II? This architecture could commemorate those who lost their lives fighting on behalf of the Revolutionary War, or Greenpeace, or virtually anything else. There is no history here. In fact, this memorial is an amalgamation of designs -- it incorporates bits of several other D..C. memorials and little that is unique to the National World War II Memorial.

The memory of the sacrifices Americans made in World War II lives on in the minds of people who experienced the war. Ideally, a worthy memorial extends memory beyond the generation that lived with the people and through the event being memorialized. (Is there a better example of this, anywhere, than the Vietnam Veterans Memorial?). It’s a national shame that the National World War II Memorial doesn’t come close to accomplishing this goal.

TYLER GREEN writes about art from Washington. His blog can be found