January 27, 2010

"Taqwacore": the Birth of Punk Islam

I want to see this:

(Thanks, Julie!)

Great Article on How Timmeh Blew It,

here. A few choice 'graphs (if you're not quite sure why it's the credit derivatives that mattered [and still matter] most [as opposed to, say, excessive bonuses or sub-prime mortgages], you might want to see my previous posts here and here):

It was mid-2008 and a little-noticed wrangle was taking place . . . . On one side . . . stood a group of banks that included Merrill Lynch of the US and France’s Société Générale. On the other: Security Capital Assurance (SCA), a Bermuda-based bond insurer that had run into difficulties as the US subprime mortgage market imploded. At stake was how much money the banks should receive on insurance contracts that SCA provided for complex pools of mortgage securities known as collateralised debt obligations, or CDOs.

Among other reasons, the banks had bought the insurance – called credit default swaps, or CDSs – to protect themselves against a panic just like the one sweeping the markets at that time. But SCA lacked sufficient capital to pay the claims in full and the banks feared that if the insurer went under, they would receive nothing.

Something had to give. After heated talks, Merrill agreed that July to cancel its CDS contracts for a pay-out of 14 cents on the dollar – a severe “haircut,” in market parlance. The other banks also reduced their original claims. At the conclusion of talks that dragged on until May 2009, not a single lender was paid in full.

That is potentially awkward for Mr. Geithner, who before joining the administration of President Barack Obama, was president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the most important regional component of the US central banking system. . . . [D]id the government, though collusion or mistake . . . take billions of dollars from the taxpayers’ purse and put them into the coffers of some of the world’s largest banks without forcing them to accept much lower payments? Why, in other words, did the counterparties of AIG [who, thanks to Mr. Geithner, received 100 cents on the dollar for their CDS's] wind up with so much better a deal than those of SCA did – some of which were the same banks?
The whole piece is well worth reading; and there's another great, related article at HuffPo discussing "documents showing that Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke covered up the fact that his staff recommended he not bail out AIG" (emphasis supplied).

January 26, 2010

Coming Soon: Dallas Art Fair

Over 50 exhibitors from Texas, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Great Britain and elsewhere will present work in a variety of media by post-war artists including Carl Andre, Charles Burchfield, John Chamberlain, Stuart Davis, Tom Friedman, Adam Fuss, Philip Guston, Donald Moffet, Man Ray, Bruce Nauman, Cornelia Parker, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Cy Twombly, and George Widener. (At right, Partial Truth by Bruce Nauman, 1997, etching, ed. of 60, image courtesy of James Kelly Contemporary; click on the image for a larger version.)


Fri., Feb. 5: 11 am - 7 pm
Sat., Feb. 6: 11 am - 7 pm
Sun., Feb. 7: 11 am - 5 pm
Fashion Industry Gallery ("F.I.G.") at 1807 Ross Avenue, Dallas, TX.
In addition, there will be two symposia, on Sat. and Sun., 10 am - 12 pm, on the Noyola collection of Frida Kahlo material at the Montgomery Arts Theater at Booker T. Washington High School.

Single Day Pass: $20
3-Day Pass: $40
VIP Pass: $400 (a portion of the proceeds from these and the Gala tix will benefit the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts)
Gala: $200
(Discounts for students, seniors, and groups.)
For more info or to buy tix, go here.

And it appears DAF is big enough to attract a satellite fair, Art in the District, which will include work from various local galleries in space donated by The Fairmont. The satellite fair will be open 12 pm - 9 pm Fri. and Sat. and 11 am - 4 pm on Sun. Admission to Art in the District will be free with a DAF ticket stub, with a $5 donation to Big Thought suggested. There will also be a silent auction benefitting EASL. More info here.

UPDATE: That Nauman makes me want to read the rest of this page backward. But I also wanted to say: on Sat., Feb. 6, at 3 pm, the Goss-Michael Foundation will host an event at the Nasher Sculpture Center with Michael Craig-Martin in conversation with Jeremy Strick, Director of the Nasher; and an exhibition of Craig-Martin's works will open the same day at the Foundation. Per Wikipedia, "Michael Craig-Martin RA . . . is a contemporary conceptual artist and painter . . . noted for his influence over the Young British Artists [Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Liam Gillick, Douglas Gordon, Steve McQueen, Richard Patterson, Marc Quinn, Yinka Shonibare, Rachel Whiteread, et al.], many of whom [Craig-Martin] taught, and for his conceptual artwork, An Oak Tree." The latter work "consists of a glass of water standing on a shelf attached to the gallery wall, next to which is a text using a semiotic argument to explain why it is in fact an oak tree."

Idiotarod SOLD


The Iditarod is the famous long-distance race in which yelping dogs tow a sled across Alaska. The IDIOTAROD is pretty much the same thing, except instead of dogs, it's people; instead of sleds, it's shopping carts; and instead of Alaska, it's New York City. The sixth annual event happens January 31, 2009.

"What's the route?
"That's up to you. We will give racers a starting line, some checkpoints and a finish line. You choose the fastest path. You will be held at each checkpoint for the facing of trials and challenges that will build your character as you journey toward victory.

"Are there rules?
"Yes, so many you almost can't count them on your fingers.

"Does my team have to bring its own shopping cart?

"Can we modify our shopping cart?
"Please do."

The Story:

Danger Zone has announced that it has SOLD control of Idiotarod to "a private waste management firm," Corporation X. Danger Zone intends to "retire from combat service and open a private grocery-store, transport-vehicle consulting racing consulting firm.

More on the sale here. More on the Idiotarod here.

Ignorance . . .

. . . may or may not be evolutionarily adaptive, but it apparently seeks to propagate itself. Some California schools have banned dictionaries because they define "oral sex" (the definition reads, "oral stimulation of the genitals"). More at the UK Guardian.

January 25, 2010

Motion to Amend

Corporations have gone after our tax dollars, our jobs, our schools, our military, our voting machines, our infrastructure, our food, and our future. And

"[o]n January 21, 2010, with its ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are persons, entitled by the U.S. Constitution to buy elections and run our government."

"Don’t just sit there and fume. . . . "
The Supreme Court's ruling was simply stunning on many levels. Regardless of whether it was correct, however, it is urgent that we get our brains around the issues involved and act quickly to prevent the final destruction of our democracy otherwise heralded by this decision.

Sign a petition, for starters, and learn what else you can do here. Wikipedia has a rough summary of some of the issues here.

January 24, 2010

Fluxus Films on YouTube

Here's Fluxfilm #1; see "Related Videos" on the YouTube page for more:

Ben sent me Fluxfilm #16 under the heading, "Why I like Yoko more than John."

UPDATE: The Fluxfilm #16 video has been removed by YouTube "for sexual content." Fortunately, you can see it here.

Caleb Larsen's "A Tool to Deceive and Slaughter"

Acrylic, custom electronics, programming, internet connection, online auction (2009). The object continually pings to check whether it's being auctioned on ebay. If not, the object creates an auction. All sales are subject to the condition that the purchaser must "send [the object] to the new owner. The new owner must then plug it into ethernet," so the process can begin again. You can see/join in the current auction here.

Per Larsen, the work is discussed in the catalogue for his 2009 exhibition, The Value of Nothing, which can be purchased or downloaded here. From Larsen via Make.

(So that's what the monolith in 2001 was.)

January 22, 2010

January 18, 2010

Re- Donations for Haiti

Please consider making your donations to the International Red Cross rather than the American Red Cross. I personally came across numerous reports of problems with the ARC while researching the Katrina disaster, and I'm not the only one; see Common Dreams; see also here and here.

January 17, 2010

Capeless Crusader

Meanwhile . . . .

Trying to keep track of ongoing as well as more recent disasters, I found myself remembering these images, which some of you may have missed (click on the images for larger versions).

They were finally made available in 2005 after a series of F.O.I.A. requests and a lawsuit charging the Pentagon with failing to comply with the Act. When the Pentagon finally complied, the faces were blacked out (the Pentagon claimed it needed to "conceal identifiable personal information of military personnel involved in the homecoming ceremonies.")

The resulting images are eerily eloquent and complex, perhaps exemplifying what Matt McCormick has called "subconscious art."

More photos and info at the National Security Archive.

Artist Jill Magid's "Authority to Remove" Is Removed by Dutch Authorities

Magid specializes in exploring issues of surveillance, privacy, secrecy, and what's inside vs. outside.

E.g., for Evidence Locker (multimedia installation with video, "Reading Room," and other components, ca. 2007), she staged performances in front of London surveillance cameras. She then "submit[ed] 31 Subject Access Request Forms – the legal document necessary to outline to the police details of how and when an 'incident' occurred" – and used the resulting footage to create the video component of the installation.

When a recent exhibition of Magid's latest project, called "Authority to Remove," closed at Tate Modern, Dutch authorities removed and sealed much of the work included in the show – work the Dutch Secret Service had originally commissioned – thus consummating the work.

Dutch law requires that a small portion of the construction budgets for public buildings be devoted to commissioning new art. The Dutch Secret Service had commissioned Magid to make some, and had cooperated with her proposal to interview agents about their personal lives.

In the course of her commission, she produced her "first novel," a book based on her interviews of 18 agents. Although she masked their identities by calling all the men "Vincent" and all the women "Miranda," "[t]he agency found her work quite challenging and dangerous . . . ." The agency ultimately agreed to allow the text to be exhibited just once, and only with some 40% of the text whited out; it also required Magid to agree that upon the show's closing, the book and her notes would be sealed and archived in the same manner as the notes of a retiring agent.

Magid is publishing the prologue and epilogue of her original text under the title, Becoming Tarden (click on the pic below for a more legible image), the entirety of which can be found online here.

In her epilogue, she quotes her agency "advisor":

How far can they go to erase your experience? . . . Besides conducting surgery on your brain, how can they succeed? You cannot be the same person after this assignment; it has profoundly affected you and altered your perception of the world. How can they remove that?

How far, indeed – here's hoping Magid has, unlike Lombardi, placed copies with a reliable friend.

From artdaily and The WSJ here and here; and see a nice slide show at The WSJ here.

Magid's site is here.; she's represented by Yvon Lambert.

January 16, 2010


would, i.m.h.o., include posts that contain quotations or other materials created by others, or asserting facts, without info or links identifying the original creators/sources, or providing credible authority.

Yeah, I'm guilty; but less than most.

Haiti: "Stop Them Before They Shock Again"

January 12, 2010

Inside FB

Fascinating interview with an anonymous employee, here (thanks, Ben!) As you know, they track everything you do and save it forever, regardless of any deletions you may think you've made.

I also note that, taking this employee's lowest estimate of the number of active users and her highest estimate of the number of servers, there are 27,500 users per server. She also says an in-progress re-coding of the site is expected to "reduce our CPU usage on our servers by 80%."

I realize FB has expenses other than the servers themselves, but I'm still not clear why a FB-like facility owned by users and accessed for a relatively small subscription fee should be expected to remain economically infeasible forever.

January 7, 2010

"While There May Be Complacency on Wall St., . . .

uptown . . . the only question is, when is the next crisis going to happen," says Nobel-winning Joseph Stiglitz.

(Thanks, girl gone mad! And to DeSwiss, who adds this quote:

America is run largely by and for about 5,000 people who are actively supported by 50,000 beavers eager to take their places. I arrive at this figure this way: maybe 2,500 megacorporation executives, 500 politicians, lobbyists and Congressional committee chairmen, 500 investment bankers, 500 partners in major accounting firms, 500 labor brokers. If you don't like my figures, make up your own.
– Robert Townsend, former head of Avis)

January 5, 2010


Feeling like your little artists' collective could use some "too-big-to-fail"?

Many years in the making, New York City-based 16 Beaver Group announced today the initiation of a complex multiyear process that will produce the largest global merger of arts and politics collectives known to date. Critics immediately attacked the move as being, “out of touch with recent developments in art and economics.” But the group argued at their press conference that the new mega-art collective, which will use the acronym C.A.R.T.E.L. (the group did not specify what each letter stands for), will soon be ready to compete within the current monopolistic anti-marketplace. C.A.R.T.E.L. plans to bring to a politicized cultural community a significant share of the benefits enjoyed by the recent slew of mega-mergers, also known as rescues, such as the few and well subsidized surviving banks that have risen from the ashes of the economic meltdown.
How about "Conglomerated ARTists of Every Leaning"? At any rate, count me in.

More at Art Work (via Temporary Services; see previous post here). To join C.A.R.T.E.L., e-mail cartel@16beavergroup.org.

January 4, 2010

And b.t.w. . . .

Happy New Year, and thank you all for coming! Please feel free to send suggestions!

(In case you were dying to know, there have now been 829 purportedly high-quality posts.)

Privacy Compressed: "The New Normal" at Diverseworks

. . . in Houston, opening Fri., Jan. 5, includes some of my favorite artists, such as Eyebeam R & D, Jonah Peretti & Michael Frumin, Harrell Fletcher, Guthrie Lonergan, Jill Magid, and Trevor Paglen. Curated by Michael Connor; more at the-new-normal and at Diverseworks. Also, on YouTube, there's video of a panel discussion of the show here and of Connor discussing the show here.

January 3, 2010

Facebook Status of a Young Muslim:


Note the 1st item (you take my water).

(Thanks, Mari333!)