Art Basel Prepares For Possible Occupation

MIAMI—The art world has been one of the major targets of offshoots of the Occupy Wall Street movement such as Occupy Museums!, the Wall Street Occupennialand the occupation of Sotheby’s. Though each occupier is encouraged to make her own manifesto, a common concern amongst them is the “absolute equation of art with capital,” as expressed by Occupy Museums’ Noah Fischer.

Art Basel Miami  sent out an email to participating gallerists alerting them of a potential occupation, explaining:

“I wanted you to know that we are monitoring the situation and working closely with local authorities to ensure the show’s operations, while at the same time respecting the First Amendment.”

The entire email is visible here.

While no certain information has been released regarding an occupation, there is a website andTumblr in honor of the movement. The website explains the founders of Occupy Art Basel as follows:

“We are the people who install the art, transport the art, guard the art, dress up and sit behind a desk and try to sell the art for their bosses. We are the countless artists who haven’t made it into Art Basel, into the art commodity marketplace.”

November 30, 2011

Damien Hirst and claims of plagiarism

LONDON– It has been claimed that no fewer than 15 works produced over the years by Damien Hirst have been allegedly “inspired” by others.

While Hirst has previously faced accusations that works including his diamond skull came from the imagination of other artists, the new allegations include his “crucified sheep”, medicine cabinets, spin paintings, spot paintings, installation of a ball on an air-jet, his anatomical figure and cancer cell images.

Charles Thomson, the artist and co-founder of the Stuckists, a group campaigning for traditional artistry, collated the number of plagiarism claims relating to Hirst’s work for the latest issue of the Jackdaw art magazine.

He came up with 15 examples, with eight said to be new instances of plagiarism. The tally includes the medicine cabinets that Hirst first displayed in 1989, and its development in 1992 – a room-size installation called Pharmacy.

“Hirst puts himself forward as a great artist, but a lot of his work exists only because other artists have come up with original ideas which he has stolen,” said Thomson. “Hirst is a plagiarist in a way that would be totally unacceptable in science or literature.”

Aggrieved artists include John LeKay, a Briton who says he first thought of nailing a lamb’s carcass to wood like a cross in 1987, only to see it reproduced by Hirst. Lekay previously claimed in 2007 that he had been producing jewel-encrusted skulls since 1993, before Hirst did so. While Hirst is one of Britain’s richest men, LeKay cannot live off his art. Accusing Hirst of being dishonest about where he gets his ideas, he said: “He should just tell the truth.”

November 28, 2011

Berkeley Faculty: No Confidence in Chancellor Over Campus Police Violence

BERKELEY– Today, the Berkeley Academic Senate will vote on a resolution expressing “no confidence” in their chancellor, Robert Birgeneau, because of police violence against Occupy Cal campus activists there on November 9. The chancellor’s defense of police conduct was particularly outrageous: “It is unfortunate that some protesters chose to obstruct the police by linking arms,” he declared the day after the police confrontation. “This is not non-violent civil disobedience.”

A million people have seen the YouTube video of peaceful demonstrators with linked arms being jabbed by cops with batons. Many more saw the video on TV—Stephen Colbert featured it on his show, commenting “Look at these vicious students attacking these billy clubs with their soft, jab-able bellies!”

In response to the chancellor’s statement that linking arms “is not non-violent,” students covered the campus with pictures of Martin Luther King linking arms with other civil rights leaders at the 1963 March on Washington. And some faculty members responded by proposing a vote of “no confidence” in the chancellor.

Some say they will vote against the resolution because they don’t want to get rid of the chancellor, who, they say, has been good at other tasks. But Wendy Brown, professor of political science, one of the authors of the resolution, says “we’re not calling for his resignation. We’re trying to effect a dramatic change in policy.”

November 28, 2011

100 CUNY Students Attacked by NYPD at the Public Board of Trustee Hearing at Baruch

NYC—On Nov 22nd Students, Faculty, and peacefully entered the Baruch lobby to attend the public meeting of the Board of Trustees and were immediately met by a line of police carrying large wooden truncheons and blocking access to the building. Students who were on the official roster of speakers were also denied access. At no time did the students, faculty, and staff attempt to push past the massed police officers, nor to confront them physically in any way. The police directed them to the first-floor overflow room where the meeting would be televised live. Knowing that their voices would not be heard in the broadcast room, they decided that we would hold an assembly in the lobby and allow people to tell their stories and testimonies of experiences as students at CUNY. Many sat down on the ground so that speakers could stand and be heard.

Shortly after sitting down, police began pushing them toward the wall. The suggestion provided in the CUNY administration’s statement that anyone “surged forward toward the college’s identification turnstiles, where they were met by CUNY Public Safety officers and Baruch College officials”.  As the officers continued to push protestors away from the public meeting, they blocked all exits from the lobby but a single, revolving door, through which protestors were forced to walk one at a time. Many of the peaceful protesters were shoved violently by the campus police, jabbed and struck in their ribs with wooden truncheons, and left badly bruised. At least one student was struck in the face.  Those who refused to leave were told that they would be arrested; when one person identified himself to officers as a CUNY faculty member and asked on what charge he would be arrested, he was not given an answer. Another officer blurted, “Because it’s a riot!”

For more footage and coverage click here

November 23, 2011

Ai Weiwei investigated on porn charges

BEIJING– Chinese police are investigating Ai Weiwei on pornography charges, the artist said Friday, in the latest move against the outspoken government critic following his detention and a massive tax bill. The latest accusations center on old pictures posted online of the activist — who spent 81 days in secret police detention earlier this year and was later accused of evading taxes on a huge scale — posing with naked women.

Ai said authorities had accused him before of producing pornography, but he had not taken the charge seriously.

“When they detained me, they said ‘this is pornography,’ but I just laughed, I said, ‘do you know what pornography is?’” he said. “Nudity is not pornography.”

The pictures show Ai and four women, all naked, sitting on chairs in the middle of a bare white room.

The latest development comes after Ai this week began the process of challenging a bill for 15 million yuan (US$2.4 million) in alleged back taxes by paying an 8.45 million yuan guarantee to authorities.

November 22, 2011

Bank Lobby Plans Attack on Occupy Movement

NEW YORK– A financial services lobbying firm has floated a $850,000 plan to undermine Occupy Wall Street Movement. They have a new message for the Occupy movement: don’t mess with our money.

A well-known financial services lobbying firm based in Washington has come up with a plan that would funnel close to $1 million in funds towards undermining the Occupy Wall Street and other Occupy protests.

According to MSNBC’S “Up With Chris Hayes,” lobbying firm Clark Lytle Geduldig & Cranford sent a memo to the American Bankers Association with an outline for the plan, which suggests, among other things, doing “opposition research” on the Occupy movement in order to help construct “negative narratives” about protesters and the politicians who support them.

The memo states, according to MSNBC, that wins by Democrats in 2012 elections would be detrimental to Wall Street firms — and suggests specific races in which Republicans would be more friendly to the financial industry. If Democrats fully embrace the movement, the memo says, “this would mean more than just short-term political discomfort for Wall Street…it has the potential to have very long-lasting political, policy and financial impacts on the companies in the center of the bullseye.”

Another part of the memo — authored with the help of two former aides of House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) — reportedly frets that the Occupy movement and the Tea Party movement might actually find common ground and become even more politically potent by joining forces.

November 22, 2011

The Story Behind Occupy Wall Street’s “Bat Signal”

NEW YORK– Yesterday’s N17 Day of Action, for the second month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, took the city by storm with demonstrators by the thousands crowding Union Square, Foley Square and flooding the Brooklyn Bridge. In probably one of the most awe-inspiring things to come out of this movement yet, OWS projected a “bat signal” onto the Verizon building located near the Brooklyn Bridge, sending their message out to the entire city. The projection flashed the following statements in quick succession:


Mark Read, the mastermind of the bat signal tells of how he pulled it off:

Opposite the Verizon building, there is a bunch of city housing. Subsidized, rent-controlled. There’s a lack of services, lights are out in the hallways, the housing feels like jails, like prisons. I walked around, and put up signs in there offering money to rent out an apartment for a few hours. I didn’t say much more. I received surprisingly few calls, and most of them seemed not quite fully there. But then I got one call from a sane person Her name was Denise Vega. She lived on the 16th floor. Single, working mom, mother of three.

I spoke with her on the phone, and a few days later went over and met her.

I told her what I wanted to do, and she was enthused. The more I described, the more excited she got.

Her parting words were, “let’s do this.”

Read wrote the slogans for the projection, while Max Nova and JR Skola, from the art group Dawn of Man did the graphics. The projection started as protesters made their way across the Brooklyn Bridge.

November 22, 2011

Guerrilla Librarians in Our Midst

NYC—One of many segments of the Occupy Wall Street movement has been thinking about the cold months ahead, and even beyond that. They are the “guerrilla librarians” — the people organizing and distributing books and periodicals to keep the demonstrators informed and entertained. A library was established in Zuccotti Park at the very start of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, and it has received a good deal of attention. Several more sprang up as the protests spread. With the occupation movement, decentralized improvisation is the name of the game, so it’s impossible to tell just how many libraries have sprung up. But they exist in Boston and Philadelphia, in Portland, Ore. and Halifax, Nova Scotia, among other places. They are staffed by a mixture of professional librarians and activist volunteers, with “stacks” created through donations from publishers, bookstores, and individuals.

Just keeping their collections running has been plenty demanding. But that’s where a slowdown in activity during the cold months could help the libraries consolidate themselves while also establishing contacts with one another. The blog of the flagship OWS library now serves as an unofficial journal providing information and advice for the whole milieu. A stronger network is likely to come out of the American Library Association meeting in Dallas in January, where an informal working group of library and information-science professionals who supporting the occupation movement will get together to compare notes.

As with the “book bloc” that formed during protests against education cuts in Italy and elsewhere some month back, the occupation libraries seem like a new development. And a welcome one, after too many years of demonstrations where the cultural tone was set by giant papier-mâché puppets engaged in mirthless satire. (I used to feel guilty for wanting to see them consumed in flames, but eventually realized that this was a pretty common desire.)

November 16, 2011

Occupy Wall Street evicted, now occupies a new corner

NYC—On the heels of November 17th planned day of mass action, including a student strike, Zuccotti is evicted. Hundreds of supporters of Occupy Wall Street vowed Tuesday to keep up their protests, convening  at a busy corner for a meeting to discuss their next move; the city, meanwhile, appeared headed for a legal showdown over its eviction of protesters from the group’s encampment.

A hearing was scheduled later on protesters’ quest for an order to prohibit the city from banning tents, sleeping bags and campers from Zuccotti Park, a privately owned park that was cleared of protesters in a surprise early morning raid.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he had hoped to reopen the park to the public at 8 a.m., but at a news conference early Tuesday he said he wanted the issue of the restraining order to be settled before his next move.

As a result, a handful of people who had bypassed police barriers and entered the park in lower Manhattan after a power-cleaning were shooed out by authorities, and the space remained off-limits at least for the time being. But angry and often distraught Occupy Wall Street supporters moved themselves a few blocks away to the corner of Canal Street and 6th Avenue, where they began planning a general assembly meeting to plan their next move. Some also went to Foley Square, marching past City Hall en route.

“Today it’s about reclaiming our park,” Natas Rivera, one of the people who marched to Foley Square, told a reporter.

November 15, 2011

Arts’ bright broadband future

AUSTRALIA– On Monday night in Melbourne, the Australian Business Arts Foundation (AbaF) brought together a panel of speakers working in virtual spaces to challenge the thinking of those still firmly in the physical, and explore what opportunities faster broadband speeds may bring to the arts.

Brad Howarth, freelance journalist and co-author of A Faster Future set the scene for the session, highlighting that the Internet brings an end to scarcity and geographic barriers, and the National Broadband Network (NBN) is an accelerator.

Howarth introduced some concepts that may have been new to some in the audience. For instance, augmented reality, citing a virtual tour of the Dresden gallery ( and Australian entrepreneurs ( providing enhanced visitor experiences at the Powerhouse Museum and Sculpture by the Sea. Also, the ‘new’ new media such as YouTube community channels, that provide an alternative way for designers to conceptualise and then materialise.

November 15, 2011

NY Catholic Group Wants Brooklyn Museum to Cut Wojnarowicz Video from Show

BROOKLYN- Here we go again. Almost a year after the controversy at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, Catholic groups in New York have started to raise alarm over David Wojnarowicz’s unfinished film ”A Fire In My Belly“ (1986-7) in the exhibition Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture at the Brooklyn Museum.

Like before, the groups are offended by an 11-second clip of the film, which shows ants crawling over a crucifix in a representation of human suffering. As the Daily News reports the Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn has sent a letter to the Brooklyn Museum, asking the museum to pull the film. Last year on December 1, otherwise known as A Day Without Art or World AIDS Day, the Smithsonian chose to take down the film because of pressure from the National Catholic League and House Republicans John Boehner and Eric Cantor.

November 15, 2011

Reporting from the Front Lines at Wednesday’s Sotheby’s Protest

NYC- At the huge protest by the Local 814 art handlers in front of Sotheby’s this Wednesday, the divide between the 1% and the 99% in the art world could not have been clearer. While protesters chanted, whistled and booed from the heavily barricaded picket lines, wealthy auction attendees were rushed into the building by security. Wednesday marked the second of two major contemporary art sales at the auction house that included million dollar masterpieces by Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still, de Kooning and Gerhard Richter to name a few. This high profile sale was the most opportune time for the art handlers to make their voices heard and let Sotheby’s know that will not accept no for an answer on a better contract agreement.

Before heading to Sotheby’s I met with members of Occupy Museums at Zuccotti Park who have taken on the struggle of the locked-out art handlers and have joined them in protests against Sotheby’s. After searching through the maze of tents that have recently sprung up in the park, I finally found Blithe Riley holding a mini General Assembly to get participants ready for the evening’s action: Occupy Sotheby’s. Riley, who is a member of Occupy Museums and the newly formed Arts and Labor Group, told the small crowd, “Occupy Wall Street stands with organized labor.”

November 15, 2011

Colombian Students clog capital to protest education reforms

BOGOTA– Tens of thousands of students skipped class to chant, march and dance down the streets of the capital Thursday, paralyzing the city amid an ongoing struggle over the future of higher education.

The protests, which also brought out labor unions, professors and high school students, emerged as one of the most stubborn problems in the 15-month administration of President Juan Manuel Santos and echo similar marches in Chile.

On Wednesday Santos offered to kill the reform bill if students would return to class. But organizers insist the government must back down first. “It’s only thanks to the marches and the national strike that the government agreed to withdraw the bill at all,” said Andres Rincon, a spokesman for the national student coalition that has fueled the movement.

The government says the reforms, known as Law 30, will strengthen the university system by plowing an additional $3.5 billion into higher education over the next decade, boosting enrolment by 600,000 and offering scholarships to top students

Teacher and student organizations say the government’s plan is unrealistic and will leave already cash-strapped universities in even worse shape as they try to absorb the additional students.

November 14, 2011

City wide student strike November 17

NEW YORK– As part of the Week of Action in Defense of Education and in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street and Organized Labor events planned for the same day, the NYC Student Assembly has called for a city-wide Student Strike on Thursday, November 17th.

November 14, 2011

Saudi artist targeted over Jerusalem show

JERUSALEM– The Saudi artist Ahmed Mater has become the subject of an online campaign in Saudi Arabia calling for his immediate censure by the Saudi government, following the inclusion of his work Evolution of Man, 2010, in an exhibition in Israel.

The show, “West End”, opened this summer at Jerusalem’s Museum on the Seam, a socio-political contemporary art museum on the edge of the ultra-orthodox Jewish neighbourhood of Mea She’arim. The display garnered extensive media coverage largely thanks to the participation, alongside 21 other artists, of seven non-Israeli artists of Middle Eastern origin. Of these, only two live permanently in the country of their birth: the Egyptian artist Moataz Nasr and Mater.

Several weeks after the opening of “West End” in Jerusalem, messages predominantly from fellow Saudis began to appear on Mater’s Facebook page. One female Saudi artist wrote (in English): “This is treason at the highest level. He [Mater] should be made an example of.”

In late August, names began to be gathered for a petition against Mater. Now this is set to be presented to the Saudi minister of the interior, the minister of foreign affairs, the Association of Fine Arts and ultimately King Abdullah.

November 14, 2011

Yvonne Rainer Denounces Marina Abramovic’s Planned MOCA Gala Performance

L.A.—The Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art’s annual gala is one of the most highly anticipated events of the fall art season — previous editions have included such headliners as Lady Gaga and guests like Brangelina — and this year it may also be among the most controversial. The November 12 party, which boasts performance artist Marina Abromavic as creative director and musician Debbie Harry as an honoree, is already ruffling some feathers in the local art community. Renowned dancer, choreographer, and filmmaker Yvonne Rainerhas written a letter to MOCA director Jeffrey Deitch indicting Abramovic’s planned performance for the event, which she calls “grotesque” and “verg[ing] on economic exploitation.” The complaint was also signed by a number of art figures including Douglas Crimp, Tom Knechtel, and Monica Majoli.

Rainer was compelled to write to Deitch after hearing an account of the audition process from a friend, who told Rainer that she felt the performers were being “taken advantage of.” According to the friend’s emailed account, which was obtained by ARTINFO, performers will spend three hours with their their heads protruding through the gala’s tabletops, kneeling on Lazy Susans below to slowly rotate in circles while maintaining eye contact with guests. Other performers will lay nude on tables with fake skeletons on top of them, recreating Abramovic’s famous “Nude With Skeleton” performance, as reperformers did at her MoMA retrospective. Participants will be paid $150 and receive a one-year MOCA membership. “Of course we were warned that we will not be able to leave to pee, etc. That diners may try to feed us, give us drinks, fondle us under the table, etc., but will be warned not to,” read the email. “Whatever happens, we are to remain in performance mode and unaffected.”

November 11, 2011

McGill students violently forced off campus

MONTREAL—Over 100 riot police stormed McGill campus this evening, forcefully dispersing student demonstrators that had gathered in front of the James Administration building. Pepper spray, tear gas, and physical force were used by police against demonstrators who were protesting the detainment and violence used by McGill Security against 13 McGill students, who had occupied Principal Heather Munroe-Blum’s office starting at around 3:45 p.m.

At 4:05 p.m., a group of approximately fifty students entered McGill campus after news of the occupation in James Admin reached the demonstrators. The occupiers called and texted supporters, telling them that McGill Security had begun to use force.The demonstration in front of James Admin began peacefully, with students forming a human chain around the building and demanding access.

Several students were pepper sprayed in the face, and a brief confrontation took place between demonstrators and police. Demonstrators pushed police back and officers rode away, to the cheering of students. As they left, police dodged items thrown by the crowd.Shortly after 5 p.m., about forty riot police entered the campus through the Milton Gates, beating their shields with batons. Police pushed the crowd towards the Arts and Ferrier buildings. Demonstrators were pepper sprayed after pushing back against the police lines in front of James Administration.

According to SPVM’s automated media update, there were four arrests from Thursday’s demonstration, three men and one woman. Immediately after the demonstration outside James Admin broke up, McGill student groups, including SSMU, QPIRG, and McGill University First Aid Service began mobilizing to offer support to demonstrators who had been affected.

November 11, 2011

Eleven arrested after shutting down traffic near UCLA

L.A.—Eleven people were arrested Wednesday during a protest in Westwood that shut down traffic in multiple directions, police say. The protesters started at UCLA, and most were UCLA students. Los Angeles police and organizers say about 200 people demonstrated Wednesday afternoon at Wilshire and Westwood boulevards, disrupting traffic in the busy intersection.

Demonstrators first marched from Bruin Plaza at UCLA to nearby Bank of America. Then, protesters formed a circle in the middle of the intersection. LAPD Sgt. Mitzi Fierro tells a local wire service that 11 people were arrested on suspicion of unlawful assembly after refusing to disperse. UCLA graduate student Jason Ball says protesters were expressing outrage over UCLA budget cuts and fee hikes, bank bailouts and economic injustice.

The Times reports the group is also hoping to bring attention to the banking industry’s role in student debt level and the housing foreclosures that make it difficult for families to send children to college, activists say.

November 10, 2011

Thousands of Quebec students march over tuition fees

QUÉBEC—As many as 200,000 students are expected on the streets across Quebec Thursday to protest a proposed tuition fee increase.University and CEGEP students boycotted classes Thursday and students from Dawson College in Montreal had blocked the entrance to a metro station. The demonstrations are expected to peak around 2 p.m. when thousands of students and their supporters plan to gather downtown to march through the Montreal’s streets and towards government offices.  As of early Thursday afternoon, there were no reports of violence or arrests.

Quebec Finance Minister Raymond Bachand announced the province’s tuition rates, by far lowest in the country, will increase by $325 a year over a five-year period as a means of increasing university funding and cutting provincial debt. The increases will result in an annual tuition price tag of $3,793 for fulltime students in Quebec by 2017.

The current average annual tuition in Quebec is about $2,415. Even with the increase, Premier Jean Charest has said, Quebec’s tuition rates will still be the lowest in the country.  Charest has vowed he will not back down on the tuition hike, which is being welcomed by university administrators who have claimed for years they are grossly underfunded and need a higher source of revenue.

November 10, 2011

Cornell College $100M Gift for WCMC Came From Former Enron Director

NEW YORK—Former Enron director Robert Belfer was revealed on Wednesday to be the anonymous benefactor behind a $100 million donation to help finance a state-of-the-art research building at Weill Cornell Medical College. The project was first approved by the Board of Trustees in January 2010. The newly-named “Belfer Research Building,” scheduled to open in 2014, will more than double the amount of research space for Weill faculty. At a total cost of $625 million, the 480,000-square-foot facility is the most expensive building project in Cornell’s history.

The Belfer family lost nearly $2 billion in the 2001 Enron collapse, according to The New York Times. Belfer is now chair of his family’s investment firm, Belfer Management, LLC, and has  served on Weill Cornell’s Board of Overseers since 1989. The gift is the family’s largest to date, according to Dr. Antonio Gotto, dean of WCMC. Gotto said the donation may have been motivated by the fact that two of Belfer’s sisters died from cancer. Describing the family as “very generous,” Gotto said that the Belfers had previously supported Weill Cornell faculty chairships as well as gene therapy and oncology facilities.

According to Gotto, the medical college’s lack of space at its Upper East Side campus has inhibited the potential of Cornell researchers by limiting the amount of space they have to conduct research.

November 10, 2011

Day of Action sweeps across Universities in California

CALIFORNIA—Along with the Nov. 9 Day of Action on the UC Berkeley campus, 10 other demonstrations took place Wednesday at college campuses throughout the state. The statewide protests were intended to mark the beginning of a week of protests leading up to the meetings of the CSU Board of Trustees and UC Board of Regents Nov. 16. The various protests at UCs, CSUs and a community college involved several marches, demonstrations outside banks and the arrest of 11 UCLA students, according to The Daily Bruin. The largest protests were held at UC Berkeley and UC Irvine,  each attracting more than 1,000 demonstrators.

The day’s events were largely organized by ReFund California, a group hoping to increase higher education funding through new taxes and other means, according Charlie Eaton, a UC Berkeley graduate student and financial secretary of UAW Local 2865 — a union representing more than 12,000 graduate student workers in the UC system and one of the main organizers of the protest. Protests also took place Tuesday with demonstrations at California State University, Fresno, and California State University, Sacramento.

November 10, 2011

Occupy Oakland: Streets taken over in general strike

OAKLAND- The streets of Oakland, California, echoed with the voices of tens of thousands of people determined to take a stand on November 2. Workers, students, activists and people from all walks of life responded to the call for a general strike by Occupy Oakland. The last general strike in the United States was in 1946 (also in Oakland).

November 9, 2011

Reports point to Arts Funding supporting a elite audiences

WASHINGTON — Billions of dollars in arts funding is serving a mostly wealthy, white audience that is shrinking while only a small chunk of money goes to emerging art groups that serve poorer communities that are more ethnically diverse, according to a report being released Monday.

The report from the Washington-based National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, a watchdog group, shows foundation giving has fallen out of balance with the nation’s increasingly diverse demographics. The report was provided to The Associated Press before its release.

November 8, 2011

Kenyan workers given yellow balloons to cheer up

NAIROBI– An artist has given thousands of yellow balloons to Kenyan commuters to take to work and counter their Monday-morning blues. Yazmany Arboleda, the US artist behind the stunt, told the BBC Monday mornings were usually a heavy moment for people. He said he wanted to give away 10,000 balloons to change this perception.

“The big idea is to insert the iconography of celebration… [into] the habitual nature of working life,” he told the BBC’s Network Africa programme. ”We’re celebrating them as they go to work and explaining that art is not just a photograph or a sculpture or a painting – it is this choreographed set of balloons as they spread throughout the city.”

Kenya has been on high alert for the last three weeks since the government sent troops to Somalia in pursuit of al-Shabab militants it blames for a spate of recent kidnappings. Since then there have been two grenade attacks in the city, blamed on sympathisers of the group.

“I find that this work is even more significant now that Kenya’s social climate has been dampened by the al-Shabab threats and the recent attacks… I believe strongly that countering grenades with balloons could send an important message to the Nairobi community and the world at large,”  Mr Arboleda said in a statement.

November 7, 2011

Occupy Miami protests the Miami Art Institute

MIAMI- A small but boisterous crowd of Occupy Miami activists stood in front of an open house at the Miami International Art Institute Saturday to protest what they called unfair student loan and recruitment practices by the school’s parent company, the Education Management Corp., which is partly owned by the financial firm Goldman Sachs.

“We’re here to shut down this down, end this,” said Kevin Young, a 27-year-old protester from Midtown Miami. “We don’t believe any of us should be slaves to Goldman.”

Read more click here

November 7, 2011

Malaysia bans Islamic sex guide

MALAYSIA– Malaysia has banned an Islamic sex guide published by a controversial group that urges Muslim men in polygamous marriages to have group sex with their wives.

Anyone found in possession of the guide, published by a group called the Obedient Wives Club, can face fines of $16,000 and anyone caught copying it can face up to three years in jail. The Star Daily newspaper reports that a top official in the ministry’s publications division says the book has been banned because of the club’s links to outlawed group Al-Arqam.

The 115-page pocket-sized guide to Islamic sex was released a week ago by the OWC, which was launched in June. In its foreword, the book says studies showed women only gave their husbands “10 per cent” of what men desired of their wives’ bodies. It contains explicit sex details, devotes a chapter to “how sex becomes worship” and even reportedly urges Muslim men in polygamous marriages to have group sex with their wives.

Fauziah Ariffin, president of the OWC, denies the book promotes polygamy.

November 7, 2011

St.Mark’s Bookshop gets Rent Reduction from University Landlord

NYC—A deal has been reached to reduce the rent for St. Mark’s Bookshop, an East Village institution whose problems over the past year prompted an outpouring of support from neighbors and literary figures. The deal came after months in which the store’s owners said they would be forced to close unless their landlord, the Cooper Union, cut their rent.

As recently as last week, after he and his business partner, Terry McCoy, met with college officials, they were not expecting a deal to be achieved, Mr. Contant said. That changed on Tuesday, said the Manhattan borough president, Scott M. Stringer, who met with both parties to work out an agreement. At a meeting in Mr. Stringer’s office, the college agreed to reduce the store’s rent to about $17,500 a month from about $20,000 for one year, and to forgive $7,000 in debt. The school will also provide student help with revising the store’s business plan.

The store owners previously said they needed a monthly reduction of $5,000 to remain in business. “I tried to split the difference,” Mr. Stringer said, adding that he intervened because the store, open since 1977, was important to the neighborhood’s cultural life. “When an independent bookstore goes out of business, a part of us goes with it. In my neighborhood, on the Upper West Side, when Shakespeare and Company went out of business, West Siders lost something that they couldn’t get back.”

The Cooper Union, which gives every student a full scholarship, has its own financial problems and announced on Monday that it might begin charging tuition.

November 7, 2011

Warhol Foundation Asks Appeals Court to Overturn Prince Copyright Infringement Finding

NYC—The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts announced that it has filed an amicus brief in New York urging a federal appeals court to overturn a lower court ruling that found that artist Richard Prince’s “Canal Zone” series of appropriated photographs infringed upon the copyright protection of the original photographer, Patrick Cariou.

The brief alleges that the District Court used too narrow a standard of fair use doctrine, which thereby infringes on the free speech and expression rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. The Warhol Foundation acknowledges that it owns valuable copyrights, but also notes that copyright protection should be balanced against the rights of artists to create new art referencing previous work.

November 4, 2011

Havard Students Walk Out of Ec 10 in Solidarity with ‘Occupy’

BOSTON—On Nov 2nd,  70 Harvard student protesters walked out of Economics 10 on Wednesday afternoon, expressing dissatisfaction with what they perceive to be an overly conservative bias in the course. The walkout was meant to be a show of support for the “Occupy” movement’s principal criticism that conservative economic policies have increased income inequality in the United States.

“Today, we are walking out of your class, Economics 10, in order to express our discontent with the bias inherent in this introductory economics course. We are deeply concerned about the way that this bias affects students, the University, and our greater society,” read a statement issued by the organizers. Economics 10 is taught by professor N. Gregory Mankiw, and has the highest enrollment of any course at the College, boasting over 700 enrollees.

At 12:15 p.m. students stood up en masse and walked out of Sanders Theatre, where Ec 10 lectures are held. Some students carried signs, but most left carrying just their backpacks. As the demonstrators marched out of Sanders Theatre, a small crowd booed them in support of Mankiw. After walking out, the group gathered in the hallway outside of the theater, standing in a circle and speaking out about the event.

Gabriel H. Bayard ’15, another organizer of the walk out, said that he believes the course is emblematic of the economic policies that have led the financial crisis. “Ec 10 is a symbol of the larger economic ideology that created the 2008 collapse. Professor Mankiw worked in the Bush administration, and he clearly has a conservative ideology,” Bayard said. “His conservative views are the kind that created the collapse of 2008. This easy money focus on enriching the wealthiest Americans—he really operates with that ideology.”

To read the letter addressed to Professor Mankiw click here

November 3, 2011

Scholar in row over Gaddafi ties is to leave LSE

An academic involved in the scandal over links between the Gaddafi regime and the London School of Economics is to leave the institution ahead of a report into the affair.

David Held, often described as an “informal academic adviser” to Saif Gaddafi, son of the fallen Libyan leader Mu’ammer Gaddafi, during his time at the LSE, will become chair of politics and international relations and master of University College at Durham University on 1 January.

Professor Held had been a co-director the LSE’s Global Governance research centre, which was shut on 31 July. The closure followed criticism of the LSE’s acceptance of a £1.5 million gift to the Global Governance ­centre from the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation.

to read more click here

November 2, 2011

Occupy the universities

U.S.- At the beginning of the month, college students took part in the Occupy Wall Street protest. According to a report from Marketplace (American Public Media), it was about forgiving student loan debt. Gregory Warner of Marketplace says “students are taking on more of the riskiest kind of debt — these unregulated private student loans — where you have the least protection and pay the highest interest rates, up to 19 percent. So the argument you hear is, ‘You’ve bailed out Wall Street, what about us?’ Forgive student loans, you boost the economy because you put hundreds of dollars a month back in the pocket of middle-class families and of young people just as they’re entering the workforce.”

November 2, 2011

Cal Arts Racist Graffiti Continues: Black Student Targeted With Swastikas and Hate Messages (VIDEO)

CALIFORNIA- Coming home from a Halloween party Friday night, California Institute of the Arts student Daine Carter was greeted by red swastikas and devil images painted on his art studio walls. “They stole some stuff, and they used my paint brushes,” Carter told CBS.

While this was a first for Carter, it follows several other racist graffiti incidents on the campus in recent months, including the tag “Niggers are morally corrupt.” Cal Arts student Sasha Swedlund told CBS, “My studio has been broken into three times. The first time it was broken into and spray-painted everywhere.”

November 2, 2011

Study Says Artists Have Higher Salaries

Artists in America constitute a tiny portion of the nation’s work force, but they tend to be more entrepreneurial, better educated and, with a median salary of $43,230, better paid than the average worker by nearly $4,000, according to a survey released Friday by the National Endowment for the Arts. Nearly 2.1 million Americans — 1.4 percent of the total work force — fit into the 11 occupations that the government counts under the artist heading. That includes comics and movie stars, set designers and floral designers. Six in 10 have college degrees, compared with 1 in 3 over all, and 1 out of 3 are self-employed (3.5 times more likely than the average worker). But can you make a living? Mom and Dad want to know. No problem if you become a movie star, concert master or architect (whose median annual salary is $63,000). But the median income drops to $30,000 or less in acting, photography, music or dance. When was the last time your waiter was a part-time actor?

November 2, 2011

Seattle Protestors ‘Occupy’ Halloween

SEATTLE- Occupy Seattle protesters, now in their fourth week of demonstrations, haven’t given up the ghost yet — far from it. They had fun with the Halloween-themed weekend to focus attention on their cause, staging a mock funeral service for the death of Corporate America, complete with a brass band; a Sufi priest; mourners in black with umbrellas, and funeral dancing. The protestors have moved their encampment to Seattle Central Community College, but go back to the original site at Westlake Park during the day, providing a route for frequent marches.

Hundreds of protesters gathered in the park on Saturday, October 29, bowing their heads to pay their final “respects” to the faceless concept of corporate greed and oppression. Mourners gathered around a draped coffin, dressed in black and huddled beneath a sea of black umbrellas.

November 2, 2011

Royal Alberta Museum on hold after Ottawa pulls funding

EDMONTON- The new Royal Alberta Museum in downtown Edmonton was put on hold indefinitely Wednesday after the province announced that Ottawa has pulled $92 million in funding.

“We’re surprised and disappointed with this news but obviously it’s not appropriate for me to move forward through the contracting phase,” Infrastructure Minister Jeff Johnson said in a hastily-called news conference Wednesday evening.

“And the Nov. 16 deadline for signing contracts will not be able to be met under these circumstances.”

November 2, 2011

The 20 Most Powerless People in the Art World: 2011 Edition

1 — Sotheby’s Art Handlers — What does an auction house that’s had a great year catering to the 1% do? Cut out some of the 99%, of course. And that’s what Sotheby’s did in early August when they locked out unionized art handlers and brought in scabs. Keep it classy, Sotheby’s.

2 — Artists Making Work on an iDevice Who Aren’t David Hockney— The old guy has cornered the market, give up.

3 — The Last Artist in the World to Ask His or Her Artist Friends to Back their Kickstarter Project — Everyone is poor and fine artists are even poorer, so why are you asking everyone for donations. So you discovered Kickstarter, yes, you’re the only one.

to read more click here

November 2, 2011

Occupy London moves from St Paul’s site to Tate Modern

LONDON- A number of OLSX protesters have set up a small camp on the green in front of Tate Modern, on the South Bank. The splinter site was set up at 3:00 am this morning and consists of around eleven protesters. One arrest has been made. The protesters have stated that they have the legal right to camp and this is a civil matter which must go through the proper court channels, in order to secure an eviction notice. The green area between Tate Modern is jointly owned by Southwark Council and Tate and is considered a thoroughfare. No one from the Tate was available for comment and the museum which opens at 10:00-am are expected to release a statement later today. Tate Modern is one of London’s most popular tourist attractions.

The Anti-capitalist protesters are expected to be presented with a 48 hour eviction notice to vacate the Occupy London protest at St Paul’s Cathedral today or face legal action and forceable eviction. The City of London Corporation is to hand them a letter warning that High Court action will be taken unless the campsite is cleared within 48 hours.The situation has divided the church, with another senior resignation creating havoc among the ranks. The camp and tents will have to move and the Tate site is just accross the milenium bridge on the otherside of the river Thames.

November 1, 2011

China Sends Outspoken Artist $2.4 Million Tax Bill

BEIJING — Outspoken artist Ai Weiwei said Tuesday that Chinese authorities are demanding he pay $2.4 million in back taxes and fines in a new show of government pressure on the dissident detained for nearly three months earlier this year.

The Beijing Local Taxation Bureau gave the artist notice Tuesday that he owed more than 15 million yuan ($2.36 million), after serving a similar notice in June for a smaller amount, Ai said in a phone interview.

The new notice gave him around 10 days to make the payment, without saying what might happen if he failed, he said.

November 1, 2011

Art in Prisons

SYDNEY– The review, ‘Art in Prisons’ A literature review of the philosophies and impacts of visual arts programs for correctional populations by Alexandra Djurichkovic, was commissioned by Arts Access Australia, to examine evidence for the value of visual arts programs in Australian prisons and their impact on adult inmates. It considers current philosophies behind art programs, how they are implemented and how ‘success’ is measured, and includes an annotated bibliography of relevant literature.

From June 2008 to June 2010 the Australian prison population increased by 7% from 27,615 to 29,700 prisoners (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2010). A 2003 study found 76% of inmates in NSW had recorded a psychiatric disorder compared with 22% in the general population. Commonly these disorders include psychosis, anxiety, affective disorders, substance abuse and personality disorders. For female prisoners, a Queensland study in 2002 found, 81% had post traumatic stress disorder, 75% had been physically or sexually abused and 39% had attempted suicide; 38% had drug related problems. It is in this context that the benefits of art programs for those incarcerated in prisons should be considered.

November 1, 2011

SACI Florence Italy
School of Visual Arts
St. John\'s University
Malmö Art Academy
M.I.T. Program in Art, Culture and Technology
CCS Bard