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October 27, 2016 / 25 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘pictures’

What If They Commissioned an Anti-Settlements Exhibition and the Pictures Came Out Pastoral and Innocent?

Sunday, July 17th, 2016

Ragnar Kjartansson is a widely exhibited Icelandic performance artist. In a 2002 work called Death and the Children, he dressed up in a dark suit and carried a scythe, leading young children through a cemetery, answering their questions. In a 2006 live performance titled Sorrow Conquers Happiness, he wore a tuxedo and played the role of a 1940s nightclub crooner with an orchestra, singing, “Sorrow conquers happiness” over and over as the music swelled. In 2011, Kjartansson won the inaugural Malcolm Award at Performa 11, the visual art performance biennial, for his 12-hour work Bliss, which was performed without a break at the Abrons Arts Center on the Lower East Side of Manhattan with repeated performances of the finale of Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro,” the moment when the count gets down on one knee and asks his wife for forgiveness, which she grants in an aria. Icelandic tenor Kristjan Johannson played the count.

For his exhibition titled Architecture and Morality, at the Center for Contemporary Art in Tel Aviv this season, Kjartansson, according to a press release, was going to “create a new, ambitious body of paintings within the specific context of Israel. He will spend two weeks painting the urban landscapes in the West Bank ‘En plein air’ (a fancy French term the press release misspelled and which means ‘outdoors’) akin to his performative painting practice over the past few years.”

Ragnar Kjartansson settlements exhibition / Source: CCA Facebook

Ragnar Kjartansson settlements exhibition / Source: CCA Facebook

So Ragnar Kjartansson took his canvas and stand and paints and brushes and went en plein air to various Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria, and what he brought back was, well, not so bad. He painted what he saw (a paraphrase on the New Yorker’s surrealist Gahan Wilson’s book of horror cartoons), and apparently he saw none of the blood curdling evil normally associated with the term “settlements” on the corner of south Tel Aviv’s Tsadok Hacohen and Kalisher Streets, which is where the CCA is located.

Ragnar Kjartansson settlements exhibition / Source: CCA Facebook

Ragnar Kjartansson settlements exhibition / Source: CCA Facebook

Or, as Galia Yahav put it in Ha’aretz this weekend, “The houses are rendered separately, one per painting. All of them are drawn from the front and fill the canvas in the same way and from the same distance. The style is blatantly amateurish and naïve, as though from a hobby group, deliberately bland, with obedient brushstrokes and a filling of blank spaces, turgid coloration and pedantically mimetic attention to detail.”

But, most upsetting, from Yahav’s point of view, “the result is a small, suburban neighborhood of villas, completely artificial, in which little Israeli flags attached to parked cars wave in the breeze and larger ones flop from the windows of houses. Without addresses or names of specific settlements, this artistic tactic poses with feigned innocence in the likeness of a 19th-century pilgrimage, in which the Holy Land is portrayed through misty eyes.”

Ragnar Kjartansson settlements exhibition / Source: CCA Facebook

Ragnar Kjartansson settlements exhibition / Source: CCA Facebook

In other words, this cutting-edge performance artist, who was going to do to the settlements what Edvard Munch did the screaming, came away from those colonialist, apartheid-dispensing satanic neighborhoods with a fairly bland set of impressions, which is what one could expect from suburban bedroom communities anywhere.

“Perhaps the idea was to depict a generic quality of life rife with sated insensitivity – architecture as amorality,” Yahav tried to dig up some evil from under those middle class shaggy rugs. “Or perhaps it’s the realization of violent fantasy through painting: the occupied territories without Palestinians, a heaven on earth.”

Ragnar Kjartansson settlements exhibition / Source: CCA Facebook

Ragnar Kjartansson settlements exhibition / Source: CCA Facebook

Curator Chen Tamir wrote that Kjartansson’s settlements paintings “tell a story about the banality of everyday life amid complex political turmoil.” Maybe. But it ain’t in those paintings. Indeed, Tamir conceded that the entire Kjartansson exhibition “is a bold statement on art’s futility in the face of social and political strife.”

Or maybe, just maybe, the Icelandic artist discovered and then made a point leftwing art critics can’t afford to admit: that things in those Jewish settlements and in all of Judea and Samaria, just aren’t nearly as bad as they are in many other, more troubled places, such as London, Paris, Brussels, Nice and Istanbul.


Israeli Elementary School Children Take Pictures from Edge of Space

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

A group of ambitious students and parents from the Yigal Alon elementary school in Hod Hasharon, a bedroom community just east of Tel Aviv, last week shot a meteorological balloon 15 miles up, almost reaching the edge of the earth’s atmosphere, and collected images and complete flight data.

The project, dubbed “Aiming High,” was initiated by Yuval Erez, a parent who works as aeronautic engineer for military manufacturer Elbit. He managed to infect with his enthusiasm the school head, a group of parents, and 33 students, and together they “simply conquered space,” as a local newspaper put it with superlatively unabashed pride.

The students were divided into work groups, each led by a parent, Erez related, “and we started to meet for activities every Friday after school. The aim of the project was to teach the children different things, the kind they don’t learn at school; to show them that if you have a dream and you designate a target, even if it looks unattainable, like flying a documentation device to the edge of space and retrieving it, it is attainable.”

Weather balloon (illustration)

Weather balloon (illustration)

“The group purchased the technical equipment, with adjustments made by the mechanical team that built the box,” Yuval continued. The Styrofoam box, weighing 42.3 ounces, “was installed with two GoPro type cameras, a black box to record the full flight data, location respondents so we could locate the box after it landed, and a radio transmitter.”

The launch had to be coordinated with the Civil Aviation Authority and Air Force Intelligence, lest the unidentified balloon be treated as an invader and shot down prematurely.

The edge of space (Illustration)

The edge of space (Illustration)

The launch took place at the Megadim beach, north of Atlit, off the main highway to Haifa. The weather balloon, filled with helium (courtesy of the Maxima company which provided the expensive gas free of charge), reached the height of about 15 miles and blew up above Nazareth. The box parachute opened and the tiny spaceship landed in the orchards between the communities of Kinneret and Alumot, on the shore of Lake Kinneret.

“The balloon launch was not problem free,” Erez recalled. “The wind was too strong, and when the balloon was being inflated, the tether was torn and it escaped and flew a few yards off. We figured out the malfunction and the second launch was a success.” The balloon rose at the rate of 18 to 21 ft. per second, he said, and “we received flight data and stunning images from the side camera, showing the blue stripe between the black outer space and the white atmosphere at the edge of space. We even managed to get a selfie of the balloon, and shots of the moment the balloon exploded.”

And just to save our learned readers the trouble of writing a knowing comment regarding the Karman line, which commonly represents the boundary between the Earth’s atmosphere and outer space, at an altitude of 62 miles, and not 15 miles — well, we also knew that one.


Photoshopping Women Out of the Holocaust

Monday, April 8th, 2013

Today is Yom HaShoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel. My parents were both Holocaust survivors. If my father were alive today he would be 109 years old. My mother would be 99. My two brothers who were in the early teens when they were freed from their bunkers are today in their mid 80s.

The fact is that the survivor population is aging. Many survivors are now gone having lived to ripe old ages. Some have retained their faith and some have not. Most have renewed their lives; had families and seen much nachas from the children, grandchildren and great grand-children. They have seen the birth of a Jewish State, a rebirth of Judaism, and an unprecedented growth of Torah observance.

But the memory of what happened to them and their loved ones who did not survive stays with them. How can it not? We need to recognize that. This was once again pointed out by Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel who this morning was interviewed on CBS’s Sunday morning news show in a Holocaust memorial segment.

When he was asked to describe his experiences, he said it is not possible. He said that there were no words in any language that could describe the pure evil of what Nazi Germany did. The Nazis managed to perpetrate acts that were so evil that they were beyond human description. How, he asked, does one describe what it’s like to stand naked in a line on your way to be murdered (along with everyone else in that line) in a gas chamber disguised as a shower?

I think he is right. Yes, there are genocides taking place in the word even to this day in some uncivilized societies. But never like the systematic and scientific murder machine that was Nazi Germany. They saw murdering Jews as an ideal to be worshipped. Hitler considered it his “sacred” duty to annihilate the Jewish people.

I know that the religious right objects to observing a memorial to the Holocaust during the month of Nissan in the Jewish calendar. We are not allowed to eulogize the dead during this month. But this has never stopped even the most right wing rabbis from doing so at a funeral that takes place during Nissan. They simply say something like – since we may not make Hespedim (eulogies) during Nissan they will just say a few words of praise about him – and then dive right into an elaborate eulogy.

But I understand their objection to making an official day of remembrance during this month. I wish it were not on that day but at a date where eulogies are permitted. But it isn’t. Unfortunately their anti-Zionist rhetoric has spilled into Holocaust Remembrance day even if they have not said anything specific publicly about it. A lot of disrespect of that day persists – some of it public. And that is a Hilul HaShem.

It is also disrespectful to edit out women from photos from that era as was recently done. While I don’t approve of the practice of editing out pictures of tzanua (modestly dressed) women under any circumstances, I understand that there are some members of the right wing – mostly Hasidim – who feel that any picture of a woman is not appropriate for men to look at.

Much as I disagree with them, they are entitled to their opinion. But there are times when it should be inappropriate even for them. Such as the time the Secretary of State was photo-shopped out of a widely distributed “iconic” picture of the President and members of his administration watching the “Navy Seal Team’ assassination of Bin Laden as it was happening.

However, when it comes to tampering with Holocaust images it should cross every line of human decency. There is no way to justify that. The picture in question has blurred out the images of women in a famous photo. How in heaven’s name can anyone claim that viewing the women in that picture is in any way inappropriate?!

It is an insult to them memories of all 6 million Jews to decide that because a victim in such a photo is a woman it should be somehow blurred out of it. The reason for eliminating photos of women is so that there won’t even be the remotest chance of their eliciting an improper though on the part of a man. In this photo? Are they kidding?!

This is what happens when you stop thinking and see everything in linear fashion. They say that a photo of a woman is always a possible source of indecent thoughts in men. No difference here. If they don’t hadn’t shown this picture at all, that would have been one thing. But they obviously felt it was important enough to publish it as part of their message. But the message they sent was not one of the horrors of the Holocaust. It was how ridiculously far their views about showing a woman in a photo goes.

I truly do not understand how anyone can be an adherent of a movement that thinks like this, no matter how warm and fuzzy it otherwise is.

I am not one to make a religion of the Holocaust. Unfortunately there are some people who do. The Jewish people are not defined by the Holocaust. We are defined by God’s mandate for us as expressed through written and oral Torah law. Even so, God forbid that we minimize what happened by using it to promote various agendas (as have animal rights activists)… or dishonor survivors by ignoring Holocaust Remembrance Day entirely – in some cases even thumbing our noses at it… or by injecting the most extreme interpretation of modesty for women into it.

Here is my message to these people: get a clue. The Holocaust was not about your agenda. It was not about tznius. Do not dishonor the memory of the victims or mock the sensitivity of the survivors by using the Holocaust for your own purpose or injecting your unreasonable tznius standards by photo-shopping women out of Holocaust pictures.

And to those who in other ways dishonor Holocaust Remembrance Day… Stop it! All you end up doing is dishonoring yourselves and bring mockery upon the Torah!

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

Harry Maryles

Islamist Media Digitally Cover Prominent Western Women

Monday, March 11th, 2013

Many Western political woman have acquiesced to Islamist customs and donned hijabs, a subject I have been following in some detail. But what happens when a woman covers insufficiently for the Islamists? Well, they do the job for her. This blog reports on Photoshopped efforts in Iran, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere.

Catherine Ashton, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union, meeting with Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, after their failed negotiations in Istanbul. Note Ashton’s discreet clothing and her hands folded out of the way.

Uncensored: Catherine Ashton with Saeed Jalili.

But her necline did not suffice for the Iranians, who in at least one newspaper, Hamshahri, published by the municipality of Tehran, helpfully pulled it up for her.

Censored: Catherine Ashton with Saeed Jalili.

Gisele Bündchen, a supermodel, starring in an H&M advertising campaign in Dubai. (May 16, 2011)

Gisele Bündchen covered and original.

Mariah Carey, singer, apparently had album photographs modified in Saudi Arabia.

Mariah Carey original and covered picture.

Michelle Obama at the Academy Awards ceremony, with her chest and arms digitally covered by the Iranian news agency Fars. Making this incident the more piquant is that Naeem Khan, an Indian Muslim, designed her sleeveless silver gown and Argo, a movie about U.S.-Iran relations set in Tehran, won the Oscar award for best picture.

Michelle Obama original and covered picture.

Originally published at DanielPipes.org, February 25, 2013.

Daniel Pipes

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/the-lions-den-daniel-pipes/islamist-media-digitally-cover-prominent-western-women/2013/03/11/

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