Archive for the ‘border conflicts’ Category

SistersIn 2011 I watched a movie on cable TV called Sisters. It’s a very early (1973) Brian DePalma thriller/murder-mystery about a local Staten Island journalist (played by Jennifer Salt) who sees a murder from her apartment window—my apartment window!

Well, my apartment window or the window of one of the other five apartments directly above or below me. What a strange experience to watch an actress (in my living room) look out a window (in my living room) while I’m sitting in said living room. I couldn’t believe my eyes, so I kept watching for clues to location. Was it really my apartment? Soon enough I see the actress leave through the front door of my apartment building and get into her car on my street. (more…)

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I’ve just seen the 2008 movie “Skin,” based on the life of South African Sandra Laing. And what a life she has lived! Born in 1955 to two apparently Caucasian parents in Apartheid South Africa, Sandra has decidedly non-white features and a skin color several shades darker than her Afrikaner parents. At a time when DNA testing was not yet developed, the parents lived with rumors that the mother had slept with a black man, which, of course, would make the Apartheid-supporting, politically conservative father an especially insulted cuckold. (We now know that 11% of Afrikaners have non-white ancestors.) Rather than acknowledge his daughter’s clearly non-white looks, Leon Laing—who apparently loved his daughter very much—insisted on her whiteness and insisted on white society treating her as white. He successfully challenged the nation’s racial classifications and managed to get his daughter officially designated as white in 1967, but his daughter’s actual experience didn’t improve. People’s responses were based on what they saw and what they saw was a light-skinned black girl—a mixed race child. (more…)

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Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century"  by Donna HarawayIf I were writing a blog about Brad Pitt or David Archuleta (America’s former Really Cute American Idol), instead of a blog about political and intellectual territories re-envisioned through art practice, I would never mention Barack Obama. The sexiest man alive (meaning Pitt rather than Obama, though a strong case could be made for Obama rather than Pitt), might share with us the fastest way to lose ten pounds so I can outrun the tax collector in 2009, though President-Elect Barack Hussein Obama (Say it loud! Say it proud!) promises a refund and a tax cut since the economy’s wheels have come off, and who has money to pay taxes anyway? Certainly not me.

After referring to the news of a remarkable honeyed bandage curing one man’s rotting limb, I might launch into expletives about Bernie Madoff ponziing his way through a million-trillion-gazillion dollars while eating caviar and having his nails done. If my blog were not about art practices as they are affected by the constant re-drawing of geopolitical, socio-political and socio-economic states, I might report on the increasing number of cyborgs in our midst. They walk among us, blatantly, with their machine parts indistinguishable from their meat parts: pacemakers coupled to hearts, dental implants screwed and glued into jaws, injected “smart tags” barely visible under real or synthetic skin over a computerized titanium leg provided by the US government for your service in Iraq. (more…)

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Photo by Robin Locke Monda

Pat Buchanan’s recurring role on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” has got to be some kind of border violation. And I mean that in the best possible way! It’s great to watch Buchanan trying to apply nuance to his irrational, nativist positions in the face of thinking, intelligent people from both the left and the right. The “Morning Joe” show is proof that, (1) not all Republicans are nut jobs, and (2) not all Democrats shoot themselves in the foot.

MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” models Democrats and Republicans communicating with intelligence, humor and a willingness to listen. Think what could be accomplished in a truly cooperative congressional environment! We could disarm the big mouths of the radical right while repairing America’s foundation and its vision for the future. (more…)

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"Ghost Station" Ed Roos

October 17, 2008—The Train Is Coming. And With It More Ads, a New York Times article, reports that the MTA plans to sell every NYC subway surface to the highest bidder. They need the money. Advertising — lots of it — is going to appear on every below-ground surface New Yorkers pass, from the round pillars on the subway platforms to the entire interior surface of subway cars. Ad agencies are considering ways to reach even the hardest-to-reach spots with the use of projectors. No surface will go unsold — not even the tunnel surfaces between stations. Advertisers plan to line them with printed ad images that will merge into a movie reel effect as your train zooms along.

Which begs the question: Isn’t advertising on such a massive scale a form of graffiti? Isn’t it a greater transgression than any spray-painted tag? The MTA is making a huge amount of money at the expense of the commuters. Say what you want about graffiti by private citizens, at least it’s varied, surprising — and original! Think of all the influences graffiti has had on art practice and typography. And think of all the influences graphic design has had on graffiti! (more…)

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I live on Staten Island in NYC. Although the borough is loaded with artists, galleries have a hard time surviving here. The ones that do generally fall into two categories: the typical frame-shop / retail gallery and the funky done-on-a-dime kind of place. Naturally I love the latter, though I’m content to have the former for the occasional frame job.

One of the best galleries ever to “have a go” here on Staten Island was Tattfoo Temple of Art and Design, established by artist and graphic designer Tattfoo Tan and his wife, Ensze Tan, in 2003, just three years after their arrival from Malaysia. The Temple was established in an old factory loft that they cleaned up and painted white. (more…)

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