Argentinian artist Raul Lemesoff constructed this art car/book tank to spread free books and “to contribute to peace and understanding of people [through literacy].” Built from the frame of an old '79 Ford Falcon, a car once used by the Argentine military dictatorship, this creative reuse holds much significance for those on the streets of Buenos Aires and beyond who still remember their country's Dirty War and the estimated 30,000 people disappeared by the state from 1976-83.This Weapon of Mass Instruction is stocked with approximately 900 donated books, which Lemesoff, in turn, gives away to anyone who happens to be in the neighborhood he's cruising. After several tours through the Argentine capital and countryside, he's taking this mobile unit north to Bolivia and Peru. It would be amazing to get a fleet of these to lead the next march demanding more funding for public education! Check out this video, to see the book tank in action.
Graffiti artist Blu
strikes a chord in his home country with a new giant mural in Grottaglie, Italy, famous for its olive trees, ancient ceramic tradition and new, ever-expanding waste dumps. As the artist’s contribution to FAME Fest
, a yearly event inviting top urban artists to create street and gallery works, Blu chose to highlight the town’s growing problem with his work É Pronta la Torta
(The Cake is Ready).
“Southern Italy is in real deep shit with the trash business. Grottaglie did not need the dump at all and people in town were not given any warning before it was already being built. Guess how come? Now we have trash coming from very far away and the dump seems to get bigger and bigger, there already are three huge lots full of trash and trucks get here daily from Northern Europe to deliver more shit.
This piece comes at the very right moment, considering that there are workers digging another huge hole in the ground near the dump. There are reasons to believe that they are going to create a fourth lot and again, our formidable town councilors are not telling anything to their own people. How morbid is this?” – FAME Fest founder Angelo Milano
Visit this site
for additional images and info about Blu’s mural, and check out the award winning film Gomorrah
to get a glimpse of the severity and situation surrounding Southern Italy’s toxic dumping problem.(written for and originally published on artthreat.net)
is hosting a competition
to redesign British Petroleum’s logo. Entries are due by June 28th; the winning design will be used as part of their international campaign against the oil company. A few years ago, BP rebranded themselves as ‘beyond petroleum’. And yet BP is pursuing ‘unconventional oil’ – the Canadian tar sands and deepwater drilling, despite the massive environmental damage that’s being caused by their business. That’s why we want you to rebrand them. Your brief is to create a logo for BP which shows that the company is not ‘beyond petroleum’ – they’re up to their necks in tar sands and deepwater drilling.
– Greenpeace UK
The image above shows 2 logo designs already submitted. You can check out the rest on Greenpeace UK’s flickr stream
. For more information and downloadable BP logos in “easy-to-edit formats,” visit the org’s “behind the logo” page
(Thanks to Treehugger
for the original announcement about this competition.)
(written for and originally published on artthreat.net)
As the Tate Modern
celebrated its 10th Anniversary, art activists from the group Liberate Tate
released balloons carrying oil-soaked fake birds and dead fish in protest of the museums ties to British Petroleum
. With the BP oil spill
in the Gulf of Mexico reaching its 1 month point today and still gushing, this action couldn’t have more appropriate timing.
Liberate Tate distributed a communiqué
throughout the museum during the opening promising addition actions to ‘free art from oil’ until the Tate ends its ties with BP. The group stated, “Every time we step inside the museum Tate makes us complicit with acts that are harming people and creating environmental destruction and climate change, acts that will one day seem as archaic as the slave trade. We call on Tate to become a responsible, ethical and truly sustainable organisation for the 21st century and drop its sponsorship by oil companies. As a public institution the Tate’s Trustees, chaired as they are by an ex-CEO of BP, must abandon its association with BP. All visitors to the Tate must be able to enjoy great art with a clear conscience about the impact of the museum on society and the environment.”
According to Indymedia UK
, “the Tate staff [had] burst some of the oil bubble-like black balloons by climbing onto a high gantry, but many remained out of reach and the rotting fish and sea birds hovered above the evening’s celebrations headlined by Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth. Rumours circulated that Tate would commission a marksman to shoot the remaining balloons down from the top of the former power station.”
For more information on Liberate Tate, visit Art Not Oil
, follow them here
, or contact
them to get involved.
(written for and originally published on artthreat.net)
Last week giant plastic six-pack rings strangled public sculptures around Vancouver. Initiated by the Plastic Pollution Coalition
and developed by Vancouver-based ad agency Rethink
, this stunt presented downtown commuters with visual protests against the mass consumption of single-use plastic.
“Nearly every plastic item ever created still exists, and has harmful effects on the environment, wildlife, and humans,” says Manuel Maqueda
of the PPC
. “Patches of plastic pollution currently cover millions of square miles of ocean in the North Pacific and North Atlantic. In the environment, plastic breaks down into smaller and smaller particles that are ingested by wildlife and contaminate our food chain.”
According to Peter Gleick
of the Pacific Institute
, “…every second of every day in the United States, thousand people buy and open up a plastic bottle of commercially produced water, and every second of every day in the United States, a thousand plastic bottles are thrown away. Eighty-five million bottles a day. More than thirty billion bottles a year at a cost to consumers of tens of billions of dollars.” To put this into a more visual perspective, enough plastic bottles are discarded in the US alone every week to go around the planet 5 times
Gasping at these atrocious numbers and digesting the Environmental Working Group
that we are all becoming full of the toxic chemicals from plastic we discard everyday, I’m hoping demonstrations like this and others continue littering the urban landscape. It should become common sense that there is no “away” in “throwaway,” especially when it comes to plastic. A plague of public protests refusing this disposable lifestyle needs to spread in every shape, size and manifestation until the masses realize the truths of what these objects and actions are mirroring. Then together we can expose the recycling myth
, create solutions, and demand that businesses take responsibility for the end life of their products.
In echoing Tiana Uitto
(author of Plastic Manners
and coconspirator of this stunt), “We want to make a call to eliminate single-use plastics from the face of the planet” and “embrace a culture of sustainability.”
Visit The Province
for local coverage of the protest. For more information on the harmful effects of plastic pollution and ways to become a part of the solution, visit Plastic Pollution Coalition’s site.
The Combatants for Peace
use non-violent methods, such as Theater of the Oppressed
tactics, to promote dialogue and a joint effort to end the occupation of Palestine. Recently this group, Israelis who were once soldiers in the Israeli army (IDF) and Palestinians who were once involved in the militant struggle for freedom, chose the blocked road that ascends to the village Shufa (near Tul Karm, West Bank) as their stage. The scene was a checkpoint within the West Bank. The scenario was a typical daily occurrence: an old, ill Palestinian arrives at a checkpoint (where he presumably needs to cross to seek medical care), and the soldiers have to decide to let him pass or detain and interrogate him to follow standard procedure. However, the roles of the cast were switched: an Israeli played the sick Palestinian man, while Palestinians played the two Israeli soldiers.
As Chen Alon, an Israeli CFP organizer, reflected on the scene and mentioned, “how little freedom is left to me when they give me a role I didn’t choose,” an actual army Jeep with soldiers suddenly appeared informing the group that the place was off limits. Sensing the irony, the mixed Israeli and Palestinian audience burst into laughter. Later an equally ironic but much less humorous situation arose: a car belonging to settlers from Avnei Hefetz (near Shufa) blocked the group’s bus thinking they were trying to organize a new settlement there. Alon recalls, “after realizing who we [were], one of the settlers said to his children: ‘You see, children, those people are worse than the Arabs.’”
The Combatants for Peace (600 members and growing) continue to oppose such racist thoughts and stereotypes by adhering to the belief that violent solutions to the conflict are impossible, thus they will operate in nonviolent ways to attain peace, cooperation and understanding. Visit the Haaretz site
for the full story of the staged event along with interviews of participants, click here
for photos of the demonstration, and check out the Combatants for Peace site
for more info about their history, mission and actions.
(written for and originally published on artthreat.net)
While watching Me, My Gypsy Family and Woody Allen
at One World Human Rights Film Fest
last month, I realized that I had seen several films about the Roma but none made from an insider’s perspective. I also realized I really didn’t know any other Roma directors. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised at what 19-year-old Laura Halilovic inventively weaved together about her family and culture along with the discrimination they’ve endured.
“Many films and documentaries have been made about our tradition and our way of living,” Halilovic said, “but in such a way that we can never really identify ourselves with it. Directors and scriptwriters still show the world of Gypsies through stereotypes. They ignore that some of us don’t even “look like Roma people,” and that many who still live as nomads would love to have a public housing apartment and to send their children to school.”
“People are still afraid, they don’t trust us. They turn away as soon as they hear the word Gypsy
. That makes us feel rejected in a country which is not our own, in which we are trying to build a future.”
The film is raw and compassionate yet shot with an acute and refreshing eye. Viewers get an intimate portrait of the director’s family and friends and even those who despise their presence. Since she was nine she knew she wanted to make films and even told her parents she wanted to become Woody Allen. Ten years later, she has succeeded in creating a prize winning feature. This documentary won the UCCA Prize 2009 at the Bellaria Film Festival
in Italy and is scheduled to screen at the Human Rights Arts and Film Festival
in Australia this May.
(written for and published on artthreat.net)
The first film I was able to catch at this year’s One World Human Rights Film Festival
was A Place Without People
documenting the expulsion of the Maasai from the Serengeti in Tanzania. “Can’t at least we preserve the Serengeti for the animals and the people who come after us,” exclaimed Bernhard Grzimek, a German conservationist/zooligist famous for inspiring the creation of the Serengeti National Park. By this statement I presume he meant preserve it for other colonialists and not the Maasai, the parks original inhabitants. From British rule up to the country’s present day independent government, those in power have failed to recognize the tribe’s place in the park’s ecosystem and their role in preserving its balance for centuries.
Sentiments parallel to those of Grzimek have been used throughout the colonial world: expel/exterminate native peoples in the name of wilderness preservation. Using archival footage throughout the film Director Andreas Apostolides shows how the creation of uninhabited parks in the U.S. lead to similar actions in Tanzania. In 1877 approximately 300 Native Americans were killed in Yellowstone to make way for a park without people for white tourists. Afterward, Roosevelt traveled abroad to countries such as Tanzania pollinating these ideas.
Even after Tanzania gained independence from British colonial rule, its government continues to bar the Maasai from the park, which happens to be the size of Belgium. Like those in the West, Tanzania’s government uses “wildlife preservation” to justify upholding such policies. To further validate their stance they argued the Maasai were burning and ruining the land. The tribe was actually using controlled burns to replenish soil nutrients and prevent widespread fires during the dry season, a tactic eventually adopted by the government when finally realizing its effectiveness.
The Serengeti, regarded as a model for wilderness preservation, proves Western notions of conservation and tourism have negative impacts on original inhabitants and, in this case, the actual preservation of the land. Its first tourists were poachers, but since certain animal populations saw their numbers cut in half or more, the government has made these acts illegal (except, of course, for rich tourists who can pay 60K per rhino or 90K per elephant). Now the majority of tourists are armed with cameras instead and try to snap shots of the dwindling elephant herds or the Maasai who’ve been ushered into cultural bombas (fake villages set up by the govt. where a main source of income for the tribe includes dancing for tourists).
The Tanzanian government says tourist cash is needed to upkeep a park like this, but what they really mean is the money is needed to upkeep the facilities and tourism industry. Is this really necessary or sustainable? The resorts will eventually deplete all of the area’s groundwater. Should rich outsiders be invited to enjoy the land’s beauty and use its resources when its original inhabitants can’t step foot in it? The Maasai were able to maintain the area’s ecological balance with no outside aid or income. A Place Without People
reminds us that these places need their original people.
This film played at One World Film Festival in Prague last week. Be on the look out for it at others to come. For more info or to order a screener, visit the producer’s site
.(written for and originally published on artthreat.net)
Protesters against the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the West Bank barrier wall take a more theatrical approach in Bil’in
. On February 12, 5 Israeli, Palestinian and international demonstrators dressed as James Cameron-style Avatars
marched towards the barrier, which has absorbed approximately 60% of this Palestinian village’s farmland, and were, per usual, met with tear gas and sound bombs. Though sporting blue painted bodies, pointy ears and long tails didn’t seem to faze the Israeli Defense Force, the tactics generated more media attention
than usual for this weekly action.
In 2004, the International Court of Justice declared the barrier a violation of international law, and the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that sections of it imposed “undue hardships on Palestinians and should be re-routed.” 3 weeks ago Israel began reconstruction of the wall returning 30% of the land it previously confiscated. Though this sparked celebration, demonstrators and maybe even occasional ‘Avatars’ will continue their weekly action demanding justice and the return of all illegally confiscated West Bank lands as they’ve done for the past 5 years.
The first video
I saw documenting this reenactment (edited with music and footage from the Cameron’s Avatar film) seemed to overdramatize and simplify the situation. The occupation and strategic seizure of Palestinian land is dramatic enough without music from a mainstream epic. I eventually found footage sans cinematic soundtrack
, which helped me view the theatrics more objectively. While the demonstrators’ analogies may be quite blatant (the Israelis being the imperialist colonizers and the Palestinians the indigenous Na’vi
), incorporating global pop culture into their weekly performance boosts morale of participants and generates more coverage for Bil’in.
With no freedom of movement, most people in the West Bank have no way to go to the cinema. Luckily Mohammed Khatib, one of the village organizers, scored a bootleg copy, which was used for costume reference and inspiration to enhance the demonstration. Once again, tear gas canisters, which have injured and even killed other weekly protesters here, were shot directly at the crowd in violation of IDF firing regulations. I don’t think millions of tickets will sell for this real drama. However, if you want front row seats, the villagers of Bil’in welcome you any and every Friday. Photo from bilin-village.org.(written for and originally published on artthreat.net)
In solidarity with the detainees currently on hunger strike to protest inhumane conditions at the Los Fresnos immigration jail (Port Isabel, TX), I’m highlighting Homeland Guantanamos
. Much more than an educational online game, this project documents actual detainees’ stories and the abuses they endured while in detention. Approximately 300,000 immigrants both legal and illegal are being detained in the U.S., many without conviction of any crime. This non-linear storytelling/investigative project invites players to discover what’s really happening on the inside.
The game’s assignment: go undercover by working as a prison guard and find the truth about what happened to Boubacar Bah, an immigrant from Ghinea who died while in ICE custody May 30, 2007. Free Range Studios
built the virtual facility to match the Elizabeth Detention Center (run by the private company Corrections Corporation of America) where Bah was detained and designed the story around the actual events and people involved. While exploring each room, I found clues to help solve the case including embedded video interviews with Bah’s friends and family, his fellow detainees and their families. The video and written evidence reveal human rights abuses that mimic those committed at Guantanamo and other U.S. secret prisons.
Partnering with Free Range Studios, the international human rights organization Breakthrough
used this project to launch a national engagement campaign. Included on the site are innumerable ways to take action
, a memorial wall
for the 87 immigrants who’ve died while in detention and a searchable U.S. map
that locates local Gitmos by zip code. The article that triggered this project along with the recently released video What Really Happened to Boubacar Bah
can both be found here
. Spreading, creating or participating in projects as informative and comprehensive as this encourages the beginning of the end of real homeland Guantanamos.