Nasa’s Golden Record may baffle alien life, say researchers

Extraterrestrials will detect a species that loves to argue and considers beauty in flowers that roar like chainsaws

It was launched to the stars as a portrait of humanity: an alien’s guide to life on Earth and the wonderful, rich culture of its dominant species.

But the Golden Record, detonation into space by Nasa in 1977, may deliver an entirely different message to any extraterrestrials who happen to encounter the cosmic missive, researchers point out.

Rather than the peaceful, intelligent beings that the US space agency hoped to portray, humen may come across as a species that loves to argue, speaks gibberish, and ensure beauty in blooms that roar like chainsaws.

The potential for the Golden Record, copies of which are aboard Nasa’s Voyager 1 and 2 probes, to mislead alien life will be raised by researchers at the National Space Society session in Los Angeles on Saturday.

The Golden Record … music ranges from Bach and Stravinsky to Javanese gamelan and Bulgarian folk music. Photo: Nasa

Rebecca Orchard and Sheri Wells-Jensen at Bowling Green State University in Ohio say that the record’s 117 scenes, humpback whale audios, greets in 54 languages, 20 -minute” voiced essay” of life on Earth, and 90 minute romp through the planet’s music, is decidedly human-centric.

” The Golden Record is a beautiful artefact and representation of how humen want to see themselves, but it is meant to be received by and interpreted by something that has the sensory capabilities of the average human ,” said Orchard.” If the second one of these senses is absent, or an entirely different sense is added, the Golden Record becomes a bit confusing .”

Orchard and Wells-Jensen went through the material on the record and considered what an alien civilisation with a different suite of senses might construct of it. The barrage of greets” pile up in a way that could be construed as arguing”, said Orchard, in a language that has ” no grammatical congruity “. That is, if they can hear.

The 12 -inch gold-plated copper disc has audio on one side and images on the other, and this could lead to further misunderstandings, the researchers believe. If an alien civilisation tried to match voices to their objects, life on Earth can look very strange.” What if you pair the image of an open daffodil with the roaring of a chainsaw ?” said Orchard.
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Perhaps the most baffling of all would be the music which ranges from Bach and Stravinsky to Javanese gamelan and Bulgarian folk music.” I plainly can’t say how these differences and transitions will be interpreted, but what I can say is that it definitely creates a puzzle for a listener who would be completely unfamiliar with humans and the noises they construct ,” Orchard said.

Whatever confusion the record may cause, it is unlikely to happen soon. While Voyager 1 is now 12 bn miles away and the farthest human-made object from Earth, it will be 40,000 years before it comes close to another star system.

” What this project has shown me is that we can’t really control the impression we stimulate ,” said Orchard.” I think the fact of the spacecraft itself will do a lot of the talking. I would hope that the mere fact that we’ve endeavoured to send a record of humanity depicts something about our humanity .”

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From south central LA to Sothebys: the record-breaking rise of Kerry James Marshall

According to reports, the $21.1 m sale of the paint Past Times was a record for a black artist and a crucial next step in a fascinating career

In 1997, African American artist Kerry James Marshall painted Past Times, an artwork illustrating a black household in high-class leisure- playing golf, playing cricket, as well as water skiing and driving a motorboat across a lagoon. It’s a take over a pastoral scene typically filled with European aristocratic kinds yet instead filled with black figures.

Last week at Sotheby’s, it sold for $21.1 m, violating a new world record, constructing Marshall, according to reports, the highest-paid African American artist.

” My ambition was never to make a lot of money ,” the Chicago-based artist told the Guardian in 2017.” I was truly just struggling to induce the best images I could make .”

The buyer of Marshall’s painting was Sean Combs, AKA Diddy, the founder of Bad Boy Entertainment and Harlem rapper who, in the same year this paint was built, debuted his album No Way Outat number one on the Billboard chart.

Jack Shainman, Marshall’s gallerist, told Combs was the right art collector” with purpose and an eye toward preserving legacy “.

Marshall has always felt like he had a social responsibility, growing up in South Central Los Angeles during the peak of the civil rights battle. Having lived near the headquarters of the Black Panthers, his art reflects current realities of many working-class African Americans, painting scenes of his neighborhood community, housing projects to boisterous group meets and intimate moments that range from romantic interludes to pensive solitude.

Over his 40 -year career, Marshall has exhibited at the Tate Modern and the Museum of Modern Art and counts Michelle Obama as a fan. One of his prime motivatings has always been to work against the whitewashing of art history.” If no one is out there working to produce paintings with a racially different define of figures , non-white people will always be in difficulty ,” he said in 2016.” That is why I maintain inducing images that aim to make their way into museums .”

Past Times, 1997. Photograph: Nathan Keay,( c) MCA Chicago /( c) Kerry James Marshall

However, with ongoing police barbarism as well as a string of recent, publicised incidents of racial discrimination, such as two black men arrested for sitting in a Starbucks in Philadelphia, Marshall’s work feels especially relevant now.

” His deep exploration of black identity and visibility, especially at a few moments when black people are under assault for getting coffee, golfing, napping, barbecuing and shopping, is relevant ,” told Steven Nelson, the director of the Africa Studies Center at the University of California.” His run takes its cues from the history of western paint and expands how we can conceive of figurative painting .”

Marshall has been a major artist for decades, but his career trajectory has come into the spotlight following retrospectives in 2004 and 2016.” Aligned with a decade of Marshall’s growing prominence and the fanfare surrounding his recent retrospective, it’s not surprising to see this paint break records at auction ,” said Nelson.

To Nyugen Smith, an artist based in Jersey City, this art marketing signifies something that has been brewing all along.” All of his work has positioned him to receive the acclaim that he is receiving at this moment, just as black people have been fighting against combating racism and injustice while confirming our self-worth since we were brought to the Americas ,” told Smith.” This run affirms our humanity and it celebrates its own history, culture, ideas, beauty, our genius, our natural mystic and legacy .”

While the price tag is putting the artist in the spotlight, it’s a byproduct of what’s really important for this historic moment.” If market value is a sign of worth- appreciation, expressed appreciation for artistry, skill, imagination, imagination- this development is good ,” told Jacqueline Francis, writer of Making Race: Modernism and “Racial Art” in America.” It’s good for painting as a practice, and it’s also an opportunity to explain Marshall’s work to the public because it needs it; I’ll do cartwheels when as many people, black people, are talking about this painting as[ Childish Gambino’s] This is America .”

The artist’s trajectory is hope for elder artists, too, as Marshall is now a 62 -year-old art star in an industry that is preoccupied with young starrings, or the Jean-Michel Basquiat fetish.” The interest in Marshall’s work has greater relevance today, as museums expand the traditional canons of art history to embracing a more diverse approach ,” said Julian Zugazagoitia, director of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, which owns an early work by Marshall.” Personally, I have enjoyed witnessing how the attention to a contemporary artist like Kerry James Marshall has opened the door to fresh consideration of older artists .”

While Past Times will be put in Combs’ private collection, it’s paramount that Marshall continues to have a major presence in museums around the world.

After all, being on public display is all part of the artist’s mission.” When most people go to a big museum like the Louvre, it reaffirms their idea of what real art is supposed to look like ,” Marshall told the Guardian.” If you don’t see black people in those scenes, then you don’t think black people belong in those various kinds of images … people need to start thinking that these pictures belong in those places, too .”

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Censored images of 1930s America to go on show in London

Prints made from negatives disclose reality faced by farming communities during Great Depression

Beautiful but mutilated images of rural America by some of the most famous photographers of the 20 th century will shortly go on display for the first time at the Whitechapel gallery in London.

Each of the photographs, published for the first time, including works by Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange and Russell Lee, bears an eerie black place. The black circles- obliterating the entire face of a farmer in North Dakota, the right eye of a woman in Arkansas, or resembling an eclipsed sunlight hanging in the sky over labourers in Maryland- were created when the negatives were censored in the 1930 s by clipping them with a metal punch.

Many of the 175,000 photographs in the Farm Security Association archive became defining images of the Great Depression, including Evans’s gaunt sharecropper families, Lange’s portraits of farm women with nothing left except willpower, and Arthur Rothstein’s Fleeing a Dust storm, a surreal scene of a family opposing to keep their feet in the wind that has already rent their farm buildings to shreds.

An untitled Arthur Rothstein photograph. Photo: Library of Congress

However, thousands of others images were censored, judged not to satisfy the strict criteria the photographers had been given for the type of images attempted- a tricky brief to reveal the scale of the problem the association was trying to tackle, but without obliterating all hope.

The negatives were mutilated- occasionally several pits were punched to avoid the image being used even in cropped kind- but not completely destroyed. The censored and approved images all ended up archived in the Library of Congress, where they have recently been digitised.

Nayia Yiakoumaki, the curator of Killed Negatives, spent weeks poring over thumbnail images to prefer the 80 photo in the exhibition.” They were so wonderful ,” she told.” It was an almost impossible task, there were thousands I could have used.

” I was astounded when I learned of the existence of the repudiated negatives. These are photographers and images that I have studied and taught, but I had not realised that the images we know so well were only part of a much larger narrative .”

The images all date from a pioneering project by the FSA, which in the 1930 s sent photographers out into fields, homesteads, the towns and little town across America to record the farming communities being ground down by the Great Depression and the efforts being made by the FSA to help them.

Although the images often appear as spontaneous photojournalism, the photographers were actually working to a very tight brief, and “ve been given” more detail in advance about their topics. The briefing note recorded that Steve Doty, of Tangipahoa Parish, whose mule had died and who received a temporary loan for fertiliser for his strawberry harvest, had” built a one-room log hut for his family to live in. The fissures have been stuffed with newspapers. Two of his children are in school and the two youngest ones are at home .”

Carl Mydans’ photo of children playing. Photo: Library of Congress

A widow and eight infants were left destitute when a human succumbed of cerebral cancer after months get lifts as a charity occurrence for hospital treatment. The youngest infant was under three, and 15 -year-old Angelina had been left totally blind by typhoid. The 17 -year-old daughter, Elizabeth, was the only one able to work,” being able to sew and do canning run very well “.

In many cases the contrast between the immaculately turned out people and the shabby surroundings shows clearly that the photographer’s visit was expected and prepared for, but any images that seemed too staged were rejected, as were those indicating FSA officials.

All the photographers sent back their rolls of cinema to the project director, Roy Stryker, an economist but a photographer himself, who had the approved images printed in his laboratories. Yiakoumaki can see why some images, slightly out of focus, poorly composed or depicting the photographer reflected in a window, were repudiated- but she can only guess at others.

Did the striking black couple photographed by Walker Evans in New York look too smart, confident and urban? Was the group dancing in a circle, described by the photographer Carl Mydans as” healthy children in clean backyard”, just too healthy and too white? And the same photographer’s pair of black infants, sitting in a litter-strewn yard in front of a decay shack,” such is the front yard available to these two youngsters to play in”, too desperate and too black?

” These photographs stand as beautiful images in their own right ,” Yiakoumaki said,” but the intervention, the very act of extermination has built them into something more, objects which can be seen as runs of contemporary art .”

  • Killed Negatives, free, Whitechapel Gallery London, 16 May-2 6 August

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‘Catastrophe’: French museum discovers half of its collection are fakes

The mayor has described it as a catastrophe for the town in the South of France and vowed to catch the forgers

An art museum in the south of France has discovered that more than half of its collection consists of fakes, in what the local mayor on Sunday described as a “catastrophe” for the region.

The tiny 8,000 -strong community of Elne just outside Perpignan re-opened its Etienne Terrus Museum, dedicated to the works of the local artist who was born in 1857 and been killed in 1922, on Friday after extensive redevelopment work.

But an art historian brought in to reorganise the museum following the recent acquisition of around 80 paints, found that virtually 60% of the entire collect was fake.

” Etienne Terrus was Elne’s great painter. He was part of the community, he was our painter ,” said mayor Yves Barniol.

” Knowing that people have visited the museum and ensure a collection, most of which is fake, that’s bad. It’s a catastrophe for local municipalities .”

Eric Forcada, the art historian who uncovered the forgeries, said that he had watched straight away that most of the works were fake.

” On one painting, the ink signature was wiped away when I passed my white glove over it .”

He alerted the region’s cultural attache and requested a session of a panel experts to confirm his findings.

” At a stylistic level, it’s crude. The cotton supports do not match the canvas used by Terrus. And there are some anachronisms ,” Forcada said.

In all, out of the 140 runs that make up the collecting, 82 were fake.

Elne’s mayor Barniol insisted that the investigation would be continued until the perpetrators had been find.

” We’re not giving up ,” he said.

Forcada said that prior to the opening of the scandal, paintings by Terrus could fetch up to 15,000 euros ($ 18,200) and draws and watercolours would sell for up to 2,000 euros.

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Unleash the Burryman! Britain’s weirdest folk rituals

A fanatical folklorist has expended a lifetime cataloguing Britains strangest rites. He picks his five favourites, from blazing barrels and sacred pies to a May Day ceremony bigger than Christmas

Doc Rowe is appearing remarkably fresh for a human who has just been for a 10 -hour hike around the Lancashire town of Bacup with the Britannia Coconut Dancers. We satisfied at his archive in Whitby, Yorkshire, where he is surrounded by the fruits of a lifelong preoccupation. As Britain’s greatest folklorist, Rowe has accumulated files, folders and field notes , not to mention 20,000 volumes and pamphlets, as well as 7,000 audio cassettes, photographs and cinemas- all chronicling rites and traditions that demonstrate Britain at its strangest and most fascinating.

Folklorist Doc Rowe. Photograph: Derek Catley

Rowe , now 74, has almost certainly attended and documented more folk rituals than anyone else alive. He maps out his year according to calendar customs: by the time you read this, he’ll be in Padstow for the town’s Obby Oss festival, which takes place on May Day. It’s his 57 th visit.

Rowe’s trove submitted in one of a new exhibition, Lore and the Living Archive, opening shortly in Rochdale. Three young artists have created work in response to his collecting and this will be displayed alongside his own movie footage and stills.” People often think of these traditions as being instead twee ,” he says.” Little daughters in white dancing round maypoles. But they are very far from that .”

To demonstrated the point, we asked him to describe five of the most memorable …

I’ve seen landlords held horizontally over the crowd’

The Haxey Hood ( North Lincolnshire, 6 January )

Moment of victory … A villager holds aloft the’ hood’ in 2014. Photo: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian

Mayhem. There are 200 or more guys crushed together, a little bit like a rugby scrum, which is known as” the sway “. The idea is that you try to move the “hood”- a leather cylinder about 2ft long- to whichever of the village pub you favour. I’ve seen hedges go down and autoes moved out of the road by the weight of this mass of humanity. The steam that comes off them is incredible. It’s rough.

Photograph: ANL/ Rex/ Shutterstock

The game ends when the hood is touched by one of the landlords while still on his own premises. I’ve known landlords to be held horizontally over the front edge of the sway, with their feet only just touching the lintel of the pub’s doorframe, stretching for the hood. Then it’s hung up in the bar for the year. And we all go and have a free pint.

Haxey Hood is said to go back to the 14 th century, when Lady de Mowbray, the wife of the local landowner, was out riding and the wind blew her hood off. Some farm worker chased and caught it and as a reward, she gave them land on the condition that they re-enacted the chase every year.

There’s a threat to the future of the event, in that one of the three remaining pubs- which are the goals- could close and be demolished. This is really fretting. It’s so important that these traditions survive. The whole community comes together- people return home from far and wide.

‘The only protection they have is potato sacks’

The Tar Barrels of Ottery St Mary( Devon, 5 November )

‘ Quite insane’ … A boy tears through the streets of Ottery St Mary. Photo: PA

I love this tradition, being a Devon lad- and a bit of a pyromaniac. I have all these scars on my hands from running alongside the burning tar barrels while holding my camera. The hot is intense. The secretary of the committee once told me:” Doc, we don’t mind you running with us- because we know if you got killed, you wouldn’t complain .”

Each barrel has been lined with tar or pitching over the previous year. Next, it is filled with straw. Then they pour in paraffin and defined it alight, rolling it backwards and forwards until it’s nicely ablaze- at which point locals pick them up, set them on their shoulders, and run through the streets as flames flicker out the back. The only protection they have is potato sacks, folded over and sewn with wire, worn on their hands.

Nobody knows the origin. There have been fanciful tales of the Spanish Armada being sighted and a local chap employing a barrel to illuminate a warn beacon. But we really don’t know- and anyway, who cares? What matters is that it still happens now. It’s a wonderful event. Quite insane.

‘One year he had 23 whiskies before 2pm’

The Burryman( South Queensferry, second Friday of August)

‘ Nature’s Velcro’ … The Burryman meets residents in 2017. Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/ Getty Images

This is more extraordinary than anything at the Edinburgh festival, which is on at the same day only a few miles away. I’m sure festivalgoers would love to see the Burryman. If they only knew about him.

I have the honour of dressing him on the morning of Burryman Day. He is altogether covered, except for his hands, with thousands of prickly burrs. These are burdock seeds- nature’s Velcro. He’s often scratched and hemorrhaging at the end of the working day.

He puts on long johns and a long-sleeved T-shirt, then these burrs are slapped on. Up top, he wears a balaclava-type hood, also covered in burrs, with space left for his eyes so he can see, and his mouth so he can drinking whisky through a straw. As a final touch, there’s a bowler hat decorated with a glorious array of flowers. The whole suit is very heavy and contained within little beasties that go crawling out of the burrs.

Photograph: J Chettleburgh/ English Folk Dance& Song Society

The Burryman walks around South Queensferry the working day with his arms outstretched, helped by two attendants. The narrative is that if you set a coin in his pot, you have good luck for the rest of the year. It is rather an ordeal for him, though he is offered beverage by locals as he strolls around. One year, he had 23 whiskies before two in the afternoon. People wonder how does he go for a peeing, but we don’t ask.

‘ The bloodiest event in England ‘

Hallaton Hare Pie Scramble and Bottle-Kicking( Leicestershire, Easter Monday )

‘ There are no clear rules’ … the second round of the bottle kicking get under way in 2017. Photo: Dan Kitwood/ Getty Images

This is probably the bloodiest event in England. It’s contested between the neighbouring villages of Medbourne and Hallaton. The object is to get a barrel- or “bottle”- over the other village’s bound. The person who does that gets to drink the beer it contains and share it around.

I’d say there’s about eight pints in each, and it’s the best of three barrels. You can kick them, roll them, run with them- there are no clear rules. People have had their heads split open from a barrel coming down on them. I once photographed a guy with blood pouring out of his mouth and bits of his teeth flying out.

The day begins with a procession through the streets with the three barrels, accompanied by a band and a large hare tart, which the local vicar blesses. Then it’s chopped up in front of the church and thrown to the crowd. I know people who maintain that bit of tart- green and mouldy- on their mantelpiece for the entire year, for luck.

Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

On Hare Pie Bank, the barrel is thrown up three times, then it’s anybody’s. People get severely damaged. I recollect one lovely sunny day when there were 19 ambulances called to come and pick up the bodies.

It’s a bit like the Cheese Rolling at Cooper’s Hill in Gloucestershire, where the St John Ambulance waits at the bottom to treat those who get injured chasing a nine-pound Double Gloucester rolling at 70 mph. One year, when they couldn’t sort out security and safety in time, some local chaps decided to hold a scaled-down version. I believe they used a Babybel.

The day objective as the animals meet to dance round the maypole’

Padstow Obby Oss( Cornwall, 1 May )

Last year’s Obby Oss festivities. Photograph: Alamy

This is where it all started for me, back in 1963. I’ve only missed one year since. I once told I always went back because I couldn’t believe this was happening in England. And of course the local people replied:” Well, it isn’t. This is Cornwall .”

Padstow’s is one of the few remaining’ obby’ osses, or hobby horses. It’s a communal event to welcome in the summer. But in a sense it’s Padstow people celebrating themselves: it’s more important to them than Christmas, birthdays or New Year.

There is the Old Oss and the Blue Ribbon Oss, ferocious-looking brutes that seem very un-English. Each being has a human disguised under its enormous frame, his head covered with a heavy mask. They and their adherents take separate roads through the town during the day, accompanied by sing, drums and accordions. Afterward, they come together briefly to dance around the maypole.

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Rosa Parks’ house seeks a home after desertion, rescue and a visit to Berlin

The house Parks moved into in 1957 was slated for demolition before an artist moved it to Germany, but as an attempt to display it in the US faces a block, a determined group of volunteers aim to rescue it

The small, tired house with peeling white paint once served as a refuge for Rosa Parks in Detroit. It has traveled across the world and back in an odyssey conceived by an artist and a Parks family member determined to preserve the civil rights activist’s legacy.

It was rescued for $500 off a demolition list, then disassembled and shipped to Germany, and was supposed to be the centerpiece of a weeks-long exhibition at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, this spring: an American homecoming amid a national dialogue surrounding race, history and the value of certain monuments. Instead, the Ivy league school abruptly canceled.

Parks’s niece, Rhea McCauley, calls it a rejection of Parks and her legacy. But with the looming possibility that the house would come all this style and never be seen, the community has stepped in. Volunteers are working to reconstruct the home as much as possible so that it can be displayed to the public for nothing on Saturday and Sunday, Easter weekend.

Berlin-based American artist Ryan Mendoza calls the two-day prove” Farewell Rosa Parks: Outcast in Your Own Country “. Once it’s over, he will have to take the house apart quickly and ship it elsewhere, perhaps back to Germany if he cannot find an American home.

To escape death threats, Parks moved to Detroit in 1957, two years after her defining act of defiance: refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger in Montgomery, Alabama.

She lived in the tiny house in Detroit with her brother and his family and struggled to make a new life for herself. The household tells Park lived there with 17 other relatives.

It was abandoned and slated for demolition after the financial crisis in 2008 and Detroit’s dramatic decline, but McCauley instead bought it from the city for $500 and donated it to Mendoza. After unsuccessful endeavors trying to persuade the city to help save the building, Mendoza in 2016 carefully dismantled it and moved it to the German capital, rebuilding it on the plenty of his studio.

Despite being tucked away in an obscure location, the home drew daily guests, many traipsing into the parking lot of the neighboring apartment building to get a frontal opinion from the other side of a small fence.

It was almost as if only taking the house out of its context demonstrated people its real value, Mendoza said.

” This was the real success of the project in my eyes ,” he told.” So many people learned who Rosa Parks was and what she did in her life, and how important one person is, that you don’t have to be a giant in order to effect change .”

But the delicate structure was exposed to the elements in Berlin. Mendoza and McCauley were determined to bring it home, and display it indoors where it would be protected from vandals and the climate. Mendoza was drawn to Brown University because it has publicly recognise how it benefited from the slave trade.

It took weeks for Mendoza and two architects to gingerly dismantle the house, neatly stacking and cataloguing each piece of the warped and cracked planks of cedar cladding. Then, it was shipped back across the Atlantic in two receptacles and brought to the WaterFire Arts Center in Providence, where they began to rebuild.

Volunteers in Providence help reassemble Rosa Parks’ house on Wednesday in Rhode Island. Photograph: Michelle Smith/ AP

But earlier this month, Brown canceled, citing an unspecified conflict involving the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development, which Parks co-founded but which has feuded with relatives for years. A lawyer for the institute has questioned whether Parks’s time there was significant, calling it” an unimportant blip in the timeline of her life here in Detroi “.

” The’ home’ is simply not a human interest narrative ,” Steven Cohen told the Associated Press in an email.

Mendoza, McCauley and many members of the Rhode Island community disagree. In the house, they consider the histories of so many African Americans who migrated north, only to face redlining and other discrimination that has affected generations of black Americans.

Malia Quirindongo, 18, who was volunteering with the group YouthBuild Providence to reassemble the house the coming week, said what she has learned about its tale shows that the country doesn’t value Parks as it should.

” They were going to knock her home down, and sold it for $500 when they have hotels where presidents have stayed for one night yet there’s plaques talking about’ he remained here ‘?” Quirindongo said.” They’re going to knock down a home that is linked to someone who is so important in this country, and in history? It’s eye-opening .”

Mendoza still hopes he can find a place for the house in America. He and McCauley wonder if the country just isn’t ready to examine this uncomfortable part of its past.

” I would like for this house to have a home ,” McCauley told.” This is a story that’s a larger part of American history. It cannot be overlooked .”

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Is Rabbit Town a rip-off? The theme park with very familiar art

Selfie tourism attraction in Indonesia accused of copying famous international works

A bizarre new theme park that claims to be designed for” selfie tourism” in Indonesia is causing consternation over accusations that it unashamedly rips off famous international works of art.

Located in the city of Bandung, West Java, the Rabbit Town theme park features a rabbit petting zoo and art installations that appear to be blatant replicas of famous works.

One installation, “ve called the” Patrico Sticker Room, which features a white room covered in colourful dots, looks a lot like renowned Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s work Obliteration Room.


Obliteration Room by Yayoi Kusama. Photo: Natasha Harth/ Rex Features

Other international artworks that are said to have been copied include Chris Burden’s lampposts installation Urban Light- at Rabbit Town it is called Love Light- and several rooms that bear uncanny resemblances to displays at the Museum of Ice Cream in Los Angeles.


Chris Burden’s Urban Light installing in Los Angeles. Photo: Sipa Press/ Rex Shutterstock

Rabbit Town markets itself as a destination for” selfie tourism” and its Instagram account, which includes the tagline” the way to more happiness” punctuated by a rabbit emoji, features dozens of its guests taking photos at its installations.

Sunaryo, a celebrated artist and gallery proprietor in Bandung, first heard about Rabbit Town when it went viral on social media this week.

” This is embarrassing because Bandung is known as a creative city but then you have someone making this ,” he said.” For artists who work hard for their careers, to have their works taken like that is sorrow .”

Sunaryo said the inspiration behind the works was clear and their public and commercial display problematic.

Rabbit Town, he indicated, should apologise and clarify the authorisations status for the works.

Amir Sidharta, an art researcher and auctioneer, told Rabbit Town was clearly catering to the art market.” I think Rabbit Town is the kind of place in which the owner is very responsive to what people are looking at in museums ,” he said.” People are going to museums not for their knowledge enhancement but more for taking selfies .”

People in Indonesia’s art world are understandably upset about Rabbit Town, he said, and not only because of copyright issues. The theme park” could have easily engaged many Indonesian artists, since we have many talented Indonesian artists that could have produced unique creations just for his place, and that would be much more interesting .”

Rabbit Town was opened in January by Henry Husada, the chief executive and president of the Kagum Group, and is located on his two-hectare property, according to a report by the Indonesian news site Husada’s interest in rabbits is thought to be derived from his Chinese zodiac sign.

As well as taking selfies, Rabbit Town visitors can also feed plunges and koi fish, watch monkeys, pet rabbits and position Husada’s collection of rabbit sculptures.

The theme park has been contacted for comment.

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Turning cities into sponges: how Chinese ancient wisdom is taking on climate change

Landscape architect Kongjian Yu is building friends with water to mitigate extreme weather events in modern metropolises

How does a city cope with extreme weather? These days, urban planning that doesn’t factor in some sort of catastrophic weather event is like trying to build something in a fictional utopia. For Kongjian Yu, one of the world’s leading landscape architects, the answer to coping with extreme weather events actually lies in the past.

Yu is the founder and dean of the school of landscape architecture at Peking University, founding director of architectural firm Turenscape, and famous for being the person who is reintroduced ancient Chinese water systems to modern design. In the process he has transformed some of China’s most industrialised cities into standard bearers of green architecture.

Yu’s designs aim to build resilience in cities faced with rising sea level, droughts, deluges and so-called ” once in a lifetime” cyclones. At 53, he is best known for his” sponge cities”, which use soft material and terraces to capture water which can then be extracted for employ, rather than the usual concrete and steel materials which do not absorb water.

European methods of designing cities involve drainage pipelines which cannot be dealt with monsoonal rain. But the Chinese government has now adopted sponge cities as an urban development and eco-city template.

Kongjian Yu, founder of Turenscape and proponent of sponge cities. Photograph: Turenscape/ NGV

Yu spoke in Melbourne on Tuesday at a symposium on water-conscious design held as part of Melbourne Design Week at the National Gallery of Victoria. Speaking to Guardian Australia ahead of his appearance, Yu, who is based in Beijing, explained the key benefit of sponge cities is the ability to reuse water.” The water captured by the sponge can be used for irrigation, for recharging the aquifer, for cleansing the soil and for productive use ,” Yu said.

” In China, we retain storm water and reuse it. Even as individual families and homes, we collect storm water on[ the] rooftop and use the balcony to irrigate the vegetable garden .”

When it comes to water, the motto of the sponge city are:” Retain, adapt, slow down and reuse .”

His firm currently has 600 employees and works across 200 cities in China. The firm has completed more than 600 projects and won a swag of major architecture and design awards.

The strategies Yu utilizes are” based on peasant farming techniques, adapting peasant irrigation systems to urban environments and experience in accommodating buildings to a monsoon climate “.

The first strategy-” based on thousands of years of Chinese wisdom”- is to” contain water at the origin, when the rain falls from the sky on the ground. We have to keep the water “.

” In China, there is a shortage of fresh water ,” Yu tells.” China has only 8% of fresh water of the world and feeds 20% of the population- so any fresh water from the sky will need to be kept in an aquifer .”

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Ai Weiwei on the US-Australia refugee deal: ‘Its exactly like slave trading’

Chinese artist brings three tackling runs about refugee crisis to Australia with a message

The internationally renowned Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei believes the US and Australia are engaging in a slave trade.

His claim comes amid a discussion of worldwide refugee movements, the impact of globalisation on human suffering and a lack of humanity in the west- which form the context of his contribution to this month’s Sydney Biennale exhibition.

Ai is well aware of Australia’s refugee policies, including its most recent chapter- a deal with the US to take up to 1,200 refugees languishing in offshore detention centres.

” That is a complete insult to the understanding of refugees ,” he says.” It’s exactly like slave trading. You cannot deal with human being by violating their[ rights ].”

Ai is in Australia this week to launch three of his runs- two exhibiting at Sydney’s Biennale. All confront and question the west’s complicity in the refugee crisis gripping the world.

One, Crystal Ball, is a two-tonne installing made of crystal and lifejackets, offering a chance of reflection on the chaos of the crisis.

The other, Law of the Journey, is an imposing 60 -metre-long rubber boat crammed with almost 300 gigantic faceless figures. It fills a warehouse on Cockatoo Island.

Ai Weiwei in front of Law of the Journey, a statement on the therapy of refugees, at Sydney’s Cockatoo Island. Photo: Ben Rushton/ EPA

The oversized life raft and its occupants are all black, made of the same rubber and by the same company that manufactures the barges most often used by refugees for the dangerous Mediterranean crossing.

Ai built it to sit in the National Museum of Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic- which accepts no refugees- and it was coincidence that it resolved so perfectly into an Australian space, one with its own history of displacement and detention.

Ai will also deliver a keynote address to launch his refugee documentary, Human Flow, for Australian audiences.

He spent two years traveling the world, visiting 23 countries and more than 40 refugee camps, to generate the confront movie and he remains shocked by what he saw.

” You just couldn’t believe it’s in Europe. It’s not shocking to find people escape, from fire, killing- this is natural. People bring their loved ones and just leave ,” he says.

” But it’s not natural to see Europe, which has been so superior in every aspect- not only economically but morally … their work on human rights has been the foundation of our modern society .”

Instead they are building walls and fences and camps, and changing migration laws and chasing down the boats, Ai says.

” It’s so cold, virtually pushing them back in the ocean if they can ,” he says.” Greece said … it’s just not possible for us to push them back to the ocean, otherwise they would do it .”

Australia does. For many years the Australian government has operated the legally contentious policy of boat turnbacks in the seas to its north, sending asylum seekers back to where they last came from- usually Indonesia- in purpose-built barges to stop them landing in Australia.

The numbers are tiny as compared with Europe, but the governmental forces tells it has stopped people drowning at sea in their thousands. Thousands of others are in the offshore camps or on tenuous temporary visas in Australia.

Ai appears to target countries with his exhibitions, displaying the Law of the Journey first in the Czech Republic and now in Australia. But he says he has thought about boycotting to send his message and has done it at least once- pulling down his show in Denmark in protest against the government’s decision to confiscate the belongings of refugees.

” I tried both ways, but most of the time I want my voice to listen to ,” he says.” I guess, as artists, to give just a gesture is sufficient to. The fight takes a real conflict. To devote a moral kind of superiority presents a problem, because we have to see that we’re all together. The struggle builds the meaning. I prefer to have a real fight than withdraw from the fight .”

‘ You simply couldn’t believe it’s in Europe ‘: Ai Weiwei at a refugee camp between Greece and Macedonia. Photo: Valdrin Xhemaj/ EPA

Ai has been arrested, jailed and beaten for his activism. Friends and coworkers have been arrested, some have disappeared.

” It’s always personal ,” he tells.” When I run very personal, it always becomes political, all my work is like that. I’m always searching for answers: “whats happened to” my father’s generation, what would it be if a writer lost his chance to express himself ?”

Twice during the interview, Ai brings up those pre-dawn hours on Lesbos, watching a mob spill from a refugee boat. His own background is one of displacement and exile, and his research clearly affected him.

” Very often people say,’ what can we do ?’ … I think if we as individuals- all those tragedies are made by humen- we are genuinely can solve it if we want to ,” he tells.” If it’s not solved, it’s simply because we don’t want to solve it, because we is beneficial for the situation. Other people’s suffering and desperation is beneficial, so if those questions are not being answered, we will never solve the problem .”

He hopes people who ensure his run will be moved towards activism.

” I think everybody who respects “peoples lives” should be activists, because liberty is struggle ,” Ai concludes.” If for a long time you’re not used to fight, it is because you don’t care and you don’t treasure the freedom .”

* The Sydney Biennale opens on 16 March and operates until 11 June

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Frida Kahlo’s intimate belongings go on display at the V&A

More than 200 items on show include artists makeup, clothes, jewellery and a prosthetic leg

Clothes, jewellery, makeup and a defiantly red-leather-booted prosthetic leg belonging to Frida Kahlo, which were sealed in her house for more than 50 years, are to be shown at the V& A in London, the first time they will have been watched outside Mexico.

The museum on Thursday announced details of a major reveal exploring one of the most recognised artists and women of the 20 th century.

Guatemalan cotton coat worn with Mazatec huipil and plain floor-length skirt from the V& A exhibition. Photograph: @JavierHinojosa /( c) Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Archives, Banco de Mexico, Fiduciary of the Trust of the Diego Riviera and Frida Kahlo Museums

Claire Wilcox, senior curator of fashion at the V& A, said Kahlo was an important” countercultural and feminist emblem” and being able to exhibit the items from Mexico was ” a huge privilege “.

More than 200 items from the Blue House, the home of Kahlo and her muralist spouse, Diego Rivera, on the outskirts of Mexico City, are coming to London.

After Kahlo died in 1954, aged 47, Rivera locked up her belongings in a room and said it should not be opened until after his death. In the event, it was not opened until 2004, revealing a fascinating treasure trove of clothes, makeup, jewellery, medications and other intimate possessions.

” This is the real material evidence of the route Kahlo constructed her identity ,” said Wilcox.

The show will explore how the artist empowered herself through her art, clothes and style after a difficult early life. Aged 18, she was involved in a near-fatal bus accident that left her in pain and incapacitated for long periods.

A compact and powderpuff with blusher and lipstick, and eyebrow pencil. Photo: Javier Hinojosa /( c) Diego Riviera and Frida Kahlo Archives, Banco de Mexico, Fiduciary of the Trust of the Diego Riviera and Frida Kahlo Museums.

While other women were plucking their eyebrows and wearing the latest fashions, Kahlo carefully choreographed her distinctive appearance and style.

The V& A show will include 22 of the colorful and often paint-splashed Tehuana garments she wore, visible in the hundreds of photographs that is available of her and the numerous self-portraits. There will also be one of her ebony eyebrow pencils that she used to emphasise her monobrow; and her favourite lipstick: Everything’s Rosy by Revlon.

Of course, everything was not rosy in Kahlo’s life but she tried to make it so. The London show will include plaster corsets she had to wear to support her back and which she individualised by decorating them with paints. One features a hammer and sickle, reflecting her communist views, and a foetus, presumably because she was unable to have children.
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Kahlo’s prosthetic leg with leather boot of appliqued silk with embroidered Chinese motifs. Photograph: Javier Hinojosa /( c) Diego Riviera and Frida Kahlo Archives, Banco de Mexico, Fiduciary of the Trust of the Diego Riviera and Frida Kahlo Museums.

” She was taking control ,” said Wilcox.” She was subjected to wearing these very uncomfortable corsets in order to support her back and I guess she just wanted to take possession of them .”

In 1953, she had her leg amputated and the prosthetic leg she had to have will also be leaving Mexico. It was an object of defiance, said Wilcox.

” Being Frida, it’s quite- if it’s possible- a joyful object. She has clad it in a bright red leather boot and had it embroidered and tied buzzers on to it. It is so powerful and it is very exciting that these objects were saved and they are coming to the V& A .”

The show will be an expanded version of one staged at the Frida Kahlo Museum in 2012 and will include her paints as well as photographs of Kahlo and Rivera and their broad circle of friends. They included the founder of surrealism, Andre Breton, and Leon Trotsky, who lived in the Blue House for two years from 1937. By 1940, Trotsky was dead after an assassin plunged an ice axe into his skull.

Wilcox said Kahlo seemed to have a timeless appeal.” It is interesting how each new generation discovers Frida Kahlo. My 14 -year-old niece is beside herself with excitement about this exhibition .”

* Frida Kahlo: Stimulating Herself Up will be at the V& A from 16 June to 4 November.

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