Paolo Pellegrin Wins W. Eugene Smith Grant


“Paolo Pellegrin brings a passion and extraordinary eye to a story that has consumed the Western world since 9/11,” said Helen Marcus, president of the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund, in a press release. “He follows in Gene Smith’s footsteps bringing the world’s attention to a furious debate of historic proportions.”

A second award, the $5,000 Fellowship Grant, is being awarded to photographer Teru Kuwayama for his project, “No Man’s Land: Survival at the Ends of Empire,” an ongoing study of the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Pakistan, including Kashmir. Kuwayama is a freelancer based in New York.

The grants will be given out Thursday night at a ceremony in New York.

Also to be awarded Thursday is the Howard Chapnick Grant for the Advancement of Photojournalism, which is going to New York-based photographer Michael Itkoff. The $5,000 grant will support the publication of the sixth issue Itkoff’s Daylight magazine.


Australian Muslim leader compares uncovered women to exposed meat


Sheik Taj Aldin al-Hilali delivered his comments in a religious address on adultery to around 500 worshippers in Sydney last month, but they only came to the attention of the wider public when they were published in the Australian paper today.

Sheik Hilali was quoted as saying: “If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside … without cover, and the cats come to eat it … whose fault is it, the cats’ or the uncovered meat’s? The uncovered meat is the problem. If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab [the headdress worn by some Muslim women], no problem would have occurred.”


Mekanism Invader Skateboard


After their collaboration in 2005, Mekanism and Invader joined forces again. This time Invader created three original and unique skateboards for Mekanism. Each deck is covered by a mosaic made of real tiles and is signed, titled, dated and comes with a certificate of authenticity signed by the artist.


In the Land of the Taliban

NYT Magazine:

With the Americans on their way out and the NATO force not yet in control, the Kandahar Police were left on the front line: underfinanced, underequipped, untrained — and often stoned. Which is perhaps what made them so brave. One afternoon I ran into a group who said their friends had just been killed when a Talib posing as a policeman served them poisoned tea. A shaggy-haired officer in a black tunic was standing by his pickup, freshly ripped up by a barrage of bullets, and staring at my feet. “I envy your shoes,” he said, looking back at his own torn rubber sandals. “I envy your Toyota,” he said and laughed. And then looking at my pen and notebook, he said, “I envy you can read and write.” It’s not too late, I offered feebly, but he tapped his temple and shook his head. “It doesn’t work anymore,” he said. “I smoke hash. I smoke opium. I’m drinking because we’re always thinking and nervous.” He was 35. He had been fighting for 20 years. Four of his friends had been killed in the fighting the other night. He had to support children, a wife and parents on a salary of about $100 a month. And, he said, “we haven’t been paid in four months.” No wonder, then, that the population complained that the police were all thieves.

At Kandahar’s hospital I met a 17-year-old policeman (who had been with the police since he was 14) tending to his wounded friend. He was in a jovial mood, amazed he wasn’t dead. He said they had been given an order to cut the Taliban’s escape route. Instead they were ambushed by the Taliban, ran out of bullets and had no phones to call for backup. “We ran away,” he said with a nervous giggle. “The Taliban chased us, shouting: ‘Hey, sons of Bush! Where are you going? We want to kill you.”’


Museum Explores Peru's Shining Path

Washington Post:

Wooden miniatures celebrate the start of Shining Path’s war with the burning of ballot boxes in 1980, as Peru returned to democracy after more than a decade of military dictatorship.

A pair of Abimael Guzman’s thick, trademark spectacles and his collection of lapel pins of China’s Communist leader Mao Zedong, Shining Path’s inspiration, form the centerpiece of the museum, created by police after raids on rebel hideouts.

Including communist paintings, sculptures and flags given to Guzman by his followers, the artifacts show the now gray-haired 71-year-old as a heroic figure leading a war against Peru’s coastal elite, European descendants who have dominated the country since the 15th-century Spanish conquest.

“In the paintings, Guzman never holds a gun, only a book, even as he celebrates bomb attacks,” said museum curator Ruben Zuniga, a police officer who helped capture Guzman.


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Issue Two artists: Andres Ramirez, Ape Fluff, Arm, AST, Azzwoopin, Billy Simpson, Bonker, Bytedust, Canukistan, Chris Dent, Chuck Trunks, Claudio Parentela, Clay, Clayton Junior, Creep, Dashtou, Earsofa, Eduardo Bertone, Elider Elizondo, Enemy 808, Eno Kruger, Fai1ure, Fenom, Fiodor, Gilbert Wadsworth, Guillo, Ipxls, Iro Iro, Jessica Hobdell, Jim Holyoak, Jimbo, Jizzie Halifax, Kegr, Kenyon B, LET, Lerk, Lick, Lorin Brown, Lune, Madone, Matt Burden, Maybe, Miguel, Mojo Hand, Monica Naranjo, Monsieur G, Mr. 13, Munk, MWM, Mythos, Nicole Andujar, Rehybrid, REone, Revereeh, Rockabilly, Rtyz, Sato Ayami, Stefdem, Street Value, Swrl, Syphos, Vageen, Vector Brigade, Vonster, Wetlands, Zew.


Do it with Lights on or off?

Daily Sun, Nigeria’s King of the Tabloids:

What did I hear you say? This guy, you are very funny o! Kemi, come and hear. Repeat what you just said. He wants to know if you make love with that your whitie guy under bright light or in the dark (laughter). Tell him now, yeye girl.


Kool-Aid, Craziness and Utopian Yearning


“Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple”

Two of the five Jonestown residents who resisted Mr. Jones’s call and escaped into the jungles of Guyana after their loved ones died in their arms offer moment-by-moment accounts of this orgy of self-annihilation. The movie includes an audiotape of Mr. Jones urging them to “die with a degree of dignity” rather than “lie down in tears and agony.”

Death, he argued, was not that big a deal; it was just crossing a line. He heralded communal self-destruction as “an act of revolutionary suicide protesting the conditions of an inhumane world.”

This is a movie to make you shudder. How many of us are so desperate for a charismatic leader claiming to have the answers that we will surrender our basic instincts for survival, along with our reason? This film paints a portrait of Mr. Jones, who died with his flock in Guyana, as a man with two faces. The appealing one was that of a trained Pentecostal minister, an idealist with polished oratorical skills. Growing up poor in Indiana, Mr. Jones was sensitive to the plight of African-Americans, and preached racial equality. His son Jim Jones Jr., who appears in the film, boasts of being the first black child adopted by a Caucasian in the state of Indiana.


Ultranationalists Gear Up for March

The Moscow Times:

Bringing Rogozin and other high-profile figures on board was meant to lend legitimacy to the Russian March, Belov said. “We had to show this wasn’t some small-time event organized by a bunch of vocational school students from the Moscow suburbs,” he said.

Last year’s march through Moscow’s center included skinheads touting banners that read “Moscow Against Occupiers” and “The Russians Are Coming,” and chanting “Russia for Russians,” “Moscow for Muscovites,” “Sieg Heil,” “Heil Hitler” and the Stalinist slogan “Death to the Enemies.” It was the biggest ultranationalist protest in at least a decade, with 2,000 to 5,000 people joining in, according to different accounts.

Experts on ultranationalism said this year’s demonstrations might look different from last year’s, but that the underlying ideology was the same. “In public, they all say that Nazi symbolism should be banned, but then they justify slogans like ‘Russia for Russians’ and ‘Beat up darkies’ by saying they aren’t Nazi slogans,” said Galina Kozhevnikova of the Sova center, a nongovernmental organization that studies xenophobia.


Stinkers of the Season

The Moscow Times:

Filipp Yankovsky’s “The Swordbearer”

The film’s hero, Sasha, is played by the lithe Artyom Tkachenko, who occasionally looks like a new version of the antihero that the late Sergei Bodrov Jr. played in Balabanov’s “Brother” films, but without any of the charisma. He has one distinguishing feature: a blade-like instrument that has been embedded — mysteriously, and unexplainedly — in his hand since childhood.

It’s the kind of protection device that Russian gangsters could only dream of, given that it vanishes at will. When required, it can wreak bloody havoc on a whole range of supporting characters, from prison guards to prisoners, as well as on some others who are closer to the movie’s main romantic action: a developing relationship between Sasha and Katya (Chulpan Khamatova, a talented actress who really should know better than to commit to this kind of schlock).

The final scenes, involving some spectacular helicopter shots, suggest that Sasha’s hidden talent could be an asset for the Russian forestry industry as well, as he manages to demolish a fair proportion of seaside trees in the film’s concluding chase.

For those who cherish graphic depictions of various kinds of severed limbs, there’s much to enjoy here (there are also some intriguing sex scenes for viewers who find that gushing blood isn’t enough). In terms of sheer sadistic effect, “The Swordbearer” competes with “Junk” and “Hunting for Piranha,” two other Russian films from earlier this year that stood out on the violence front — though given their disappointing results, it seems audiences aren’t exactly queuing up for gore. Perhaps a welcome thought if you’re coming home on a dark night.


Art flaps fade away, but Sturges and his nude photos thrive

SF Chronicle:

The photographs themselves, to my eyes, are more troublesome. The bodies on view, to a one, are all youthful, fit and lean. A warm bronze light prevails. But, somehow, in all this celebration of the body beautiful, there’s a nagging vacancy — in the models’ abstracted expressions and a slack structure and framing of the scenes. The elaborate picnic table shot seems artily contrived. So does the one of the two boys on the deck. Sturges’ photos have always looked a little stagey and arch to me, a little too studied in their bucolic innocence — of doorframe poses, riverside sun bathing or dogs casually flopped down at the feet of statuesque nudes.

Color presents fresh complications. Color literalizes, as it spells out every limb, hair and nipple in realistic, high-resolution detail. It challenges a photographer even more to discover an essence, to make us see the thing that’s plainly there but that we might not otherwise have registered. Sturges’ photographs just don’t do that very much. There’s something coy, whether by intention or not, about the way they invite us to puzzle out their meanings and then so consistently resist that kind of looking.

It’s not that Sturges exploits his subjects. Nothing in his work or history proves it. But he does expose them, without exposing much of anything about them. You don’t feel drawn into the mystery and wonder of the nudes he photographs. You see them and move on to the next and the next. Maybe Sturges just isn’t an especially good photographer — a possibility that he himself readily acknowledges. That doesn’t make him a pornographer by default. But it might make him a kind of poster boy for the dilemmas of photographic imagery in the Internet age. In the forthright yet strangely blank nature of his work, in its uncensored volume and digital technologies, Sturges presents the reflective image of a computer screen. Here, here it all is, his photographs say to us. Make what you will of them. That’s your private business, not mine.


Afghan kidnappers 'want convert'


The kidnappers of an Italian journalist in Afghanistan have offered to free him in exchange for a Christian convert who fled the country, an aid agency says.
Photojournalist Gabriele Torsello was seized last week while travelling on a bus in southern Afghanistan.

The kidnappers will free Mr Torsello, a Muslim convert, if Abdul Rahman returns from Italy where he was granted asylum earlier this year, the aid agency says.

Mr Rahman had escaped a possible death sentence for becoming a Christian.


9 Violent Psychiatric Patients Flee Hospital

The Moscow Times:

Moskovsky Komsomolets reported Tuesday that the patients became upset when the nurse on duty Thursday night barred them from watching a televised football game. The patients stormed the nurse’s station, threatened her with a sharp object and fled with the building keys, the newspaper reported.

The patients, all men aged 17-20, made their way past fences, a guard and a guard dog before forcing a man and woman out of their car and speeding off.
In an interview with the newspaper Tvoi Den, the driver of the car, Maxim Komkov, 22, said he had just started the engine when the patients, dressed in hospital gowns, set upon him and his girlfriend, Masha, saying: “Give us the car, homeboy. We really need it.”


Blek Le Rat


From the gallery: “Every time I think I have done something slightly original I realise that Blek Le Rat has done it only twenty years earlier” – Banksy

The Leonard Street Gallery announces Blek’s first UK solo exhibition featuring iconic images from the last 3 decades. The exhibition aims to give a complete overview of Blek’s work and to give the current interest in street art a historical context. The exhibition previews on Thursday 12th October (6.30 – 9.30) and runs until 13th November.

A legendary figure in Street Art Blek Le Rat (Xavier Prou) was born in Paris in 1951. Thought by many to be the father of stencil graffiti as an art form, Blek began his unique, complex and intelligent stencil works on the streets of Paris in the 1980’s. Hugely influential to the current generation of street artists Blek’s work bridges the gap between underground street art and the mainstream art world.


Teens' Dancing Is Freaking Out the Adults

LA Times:

Though forms of freak dancing — also called “grinding” or “the nasty” — first appeared years ago, so many students are doing it now that educators nationwide are drawing up rules of behavior, changing music formats away from freak-friendly hip-hop, and banning from dances students whose movements are deemed too sexual.

“Of all the things that happen at a high school, having to spend so much time on dances — that’s out of whack,” said Kelly Godfrey, principal of Los Alamitos High School in Orange County.

Some students say a crackdown on freaking would discourage them from attending school dances.

“I wouldn’t go,” said Chelsea Walsh, 15, a sophomore at Aliso Niguel High. “It would be boring. How else do you dance?”


Kenya pressed on Rwandan genocide suspect


Felicien Kabuga was indicted in 1997 by the international criminal tribunal for genocide and other crimes against humanity as the “main financier” of extremist Hutu political groups and their armed militias which led the massacre of an estimated 800,000 Tutsis.

The US has placed a $5m (£2.7m) reward on his head. Mr Kabuga is accused of supplying machetes and other weapons used in the genocide and of transporting the killers in his company’s vehicles. The wealthy businessman is also accused of funding the notorious Radio Mille Collines which incited Hutus to murder.


Europe Raising Its Voice Over Radical Islam

LA Times:

“It’s a fear of brutality, and you submit to that brutality,” said Henryk M. Broder, whose book “Hurray, We Capitulate” is a polemic on what he sees as Europe’s submission to Islamists. “It’s surrender to an enemy you’re deathly afraid of…. Europe is like a little dog on his back begging for mercy from a big dog. The driving factor is angst.”

Even intellectuals who don’t share Broder’s views agree that Europe must defend its principles. The change in mood comes as Europeans of all political persuasions are growing less tolerant of Muslim immigrants and questioning whether Islam can coexist with Western ideals.

“We live in Europe, where democracy was based on criticizing religion,” said Philippe Val, editor of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. “If we lose the right to criticize or attack religions in our free countries … we are doomed.”


CBGB Brings Down the Curtain With Nostalgia and One Last Night of Rock


After a protracted real estate battle with its landlord, a nonprofit organization that aids the homeless, CBGB agreed late last year to leave its home at 313 and 315 Bowery at the end of this month. And Ms. Smith’s words outside the club, where her group was playing, encapsulated the feelings shared by fans around the city and around the world: CBGB is both the scrappy symbol of rock’s promise and a temple that no one wanted to see go.

“CBGB is a state of mind,” she said from the stage in a short preshow set for the news media whose highlight was a medley of Ramones songs.

“There’s new kids with new ideas all over the world,” she added. “They’ll make their own places — it doesn’t matter whether it’s here or wherever it is.”