Art

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LEGO recreates Van Gogh’s iconic Starry Night

<p dir="ltr">Art enthusiasts are now one step closer to owning a genuine Vincent Van Gogh artwork (which generally go for over $20 million at auction), with the next best thing soon to be available. </p> <p dir="ltr">Teaming up with New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), LEGO is set to release an official The Starry Night set, which lets customers replicate the Dutch artist’s famous 1889 artwork.  </p> <p dir="ltr">The artistic concept was initially pitched by Hong Kong-based PhD candidate Truman Cheng on the LEGO Ideas platform, which garnered considerable online attention. </p> <p dir="ltr">One year later, it's hitting the shelves. </p> <p dir="ltr">“What makes The Starry Night so irresistible is the expressive brushwork and vibrant colours used throughout, which tell the story of humanity’s everlasting dream for better things,” explains Federico Begher, Head of Global Marketing at LEGO. </p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/tv/CdqQkqhMdWl/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/tv/CdqQkqhMdWl/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by LEGO (@lego)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p dir="ltr">“Truman’s design was a masterpiece in itself – showing how many different LEGO elements and techniques could be used to replicate van Gogh’s iconic painting.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“It was a good brain tease to come up with tricks and techniques to capture the look of the original painting,” adds Truman Cheng. </p> <p dir="ltr">“The brushwork goes into many directions in the moon and the swirling cloud, so there was some creative use of bracket and clip elements involved.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Starry Night was originally painted by Van Gogh in 1889, and was inspired by the view from Vincent van Gogh’s window at the Monastery of Saint-Paul de Mausole Asylum in Saint-Rémy, France.</p> <p dir="ltr">The LEGO Starry Night set will be exclusively available to purchase for both LEGO VIP and MoMA members starting from May 25th, while the global release is scheduled a little later on June 1st. The price? $260.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: LEGO</em><span id="docs-internal-guid-91017a6a-7fff-b6f2-3dc2-fb7393ae3f19"></span></p>

Art

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How an Aussie artist captured the attention of A-list celebrities

<p dir="ltr">An Australian artist who specialises in vivid contemporary pieces of art has captured the attention of celebrity A-listers, including pop singer Miley Cyrus. </p> <p dir="ltr">Nick Thomm left his native Melbourne in 2014 to move to New York in order to pursue his passion for art. </p> <p dir="ltr">Just two years later, he received a message on Instagram from Miley Cyrus, who commissioned the up and coming artist to paint a mural in her Los Angeles home. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Miley's awesome. She just followed me on Instagram and we started talking,” he told <a href="http://linda-kovacs-kokw.squarespace.com/nick-thomm">Westwood</a>. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Literally, two weeks later I was at her house putting up a mural for her. She's a really inspiring person to be around - a full genius. She kind of inspired me to get over to the United States permanently. She's been awesome to me.”</p> <p dir="ltr">​​The hyper-coloured mural is saturated with radiant shades of purple, blue and orange on a pink backdrop.</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/BBjVubar1Rh/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/BBjVubar1Rh/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by NICK THOMM (@nickthomm)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p dir="ltr">His abstract street-style artworks explore a modern colour scheme through a deep hallucinatory style that draws you into the art.</p> <p dir="ltr">The mural serves as the backdrop for Miley Cyrus’s disco ball-esque grand piano, giving her music room a futuristic feel. </p> <p dir="ltr">Nick owes a lot of his international success to Instagram, which he used to promote his works and his small exhibits he hosted during his first years in New York. </p> <p dir="ltr">This self-exposure led to working with numerous celebrities, as well as international brands such as Nike, Maybelline and Adidas. </p> <p dir="ltr">He's also made paintings for museums around the world including the Moco Museum in Barcelona.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Instagram @nickthomm</em></p>

Art

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Meet the experts working to preserve Ukraine’s cultural history

<p dir="ltr">As the war in Ukraine wages on, officials are growing increasingly concerned about the preservation of the country’s art history and cultural heritage. </p> <p dir="ltr">As historic museums and buildings are being bombed by the Russian offensive, while precious artefacts are being stolen and looted. </p> <p dir="ltr">"We have museum buildings destroyed, with all collections turned into ashes — it's quite a barbaric situation," curator and art historian Konstantin Akinsha tells <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/the-roundtable/13821526">ABC RN's Sunday Extra.</a></p> <p dir="ltr">"[The] other side of the problem is that in little towns which are occupied by Russians, we have the first cases of random looting of museums."</p> <p dir="ltr">Recently, Scythian gold artefacts dating back to the fourth century BC were stolen from a museum in the southern Ukraine town of Melitopol.</p> <p dir="ltr">Officials in Ukraine said Russian soldiers were accompanied by an unknown expert "in a white coat", who carefully extracted the ancient gold artefacts from cardboard boxes hidden in the museum's cellar.</p> <p dir="ltr">"This is one of the largest and most expensive collections in Ukraine, and today we don't know where they took it," Melitopol mayor Ivan Fedorov said at the time.</p> <p dir="ltr">Mr Akinsha, who is an expert on the cultural destruction of World War II, says he is now “reliving” what he learned during his studies “in real time”. </p> <p dir="ltr">He has been in contact with many curators and artists throughout the conflict, and reports that many museums have been unable to evacuate their collections in time. </p> <p dir="ltr">Moving them outside of Ukraine would be highly political and would require permission from national authorities. This has meant some of those looking after art have been forced to pack up the collections and live in the museums' cellars.</p> <p dir="ltr">According to Ukraine officials, more than 250 cultural institutions have been damaged or destroyed since the conflict began in February. </p> <p dir="ltr">Since the start of the war, members of the ALIPH Foundation, an international alliance that works to protect cultural heritage both during and post conflict, has been helping cultural heritage professionals and museum directors in the Ukraine.</p> <p dir="ltr"> They have sent crates, packing material and fireproof blankets to institutions to help protect collections and respond to their needs.</p> <p dir="ltr">"The storage facilities themselves need to be up to standard … [they] need to have proper humidity control, be away from the elements and the packing boxes need to be of a certain calibre in order to protect the artefacts because these artefacts are, of course, precious and fragile," said Sandra Bialystok, the communications and partnerships officer for ALIPH Foundation.</p> <p dir="ltr">Despite the huge challenge of protecting these cultural works, Konstantin Akinsha said their preservation is uniting the people of Ukraine. </p> <p dir="ltr">"In individual towns and villages attacked by Russians and occupied by Russians, people are trying to save objects from the local museums, hiding them in their houses," he says.</p> <p dir="ltr">"Because for them, this heritage is extremely important – it's part of their life.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Art

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New Frida Kahlo TV series explores her extraordinary life

<p dir="ltr">The extraordinary life and career of Frida Kahlo is set to be immortalised in a new scripted television series, according to reports from <a href="https://variety.com/2022/tv/global/frida-kahlo-btf-media-tv-series-1235265022/">Variety</a>.  </p> <p dir="ltr">The artist’s estate is teaming up with Miami-based BTF Media to produce a drama series about the life and influential work of the Mexican artist. </p> <p dir="ltr">The goal is “to present a unique perspective based on what her family knows about her and show how she really lived her life,” the painter’s grandniece, Mara Romeo Kahlo, said.</p> <p dir="ltr">The self-taught painter was plagued by physical and psychological pain throughout her life, which she channelled into her self-searing portraits. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Frida was known for her colourful self-portraits. Her self-portraits had different themes, such as her identity, her human body, and death. She was considered a hero to many because she did not allow society to get to her,” BTF Media cofounder Ricardo Coeto said in a statement. “Instead, she used her struggles as her strength.” </p> <p dir="ltr">The artist’s life has been the inspiration for many multiple creative depictions in the past, ncluding the films <em>Frida, naturaleza viva</em> (1983), <em>Frida Kahlo: A Ribbon Around a Bomb</em> (1992), a slew of documentaries, and the Oscar-winning biopic <em>Frida</em> (2002), starring Salma Hayek, which was based on the 1983 biography by Hayden Herrera.</p> <p dir="ltr">No further details have been made available on the upcoming series from BTF, with no word about when filming will commence or if the production has been cast. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Art

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Record-busting quilt convention heads Down Under

<p dir="ltr">For the first time, the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest quilt convention will be heading to Brisbane in a three-day event showcasing the best quilts from around the country and the world.</p> <p dir="ltr">The Australasian Quilt Convention runs from May 26 to May 29 and features exhibitions of quilts that are award-winning, never-before-seen and even some made especially for the convention’s yearly challenge.</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-a83866f9-7fff-ea0a-66f9-f06262c4d46d"></span></p> <p dir="ltr">Thirty finalists from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa from this year’s challenge, themed ‘Going Green’, will be on display at the convention, with the winners announced during Wednesday night’s cocktail party.</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/05/quilt-show1.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>A variety of quilts will be exhibited at the convention’s Quilt Show. Image: Supplied</em></p> <p dir="ltr">There will also be daily classes, where top quilters will take you through how to make everything from tote bags and cushions to framed quilts and adorable animals, and free seminars where you can pick up tips to improve your patchwork, sewing and other crafty skills.</p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-a4f17f5a-7fff-02ac-f10b-2a529d161bbb"></span></p> <p dir="ltr">Along with plenty of things to see and do, you can also take something home with you from the Expo floor, with patterns, kits, and even quilting machines available to purchase.</p> <p dir="ltr"><img src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/2022/05/quilt-show2.jpg" alt="" width="1280" height="720" /></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Daily classes, run by top quilters, will take you through how to make all sorts of pieces. Image: Supplied</em></p> <p dir="ltr">To book your tickets to the event, hosted at Brisbane’s Convention and Exhibition Centre, head <a href="https://aqc.com.au/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">here</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-4b1c436f-7fff-189a-710a-28476493efa0"></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Supplied</em></p>

Art

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Blak Douglas becomes second ever Indigenous Archibald Prize winner

<p dir="ltr">Western Sydney artist Blak Douglas has won the 2022 Archibald Prize, taking home $100,000 along with the coveted title. </p> <p dir="ltr">The self-taught 52-year-old artist has become the second Indigenous artist to win the prize in its 101 years for his portrait of Wiradjuri artist Karla Dickens.</p> <p dir="ltr">The 2022 competition was Douglas' fifth time as an Archibald finalist, and accepting the prize at the Art Gallery of NSW ceremony, he said: "This painting represents 20 years of taking the risk of pursuing a dream [and] surrendering normalised employment. And I'm sure many of my artist colleagues can relate to that."</p> <p dir="ltr">His winning portrait depicts Karla Dickens, who he describes as a “legendary practitioner”, knee-deep in the muddy floodwaters of her hometown in Lismore, Bundjalung Country — holding a leaking pail of water in each hand, and looking grumpy.</p> <p dir="ltr">His painting reflects on the damage and after-effects of the devastating February and March floods in the Northern Rivers.</p> <p dir="ltr">"I've been up there [to Bundjalung Country] several times; it's a war zone," Douglas told <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-05-13/archibald-prize-2022-winner-blak-douglas-karla-dickens/101060204">ABC News</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">"And so to be able to further aid some of my dearest, closest friends up there, through this win — not only metaphorically, but also financially — it's a big plus."</p> <p dir="ltr">Speaking via live video link from her home during the ceremony, Karla Dickens said she was "over the moon", and thanked her friend for "acknowledging everybody up here on Bundjalung Country that has gone through so much".</p> <p dir="ltr">"I'm so proud of you, Adam. Such a killer painting," she added.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

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Madonna’s bizarre foray into the world of NFTs

<p dir="ltr">Madonna has made a foray into the digital art world, ruffling a few feathers with the nature of her NFT artworks. </p> <p dir="ltr">The pop superstar has collaborated with digital artist Beeple (whose real name is Mike Winkelmann) to produce three NFTs that depict Madonna as the mother of all creation.</p> <p dir="ltr">The NFTs — entitled <em>Mother of Nature</em>, <em>Mother of Evolution</em>, and <em>Mother of Technology</em> — are all quite graphic, 3D-rendered videos of Madonna.</p> <p dir="ltr">In the first, she is seen giving birth to a tree in a lab, before she is seen birthing various bugs and animals in the second and third images. </p> <p dir="ltr">Artist Winkelmann shot to international fame after his Everydays series, a collection of digital drawings he made each day from May 2007, sold for $69.3 million at a Christie’s auction in 2021. </p> <p dir="ltr">Proceeds from the auction of these Madonna NFTs will go to three different charities: The Voices of Children Foundation, a charity for women and children in Ukraine, The City of Joy, a leadership program for women of the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, and Black Mama’s Bail Out, which uses funds to bail out Black women and caregivers from the carceral system.</p> <p dir="ltr">“When Mike and I decided to collaborate on this project a year ago, I was excited to have the opportunity to share my vision of the world as a mother and an artist with Mike’s own unique point of view,” said Madonna in a press release. </p> <p dir="ltr">“I wanted to investigate the concept of creation, not only the way a child enters the world through a woman’s vagina, but also the way an artist gives birth to creativity.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Superare Auction House</em></p>

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Warhol’s bullet-riddled Marilyn Monroe sets new record

<p dir="ltr">Andy Warhol’s iconic 1964 portrait of Marilyn Monroe has sold at a New York auction house for a record-setting $195 million. </p> <p dir="ltr">The sale of the painting, called <em>Shot Sage Blue Marilyn</em>, is now the most expensive work by a 20th-century artist ever to be sold at auction.</p> <p dir="ltr">The image depicts a press photo from Monroe’s 1953 film <em>Niagara</em> in Warhol’s signature “pop-art” style, with the image being repeatedly used by the artist in his work until his death in 1987. </p> <p dir="ltr">It derives from his <em>Shot Marilyn</em> portrait series, which Warhol produced after an incident at his downtown studio when he prompted a collaborator, Dorothy Podber, to shoot into a stack of canvases.</p> <p dir="ltr">The result for this 1964 work almost doubled the artist's previous auction record of $105.4 million, which was set in 2013 when his 1963 canvas <em>Silver Car Crash</em> (<em>Double Disaster</em>) sold at Sotheby’s.</p> <p dir="ltr">With the sale, Christie’s auction house also rode a double-pronged pop culture wave of renewed interest in both Warhol and Monroe.</p> <p dir="ltr">Streaming giant Netflix has released separate documentary series on both the actress and the artist, with both icons making a resurgence in the pop culture zeitgeist. </p> <p dir="ltr">Not only did <em>Shot Sage Blue Marilyn</em> bring a new artist record for Warhol, it has also become one of the most expensive works of art ever to sold at auction, surpassing Pablo Picasso’s <em>Les Femmes d’Alger </em>(“<em>Version O</em>”) as the second high-selling work to hit the auction block. </p> <p dir="ltr">That painting sold at Christie’s for $179 million in 2015, with the most expensive work to ever sell at auction being Leonardo da Vinci’s <em>Salvator Mundi</em> which sold for $450 million.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

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Woman steals artwork then WEARS it back to the museum

<p dir="ltr">A 72-year-old French woman has been arrested after stealing an art installation from a museum. </p> <p dir="ltr">Catalan artist Oriol Vilanova exhibited a blue jacket filled with postcards visitors could remove and examine at the Musée Picasso in Paris.</p> <p dir="ltr">However, the elderly woman took the interactive exhibit one step further by taking the entire jacket and walking out with the garment. </p> <p dir="ltr">The woman returned to the museum a few days later wearing the jacket, which she had tailored to fit her properly. </p> <p dir="ltr">She was arrested by the police upon her return, who happened to be at the museum collecting evidence at the time. </p> <p dir="ltr">While in custody, the retiree – who was reportedly “passionate” about art – confessed immediately to taking the jacket, according to local news outlet Le Parisien, but claimed she did not know it was an artwork.</p> <p dir="ltr">After hours of interrogation, the public prosecutor’s office let the woman off with a warning and dropped the case. According to Le Parisien, the woman had been placed under guardianship.</p> <p dir="ltr">The artwork, titled Old Masters, involved filling the pockets of a blue jacket with postcards depicting artworks by major figures in art history. </p> <p dir="ltr">At the Musée Picasso, the jacket was filled with postcards purchased at flea markets and museum shops, all with images of Picasso’s work.</p> <p dir="ltr">“When the museum told me the work had been stolen, I was surprised, but it was impossible to envisage the story that followed,” Vilanova told Artnet News.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Le Parisien</em></p>

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Still counting: why the visual arts must do better on gender equality

<p>You have to get more than a bit mad to single-handedly launch a campaign against inequality. At a recent forum, visual artist Elvis Richardson wryly <a href="http://www.womensartregister.org/">described</a> how anger was the catalyst that sparked her to start <a href="http://countesses.blogspot.com.au/">CoUNTess</a>, a blog that assembles and reviews data on gender representation in Australia’s contemporary art scene.</p> <p>Since 2008, Richardson has analysed the gender breakdown of who gets exhibited, collected, reviewed and rewarded. Converting indignation into statistics and emotion into hard facts, her blog provides irrefutable evidence that gender bias is an ongoing problem besetting the visual arts.</p> <p>The most current snapshot illustrates that only 34% of the artists shown in <a href="http://thecountessreport.com.au/thecountessreport-museums2014.html">state museums</a> are women. In <a href="http://thecountessreport.com.au/thecountessreport-commercial-galleries2014.html">commercial galleries</a>, the proportion is 40%. In the <a href="http://thecountessreport.com.au/thecountessreport-art-media2014.html">art media</a>, 34% of feature articles and reviews are about women, but 80% of magazine covers are dedicated to male artists. </p> <p>Change needs to be embraced at every level, not least in developing art curriculum in secondary schools. Victorian students who sat their final Studio Art exam last week were given 14 images to write about, of which only one was produced by a woman. A cursory survey of exams in previous years and other states suggests such bias is entrenched.</p> <p>Over the past decade, the gatekeepers of the Australian art scene have started responding to the unconscious bias Richardson documents. When comparing the graphs and charts in her old posts with the 2016 <a href="http://thecountessreport.com.au/thecountessreport-art-media2014.html">CoUNTess Report</a>, it is possible to identify small improvements. Still, as Richardson says in her <a href="http://thecountessreport.com.au/">report introduction, "</a>The closer an artist gets to money, prestige and power the more likely they are to be male."</p> <p>A recent <a href="http://www.australiacouncil.gov.au/research/making-art-work/">study</a> by David Throsby and Katya Petetskaya also shows the gender pay gap is substantial in the Australian art scene.</p> <p>The 2016 CoUNTess Report was made possible with support from the <a href="http://cruthersartfoundation.com/about/">Cruthers Art Foundation</a>. This organisation is making a substantial contribution towards rebalancing the statistics via the <a href="http://cruthersartfoundation.com/collections/">Cruthers Collection of Women’s Art</a>, the only dedicated public collection of art by Australian women. </p> <p>Begun in 1974 as a private family collection acquiring women’s art, the collection consists primarily of portraiture, self portraiture and art that is focused on still life, abstraction, early postmodernism and second wave feminism.</p> <p>The collection was gifted to the University of Western Australia in 2007 and is housed at <a href="http://www.lwgallery.uwa.edu.au/">Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery</a>. Cruthers curator Gemma Weston believes the collection plays a role in valuing and making visible the work of women artists, which in turn can provide a pathway to its acceptance in the institutional domain. Individual works are often loaned to other art museums around Australia.</p> <p>Weston identifies visibility as a key factor in determining what gets collected and how an artist gets traction in her career. She says institutional recognition is a long and complicated process of gathering momentum, which often begins with the private collector rather than the art museum. </p> <p>There is no doubt that all-women collections and exhibitions can help to change the depressing statistics assembled by Richardson. There is concern, however, that this strategy can cause ghettoisation. </p> <p>Weston is conscious of this conundrum. Cruthers’ current show <a href="http://artguide.com.au/exhibition/country-and-colony">Country and Colony</a> moves beyond the concerns of previous exhibitions to document “women’s art” and “women’s issues” through biography, autobiography and portraiture. </p> <p>While gender and feminist politics are a subtext, Colony and Country profiles new acquisitions that deal with the fraught history of colonialism. The paintings, prints and objects by Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists tell stories about land, landscape, the body, industry and culture.</p> <h2>Building momentum for change</h2> <p>While the speed of change appears glacial, the momentum to overcome structural inequality for female artists appears to be building. In September, 11 top gallery directors, curators and arts organisation chiefs in the UK united in a <a href="https://www.standard.co.uk/goingout/arts/art-worlds-most-powerful-women-unite-to-call-for-better-representation-for-female-artists-a3646586.html">call</a> for greater representation of female artists. </p> <p>A month later, possibly encouraged by the fall of the American movie producer Harvey Weinstein, the call-out of sexist and abusive behaviour in cultural industries spread to the visual arts. Numerous <a href="https://news.artnet.com/art-world/allegations-against-former-artforum-publisher-knight-landesman-1128926">sexual harassment allegations</a> were made against powerful and prominent gatekeeper, Artforum co-publisher Knight Landesman.</p> <p>Landesman’s resignation from the international art publication has prompted many more women to come forward with stories about his alleged behaviour. An open letter written by women in the art world, “<a href="http://www.not-surprised.org/home/">We are not surprised</a>”, has morphed into a larger campaign linking abuse of power with structural inequality. </p> <p>By providing a graphic illustration of inequality, Richardson’s CoUNTess project has done much to bring the issue into view in Australia. Together with Weston’s thoughtful management and curation, the Cruthers Collection of Women’s Art is another important step in changing the status quo. Many arts organisations and individuals who have the capacity to bring about change have started counting and making an effort to <a href="http://visual.artshub.com.au/news-article/opinions-and-analysis/visual-arts/gina-fairley/are-we-finally-counting-right-254469">rectify</a> the imbalance. </p> <p>Yet when part of the cost of overlooking structural inequality is sexual harassment it is time for more decisive action. While extreme examples of sexual misconduct have not (yet) been exposed in Australia, demeaning behaviour is regularly meted out by the art scene gatekeepers. There are also anecdotal stories of grooming and sexual advances by powerful male gatekeepers. At present, few speak up because they fear damaging their career prospects. </p> <p>The CoUNTess Report <a href="http://www.thecountessreport.com.au/thecountessreport-recommendations.html">recommends</a> that “stakeholders in the Australian visual art sector routinely collect, analyse and publish gender representation data and use it to inform their policy decisions”.</p> <p>A rebalance of gender representation will only occur if all institutions that have a role in shaping the value of artists’ work start counting. </p> <p>As in the tertiary sector, many more girls than boys study art at school. In Victoria, for example, 73% of the cohort who completed <a href="http://www.vcaa.vic.edu.au/Documents/statistics/2016/section3/vce_studio_arts_ga16.pdf">Studio Art</a> in 2016 were girls. Unless there is significant improvement, why would future generations of women pursue a career in the visual arts? </p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/still-counting-why-the-visual-arts-must-do-better-on-gender-equality-87079" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>

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Aussie artists launch global movement to help Ukraine

<p dir="ltr">A group of Australian artists have banded together to help Ukrainian refugees through a global art auction. </p> <p dir="ltr">For one artist, the cause hits close to home. </p> <p dir="ltr">Olena Vigovska, who immigrated to Australia 26 years ago, has witnessed the devastation facing her home country from afar as the war has unfolded. </p> <p dir="ltr">Her brother, reserve officer Andrei Vigovsky, has been fighting for his country in the city of Kharkiv since the war began, spending each night taking shelter in a subway station underground.</p> <p dir="ltr">For Olena, she wanted to find a way to help those facing brutality at the hands of the Russian invasion. </p> <p dir="ltr">"It's a feeling like, 'What are you going to do?'" she told <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-04-20/sydney-based-ukrainian-australian-artists-auction-for-refugees/101001584">ABC’s 7.30</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">"It's unbelievable. I'm still pinching myself every morning."</p> <p dir="ltr">In the second week of the war, Olena and three other Ukrainian Australian artists began putting together an auction to raise money for refugees in their home country. </p> <p dir="ltr">"We jumped on that project with pleasure," she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">"I feel much better now. I can use my skills to raise money and show the world how art can be so important and helpful in wartime."</p> <p dir="ltr">The proceeds from the auction will go to <a href="https://habitat.org.au/">Habitat for Humanity</a>, who help house refugees and give them a second chance at life without the threat of danger. </p> <p dir="ltr">"It will be a lot of work to rebuild Ukraine," she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">"It's just awful to see. I hope we will be able to make a difference."</p> <p dir="ltr">The project's organiser, Tetiana Koldunenko, told the current affairs program that the stress of the war had taken a huge toll on her and her family: many of whom live in Ukraine.</p> <p dir="ltr">She said focusing her energy on creating art for the auction revived her and gave her some hope for the future.</p> <p dir="ltr">"I'm absolutely sure that Ukraine will be beautiful. It will have a beautiful future."</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: ABC News - 7.30 footage</em></p>

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Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe portraits expose the darker side of the 60s

<p>“If you remember the ‘60s, you weren’t really there”. This <a href="https://quoteinvestigator.com/2010/05/07/remember-1960s/">famous quip</a> says much about our rose-tinted nostalgia for the decade. The fun-loving hedonism of Woodstock and Beatlemania may be etched into cultural memory, but Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe portraits reveal a darker side to the swinging 60s that turns our nostalgia on its head.</p> <p>Warhol’s iconic Marilyn Monroe portrait <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/21/arts/design/christies-andy-warhol-marilyn-monroe.html">Shot Sage Blue Marilyn</a>, due to go on sale at Christie’s in May, is expected to fetch record-breaking bids of $200 million (£153 million), making it the most expensive 20th century artwork ever auctioned. Nearly 60 years after they were first created, Warhol’s portraits of the ill-fated Hollywood star continue to fascinate us.</p> <p>According to <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/21/arts/design/christies-andy-warhol-marilyn-monroe.html">Alex Rotter</a>, Christie’s chairman for 20th and 21st century art, Warhol’s Marilyn is “the absolute pinnacle of American Pop and the promise of the American dream, encapsulating optimism, fragility, celebrity and iconography all at once”. </p> <p>Hollywood stars were great sources of inspiration for the <a href="https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/p/pop-art">Pop art</a> movement. Monroe was a recurring motif, not only in the work of Warhol but in the work of his contemporaries, including James Rosenquist’s <a href="https://www.moma.org/learn/moma_learning/james-rosenquist-marilyn-monroe-i-1962/">Marilyn Monroe, I</a> and Pauline Boty’s <a href="https://www.artfund.org/supporting-museums/art-weve-helped-buy/artwork/11953/colour-her-gone">Colour Her Gone</a> and <a href="https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/boty-the-only-blonde-in-the-world-t07496">The Only Blonde in the World</a>.</p> <h2>Mourning Marilyn</h2> <p>Born Norma Jeane Mortenson but renamed Marilyn Monroe by 20th Century Fox, the actress went on to become one of the most illustrious stars of Hollywood history, famed for her roles in classic films like <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045810/">Gentlemen Prefer Blondes</a> and <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0053291/">Some Like It Hot</a>. She epitomised the glitzy world of consumerism and celebrity that Pop artists thought was emblematic of 1950s and 1960s American culture.</p> <p>While Rotter’s statement may be true to some extent, there is also a sinister edge to the Marilyns because many were produced in the months following her unexpected death in 1962.</p> <p>On the surface, the works may look like a tribute to a much-loved icon, but themes of death, decay and even violence lurk within these canvases. Clues can often be found in the production techniques. One of the collection’s most famous pieces, <a href="https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/warhol-marilyn-diptych-t03093">Marilyn Diptych</a>, uses flaws from the silkscreen process to create the effect of a decaying portrait. Warhol’s <a href="https://news.masterworksfineart.com/2019/11/26/andy-warhols-shot-marilyns">The Shot Marilyns</a> consists of four canvases shot through the forehead with a single bullet. In this, the creation of Warhol’s art is as important as the artwork itself.</p> <h2>Death and Disaster</h2> <p>At a glance, the surface level glamour of Warhol’s Marilyn immortalises the actress as a blonde bombshell of Hollywood’s bygone era. It is easy to forget the tragedy behind the image, yet part of our enduring fascination with Marilyn Monroe is her tragedy. </p> <p>Her mental health struggles, her tempestuous personal life and the mystery surrounding her death have been well documented in countless biographies, films and television shows, including Netflix’s documentary <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt19034332/">The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes</a> and upcoming biopic <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1655389/">Blonde</a>. She epitomises the familiar narrative of the tragic icon that is doomed to keep repeating itself – something that Warhol understood all too well after surviving a shooting by <a href="https://www.artnews.com/art-news/news/who-was-valerie-solanas-andy-warhol-1202689740/">Valerie Solanas</a> in 1968. </p> <p>The death at the heart of Warhol’s Marilyns is not just rooted in grief but is also a reflection of the wider cultural landscape. The 1960s was a remarkably dark period in 20th century American history. A brief look at the context in which Warhol was producing these images reveals a decade plagued by a series of traumatic events.</p> <p><a href="https://www.life.com/">Life Magazine</a> published violent photographs of the Vietnam War. Television broadcasts exposed shocking police brutality during civil rights marches. America was shaken by the assassinations of John F Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. Footage of JFK’s death captured by bystander Abraham Zapruder was repeatedly broadcast on television. Celebrated Hollywood stars were dying young and in tragic circumstances, from Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland to Jayne Mansfield and Sharon Tate.</p> <p>This image of the 1960s is echoed by the postmodern theorist <a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/466541">Fredric Jameson</a>, who describes the decade as a “virtual nightmare” and a “historical and countercultural bad trip”. Stars like Monroe were not as flawless as they may appear in Warhol’s portraits, but were “notorious cases of burnout and self-destruction”.</p> <p>Warhol understood this more than anyone. His <a href="https://publicdelivery.org/andy-warhol-death-disaster/#:%7E:text=Andy%20Warhol%20created%20a%20series,repetition%20to%20communicate%20his%20ideas.">Death and Disaster</a> series explores the spectacle of death in America and affirms the 1960s as a time of anxiety, terror and crisis. The series consists of a vast collection of silkscreened photographs of real-life disasters including car crashes, suicides and executions taken from newspapers and police archives. Famous deaths are also a central theme of the series, including portraits of Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Jackie Kennedy – all of whom are associated with significant deaths or near-death experiences.</p> <p>Death and Disaster came about in 1962 when Warhol’s collaborator <a href="https://www.google.co.uk/books/edition/Andy_Warhol/-sotEAAAQBAJ?hl=en&amp;gbpv=1&amp;dq=Maybe+everything+isn%27t+always+so+fabulous+in+America.+It%E2%80%99s+time+for+some+death.+This+is+what%E2%80%99s+really+happening.&amp;pg=PT32&amp;printsec=frontcover">Henry Geldzahler</a> suggested that the artist should stop producing “affirmation of life” and instead explore the dark side of American culture, "Maybe everything isn’t always so fabulous in America. It’s time for some death. This is what’s really happening."</p> <p>He handed Warhol a copy of the New York Daily News, which led to the first disaster painting <a href="https://artimage.org.uk/6123/andy-warhol/129-die-in-jet--plane-crash---1962">129 Die in Jet!</a>.</p> <p>The recent hype around the auctioning of the Marilyn portrait reveals as much about our time as it does about our nostalgia for the 1960s. We choose to remember the decade in all its glorious technicolour, but uncovering its darker moments provides room for reconsideration. Perhaps Warhol’s Marilyn is not just a symbol of the swinging 60s, but an artefact from a time that was as turbulent and uncertain as our own.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/andy-warhols-marilyn-monroe-portraits-expose-the-darker-side-of-the-60s-181213" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>

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Art gallery investigates links to Holocaust

<p dir="ltr">The Wollongong Art Gallery in New South Wales is grappling with shocking new revelations that a major donor with a gallery named after him may have been a Nazi collaborator before emigrating to Australia from Lithuania. </p> <p dir="ltr">Bronius "Bob" Sredersas donated approximately 100 works by revered Australian artists to the gallery in 1976, just six years before he died. </p> <p dir="ltr">Despite working as a steelworker at Port Kembla, he saved his money to meticulously collect valuable paintings. </p> <p dir="ltr">However, after the gallery’s 40th birthday celebrations in 2018, which also celebrated the central role Sredersas played in its establishment, former councillor Michael Samaras noticed he was described as a policeman for the Lithuanian government's Department of Security.</p> <p dir="ltr">The councillor found the findings suspicious and decided to investigate further. </p> <p dir="ltr">"When all the publicity happened for the 40th anniversary of the gallery there was media, including on the ABC Illawarra webpage, about the fact that he was a policeman in Lithuania before the war," he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">"And I just knew from general knowledge that a lot of the police from Lithuania ended up in what was called the Auxiliary Police Battalion, which actually did much of the killing in the Holocaust.”</p> <p dir="ltr">"The Wollongong City Library local studies section has a whole three boxes of material on him so I got his birth certificate."</p> <p dir="ltr">In uncovering these devastating claims, the Wollongong council, who owns the gallery, has been put on the back foot, with Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery receiving letters from the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies who have offered to help work with the council to investigate. </p> <p dir="ltr">"That has to be dealt with in a way that does not hide the past, recognises the allegations if they are proven and how we deal with the Sredersas Collection and how that's represented or interpreted," Mr Bradbery said.</p> <p dir="ltr">While the investigation is ongoing, Dr Efraim Zuroff, director of the Jewish human rights organisation the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, has suggested council remove the name of Bob Sredersas from the gallery in the meantime. </p> <p dir="ltr">He said, "I think it's important that a decision is made to remove his name as it's basically a statement that we do not want to honour people who participate in the crimes of the Holocaust."</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Wollongong City Council </em></p>

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Take a trip through an ancient home in Pompeii

<p dir="ltr">Archeologists have recreated a Pompeiian villa that was destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 C.E.</p> <p dir="ltr">Through the use of VR (virtual reality), researchers have carefully created a digital model of the ancient residence to better understand how visitors would have seen the home, according to <a href="https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/antiquity/article/reviewing-pompeian-domestic-space-through-combined-virtual-realitybased-eye-tracking-and-3d-gis/E82035C72C580D9602CCF00D625BC65D">the recently published paper in the </a><a href="https://www.artnews.com/t/archaeology/">archaeology</a> journal Antiquity.</p> <p dir="ltr">The villa, known as the House of the Epigrams, was excavated in the 1870s and so named because it contains mythical paintings accompanied by Greek epigrams.</p> <p dir="ltr">While the identity of the owner is impossible to determine, researchers have suggested it may have belonged to a Lucius Valerius Flaccus due to a signet ring bearing his sigil being discovered there.</p> <p dir="ltr">The paper, titled “Re-viewing Pompeian domestic space through combined virtual reality-based eye tracking and 3D GIS,” was written by PhD. candidate Danilo M. Campanaro and Professor Giacomo Landeschi, who are both affiliated with the Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, Lund University, Sweden.</p> <p><iframe title="YouTube video player" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/9t39at8xgLw" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p dir="ltr">Through extensive research, the authors of the paper have been able to determine what decorations to use in the recreation, as well as uncovering how the opulent villa would be viewed by residents of Pompeii of various social and economic classes. </p> <p dir="ltr">This recreation is the first of its kind in the studies of ancient Pompeii, with the research findings showcasing a different quality of life for locals before their city was destroyed. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: YouTube</em></p>

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Finland returns $46 million of detained artwork to Russia

<p dir="ltr">The Finnish foreign ministry has announced that Finland will return three shipments of art bound for Russia that had been confiscated by customs officials. </p> <p dir="ltr">The sculptures and paints, which are worth a collective $46 million, were seized at the Vaalimaa border crossing on suspicion of violating European sanctions on Russia, according to Customs Enforcement Director Hannu Sinkkonen. </p> <p dir="ltr">The works, which originated in Italy and Japan, were destined for various museums in Russia when they were confiscated. </p> <p dir="ltr">Finland’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs released a statement saying that the European Union amended its existing rules to exempt certain cultural artefacts from its list of sanctions. </p> <p dir="ltr">The rule change extends only to “cultural goods which are on loan in the context of formal cultural cooperation,” the statement said, without further elaboration on its motivation for the exemption.</p> <p dir="ltr">Many of the confiscated works were on loan from Russia’s State Tretyakov Gallery and the State Museum of Oriental Art for temporary exhibits at two Italian galleries. </p> <p dir="ltr">Other artworks were returned to Moscow’s Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts from Chiba City Museum in Tokyo.</p> <p dir="ltr">Following the invasion of Ukraine, Russia has been hit with severe sanctions from the European Union, which originally included “luxury items” such as art. </p> <p dir="ltr">France has also been halted by the sanctions, with several French art galleries and museums showcasing on-loan Russian works. </p> <p dir="ltr">France’s Ministry of Culture announced that at least two paintings on display at Paris’ Fondation Louis Vuitton in a blockbuster exhibition of works from the collection of Ivan Morozov, a deceased Russian businessman and collector of avant-garde French art, will remain in France.</p> <p dir="ltr">The ministry said that paintings will not return to Russia “so long as their owner remain targeted by an asset freeze.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

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Pompeii’s ancient ruins guarded by a robot “dog”

<p dir="ltr">The Archaeological Park of Pompeii has found a unique way to patrol the historical archaeological areas and structures of Pompeii in Italy. </p> <p dir="ltr">Created by Boston Dynamics, a robot “dog” named Spot is being used to identify structural and safety issues at Pompeii: the ancient Roman city that was encased in volcanic ash following the 79 C.E. eruption of Mount Vesuvius.</p> <p dir="ltr">The robot is the latest addition to a broader initiative to transform Pompeii into a “Smart Archaeological Park” with “intelligent, sustainable and inclusive management.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The movement for this “integrated technological solution” began in 2013, when UNESCO threatened to remove the site from the World Heritage List unless drastic measures were taken to improve its preservation, after structural deficiencies started to emerge. </p> <p dir="ltr">The goal, as noted in the release, is to “improve both the quality of monitoring of the existing areas, and to further our knowledge of the state of progress of the works in areas undergoing recovery or restoration, and thereby to manage the safety of the site, as well as that of workers.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“We wish to test the use of these robots in the underground tunnels that were made by illegal excavators and which we are uncovering in the area around Pompeii, as part of a memorandum of understanding with the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Torre Annunziata,” said Pompeii’s director general Gabriel Zuchtriegel in a statement.</p> <p dir="ltr">In addition to having Spot the “dog” patrol the area, a laser scanner will also fly over the 163-acre site and record data, which will be used to study and plan further interventions to preserve the ancient ruins of Pompeii. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

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Ukraine launches online “museum” to preserve the nation’s art

<p dir="ltr">Ukraine has launched a unique NFT museum to preserve the “statehood and history of Ukraine” while supporting artists struggling from the Russian invasion. </p> <p dir="ltr">Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Digital Transformation Alex Bornyakov announced plans for the website, titled “<a href="https://metahistory.gallery/">Meta History: Museum of War</a>,” on <a href="https://twitter.com/abornyakov/status/1507341599394746410?s=20&amp;t=935nfhKtmG8B1WABTQJA5w">Twitter</a>. </p> <p dir="ltr">The site also includes a “<a href="https://metahistory.gallery/warline">warline</a>,” a timeline of events, each of them accompanied by a corresponding NFT.</p> <p dir="ltr">Each NFT features a tweet from a significant moment in the war, with a corresponding illustration by various Ukrainian artists. </p> <p dir="ltr">For example, one NFT features a tweet from NATO calling on Russia to halt the invasion on Day 3 of the war at 4:40pm Ukrainian time. The accompanying graphic depicts a compass with a bullhorn attached illustrated by artist Alina Kropachova.</p> <p dir="ltr">The NFTs are now on sale, with all proceeds going directly to the Ministry of Digital Transformation. </p> <p dir="ltr">The Meta History twitter describes the project as one that fights against Russian dissemination of fake news and propaganda using the permanent ledger that is the blockchain.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Disinformation is used by Russia on a par with deadly military weapons in Ukraine. The NFT-museum is based on a deep intention to keep the memory of real wartime events via blockchain and raise charitable donations to support Ukraine,” reads one <a href="https://twitter.com/Meta_History_UA/status/1508150728572952586?s=20&amp;t=ICoQhq8aZtNSu_VUtAHStQ">tweet</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">The unique project follows a number of successful fundraising campaigns in the war-torn country through the use of NFTs, or non-fungible tokens. </p> <p dir="ltr">The <a href="https://www.ukrainedao.love/">UkraineDAO</a> NFT project has raised over $5 million, which is just one of the many ways people are raising money for the people of Ukraine. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

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How r/place – a massive and chaotic collaborative art project on Reddit – showcased the best and worst of online spaces

<p>Many would be familiar with <a href="https://www.reddit.com/">Reddit</a> as one of the largest social networking sites, with a large group of forums (“subreddits”) catering to almost any interest. </p> <p>Since the beginning of April, Reddit has played host to a massive collaborative art project called <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/place">r/place</a> that simultaneously shows us some of the best and worst attributes of cybercultures. </p> <p>Originally launched in 2017, r/place ran for 72 hours. The lifespan of the new r/place was also short – ultimately lasting for just five days. Beginning initially as a blank canvas, r/place allows users to place one coloured pixel every five minutes (or 20 minutes for unverified accounts) as they attempt to build a collective art piece. </p> <p>Traversing through r/place takes you for a journey through time, memes and cultures.</p> <p>At any one moment you might be looking at a Nine Inch Nails logo, the flags of various countries, a QR code linking you to a YouTube video titled The Most Logical Arguments AGAINST Veganism (In 10 Minutes), and a <a href="https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/people/zyzz">homage to Zyzz</a> – a popular bodybuilding figure who passed away in 2011. </p> <p>Some artworks on r/place don’t seem to represent anything at all. The sole mission of <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/TheBlueCorner/">The Blue Corner</a> is (you guessed it) to have a blue corner depicted on the final art piece. </p> <p>The artwork constantly changes over its short lifetime. But even if the drawings of some communities may not go the distance, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnRCZK3KjUY">the time lapse videos</a> depicting the ongoing mutation of the canvas has become a key part of this art piece, ensuring all contributions play a vital part in the lifecycle of r/place.</p> <h2>Collaboration – and opposition</h2> <p>r/place shows us the collaborative nature of humans in online spaces. After its emergence in 2017 it was hailed as “<a href="https://www.newsweek.com/reddit-place-internet-experiment-579049">the internet’s best experiment yet</a>” and praised for capturing “<a href="https://www.lifehacker.com.au/2017/04/place-was-the-internet-in-all-its-glory/">the internet, in all its wonderful glory</a>”. </p> <p>This collaborative online art project allows people to express their individuality as well as collective identities formed through interactions with online spaces. </p> <p>This year’s iteration of r/place, in contrast to the previous version, demonstrates the interconnectivity of communities in digital spaces. No longer is r/place solely reserved for Reddit users. Now, there is clear power in drawing on communities distributed across Twitch, Discord and Twitter. </p> <p>This influx of communities from all over the internet has not been well-received by all.</p> <p>There is a belief Twitch streamers are ruining the work <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/place/comments/tw3fou/eu_streamer_took_over_our_small_asean_artworks/">of smaller communities</a> and are attempting to sabotage the project. </p> <p>Instead of being a democratic representation of online communities and their art, the argument goes, Twitch streamers are encouraging their fans, numbered in the hundreds of thousands, to capture hotly contested territory.</p> <p>Factions – such as those formed between <a href="https://twitter.com/Rubiu5/status/1511077247025057793">Spanish streamers and BTS fans</a> – have become the primary way to ensure power and influence over the art project. </p> <p>Smaller communities are driven out at the expense of larger influencers with more bargaining power in this pixel warfare. </p> <p>It is not just individuals taking part in this art project. Many believe “bots” are <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/place/comments/tu2gdg/bots_by_the_username_rplace_are_attempting_to/">running rampant</a>, performing automated tasks in a way that is antithetical to the idea of this artwork as a representation of human achievement as opposed to technical prowess. </p> <p>These examples are just a fraction of the chaos over the internet in the last few days: 4chan operated <a href="https://www.reddit.com/r/place/comments/tufngh/4chan_is_trying_to_make_the_trans_community_look/">coordinated attacks</a> on the Trans flag and LGBTQ+ panels, and streamers are receiving an influx of <a href="https://clips.twitch.tv/TrappedBoringKleeCclamChamp-WJ0LwTK-Uhox6MSa">death threats</a>.</p> <h2>The best and worst of us</h2> <p>At its best, r/place is a powerful illustration of strangers coming together about their passions online and the collaborative nature of the internet. </p> <p>At its worst, it represents everything we have come to dislike about the internet: the exclusion of smaller voices at the expense of influencer cultures, factions between communities, and the toxicity of some cybercultures.</p> <p>Whatever the case, this project has been great for boosting Reddit’s publicity as the company <a href="https://fortune.com/2021/12/16/reddit-goes-public-ipo-filing/">goes public</a>.</p> <p>In its final moments earlier today, users could only place white tiles and watch the spectacle of a once vibrantly coloured collaborative art piece that caused so much chaos among online communities simply transform back into a blank canvas.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Reddit</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-r-place-a-massive-and-chaotic-collaborative-art-project-on-reddit-showcased-the-best-and-worst-of-online-spaces-180662" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>

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Shark House owner not happy about protected status

<p dir="ltr">A whopping 7.6-metre sculpture of a shark diving through the roof of a house in Oxford, England has been made a protected landmark - but the man who lives there isn’t pleased by the news.</p> <p dir="ltr">Magnus Hanson-Heine loves the sculpture, which his father, Bill Heine, erected with the help of a local sculptor, but says making it protected as a “special contribution” to the community ignores some key messages his father was trying to make.</p> <p dir="ltr">Mr Heine first installed the unusual sculpture in 1986 as an anti-war, anti-nuke protest, after he heard US warplanes fly over his house and discovered they were going to bomb Tripoli in retaliation for Libyan sponsorship of terrorist attacks on US troops.</p> <p dir="ltr">The image of a shark crashing through the roof captured the shock that would have been felt when the bombs dropped on people’s homes, Mr Hanson-Heine said.</p> <p dir="ltr">But, Mr Hanson-Heine’s issue with the protection of the sculpture comes after it was installed without the approval of local council officials, with his father arguing that he didn’t think they should be able to decide what art people see.</p> <p dir="ltr">Mr Hanson-Heine said that the decision was “absurd” after the council had spent years trying to remove it.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Using the planning apparatus to preserve a historical symbol of planning law defiance is absurd on the face of it,” Mr Hanson-Heine told <em><a href="https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-putin-oddities-oxford-nuclear-weapons-a6b004db12f62eac6fa3efdd2e962757?utm_medium=AP_Europe&utm_campaign=SocialFlow&utm_source=Twitter" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Associated Press</a></em>.</p> <p dir="ltr">Mr Heine, who passed away in 2019, built the great white shark out of fibreglass with his friend, sculptor John Buckley in April.</p> <p dir="ltr">They installed it on August 9, the 41st anniversary of the day the US dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki during World War II.</p> <p dir="ltr">Mr Hanson-Heine said the sculpture’s anti-war message is just as relevant today, with Russian bombs falling on Ukraine and President Vladimir Putin delivering thinly veiled threats of nuclear war.</p> <p dir="ltr">“That’s obviously something that the people in Ukraine are experiencing right now in very real time,” the quantum chemist said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“But certainly when there’s nuclear weapons on the stage, which has been through my entire life, that’s always a very real threat.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Despite its serious message, the shark is also the subject of some more light-hearted content, with photos on its very own <a href="https://www.headingtonshark.com/Home/Gallery" target="_blank" rel="noopener">website</a> including one of Mr Heine sharing a glass of wine with the shark and another of a passer-by posed to look as if she’s eating it.</p> <p dir="ltr">When asked whether the shark's head can be found inside the home, Mr Hanson-Heine laughed.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I believe it was an urban myth for a while that it was poking above the toilet,” he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“But no.”</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-2417d899-7fff-c4bb-fec1-b5f68f591200"></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Images: The Shark House</em></p>

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London gallery returns stolen works to Nepalese owners

<p dir="ltr">Two artefacts that were stolen 30 years ago from a temple in Nepal have been repatriated in a ceremony at the Nepalese embassy in London.</p> <p dir="ltr">The 16th-century carved wooden Torana, a ceremonial gateway, and the 17th-century stone statue of a kneeling devotee were both taken from a sacred site near Kathmandu, according to detective superintendent John Roch of the London Metropolitan police at the handover, which was attended by the Nepalese ambassador Gyan Chandra Acharya.</p> <p dir="ltr">In a statement, both parties expressed “their willingness to work closely and promote the collaborative efforts for the preservation of cultural heritage.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Both artefacts were found in the holdings of Barakat Gallery’s London branch, with the London Metropolitan police claiming that the pieces had been inherited from a deceased relative, and had been in the family’s possession for 20 years. </p> <p dir="ltr">Barakat voluntarily relinquished the artefacts after they were determined to be the looted cultural property of Nepal.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I am deeply committed to [supporting] Nepali efforts in protecting and repatriating its rich cultural heritage, and hope we can all continue to fight to reinstate access, agency and power over their living heritage to the Nepali people,” Emiline Smith, a professor of criminology at the University of Glasgow, wrote on Twitter. </p> <p dir="ltr">Emiline specialises in the global illegal trade in cultural objects originating from Asia, and brought the issue to the attention of the authorities in Nepal and Interpol, which then connected with London’s police.</p> <p dir="ltr">Nepal’s acting consul general Bishnu Prasad Gautam received the artefacts on behalf of the Nepalese government in a ceremony organised by the museum.</p> <p dir="ltr">In a statement, Gautam called the repatriation “proactive,” adding that gallery’s cooperation has “positively contributed to Nepal’s national efforts” to recover its stolen cultural property from foreign collections.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: The Nepalese Embassy in London</em></p>

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