Five years ago history was made in Parsons, Kansas where the last roll of Kodachrome was processed at Dwayne’s Photo Shop, the only Kodak certified processor of Kodachrome film in the world as of 2010. The final roll of 36-frame Kodachrome to be manufactured was tracked by National Geographic; it was shot by photographer Steve …
…cause the vandals stole the handle.
A group of graffiti artists (BlakCollectiv), led by Kalkidan Assefa, created an impressive, and legal, mural during Ottawa’s Pride Week honoring transgender women of color who had been murdered during the past year.
On Wednesday night an unknown person or group who were offended by the memorial spray painted over much of the mural and added these sentiments:
ALL COLORS MATTER
ALL LIVES/NO DOUBLE STANDARD/YOU’VE BEEN WARNED.
Polytheistic idolatry is the only thing that gets destroyed, says Daesh, which somehow rationalizes the destruction of historical antiquities, as though there can only be one history, apparently a Sunni and/or Ba’athist one. Only statues that are deemed idolatrous would get destroyed or apparently as originals resold with copies destroyed for social media documentation. But what counts as idolatrous in a modern commodity economy.
Daesh is only controlling the mythology reproduced by the media in order to further not the goals of actual religious beliefs, as they are simply looters maximizing accumulatable wealth. One can say that they are even projecting a pre-modern accumulation of dominance and subjugation returning West Asia and North Africa to some pre-capitalist mode of production. Of course the ideological contradictions will flourish as Daesh elites will keep their modern networked social media and slick magazines as well as their modern weapons in an attempt to reduce all other variants of Islam to their hegemony. Daesh are not the Sentinelese or the Auvergnats – they are common crooks, the lowest form of banditry tarted up when they refer to their genocidal barbarism as a “management of savagery“.
ISIS’ efforts to erase pre-Islamic pictorial art successfully communicates their brand image. What ISIS fails to mention is that they are destroying fakes. Blouin Art Info reports that upon the release of the Mosul Museum video, experts determined that “most, if not all’ of the statuary on view were plaster fakes. The officials at the Mosul Museum had previously transported the originals to the Baghdad Museum. The New York Times reported that many of these sculptures were replicas of ancient objects and a portion of the sculptures on display were reconstructed from fragments which included original shards of ancient sculptures.
Fox News’ misreading is that this is something more immoral than the actual activity of the market in art forgery, made complicit often in human history by an entire discipline of art history and archaeology so that Fox’s headline “How ISIS created a terrorist art market“, is simply that they are following practices of pillaging going back even before the period to which Daesh wishes to return if only symbolically.
Of course the killing of suspected homosexuals will deprive Daesh of many of the population from which the making of such artwork come. These are the premodern warlord-despots of an imagination-free fundamentalist world of gender, class, and ethnic subjugation. They predictably lack the civility of the Greeks upon losing their (Elgin) Marbles.
Footage released by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) showed the ruins of Syria’s Palmyra untouched as the militant group claimed it only destroy statues which it deems polytheistic, the Guardian newspaper reported on Wednesday.
Palmyra is home to a massive Roman theatre where ISIS reportedly executed 20 foreign fighters earlier this week who had been fighting alongside forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
ISIS militants have reportedly executed at least 400 people in Palmyra since capturing the ancient Syrian city, Syrian state media said earlier this week.
ISIS captured Palmyra – and Iraq’s Ramadi – earlier this month despite months of U.S.-led airstrikes.
A YouTube account believed to be affiliated with ISIS posted a video on May 26 showing parts of the city’s ancient ruins and colonnades. It was not clear when the video was shot.
An activist with an anti-regime group in Palmyra said the ruins have not been damaged adding that ISIS said they would only destroy statues they deem idolatrous.
“They haven’t been damaged and members of the organization [ISIS] told residents that they will not damage the city’s antiquities, but will destroy the idols,” the activist with the anti-regime Local Coordination Committee for Tadmur, was quoted by the Guardian as saying.
“Perhaps it’s because the Palmyra antiquities are mostly columns and large buildings and not statues of people, which they consider idols that must be destroyed, and they have no problem with the other antiquities.”
The ideologically-driven destruction of priceless Iraqi artifacts by Islamic State may be a ruse that actually hides a much more cynical operation, in which fakes are smashed to pieces while real treasures are smuggled out of the country and sold on the black market to fund the terrorist army…
Whether worthless or priceless the verdict for destruction is the same. The current terrorist art and antiquities market is dictated by two factors: (1) can an item be transported to a location where a buyer exists for it, and (2) can the artwork be passed off as legitimate once it arrives.
Never allow others inside.
You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.
You think you know, yet you honestly don’t.
I can tell you how to approach the precipice.
Don’t follow me because I tend to go headlong into the abyss.
Background: As some of you may unfortunately know, this past year I’ve been indulging myself with a musical mid life crisis. I’ve started to learn how to play 5 string banjo.
The short story is this. For just about my entire life there had been this old dusty banjo in the house that no one played. It belongs to my father. In the mid fifties he helped organize a Pete Seeger (a known communist) concert on campus. This means he probably has his very own file folder deep in the Hoover building. My father also has his very own Pete Seeger story but that will have to wait for another blog post. A short while after the concert, inspired by Seeger and other folk artists, my father purchased the least expensive banjo available at Sears. Since he was already making progress learning the guitar he figured the banjo would be easy. After all, it had less strings!
After another short while, frustrated, the banjo was put back in its case to collect dust for five decades. A couple decades in the attic, then about 10 years in the basement, another 10 years below the plant rack in the den next to the LPs we haven’t played since we couldn’t find replacement needles for the old HiFi. Followed by some time in the garage before moving to a storage unit. Except for the few times I’d sneak it out of the case and strum it as a little kid looking for trouble, this specific instrument has had a pretty uneventful life. Until recently at least. Now I annoy people with it for at least 5 minutes every day. I know, I know, 5 minutes a day is not enough to make any measurable progress but I don’t want to drive the people I live with completely insane.
I’m not sure exactly what drew me to rescue the banjo from storage and start playing it at age 46. Maybe it was Seeger visiting Occupy Wall Street. I’m sure that was a factor. I was also a band geek in high school. One of my greatest achievements was making it into the All-State Band playing Small Tuba aka Euphonium. It’s been a long time since I’ve been The Best at anything and I admit to missing the stage and everything that goes along with it. Anyone who says they don’t like the cheers and adulation is just lying. Small Tuba does have its drawbacks. There’s not much you can do with it beyond joining a circus or military band. While a circus band would be loads of fun, the musicians who play in them are world class. And it’s been a quarter century since I’ve played seriously. So I asked myself, why not find a new passion? Why not lead people in a robust chorus of Solidarity Forever & Which Side Are You On? Everybody and their brother plays guitar. But banjo? That would be bad ass cool! I knew where I could find an instrument, and of course the most important factor – it was FREE – just sitting there in storage waiting for me. Enough about my uncomfortable past…
About the Banjo’s uncomfortable past…
The banjo is a four-, five- or (occasionally) six-stringed instrument with a thin membrane stretched over a frame or cavity as a resonator. The membrane is typically a piece of animal skin or plastic, and the frame is typically circular. Early forms of the instrument were fashioned by Africans in Colonial America, adapted from several African instruments of similar design.
The banjo is frequently associated with country, folk, Irish traditional and bluegrass music. Historically, the banjo occupied a central place in African American traditional music, before becoming popular in the minstrel shows of the 19th century. In fact, slaves both were influenced by and influenced the early development of the music, which became country and bluegrass, particularly in regard to the innovation of musical techniques for both the banjo and fiddle. The banjo, with the fiddle, is a mainstay of American old-time music.
Part of learning a new instrument is learning its’ history. What I meant by its past being uncomfortable, is not the banjo’s fifteen minutes of pop culture fame as the sound track for Appalachian man on man rape in the movie Deliverance (BTW if you’re ever on Jeopardy, the Dueling Banjos tune is traditionally performed with banjo and guitar, not two banjos). I’m talking about the history of the banjo, heavily promoted at the time as “The American Instrument“, and its association with American blackface minstrel shows of the 19th and early 20th century. Basically you have an instrument with African roots, being popularized by white American performers in blackface, then later black Americans in blackface, using exaggerated stereotyped… well you can understand why the instrument lost a great deal of popularity over the 20th century.
So how are actual black American minstrel show artists and performers viewed? As you might imagine, their work has a long history of being celebrated and vilified. Even now there are black banjo performers getting called Uncle Toms in the comment threads on You-Tube.