Wednesday, August 24, 2011


As of today it is save to say that Colonel Gaddafi is no longer dictator of Lybia.

In a way he will be missed. In modern history Gaddafi was the political leader that came closest to being a work of art.

Not only were Gaddafi's extravagantly dressed performances and speeches a memorable happening, also his personal bodyguards - the Revolutionary Nuns - were proof of great aesthetical freedom.

Best remembered might be his silent protest during his visit to Berlusconi's Italy; the first official visit since the colonisation of Lybia by Italy (1911-1940's).
Pinned to the dictators chest was a photo of Libyan guerrilla leader and freedom fighter Omar al Mukhtar, arrested by Italian colonial troops in 1931.
Clearly Berlusconi was more impressed by the bodyguards.

Filmmaker Rania Ajami made a movie about these modern Amazon Warriors: see trailer.

Colonel Gaddafi visits President Berlusconi in 2009

Omar al Mukhtar

Revolutionary Nuns

Killer Virgins


Monday, August 8, 2011


Where performance art, taking a chance and the urge for freedom meet: THE ESCAPOLOGIST.

Escape artists have been around for centuries. Of course it is Harry Houdini who made the escape act a recognised entertainment at the end of the 19th century. Nevertheless it was Norman Murray Walters, a contemporary of Houdini, who coined the phrase 'escapology' for his skills.

Sculptor Silvia B. creates wonderfully strange animal-like child creatures who wouldn't misfit the oldtime freak circus, especially when they are posed as contortionists or escape artists.
The ironical fate of 'Numero Noir' is now being transferred to the glass showcase of the art gallery. No escape there ...

Silvia B., 'Numero Noir' (2010) (collection Museum Beelden Aan Zee)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Playing cards you never know what hand you will be dealt.

Sleeperhold Publications made an art publication in the form of a deck of cards. Sleeperhold Publications # 3.
(see link for full list of participating artists)

Sleeperhold Publications # 3 (2011)

Dennis Tyfus, Aces

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Today one of the world's most sought-after suspects of war crimes, Ratko Mladic, was arrested. He is being transferred to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in the Hague at the moment. Europe celebrates but not all of the people of Serbia are all that happy.

Last month prominent Dutch lawyer and professor of international law Geert-Jan Knoops published a book titled Blufpoker. The title suggests that international law can be compared to a game of poker, a dark and murky game. International Law is determined by geo-political and economical interests and a western point of view more then by the seeking of plain justice he claims.

Seen in the light of recent events in North Africa and the Middle East as well, one country's freedom fighter can easily become another man's terrorist.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Big Biedermeier Brother

As the Napoleonic wars left Europe in political disorder the Congress of Vienna drew plans for political restoration of Europe (in effect between 1815 and 1848). As a consequence public life was highly controlled by censorship prompting people to concentrate on the domestic and the non-political. Aestheticly the glorious and militaristic Empire Style made way for a domestic and bourgeois (floral) style, later named Biedemeier, ironically after the pseudonyme of a parodist of the time.

In 1948 George Orwell penned down his fears for a controlled society. Partly because of Orwell's warnings in the year 1984 it was still unthinkable that daily life would be monitored 24 hours a day. Meanwhile nobody takes any notice of CCTV and video surveillance anymore, accepting computer monitoring, biometric identification archives and GPS-tracking as a fact of life.

In Burçak Bingöl's series of sculptures titled Günebakan [F(ol)lower] closed circuit surveilance cameras are recreated as ceramic ornaments with floral decorations. They depict nicely the comatose bourgeois acceptance of 'Big Brother'-society.

Burçak Bingöl, 'Günebakan [F(ol)lower] III' (2011)

Burçak Bingöl, 'Günebakan [F(ol)lower] II' (2011)

Burçak Bingöl, 'Günebakan [F(ol)lower] I' (2011)

Showing until 14/06/2011 at Cda Projects in Istanbul.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Hole in the Ace

< Johhny Ace, Memorial Album, Duke DLP-71 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Billboard magazine, Jan. 8 1955 >

First let me apologize for the sarcasm in the title of this post.

This post is about the 1950's R&B-hype around Johnny Ace who killed himself by shooting himself in the head, alledgedly during a game of Russian Roulette.

John Marshall Alexender Jr. was from Memphis Tennessee, son of a respected preacher. After serving the navy in the Korean War he was pianist in the Beale Street Blues Boys with BB King on guitar and Bobby Blue Bland doing the vocals. When both departed Memphis Johhny took over the band renaming it The Beale Streeters.

In the early fifties Johnny Ace and The Beale Streeters struck surpisingly gold with some massive R&B-hits. In a smooth romantic style hits like 'My Song', 'Cross My Heart' and 'Never Let Me Go' in their innocence seemed to target a teenage audience rather then the adult audience accustomed to the much rawer and rauncier Rhythm and Blues of the time. In this respect Johnny Ace was a harbinger of the upcoming teenage craze called Rock & Roll.

The Russian Roulette saga has been disproved by witnesses of the incident. Both Big Mama 'Hound Dog' Thornton - whom Johnny Ace was heavily touring with - and her bass player stated that he accidently shot himself through the head trying to prove the gun he was waving around to be unloaded. Bandleader Johnny 'Handjive' Otis claimed he was always clowning around with the gun and doing a controlled version of Russian Roulette as a joke. Johnny died Christmas 1954.

Whatever the story, Johnny Ace truly hit a straight flush after his death with 'Pledging My Love', one of the biggest posthumous hits in the history of popular music.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Le Fantôme de la Liberté

Last week I went to a viewing of Luis Bunuel's 'Le Fantôme de la Liberté' (1974) at Rotabs and hosted by exhibiting artist Marc Müller.

Bunuel's movie couldn't be more fitting to be included in the list of art on this blog. The movie, a free-form script of seemingly unconnected surrealist scenes, is an absurd portrayal (or criticism) of (reversed) bourgeois conventions.

Most notably: Monks boozing and playing poker, lavatories as dinner table seats, picture postcards regarded as pornographic, etc.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day

The freedom to date and have romantic encounters with others is surely one of our most basic liberties, if not a necessity. This goes for our society's leaders too!

Happy Famous Artists: Leadership Dating. Check out the trailer.