New reports claim that the State Department is planning to spend $400,000 in taxpayer money for a statue of a camel that will be built at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan.
Buzzfeed first reported on the $400,000 plan after obtaining a document that outlined the department’s decision to procure the statue, titled “Camel Contemplating Needle,” by artist John Baldessari. The statue is 500 pounds of fiberglass and depicts a white camel staring at the eye of a large needle.
“This artist’s product is uniquely qualified,” reads the document obtained by Buzzfeed. “Public art which will be presented in the new embassy should reflect the values of a predominantly Islamist country.”
The statue itself is reportedly an interpretation of a passage from the New Testament of the Bible that talks about how it is more difficult for wealthy people to make it into heaven. The same “Camel Contemplating Needle” statue is already on display at Hall Wines in Napa Valley, California, and for critics who say that $400,000 is far too much money for the State Department to spend on a statue, it should be noted that the Napa Valley statue was purchased for much more than what the State Department is willing to shell out.
“[$400,000] is actually a very a reduced price for this sculpture,” said Steve Beyer of Beyer Projects, art dealer for the U.S. Embassy’s project. “There is an art market that makes these prices, and this is one of the most prominent American artists.”
Beyer says that they weren’t expecting to receive a call from the government asking for his help to get the statue built.
“They approached us,” said Beyer to Buzzfeed. “We were, of course, quite surprised.”
Beyer understands why many Americans might be upset that the State Department is willing to spend that much taxpayer money on a statue but does believe that other will see it from a positive perspective.
“It depends on what part of the public you are in,” said Beyer. “If you go to the museum and enjoy art and are moved by it, things cost what they cost.”
The statue purchase proposal reportedly came from the State Department’s Office of Art Embassies.
Copy of statue contracting document (via Buzzfeed):
"In Orbit" is a performance art display at the Boiler gallery in New York City.
Artists Ward Shelley and Alex Schweder are spending ten days inside their spinning house (one inside and one outside), which resembles a giant wooden hamster wheel (video below).
According to Pierogi2000.com, the men will be living in unusual house until March 9, but the spinning wheel home will be on display until April 5th.
IO9.com notes the artists have to coordinate their movements to access any of the furniture, which is attached to the wheel.
They are trying to show the social effects of architecture.
They may look reminiscent of crop circles or strange alien-like patterns, but the spirals decorating the Sahara desert are actually a part of an art project – a one million square foot art project.
Artist Danae Stratou teamed up with architects Alexandra Stratou and Stella Constantinides almost two decades ago to design and create the perfectly shaped piles and cylindrical holes to create the spirals that stretch out to more than one million square feet.
The gigantic art installation is titled “Desert Breath,” and is meant to show “the desert as a state of mind, a landscape of the mind,” according to the artists’ website.
As many outdoor environment-based art pieces, this one will eventually be erased completely thanks to desert winds that slowly have weathered away some of the installation’s features.
Nonetheless, the spirals serve several important purposes.
“The work functions on two different levels in terms of viewpoint,” the artists write, “from above as visual image, and from the ground, walking the spiral pathways, a physical experience.”
A statue of a man sleepwalking in only his underwear has been a source of discussion at Wellesley College’s all women campus.
Since it was installed, more than 300 students have signed a petition to remove it, claiming it makes them feel uneasy and triggers thoughts of sexual assault.
“It honestly makes me a little uncomfortable with how real he looks,” Laura Mayron, a Wellesley sophomore said. “It’s odd.”
Bridget Schreiner, a freshman, signed the petition after she saw the statue and interpreted it as a nude person walking mindlessly around campus.
Other students have said that while the statue came as a surprise, they understood the artist’s intention.
“I find it disturbing, but in a good way,” Wellesley English professor Sarah Wall-Randell said. “I think it’s meant to be off-putting.”
The New York-based artist Tony Mateli said Wednesday that he was pleased with the response the “Sleepwalker” statue evoked, noting that his intention had been to spark a conversation about art, gender, sexuality and individual experience.
A video featuring the process of aluminum casting of a fire ant hill went viral this week when commenters questioned whether the artist was unnecessarily cruel to the insects.
“What if I poured aluminum in your house?” one commenter wrote.
In the video captions, the artist wrote that he finally disabled comments because there were so many complaints of animal abuse.
The video showed the artist pouring molten aluminum into a fire ant hill. When the aluminum hardened, the artist dug up the creation from the ground and hosed off the remaining dirt.
The final result was an 18-pound aluminum sculpture displaying the intricacies of ant tunnel, while simultaneously ridding the artist of a backyard pest.
The artist's most recent piece, a 20-pound ant hill sculpture, is being sold for $,4500 on eBay.
The Huffington Post pointed out that fire ants cost the U.S. about $1 billion per year, and their bites can sometimes be fatal.
The video was uploaded on November 22, and has since received 7 million views.
Reclusive graffiti artist Banksy was reportedly revealed after he was caught on camera near one of his own pieces in New York.
The man, who is seen wearing a flat cap and paint-covered overalls, appears to be fixing a “moving painting” on a van that broke down. The person is believed by several newspapers to be Banksy, who has never confirmed his identity.
Previous photographs reportedly showing the artist were taken in Santa Monica in 2011 and East London in 2007. Both photos feature a white man in his early 30s with brown hair, which are compatible with the newest picture.
The artist’s real name is thought to be Robin Banks or Robin Gunningham, though the only detail about the man that can be confirmed is that he is from Bristol.
In the past, Banksy has insisted that he will never reveal his true identity, leading some to nickname him the Scarlet Pimpernel of modern art.
In a recent email interview with the Village Voice, Banksy said he plans to create a new piece of art in Manhattan every day through the month of October.
He told the paper that he doesn’t plan on making a profit from his art in the city, noting that commercial success would be a mark of failure for a graffiti artist.
“When you look at how society rewards so many of the wrong people,” he wrote, “it's hard not to view financial reimbursement as a badge of self-serving mediocrity.”
The American Family Association of Kansas and Missouri is a Christian-based organization led by Phillip and Cathy Cosby, who have worked for years to try to remove a statue owned by the city of Overland Park, Kan.
The Cosbys' efforts have cost Overland Park about $35,000 in legal fees and probably more in the future, notes the Kansas City Star.
The statue is entitled “Accept or Reject” and stands in the Overland Park Arboretum. It was given to Overland Park in 2011 by a Chinese artist.
"It is a nine-foot-tall bronze statue of a totally nude woman. Her arm is extended, and she's taking a picture of herself, in essence sexting herself," Philip Cosby told OneNewsNow.com, which is owned by the American Family Association.
Cosby claims the statue (both pictured) violates Kansas’ anti-obscenity statute and should be removed from the Overland Park Arboretum.
Last year, Cosby used a 1887 Kansas law to create “citizen grand jury,” which is done via petition. The citizen grand jury then judges if a crime has been committed, not a prosecutor or a normal grand jury. However, the citizen grand jury turned down Cosby's claim.
Unswayed, Cosby is trying again to get enough signatures on a petition to bring the "child pornograhy" statue before a new citizen grand jury.
On the petition page of his website, Cosby writes:
It’s troubling that a city agency persists in placing, in the path of children, the depiction of “art” – that if they mimicked it, would essentially be children manufacturing child pornography.
Cosby also points to an audio recording (below) that he made of a boy yelling, "Whoa!" when he supposedly saw the statue. No word if the child has been hospitalized for trauma.
Sources: Kansas City Star, OneNewsNow.com, AFA-Ksmo.net
The new thing artists like doing now are performance pieces. Like Jay Z where he lip synced for “Picasso Baby.” Now there’s Madonna who did an art piece at a launch party yesterday for her new short called secretprojectrevolution.
The 17-minute short film kicks off Art for Freedom, an “online global initiative to further freedom of expression… to respond, address and protest persecution around the world.”
Madonna protested by covering Elliott Smith’s “Between the Bars.” Her version was a piece about “the prison industrial complex” instead of about love and alcohol. *Sniffs the air* Mm, that pretentious smell.
To repeat one of the YouTube comments, “Elliott Smith just killed himself twice.”
And here’s the entire secretprojectrevolution short if you’re interested.
Police in Sydney, Australia, repeatedly turned up at an art exhibition titled “101 Vagina” to make censorship suggestions to photographer Philip Werner.
The exhibition, based on Werner’s coffee table book, was on display in Redfern from June 27 to 30. Werner said police showed up four time at the 107 Projects Gallery.
“The first time they came they apparently weren’t acting on a complaint,” Werner said, “I don’t know why they came, maybe just to check it out. And they had a look around, realized that it wasn’t porn, realized that nothing was displayed in the windows, and left again. The second time they came, apparently they responded to a complaint that the artwork could be seen through the windows and they suggested, though not demanded … that the windows be covered.”
The next two times the police showed up they were asking the gallery to cover its glass door. The gallery complied with all their requests.
The City of Sydney council said they received two complaints about the obscenity of Werner’s work. It is unknown how many complaints the police received.
Werner told artsHub that if the people who complained would actually come inside and view the exhibition they might finally wrapped their head about the concept. “If they’d come in and actually read the stories and actually understood what it was about even they might have had a different take on it.”
In a NSFW promotional video, Werner said the work is about “… breaking down the taboo around vaginas and around genitalia and sexuality in general, and creating some kind of a counterpoint to the media which is very skewed towards certain body types … We’re all so different. What that means is that we’re also all normal.”
There were also complaints that the posters Werner created for the event were also obscene.
“Complaints like this show that we still have a long way to go in the removing of this taboo and in feeling comfortable with our bodies and our sexuality,” said Werner. “We were all conceived and born through the vagina, vaginas are sacred, not obscene!”
Here is a seemingly simple game: Look at two works of art side by side, then determine which is a painting and which is a photo.
Pretty easy, right? Not so much.
Contrary to what some may believe, distinguishing between still, captured images of things and still, drawn images is not as uncomplicated as it sounds.
Don’t believe us? Well, then test your skills with the video below.