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The Catalan Way explained


What is ‘Via Catalana’?

The ‘Via Catalana‘ (Catalan Way) is a political demonstration which will take place this September the 11th. Inspired by the Baltic Way — a human chain formed by up to two million people on August 23 1989 across Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — its aim is to create a 400 km long chain which will cross Catalonia from north to south. 400.000 people have signed up to take part in the human chain, although organizers hope that the actual turnout will be at least twice that figure. People will be asked to join hands at exactly 17:14 (15:14 GMT). The chain, which runs along highways, roads and city streets, will come to an end at 18:00 (16:00 GMT). If successful, it will be one of Europe’s largest ever demonstrations, following in the footsteps of last year’s march in Barcelona, when up to 1,5 million people walked through the streets of the capital asking for independence, the country’s most massive rally ever.

What is Catalonia?

With more than 7,2 million inhabitants Catalonia is a country in the northeastern corner of the Iberian Peninsula. At a crossroads between different cultures and civilisations, it once formed part of the old Crown of Aragon, which merged with the Crown of Castile to create what later became Spain. What in medieval times was a powerful nation which extended its influence across and beyond the Mediterranean, is now an autonomous region within the Spanish State posessing restricted powers, devolved as seen fit by the central state. It has its own language, Catalan, and institutions, amongst them one of Europe’s oldest Governments and Parliaments.

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Why is the Catalan Way taking place today?

Catalonia was a party in the War of Spanish Succession (1701-1714), where the old crowns of Castile and Aragon fought, alongside their European allies, over who should be crowned as king of Spain following the death of Charles II. Catalonia, which favoured archduke Charles as successor, lost a war which ended with Europe recognising Philip V as the new king of Spain. The long war ended with a prolonged siege of Barcelona, Catalonia’s capital, which was systematically bombarded by Spanish troops fighting for the Bourbon candidate, Philip V. After months of resistance Barcelona finally surrendered on September 11 1714. Modern Spain was born, but Catalonia was to pay a heavy price for its support for the Austrian candidate: Catalan language was forbidden and Catalan institutions abolished. Every year, on September 11, Catalans commemorate the day on which Barcelona fell, honouring those killed defending the country’s laws and institutions [video: A trip to Barcelona].

Why many 21st century Catalans want independence?

Since the defeat of 1714 Catalonia has never been allowed to rule itself again [a Catalan history of Spain]. The old nation was forcefully transformed into a mere Spanish province.This state of affairs did not change until 1931, when the proclamation of the Spanish Republic gave Catalans the freedom to regain their old institutions. Catalan was taught in schools, the Parliament reopened, the Government was once more established… But the situation was not to last. The end of the Civil War, with the subsequent establishment of the Franco dictatorship, meant a new blow for the country, crushed once again by a centralist state, administred directly from Madrid.

Following Franco’s death, and with a new democratic regime in place, Catalonia regained its old institutions, and it was once more allowed to rule its own affairs in a number of key areas. But the centralist inertia of the Spanish state, always resisting to the last all devolved powers and continually meddling in affairs which Catalans consider very important — like respect for the Catalan language — has left Catalonia’s citizens whith a deep sense of frustation. This frustation was brought to a head in 2010 when an appeal by the Partido Popular over some of the clauses in the newly approved Catalan Statute (which won majority votes in both the Catalan and Spanish Parliaments) lead the Spanish Constitucional Tribunal to rule it was inconstitucional to use the term ‘nation’ to refer to Catalonia in the document’s preamble.

Since that time the feeling of alienation from Spain has only grown, with many previously apathetic citizens suddenly becoming separatists. More fuel has been added by the economic crisis, and the gross incompetence which has been demonstrated by Spain’s political and financial leaders. This, along with the record levels of unemployment with no end in sight, has given a new impulse to Catalonia’s demands, since it has left the Catalan Government in a critical financial situation, unable to access the international financial markets and totally dependent on the such funds as the Spanish Government to forward to it. This unjust situation reached its most bizarre moment when the Spanish government raised the VAT rate last year to help improve funding. The Catalan government actually lost out, since it had to pay the new rate to all its suppliers but received no refund or additional funding from the central government which was, of course, much better off.

This, in a country which contributes to Spain far more than it gets in return: figures vary, but it is reasonable to suggest that Catalonia loses between 10,000 to 16,000 million euros per year, because of this fiscal deficit. The accumulated deficit between Catalonia and Spain for the period 1986-2010 reaches a total of 213,933 million euros, five times Catalonia’s current debt. The economic imbalance between what Catalans pay in taxes to the Spanish state and what they get in return, is a major contributing factor to the sense of anger and frustration felt by many. It has been very hard for Catalans see their school and hospital services deteriorate under the sever cuts that have been administered while those in other regions which are arguably subsidized from Catalan taxes go virtually unscathed [opinion: Spanish Prisoners].

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What do the Catalan political parties say?

Since the death of Franco all Catalonia’s main parties have argued for a theoretical right to self-determination, but have never taken steps towards achieving that goal. Following slow and painstaking negotiations with Madrid, only a fragile, unstable compromise has been reached: the Spanish state has devolved powers in some key areas, from education to health or police, but it still is unable to recognise Catalonia as a nation. This has left Catalan parties divided on the issue of which course of action to take. Traditionally, Catalan parties have asked for more powers to be devolved from Madrid to Catalonia, but the recent rise in strength of the pro-independence movement — which originates in social, rather than political organizations — has taken some aback [video: Catalunya push for economic independence].

Centre Right Nationalist CiU, Catalonia’s current governing political coalition, has evolved from a pro-autonomy stance to being more clearly inclined towards independence. It is, though, a coalition of parties with different views; officially, it wants a referendum on independence, but stresses the need to reach agreement on this with the Spanish Government. The once powerful Socialist party PSC, which has strong ties with the Spanish Socialist PSOE, is torn too between conflicting approaches. In theory, it recognizes Catalans the right to self-determination, but rather than asking for independence, it wants Spain to move towards a more federal political structure. The left republicans ERC, for years the only party actively seeking independence, are the rising star in the current Parliament and, according to some surveys, could become the country’s main party if elections were to take place now; they want to hold a referendum as early as 2014. Left-wing ICV, political successors of the old communist party, support the idea of a referendum, although their views on independence are not so clear. Finally, the Popular Party, which is now in power and Spain, and Ciutadans, are both opposed not only to independence but even to an eventual referendum on the issue. However, they are a minority in the Catalan political landscape: the Catalan Parliament has passed a declaration which states that Catalonia is a country with the right to decide their on future. The declaration was passed with 104 votes in favour of a referendum, for only 27 against [video: Will Catalonia say adios to Spain?].favorables-declaracio-aplaudint-Parlament-ACN_ARAIMA20130123_0200_31

What does the Spanish Government say?

The Spanish Government bitterly opposes the organization of a referendum in which Catalans can choose whether they are in favour or against an independent Catalonia. The official position is that the government has to abide by the Spanish Constitution, which states that there is only one nation, the Spanish one, and that sovereignty is exclusively held by the Spanish people in its entirety; this means that what is seen as being simply one part of the Spanish nation cannot on its own decide on matters which affect all, effectively denying the principle of the right of peoples to self determination. Since, according to the Constitution, only the Spanish Government can organize a referendum, the Catalan demand faces an insurmountable barrier. Spanish main parties — PP, now in power, and the socialists, the main party in opposition — do not want Catalans to express their views on a referendum [video: Should Catalonia seek independence?].

What is the position of the EU?

The official position of the EU is that it is not for the institution to take into consideration hypothetical declarations of independence following the possible breakaway of part of an existing member state. The official line of the EU Commission is that Catalonia’s independence demand is a Spanish internal affair and, as such, they cannot comment on the issue. This has proved to be a controversial idea, though, since the Spanish Government has tried to influence the debate by assuring that an independent Catalonia would be automatically expelled from the EU, and should start from scratch new negotiations with Brussels to rejoin the institution. Some commissioners have denied this, stating that there is no precedent for a situation like this, and that Europe could not possibly deny membership to 7,2 million people who are now EU’s citizens.

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Why is Scotland holding a referendum, while Catalonia is not?

Because they are both nations without a state Scotland and Catalonia have often been compared, and the fact that both countries are engaging in an open debate about their possible future as sovereign states has only increased the parallels being drawn between them. Yes, they are both old European nations, with institutions of their own, but the similarities end here. It was not until recently that Westminster Parliament devolved some of its powers to Scotland, but the UK has a tradition of decentralised power in many areas. Citizens are used to the fact that laws — from smoking to gay marriage to university taxes — are different on both sides of the border. This is not the case of Spain, which for most of its history has been a heavily centralized state. However the main and most glaring difference is to be found in the very different approach to recognizing a separate identity: whereas the UK – as a plurinational society – has no real problem in acknowledging that Scotland is a nation, Spain as a whole has been unable to move beyond the idea that Catalonia is simply just one more autonomous region. Unlike Scotland, Catalonia cannot take part in official sports competitions around the world, which leaves Barcelona FC as the unofficial national symbol [video: cry for Catalan independence during the ‘classic’ Barça – Real Madrid]. The consequence of this different approach is that, while the British Government is allowing the Scottish government to organize a referendum on independence, the Spanish government is completely opposed to allowing the Catalans to be consulted about an eventual secession and has promised to fight any move by the Catalan government to organize a referendum. [Catalonia and Scotland: how they compare to EU nations and Europe’s other separatists].

What is Catalonia’s level of autonomy?

Catalonia has a restricted autonomy. The Catalan Parliament has the power to pass laws on all sort of issues, from education to housing, but this theoretical autonomy has many strings attached. To begin with, the Spanish Government is unwilling to hand over some key powers, from allocating student grants to administering pensions, and tries to legislate on areas of devolved power, a situation which leads to constant conflicts between the governments in Barcelona and Madrid, with the Spanish Constitutional Court deciding which of the two is entitled to legislate the disputed area. Crucially, all main taxes are collected by the Spanish Government, which is then responsible for distributing the money raised between the various receiving institutions. In practice, Catalonia’s Parliament is legislating on affairs without having the money to implement its laws.

How strong is the popular support for independence?

Surveys vary significantly, but they show two consistent trends. First, support for independence has been growing year after year. Second, from being the option favoured by a minority of Catalonia’s citizens, independence is now supported by the majority of the population. The latest official figures show that, in an eventual referendum, 55,6% of Catalans would vote in favour of an independent state, with those against being 23,4% and roughly a 20% showing no clear preference or saying that they are not interested. When asked which form of relationship with Spain do they prefer, 47% favour an independent state, 22% want to maintain the current status quo, and 21% would like Spain to become a federal state.

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What happens next?

A Council for the National Transition, with academics and experts from a number different fields, is working on the establishment of a timeline for an eventual referendum. Catalonia’s main political force, CiU, which governs thanks to the support in Parliament of pro-independent ERC, argues that a referendum should take place before the end of 2014. The problem is that, according to the Spanish Constitution, only the Spanish Government can authorize the referendum, something the ruling PP party is firmly opposing. Other options include organizing a referendum without  Spanish Government consent — which would make it technically illegal — or dissolving the Catalan Parliament and organizing new elections, with pro-independent parties sharing part of their manifestos. After months of bitter disputes, the Catalan president, Artur Mas [profile], is holding discrete talks with his Spanish counterpart, Mariano Rajoy, to try to find a way out of the current deadlock.

Could an independent Catalonia become a viable state?

As with all the other aspects of the argument, the viability of a future state is a contested issue. Those opposing independence argue that a Catalan state would inherit a huge deficit which would make it very difficult to pay pensions or salaries. Besides, they take for granted that Catalonia would be expelled from the European Union, depriving Catalan companies from the benefits of a single market. On the other side of the debate, those in favour of independence argue that, without the burden of the huge deficit which results from the difference between what Catalans pay in taxes to Spain, and what they get in return, Catalonia — Spain’s most vibrant economy — would have a GDP level in line with some of Europe’s wealthiest nations, and its government could reduce the current debt and improve the quality of public services. In addition they doubt that Catalonia would find itself outside the frontiers of the EU, pointing among other precedents to the fact that the EU Treaty held that national bailouts of member states were illegal, until in fact one was urgently needed. [Keys on the independence of Catalonia].

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Q&A: The Catalan Way explained.

Soaring Porsche 911 Sculpture Marks 50 Years of the Iconic Sports Car


gj_170713_02-940x615sTo mark the 50th anniversary of the Porsche 911 sports car, artist Gerry Judah created a 111-foot-tall sculpture of 3 of the cars soaring into the sky. Commissioned by Porsche, the sculpture includes an early 1965 model, a limited edition 1973 RS, and a brand-new 2013 model. The sculpture was displayed at the 2013 Goodwood Festival of Speed in the UK recently.

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via ArtLystMotorAuthorityLustikContemporistMy Modern Metropolis

La Mise en Abîme


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It’s that time of year again – back to Bellelay for the summer exhibition. For this year’s edition, the Abbey-church is hosting an installation especially created by Swiss artist ROMAIN CRELIER.

Entitled La Mise en Abîme, the mesmerising installation comprises two large, extremely precise and impeccably finished receptacles in which vast quantities of used oil are contained. Shaped like giant puddles, the sculptures with their shiny, and lacquer surfaces (thanks to the expressive properties of oil) reflect the surrounding, allowing the viewers to interact with the architecture of the church by being pulled into the reflection so that they, in turn, become part of the sculpture itself. The installation not only dispenses multiple visual thrills and mysteries but also offers a moment where sculpture creates another reading of space.

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Working in a scale simultaneously monumental and intimate, these sculptures continue CRELIER‘s career-long exploration of the space through conceptual engagement with buildings as well as his experimentation with light and dark, form and void, inside and outside, surface and depth, abstraction and figuration, reflection and absorption.

And good news: this exhibition is currently on view the Abbey-church of Bellelay, Switzerland and is running through September 16, 2013

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The Newsstand, An Independent Magazine & Zine Pop-Up Shop in Brooklyn



Inside The World’s Hippest Underground Newsstand” video by ANIMAL New York

The Newsstand is a new pop-up shop that is described as an “independent media take over of the Newsstand at the Metropolitan Avenue station in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.” It “will feature independent magazines and zines from around the world, curated by Lele Saveri of the 8-Ball Zine Fair especially for ALLDAYEVERYDAY.”

The Newsstand has been covered in several places recently:

The New York Times
PAPER
Gothamist
ANIMAL New York

The Newsstand will open to the public on June 15th and will be open weekdays from 9am-8pm, weekends from 12pm-5pm and close on July 20th.

Over The Line, An Art Show Tribute to the Coen Brothers at Ltd. Art Gallery in Seattle


The_Seven_Sins_of_Coen_s_Cinema_Augie_Pagan_Coen_Brothers_Ltd_Art_Gallery_OVER_THE_LINEThe Seven Sins of Coen’s Cinema” by Augie Pagan

Over The Line is a group art show at Ltd. Art Gallery in Seattle featuring a collection of original artwork “paying tribute
to the many incredible films of the legendary Coen brothers.” The show opened on Friday, June 7, 2013 and will run through Sunday, July 14, 2013. You can still RSVP for the event online via Facebook.

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Call_It_No_Country_Old_Men_Wade_Lageose_Over_The_Line_Ltd_Art_GalleryCALL IT!” by Wade Lageose (No Country For Old Men)

The_Dude_Abides_Chet_Phillips_Big_Lebowski_Ltd_Art_Gallery_OVER_THE_LINEThe Dude Abides” by Chet Phillips (The Big Lebowski)

True_Grit_100__Soft_Ltd_Art_Gallery_OVER_THE_LINETrue Grit” by 100% Soft (True Grit)

tumblr_mnc5552eYG1qmt6hro1_1280Not A Good Man” by Todd Spence (Inside Llewyn Davis)

Warthog_Ryan_Wood_Raising_Arizona_Over_the_Line_Ltd_Art_GalleryWarthog From Hell” by Ryan Wood (Raising Arizona)

What_Heart__Aaron_Jasinski_Miller_s_Crossing_Ltd_Art_Gallery_OVER_THE_LINEWhat Heart?” by Aaron Jasinski (Millers Crossing)

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images via Ltd. Art Gallery and credited artists

Epcot’s Spaceship Earth Turned Into Animated Mike Wazowski to Promote ‘Monsters University’


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Disney Parks turned Epcot’s 180-foot-tall Spaceship Earth structure into an animated Mike Wazowski, a character from the upcoming Disney•Pixar film Monsters University (in theaters June 21, 2013). Mike is being projected onto Spaceship Earth to both promote the new film and Disney’s Monstrous Summer, which features Disney World’s Magic Kingdom ParkDisney California Adventure Park and Disneyland being open for 24 hours starting Friday, May 24, 2013 (Memorial Day Weekend). You can learn more at the Disney Parks Blog and the Monstrous Summer website.

On May 24, 2013, for one day and one night only, Guests on each coast will have the chance to spend 24 whole hours inside the Disney parks!

From 6:00 AM to 6:00 AM, enjoy all the monster-themed madness inside Magic Kingdom park at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, as well as Disneyland park and Disney California Adventure park in California. From special entertainment and monstrous merchandise to frightening food and boo-verages, this “All-Nighter” is shaping up to be one scary good time!

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via Disney Parks Blog

Tentacles, A Squiggly Art Show Curated by Bonnie Burton at Ltd. Art Gallery in Seattle


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The Madame” by Josh Ellingson

Tentacles! is an upcoming group art show being overseen by guest curator and pop culture expert Bonnie Burton at Ltd. Art Gallery in Seattle, Washington. The art show, which is “dedicated to the love of all things slimy and squiggly,” will open on Saturday, May 4, 2013 from 7 PM to 11 PM PDT and be on display until Saturday, June 1, 2013. You can RSVP for the event online via Facebook.

From Cthulhu and Krakens to the lovable octopus, and everything in between, this art show promises to fill your obsession with all things tentacle! Once again we called upon author and pop culture extraordinaire Bonnie Burton to curate, bringing together over 40 of her favorite artists to one show.

List of featured artists:

Jessicka Addams, Paul Ainsworth, Kari-Lise Alexander, Greg Aronowitz, Mike Bell, Barry Blankenship, Craig Church, Daisy Church, Candice Ciesla, justJENN designs, Gerald de Dios, Joshua Ellingson, Michael Fleming, The Pumpkin Geek, James Gilleard, Nathan Hamill, Blain Hefner, Claire Hummel, Aaron Jasinski, Ward Jenkins, Jim Koch, Christina Lank, Nan Lawson, Adam Levermore, Cecy Meade, Eliot Mechanism, Melissa Monosmith, Tomi Monstre, Jen Oaks, Michael O’Driscoll, Damon O’Keefe, Plinio Marcos Pinto, Chet Phillips, Reid Psaltis, Mark Sarmel, Clay Sisk, Todd Spence, Meghan Stratman, Super Ugly and Bruce White

Cthulhu

Lord Cthulhu’s Ultimatum” by Chet Phillips

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The Green Tentacle!” by Paul Ainsworth

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It Came From Beneath The Sea!” by James Gilleard

Three-Steeples

Three Steeples” by Kari-Lise Alexander

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On A Clear Night” by Adam Levermore

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Tentacles! poster design by Josh Ellingson

images via Ltd. Art Gallery and credited artists

Incredibly Intricate String and Denim Portraits by Kumi Yamashita


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New York City-based artist Kumi Yamashita creates incredibly labor-intensive portraits out of simple materials. Her“Constellation” portraits are each made of a single thread wound around a network of nails in a process that takes several months. To make her “Warp and Weft” portraits, Yamashita selectively cuts away threads from denim fabric. Her work is on display at the Scott White Contemporary Art gallery in La Jolla, California, April 20 through June 1, 2013. She has much more work on her website.

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Room-Sized Anamorphic Portrait of Malian Actor Sotigui Kouyaté


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This room-sized portrait of Malian actor Sotigui Kouyaté was made out of found objects by French artist Bernard Pras. The portrait is an example of a perspectival anamorphosis. It appears undistorted from only one vantage point; in actuality, it is on two planes, the horizontal floor and vertical wall. This video depicts the build process for the portrait during its installation back in February at L’Institut Français in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Pras’ work is the subject of a solo show at MazelGalerie in Brussels, Belgium through April 20, 2013.

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David Bowie is, A Retrospective of David Bowie’s Career at Victoria & Albert Museum in London


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The Victoria and Albert Museum in London is presenting “David Bowie is, “the first international retrospective of the extraordinary career of David Bowie.” Victoria Broackes and Geoffrey Marsh curated the exhibition which features more than 300 objects including “handwritten lyrics, original costumes, fashion, photography, film, music videos, set designs, Bowie’s own instruments and album artwork.” The show aims to “explore the creative processes of Bowie as a musical innovator and cultural icon, tracing his shifting style and sustained reinvention across five decades.” The show opened March 23 and will run through August 11, 2013. Tickets are available now.

The exhibition will explore the broad range of Bowie’s collaborations with artists and designers in the fields of fashion, sound, graphics, theatre, art and film. On display will be more than 300 objects including Ziggy Stardust bodysuits (1972) designed by Freddie Burretti, photography by Brian Duffy; album sleeve artwork by Guy Peellaert and Edward Bell; visual excerpts from films and live performances including The Man Who Fell to Earth, music videos such as Boys Keep Swinging and set designs created for the Diamond Dogs tour (1974). Alongside these will be more personal items such as never-before-seen storyboards, handwritten set lists and lyrics as well as some of Bowie’s own sketches, musical scores and diary entries, revealing the evolution of his creative ideas.

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Eyes as Big as Plates, Portraits of Seniors Covered in Organic Materials


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Agnes II, (Agnes “parachuted for the first time when she was 85, and then again when she turned 90″)

Eyes as Big as Plates” is an ongoing collaborative project by Finnish artist Riitta Ikonen and Norwegian photographer Karoline Hjorth who photograph ‘charismatic seniors’ wearing costumes made of organic scavenged materials. Selections from the series, including ones recently created in New York, are currently exhibiting at Recess in Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood until April 26, 2013.

The photographs play with references from American folklore. Each image will present a solitary figure in a landscape, dressed in elements from surroundings that indicate neither time nor place, encouraging a sense of timelessness and universality. This blending of figure and ground recalls the way in which folk narratives animate the natural world through a personification of nature. The slippage of elderly figures into the landscapes suggests a return to the earth, a celebration of lives lived, reinforcing the link between humanity and the natural world.

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Bob

via Booooooom,

Tilda Swinton’s Live Performance Art of Sleeping in a Box At MoMA Surprises Museum-Goers


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At the Museum of Modern Art in New York City today, actress Tilda Swinton surprised visitors by appearing unannounced in a unique live performance art piece called “The Maybe.” The piece simply displayed Swinton sleeping in a glass box, with only a pair of glasses, a carafe of water, and linen-covered bedding. Gothamist reportsthat the museum has been planning the performance for seven years and that Swinton first started performing the piece back in 1995 at London’s Serpentine Gallery. Throughout the year, Swinton will perform “The Maybe” at MoMA about six more times but at random times and in different museum locations.

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A ‘Star Wars’ Character Tournament Between the Dark and Light Side


TIM_BRACKETS-day4Star Wars has started an online character tournament between the evil Dark Side and honorable Light Side called, “This is Madness.” You can vote on two new battles every day while keeping up on bracketed results. The tournament started on Monday, March 18, 2013 and will end on Tuesday, April 9, 2013. Check the final results on April 9th to see who the true champion of the Star Wars universe really is! This is like an epic sci-fi version of March Madness.

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2013 Disposable Film Festival, A Showcase for Films Shot with Inexpensive Video Devices


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The 7th annual Disposable Film Festival launches at San Francisco’s Castro Theatre, March 21 to 24, 2013. The festival is a showcase of short films made with inexpensive video capture devices like cell phones and webcams. After the conclusion of the San Francisco premiere, the festival will tour the US—check the site for tour dates.

FILM IS TOO IMPORTANT TO BE LEFT TO THE EXPERTS! from Disposable Film Festival on Vimeo.

Finalists for the 2012 Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest


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Today Smithsonian Magazine announced the 50 finalists for their 10th annual Photo Contest. The stunning images, captured by photographers from around the world, encompass six categories: the natural world, travel, people, Americana, and altered images. Public voting is now underway for the Reader’s Choice Award.

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For those who are in NYC


The fourth annual Pictoplasma NYC Conference, focusing on the world of character design & art, takes place February 8 & 9, 2013 at the Tishman Auditorium at Parsons The New School for Design in New York City. The conference will feature speakers from the world of character design, as well as screenings and performances. The event was originally set for last November, however it was postponed due to Hurricane Sandy.

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Pictoplasma Festival 2012 Opener from Pictoplasma on Vimeo.

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