Ralph Hotere 1931-2013 "was one of New Zealand's leading abstract artists, well known for his enigmatic, black painted surfaces stripped with luminous lines of color. He was not a strict formalist or wary of content. When an aluminium smelter was proposed for the Aramoana wetland, he famously nailed protest works on local telephone poles, painted on corrugated iron. And although his message was never explicit, his black paintings emerged at the height of the Civil Rights movement and suggested themes of historical crisis: war, nuclear testing, the Cuban Missile Crisis and Apartheid. With an understated gravitas unusual in protest art, Hotere demanded that his work speak for itself.
Although Hotere did not want to be pigeonholed as a 'Māori artist,' his works were steeped in the spiritual world of his ancestors. He was one of the first generation of Māori artists in New Zealand who, with quiet perseverance, forged a path for subsequent generations of artists by establishing a distinctive visual vocabulary that would be influential to both Māori and Pakeha (European) artists alike."
(Andrew Clifford, 1 March 2013, ArtAsiaPacific Magazine)
Fig.1 Ralph Hotere with his Black Phoenix installation at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery in 2000. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
"A controversial ban preventing a nine-year-old girl from photographing her school meals has been lifted following a storm of protest on the internet. Martha Payne, from Argyll, has now recorded more than three million hits on her NeverSeconds blog. Argyll and Bute Council said press coverage of the blog had led catering staff to fear for their jobs. But council leader Roddy McCuish later told the BBC he had instructed senior officials to lift the ban immediately. The schoolgirl's father, David Payne, who helped her set up the blog, welcomed the decision. Martha began publishing photographs of her Lochgilphead Primary School lunches on 30 April. Martha Payne's father, David: ''It (the ban) was disappointing''. She gave each meal a 'food-o-meter' and health rating, and counted the number of mouthfuls it took her to eat it."
(BBC News, 15 June 2012)
"[Mikhail] Bakhtin's concept of carnival as a subversive, disruptive world-upside-down event in which the repressive views, lies, and hypocrisy of the officially run and dominated everyday world are unmasked provides a powerful theoretical concept for any study of Iranian popular theatrical and related musical forms. Bakhtin was concerned with polyvocality and the fact that from the onset of the European Renaissance the voices of the common people were increasingly not heard. The Islamic Republic's ban on the performance of improvisational comic theater would seem to support this theoretical stance with empirical evidence of official reaction. In the European context analyzed by Bakhtin, a writer, exemplified by Rabelais, enacts an important role because he or she reflects the voices of the low, the peasant, the outcast. In Bakhtin's view, the healthy voice of the low, which questions the high-the church and the state-is an important check on oppressive officials in a healthy society.
A full-fledged carnival—such as those in Rio de Janeiro and New Orleans—does not exist in the Iranian culture sphere. By carnival I mean a massive demonstration of excessive eating, drinking, and sexual and bodily exposure, popularly associated with Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, that does not occur within an Islamic/Iranian context. Threads and themes of carnivalesque and grotesque subversion, however, can be found woven through the fabric of the Iranian world. Here the needle that pricks the official religious, social, and political powers most is the traditional comic theater in its many guises.
In many ways siyah-bazi and ru-howzi embody Bakhtin's notions of the grotesque and the carnivalesque. Gholam-siyah, the blackface clown, the 'low Other,' always wins over his master: the world upside down. Gholam-siyah's extravagant clothing, movements, speech, and lower-class language demonstrate Bakhtin's dictum, 'the grotesque...cannot be separated from folk humor and carnival spirit' (Stallybrass and White 1986, 43). Gholam's bright red costume and conical hat, for example, are probably the closest thing to carnival costume in the entire Middle East. William O. Beeman, a scholar of Iranian linguistics, discusses the blackface clown: 'The clown distorts normal physical movement by jumping, running, flailing his arms, and twisting his body into odd shapes' (1981, 515). This is, of course, part of his repertoire, for sight gags make up much of the comedy of traditional comic theater. This grotesque twisting of the body is also part of the dancing that occurs in the comic theater, especially by the male characters."
"Wikileaks, with its simple 'keep the bastards honest' ethos, aims to discourage unethical behaviour by airing governments' and corporations' dirty laundry in public, putting their secrets out there in the public realm. The site won Index on Censorship's 2008 freedom of expression award because it's an invaluable resource for anonymous whistleblowers and investigative journalists.
Among Wikileaks' recent triumphs are its publication of top-secret internet censorship lists. The blacklists from Australia, Thailand, Denmark and Norway demonstrate exactly how censorship systems are abused to suppress free expression. The Thai list featured sites criticising the country's royal family and the Australian blacklist turned out to include a school canteen consultancy. Despite its child porn mandate, less than half of the Australian blacklist were linked to paedophilia. Also on the list were satanic and fetish sites, anti-abortion websites, and sites belonging to a kennel operator and a dentist. Publication highlighted the lack of transparency in the process and gave impetus to the 'No Clean Feed' campaign which opposes the Australian government's internet filter proposals."
(Emily Butselaar, guardian.co.uk)
"Transition Towns initiatives are part of a vibrant, international grassroots movement that brings people together to explore how we – as communities - can respond to the environmental, economic and social challenges arising from climate change, resource depletion and an economy based on growth. We don't look for anyone to blame or anyone to save us, but believe our communities have within themselves the innovation and ingenuity to create positive solutions to the converging crises of our time. We believe in igniting and supporting local responses at any level and from anyone – and aim to weave them together into a coordinated action plan for change towards a lower energy lifestyle. By building local resilience, we will be able to collectively respond to whatever the future may bring in a calm, positive and creative way. And by remembering how to live within our local means, we can rediscover the spirit of community and a feeling of power, belonging and sharing in a world that is vibrant, just and truly sustainable."
(Transition Towns in New Zealand)