Banksy, Studio Interior. Films stills courtesy of Paranoid Pictures
Bansky, the famed British street artist whose identity is a closely guarded secret, is a known trickster and provocateur. He gained early attention for hanging his pieces in major museums on the sly, placing them next to the work of masters, and later caused controversy by featuring a live, painted elephant in one of his shows. His newest piece, a documentary called Exit Through the Gift Shop, is another head scratcher, following street art’s evolution from graffitti’s progeny to fine art’s younger brother in a movie that questions not just street art, but art itself.
The film purports to document the life of Thierry Guetta, a French expat who through his obsession with filming everything stumbles upon the burgeoning street art scene. He is introduced to it by a cousin known as Space Invader, and in the course of his adventures meets the scene’s biggest players, including Shepard Fairey of “Obey” fame, and, eventually, Bansky. Guetta, our guide, is the comic relief — a naif asking innocent and frankly stupid questions of the street art superheroes with whom he becomes friends — filming, lending a hand, and occasionally spilling buckets of paint.
The film takes a critical turn when Guetta drops the video camera and picks up a brush. He does so at the urging of Bansky, who makes the suggestion when he sees the disastrous documentary Guetta has produced from his near decade of street art footage.
A Core House for Haiti, by Habitat for Humanity
The numbers are numbing. The January 12 earthquake in Haiti left approximately 1.2 million people homeless, 600,000 of them in the capital city of Port-au-Prince. As the rain and hurricane season begins this month many are still living in shelters constructed from scrap wood and tarps, in informal settlements without adequate power and sanitation.
While the Haitian government oversees long-term redevelopment, private and non-governmental agencies (NGO’s) are taking the lead to provide housing. Some are focusing on overarching strategic work, using their expertise to support other organizations. Architecture for Humanity has developed open-source guidelines for rebuilding, established Community Resource Centers to support NGO builders in the field, and is planning to rebuild schools. The San Francisco based organization Build Change has established simple technical standards for earthquake-resistant construction to guide local and NGO builders.
Many NGO’s are working directly to put up housing. The initial drive is to provide temporary shelters so that people can survive the hurricane season. Teams are searching for quick and economical solutions to help the greatest number of people. Habitat for Humanity began its relief work by distributing thousands of emergency kits packed with twine and tarps to the country. A Home in Haiti, an Atlanta organization that ships camping tents purchased by individual donors directly to the country, has intensified its outreach in recent weeks to beat the impending storms.
Although we’re in the tail-end of the worst financial crisis in years, it doesn’t feel like many lessons have been learnt. Just another global case of plus ca change…? With many people blaming the banks and the financial system in general for bringing the world economy to its knees, dozens of aid organizations have joined forces to kickstart a new campaign in the UK: The Robin Hood Tax.
Under the slogan “Turning a crisis for the banks into an opportunity for the world”, what the men in green propose is very simple: levy a 0.005 percent tax on all banking transactions — eventually rising to 0.05 percent — to tackle global poverty and climate change. The proposed stamp duty doesn’t sound like much, but at the lower rate, they claim, it could raise £3,000,000,000 (three billion pounds) a year in the UK alone, and at no cost to ordinary people. And if the tax went international, they say it can generate hundreds of billion of dollars, which gives you an idea of the kind of money swimming around the financial ocean.
A strong grassroots campaign is already in full swing (150,000 facebook fans) and boasts alleged support from some pretty important names, like Gordon Brown, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Angela Merkel, Nicolas Sarkozy, George Soros, and Warren Buffett, to name a few. The Merrymen’s media campaign features heavyweight actors Ben Kingsley and Bill Nighy playing squirming bank executives in a series of slick little films. Check them out after the jump.
In a place like Sinaloa — the Pacific coast state famous for being the cradle of drug traffickers in Mexico — it’s almost impossible to carry out real journalism. After all, if the authorities don’t investigate drug gangs, then how is a reporter expected to? Some who have tried have paid with their lives.
In this lethal setting, art becomes a powerful tool of expression, and in the last few years, as violence has exploded here, a brave new generation of cartoonists has erupted in the state capital, Culiacán. With few opportunities to publish their bold work in the mainstream press, a group of moneros got together to publish La Locha, a monthly comic infused with an angry blend of black comedy and societal critique.
Planet recently met up with one of La Locha’s founders, the cartoonist Bobadilla, in a cantina in Culiacán, to have a chat about the situation in Sinaloa and what it means to be a cartoonist here. His strip Ñacas y Tlacuachi (loosely translates to “Rat and Weasel”), about two bumbling hitmen for hire, was recently picked up by start-up newspaper Ríodoce, a courageous new medium trying to tell the truth about what is happening in the drug war around the state. As a result of their candor, their offices fell victim to a grenade attack. Fortunately, nobody was killed. Bobadilla tells us about the incident, his work, and also a family tragedy that could have come straight from the pages of his cartoons. Like he says, in Sinaloa, reality is always stranger than fiction….
Sometimes we forget the meaning of the most common words. For example, ask yourself, “What is design?” The answer may not be as easy as you think. And maybe there is no single answer, but here is one: design is a carefully thought out process of manifesting ideas into physical form. Designers who do this are worthy of the name. Luca Laurini, the creator behind Label Under Construction (LUC), a niche clothing brand, is certainly one of them. Every garment designed by Laurini and manufactured by this obscure Italian brand is so carefully thought out that sometimes the level of detail borders on the obsessive. Despite being sold in exclusive boutiques around the world, Laurini is equally committed to keeping a low profile and avoiding the fashion media brouhaha. This is the first ever interview he has granted. (Don’t bother googling, there is no website.)
I caught up with Laurini in LUC’s carefully hidden showroom in Le Marais. Dressed in his own clothes, Laurini was milling around the big white space where his clothes hung by their metal tags from one continuous spool of wire screwed into the wall along the room’s perimeter. He was helping buyers with their orders, patiently answering their questions. Laurini has a slim build and his bearded face is warm and inviting. He looks every bit the artisan that he is.
The essence of Label Under Construction is its intricate knitwear.
We’ve hit the boss level. Hally’s jumping around the stage like a hopped up game-show host, spitting out robotic vocals into a microphone. On the screen behind him, CHiKA’s visuals are spinning and pulsing a ride through letters spelling out his name. He’s wearing mirrored sunglasses and a red leather jacket, and his hair slicked back. He’s ripping through a manic set at the after-party for the second night of 2009’s Blip Festival
, and a room full of the world’s greatest chip musicians is dancing like mad. As he breaks into the first verse of “Surfin’ USA”, riding a stream of chords that hit like power-ups, it’s impossible to grasp how music on hardware three-decades old (in this case a stack of customized Famicoms) could be fueling an orgy of pixels and square waves straight out of a William Gibson novel.
This is the fourth Blip Festival, the brainchild of 8bitpeoples
, a chip music collective founded by Jeremiah Johnson (a.k.a. Nullsleep
) in 1999 and co-administered by Josh Davis (a.k.a. Bit Shifter
), and The Tank, a performance art space that’s been the heart of the New York chip music scene since 2002.