Monthly Archives: January 2011

Human Rights and the Arab Uprisings

To all the folks in the Arab countries: Stand tall, protest, make your voices heard, and assert your rights even if your current government doesn’t honor them.
Human rights is a term that is so bandied about that it has almost lost its meaning. By human rights, do we mean no torture, yes; do we mean no slavery, yes; do we mean no human trafficking*, absolutely.
In watching the people led uprisings against oppressive regimes in Iran 18 months ago, in Tunsia last month, and Egypt this week, it has become evident that we here in the West have taken for granted the most basic of human rights as defined in the last 200 years: the right to assemble, the right to free speech, the right to protest, the right to not agree with your government, the right to free press, the right to fair elections, and the right not be attacked or beaten by government agents/police/military/thugs.
If Mr. Mubarak actually believed that his government was elected by the people, then he should feel strong enough to allow the people to protest. But the heavy handedness of this week’s government response and thuggery has belied his claims to power and to his own humanity.
If we the people believe deeply in the rights that the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights grants us, then we would do well to watch and renounce our own government’s behavior when it is bad as well as celebrate and support all other people’s desire for the freedom of speech, the freedom to assemble, the freedom to protest, the freedom to dissent, and the freedom from unwarranted government reprisals.
For all of those who fear the loss of the dictators in the Arab countries as it might mean the rise of Islamicists, take a chill pill and in turn encourage your governments to support real human rights and not authoritarian regimes who are client states to the West. Much of the claims, and resulting power, of the Islamicists derives from poverty, hopelessness, and the West’s continuing support of oppressive dictatorships.
Egyptians have the right to wake up and not fear their government. Egyptians have the right to assemble. Egyptians have the right to speak up. Egyptians have the right to self-determination. Egyptians and Tunisians are us, just 235 years later.
Many are saying that this is the Arab world’s 1989, I truly hope it is. If we really believe in democracy, let’s support it in word, truth, and action.
My Favorite photo from this week: The most subversive protest of all: An Egyptian protestor kisses a riot police officer.
* If you want to be a pimp, pimp yourself out, not someone else(s).

Where Were You When?

January 28, 1986 – I was passing the high school’s outdoor monitor that was mounted just above a window in the secondary quad, it was the small gap time between 1st and 2nd period when one was traveling between classes. I was 17 years old and the second semester of my senior year of high school had just started.
As I walked by, I noticed that they were broadcasting the Challenger launch and a good sized crowd of students were looking up at the outdoor monitor . The countdown commenced, time lapsed, and then the space shuttle was not going up any more. There was a gasp and then silence. Silence before the news announcers quite knew what was happening.
I remember thinking, “But Christa McAuliffe is on that shuttle.”
I was so proud that women were going into space.

David Hockney and Mail Art for the iPad Age

From yesterday’s Sunday LA Times Art & Books section, David Hockney’s friends in art: the iPad and iPhone:

“What fascinates me is not just technology but the technology of picture-making,” says Hockney. “I spend more time painting, of course, but I treat the iPad as a serious tool. The iPad is influencing the paintings now with its boldness and speed.”
One discovery feeds the next. From photography he moved onto photo collages and experiments with office copy machines — cameras of another kind. His fax art allowed him to send exhibition artworks over telephone lines much as he recently e-mailed an exhibition worth of iPhone and iPad drawings to an art gallery at Paris’ Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent (where “David Hockney: Fleurs Fraîches” is on view until Jan. 30.) “Who would have thought the telephone could bring back drawing?” Hockney asks in the Paris show’s catalog.
Hockney’s iPhone art began in 2008. A rotating group of about 30 friends, curators, dealers and writers regularly receive his e-mailed artworks, and the artist even urged his friends first to get iPhones, then iPads to archive the continuing e-mails. According to Gonçalves de Lima, Hockney has already sent out nearly 400 e-mail drawings on his iPhone and 300 more on his iPad.
“I had to get an iPad so I could receive the drawings on the same platform he used to make them,” observes Stephanie Barron, senior curator of modern art at Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Barron, who has already curated three major Hockney shows for the museum, printed out about 20 iPad drawings for her office walls and often uses them as screensavers.

One wonders what would have happened if Ray Johnson had an iPad in the 1960s Mail Art scene, or maybe that is what Hockney and others are creating now.

The Huntington Gardens A-bloom

Japanese Weeping Apricot Tree
Cactus flowers and Bee Japanese Cherry Tree Magnolia Tree blooming in Abundance

Sun 01.23.11 – If winter has you down, go visit the Huntington Library & Gardens in San Marino, Caliornia, as this second to the last weekend in January was it was bright, sunny, and quite warm at 82F (27.7C). The most glorious part of this time of year, particularly after all the rains in December plus the warm weather of the last two weeks, is how many of the camellias were already in full-bloom and quite a few of the Asian fruit trees in the Japanese and Chinese gardens were putting on a show in time for the upcoming new year.
Today was a lovely day to visit the gardens. All photos taken by Ms. Jen with her Nokia N8.