Russian Authorities Order the Destruction of a Digital Artwork

via aleksey godin Rodina, "9 Stages in the Decomposition of the Leader" (2015), a print of nine time-lapse images showing an official portrait of the president over a seed box (image courtesy of Rodina)Rodina, “9 Stages in the Decomposition of the Leader” (2015), a print of nine time-lapse images showing an official portrait of the president over a seed box (image courtesy of Rodina)

MOSCOW — In what may be the first recent case of Russian authorities ordering the destruction of a specific work of art, a St. Peterburg court is in the midst of hearing an appeal into the case of a work that shows the disintegration of a photo of President Vladimir Putin — it was seized as part of a demonstration last spring. Artists and activists involved in the case are unlikely to succeed in the courts, but they say it is a priceless opportunity to discuss censorship in Russia today.

The condemned work, entitled “9 Stages in the Decomposition of the Leader,” is a print of nine time-lapse digital images showing an official portrait of the Russian president over a seed box, with each image documenting the disintegration of Putin’s portrait as grass grows through. A framed print was carried by artist and activist Varya Mikhailova when she and a group of opposition and LGBTQ activists joined a trade union march last May Day on Nevsky Prospekt in St. Petersburg.

May Day march, May 1 on Nevsky Prospekt in St. Petersburg shortly before Varya Mikhailova was detained (photo courtesy of Elena Lukjanova)May Day march, May 1 on Nevsky Prospekt in St. Petersburg shortly before Varya Mikhailova was detained (photo courtesy of Elena Lukjanova)

After a half hour with the march, the artists were approached by an organizer who demanded to know if the image was “approved.” Shortly after, police arrived, and she and others were detained. They were released after a few hours, but the framed print was not returned.

In a court hearing on June 8 in Kuibyshev District Court, Mikhailova was ruled to have participated “not in accordance with the declared purpose of the march,” and was fined 160,000 rubles (~$2,500). The print was ordered destroyed. She and her lawyers have appealed, citing European Convention of Human Rights protections for freedom of peaceful assembly and the protection of personal property.

“The funny thing with the court’s decision to ‘destroy’ our artwork is that it is digital, so physical destruction means nothing,” said Max Evstropov, a member of the art collective Rodina, which created the work. “The huge police state is rather awkward.”

November 2016 march in St. Petersburg (image courtesy of Vadim Lurie)Translation of the signs, left to right: “Our only hope is death,” “Alas,” “War Unemployment November,” “Let’s Endure This,” “Pain Emptiness Patriotism,” “Nothing,” November 2016 march in St. Petersburg (image courtesy of Vadim Lurie).

Activists quickly swung into gear, printing the offending image on posters, t-shirts, and tote bags, and selling them online. So far they say they’ve made enough to cover Mikhailova’s fine.

The actual image was created in 2015. Evstropov said it was conceived as an allusion to 19th century Japanese artist Kobayashi Eitaku’s print “Body of a Courtesan in Nine Stages,” about the inevitable victory of nature and decay over human assignments of beauty and value.

November 2016 march in St. Petersburg (image courtesy of Vadim Lurie)“No,” November 2016 march in St. Petersburg (image courtesy of Vadim Lurie)

The work created by Rodina sees a similar case in the political evolution of Russia. “This action is an expression of hope for a slow but inevitable change in the situation from below — through a multitude of ‘small deeds,’” Evstropov wrote in an email to Hyperallergic. “It reflects the low spirits and sickness unto death so characteristic of Russian society of the last few years: there’s no revolution to wait for, and hope for change is no longer associated with human acts.”

The particular print now in custody was sold at an auction in 2017 to support an activist co-working space in St. Petersburg. The first owner put it in a frame, and then sold it again for the same cause a few months later, which is how Mikhailova bought it.

November 2016 march in St. Petersburg (image courtesy of Vadim Lurie)“Born Suffered and Died,” November 2016 march in St. Petersburg (image courtesy of Vadim Lurie)

The subversive nature of the work, and the universe of irony it stumbled into as a result of the subsequent case, is a reflection of how young artists and activists are responding to the current political climate. Angelina Lucento, an assistant professor of art and cultural history at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, said the work is driven not so much by hopelessness or despair, but rather by a sense of desperation as other avenues of political action have been cut off.

“What you see among this new generation of contemporary artists is more a disillusion with mass protest as a kind of political resistance,” she said. “There’s a sense that it is not the most effective means to take, and you see a real creative drive to explore and implement other forms of resistance.”

November 2016 march in St. Petersburg (image courtesy of Vadim Lurie)“Alas,” November 2016 march in St. Petersburg (image courtesy of Vadim Lurie)

While the Russian art market and gallery system has grown since the end of the Soviet Union, closer to the ground the tradition of conceptual performance-based art remains vibrant. That has included high profile actions by groups like Pussy Riot — famous for their action in a cathedral and the heavy-handed response, and, just this month, disrupting the World Cup final — as well as artists like Petr Pavlensky, famous for nailing himself to the cobblestones of Red Square and setting the front door of the Russian secret police headquarters on fire.

Groups like Rodina (“Motherland” in Russian) are part of that effort to find other means of protest. The group emerged in the fall of 2013 after the last wave of mass opposition appeared to fade. There were demonstrations in late 2011 after parliamentary elections, and in 2012 when Putin cynically returned to the presidency after swapping with seat-warmer Dmitry Medvedev. That moment culminated in a mass demonstration at Bolotnaya Square in Moscow during the days of Putin’s inauguration, but faded afterwards.

November 2016 march in St. Petersburg (image courtesy of Vadim Lurie)“Everything will go poorly and will never end,” November 2016 march in St. Petersburg (image courtesy of Vadim Lurie).

Evstropov, a philosopher by training, founded the group with Darya Apahonchich, a philologist, and Leonid Tsoi, a psychotherapist, to engage ideas about Russia’s hyper-patriotism through “performative social art, field and experimental studies of patriotism, language, and institutions of power.”

“The mass protests had already shrunk, but we still felt the necessity to act on those things that happened,” Evstropov said. “There is a certain amount of black humor in our activities. We [offer] no hope, but our work is therapeutic somehow.”

Among their actions was a march in the fall of 2016 that subverted the rhetoric of national celebration and optimism that once characterized May Day in the Soviet Union, when people would march on bright spring days with flowers and placards with hopeful words like “Peace — Labor — May!” In the détourned version by Rodina, they gathered on a gloomy autumn day with much less upbeat signs: “War — Unemployment — November!” “Alas!” “Let’s Endure!” “Born. Suffered. Died.”

November 2016 march in St. Petersburg (image courtesy of Vadim Lurie)“Everybody is dead but some are deader,” November 2016 march in St. Petersburg (image courtesy of Vadim Lurie)

In 2017, the group launched a side project to criticize the ramped up politicization of war dead, specifically a national project called the “Immortal Regiment,” in which people march carrying photos of family members who served or died in the Second World War, as an assertion of national pride and power. The “Party of the Dead” imagines the deceased as a majority social group excluded from political power, but now given a voice for their vague but irresistible demands. “The dead are the ultimate proletariat, and our party aims to empower them,” Evstropov said.

They dress in black and paint their faces white, deploy a lot of “Day of the Dead” style imagery, and chant slogans like, “Your future is us!” “A people united — in death!” and “Whoever is not with us, is not yet with us!” Mikhailova was marching with other “Party of the Dead” members on the May Day parade, and brought the “9 Stages” print from home because she thought it was appropriate for the theme.

Most of the group’s actions and work are spread through social media — usually Facebook and the Russian alternative, VKontakte. And while they’ve had some bumps with the authorities, Evstropov said this court case is the most attention they’ve gotten from the state. He told Hyperallergic that pressure often comes not from the authorities but from sympathetic institutions that want to avoid trouble.

“Fear and censorship are things that politically engaged art in Russia faces very often,” he said. “The other dangerous thing artists and activists face is exhaustion and the loss of the will to do anything.”

The post Russian Authorities Order the Destruction of a Digital Artwork appeared first on Hyperallergic.

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A second outbreak of an ebolavirus in the DRC

The Ministry of Health, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has confirmed 4 new cases of an ebolavirus infection in a new loaction of the country. Earlier there had been reports of 26 cases of fever, diarrhoea, vomiting, nasal bleeding and death since May. There have been at least 20 deaths attributed to the outbreak thus far.

Lab results now confirm this as the second geographically discrete outbreak in 2018 for the DRC.

Map of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from the World Food Program via ReliefWeb. North Kivu Provincde is klocated in eth northeeastern region of the DRC, on the eastern  border

Which member of the genus Ebolavirus?

No details are available on the specific species of ebolavirus so it remains unclear if the Ebola virus (the one specifically deiosgend to pretect ffomr disease due to members of the species Zaire ebolavirus) vaccine can be used. If it can, hopefully, it will be deployed more quickly than in the last outbreak.

The Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo #DRC 🇨🇩 announced today that preliminary lab results indicate a cluster of #Ebola cases in North Kivu province, some 2500 km from Equateur province.

— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) August 1, 2018


Where in the DRC?


Map of the DRC from Congo Initiative.

The suggestion so far is that the outbreak has occurred in the Province of North Kivu in a place called Mangina in the eastern Mabalako health zone, about 30 kilometers (18 miles) west of Beni, a city of more than 230,000 people and that it is a distinct outbreak from the one that occurred about 1,800km (from the city of Mbandaka to that of Butembo according to Google Maps) to the east earlier this year. That will become more clear once some detail becomes available. These would include contact tracing of the earliest cases to see if there is any history of travel from the Equateur province, and also genetic details from sequencing the newly identified ebolavirus strains to look for differences and similarities to those viruses characterised from the western outbreak.


Pinpointing Mangina in the DRC. Map snipped from GeoHack.

This region of the DRC is suffering from conflict (including thousands of cases of sexual violence), food insecurity and the displacement of many people. The Province borders and actively trades with Uganda and Rwanda, with waterways in abundance as this is part of the African Great Lakes region. Mangina seems to be removed from the waterways but we armchair observers await better maps to get an idea of the layout.

It is interesting to see in the map to the left, that the town of Bundibugyo in the self-name district of Uganda, is not too far off. An ebolavirus species, Bundibugyo ebolavirus (BEBOV), was named after a virus isolated from outbreak cases in this region in 2007.

This region will bring a raft of new challenges to the containment of ebolavirus outbreak.

Despite high levels of vigilance for Ebola virus cases on the other side of the country, this outbreak may have been percolating for 2 to 3 months. The harsh reality of how difficut it is to keep on top of emerging virus outbreaks when they occur in relatively remote, under-resourced regions suffering conflict is exemplified by this one.

The post A second outbreak of an ebolavirus in the DRC appeared first on Virology Down Under.

Georgia cancels registration of more than 591,500 voters

Georgia cancels registration of more than 591,500 voters:






CHECK YOUR REGISTRATION STATUS.  You can usually do it at the website of your local secretary of state, or at

Anyone who follows me from Georgia?  If not, pass it on.

sigh..  Actually, let me just add, THIS BULLSHIT RIGHT HERE, THIS IS WHY YOUR VOTE MATTERS.  You think they’d be so hot to take away your rights if it didn’t?

If you can register to vote by mail DO SO!!! Not only does it give you more time to research your ballot options, it provides a paper trail, so you can PROVE how you voted, no matter how the Russian hackers massage the electronic numbers.

@always-is-valuelesss @niggawittablog

Hi everyone who is not American, our country is corrupt and does shit like this

Ahed Tamimi stardom of Heroism and the eclipse of everyone else

Before I start, my problem is not with the young woman\ teen Ahed. On the contrary, the girl always impressed me as a child, and I continued to like her way of resistance with her family and villagers in Nabi Saleh. Somehow, a different flavor in the way we introduce resistance. And above all the girl is strong and of course charming.

For many reasons, Ahed resembles a new image for resistance, and she is lucky her pledge has been heard and got attention. But Ahed is not a star, nor is she inside a contest or a live TV competition. She is living under occupation where her pledge is the pledge of millions of Palestinians. When resistance becomes one person, then the problem starts. When prisoners issue becomes the attention because of Ahed, then there is a severe issue of hypocrisy in the society at all its levels.

Where are those voices for all the prisoners who are perishing in jail for resistance?

Where are those voices of support for prisoners who leave, prisoners who are tortured, prisoners who are deformed like in the case of Ja’abees?

The rush of all to go and be part of Ahed’s stardom and take a picture next to her. Her visit with her father to the tomb of Arafat. The reception Abu Mazen held for her in the Muqata’a. Not to forget of course that her mother was arrested with her and was released as well.

So what is it about Ahed that makes her a good pick for media and politicians and parasitic beneficiaries?

The girl is daring and enigmatic, but she is not anything more than her young age and innocent looks of overwhelmingness.

Some months ago, a year maybe, there was a younger female prisoner who was released after a few months of detention. The eyes of horror in the teen’s eyes tell all the stories of what it means to be locked inside a jail. To be a child stripped away of your childhood.

Ahmad Manasra who lost his childhood to jail.

Tens of stories of breaking hearts of children in the Israeli jails…

While the feast is over, and Ahed will become a teenager dreaming for a university alone, after securing a good result in the final exams, for the privilege of Jail, and many offers to study for free.

Can Ahed become a Malala?

In an ordinary place she can carry on the fight for freedom Malala represented….. seeing the crowds behind her …can only put her in one of the few options in the easy access to power in this place. Used by those who will benefit from her, until she becomes another icon that reflects the reality of the Palestinian abused resistance.

Dengue fever outbreak halted by release of special mosquitoes

And when mosquitoes or the viruses adapt? Then what?


Insects unable to transmit viruses halted disease in Australian city – now scientists hope same technique could help tackle Zika and malaria

The first large-scale deployment of mosquitoes infected with Wolbachia bacteria, which makes them unable to transmit viruses, has stopped all outbreaks of dengue fever in a city in northern Australia for the last four years.

The success of the project in Townsville, Queensland, will encourage hopes that Wolbachia can provide a knockout blow against the Zika virus in Brazil as well, where the mosquitoes have been introduced into the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. Until now, the technology has looked promising but has only been tried in small pilot projects around the world of 1 to 1.5 square km.

Continue reading…