Why is this photo recreating the Baroque?

Screen Shot 2018-04-29 at 01.59.56

A snapshot of a basketball game went viral this week, as social media users compared it with masterpieces in art history. Kelly Grovier asks why we are drawn to find those echoes.

Does a great painting have to be a painting? According to thousands of Twitter users this week, the answer is “no”. The debate began last Sunday when Frank Pallotta, an entertainment reporter for CNN, retweeted a photo taken by the sports journalist Carlos Gonzalez, along with the teasing assertion: “This is like a painting from the Renaissance”. Twitter was quick to respond.

The photo in question captures a moment in the final quarter of a professional basketball game between the Houston Rockets and the Minnesota Timberwolves when James Harden, a Rockets guard, loses his balance and stumbles into the front row of fans gathered in Minnesota’s Target Center arena.

Cable-Car re-opens in Sarajevo

Screen Shot 2018-04-08 at 10.42.58

“Twenty-six years after it was destroyed in the Bosnian War, Sarajevo’s landmark cable car has resumed service.

The Trebevic mountain was a vantage point for Serb snipers and mortar positions during the 1,425 day siege of the Bosnian capital in 1992-6.

It is only in recent years that the minefields have been cleared.

The reopened cable car has now been named after a former guard, Ramo Biber, who was shot dead by Serbs in 1992 at the start of the war.

In 1984, the mountain was a Winter Olympic bobsleigh venue.

The 32 new gondolas run from the heart of Sarajevo to the top of the Trebevic mountain.

The cable car was not repaired after it was damaged during the war.

Restoring it cost $8 million (£5.68m), half of which was donated by an American doctor who is married to a Bosnian scientist.

Are Lithuanians Obsessed with Bees? BBC on language, bees and more.

Screen Shot 2018-03-25 at 21.51.18

In mid-January, the snow made the little coastal town of Šventoji in north-west Lithuania feel like a film set. Restaurants, shops and wooden holiday cabins all sat silently with their lights off, waiting for the arrival of spring.

I found what I was looking for on the edge of the town, not far from the banks of the iced-over Šventoji river and within earshot of the Baltic Sea: Žemaitiu alka, a shrine constructed by the Lithuanian neo-pagan organisation Romuva. Atop a small hillock stood 12 tall, thin, slightly tapering wooden figures. The decorations are austere but illustrative: two finish in little curving horns; affixed to the top of another is an orb emitting metal rays. One is adorned with nothing but a simple octagon. I looked down to the words carved vertically into the base and read ‘Austėja’. Below it was the English word: ‘bees’.

This was not the first time I’d encountered references to bees in Lithuania. During previous visits, my Lithuanian friends had told me about the significance of bees to their culture.

Lithuanians don’t speak about bees grouping together in a colony like English-speakers do. Instead, the word for a human family (šeimas) is used. In the Lithuanian language, there are separate words for death depending on whether you’re talking about people or animals, but for bees – and only for bees – the former is used. And if you want to show a new-found Lithuanian pal what a good friend they are, you might please them by calling them bičiulis, a word roughly equivalent to ‘mate’, which has its root in bitė – bee. In Lithuania, it seems, a bee is like a good friend and a good friend is like a bee.

Recent monument to Aldo Moro in Rome vandalised…

Screen Shot 2018-03-22 at 16.08.26

“A new monument to Aldo Moro was found vandalized on Thursday, less than a week after it was inaugurated to mark the 40th anniversary of the former prime minister’s kidnapping by far-left terrorists.

The memorial in Via Mario Fani, the north-western Rome street where the two-time former PM was ambushed and five of his police escort killed on March 16th, 1978, was discovered at around 2 am painted with the letters BR in red.

The initials refer to the Brigate Rosse or Red Brigades, the armed group that took Moro hostage in revenge for his role brokering a deal with Italian Communists to back a new government led by Christian Democrats.

The area has been blocked off and carabinieri are investigating. ”

Spaces x Memories, Nida Lithuania

Thanks Paulina for your appreciative thoughts, especially nice given your deep knowledge of the subject..

Screen Shot 2018-03-26 at 14.22.52


Nida Art Colony: Curonian Spit, 18-21 March 2018,

photos: from the top: Guillermo Arsuaga-tripod with Kodak Brownie, Peter Lang “Drawing a line in the sand,” Peter Lang: group photo.

From the time we landed in Klaipeda, after a 14 hour overnight ferry ride from Karlshamn, the workshop participants were drawn into an  unfolding Lithuanian  adventure. The port city is a shaggy accumulation of old stately houses and urban buildings, mixed with port structures, soviet era housing blocks and more recent post-1989 post modern Baltic styled architecture. But all over there were hundreds of sculptures, odd shaped abstract forms, bizarre representations of mermaids with two legged fins, a large quantity of childlike figurines, and traditional Soviet realist sculptures, including a colossal sword that would rival anything Saddam Hussein created for Bagdad.

IMG_20180318_123101Photo by Orestis Nikolaidis.

For further reading see the Baltikan Workshop 2: the Curonian Spit



WORKSHOP:  The Only Clients Will be Our Lives

Screen Shot 2018-02-26 at 20.11.49
The Only Clients Will be Our Lives
with STEALTH.unlimited (Ana Džokić and Marc Neelen)
Topic: creating “worlds” of equality within the (capitalist) world of inequality
Pepparvägen 1
123 56 Hökarängen

It is the paradox many of us encounter: while we dedicate ourselves to initiatives, projects and proposals that aim at a ‘better’ future (more resilient, fairer, more inspiring…), we experience to be operating from a present we increasingly feel alienated from. And there we find ourselves: continuously in the search for a resilient context for our practice and production. Looking around, sharing experiences with fellow souls, it is evident that this vulnerable position undermines the reach and impact of that future (and life) we care for.

However, if present is such, it is high time to use our capacity to disrupt its unfolding. In this desire, we are not alone. Over the last years, a vast number of initiatives have sprung up to take matters into common hands and re-design the very reality from where we work, how we live and how we exchange among each other. It may not come as a surprise that imagining, designing and constructing such different ‘existential’ and professional realities to a large degree entails working on their (different) economic groundings.
Tuesday 13/3 (@Bomassan)
18-20 evening talk
on City in the Making, with three scenarios on the future by 2024
As co-initiators of City in the Making in Rotterdam, STEALTH have since 2014 engaged in bringing a fraction of “toxic” remainders of the public housing stock (back) to forms of common use, as a site to produce new instances of economic and cultural reality. What started from two abandoned buildings, meanwhile has grown to a network of seven buildings at our disposal for limited time. They form a starting ground towards the much larger potential of (re-)commoning urban resources for collective benefit, to arrive at a horizon of long-term socially and economically sustainable life, possibly including an internal Basic Income. We will discuss what the future might look by 2024 – the year when the contract for the first building will run out.
Wednesday 14/3 (@Bomassan)
10 – 13 morning talk/discussion
on systems of deprivation and systems of support
This talk/discussion starts from an unsettling view on a set of systems of deprivation and entanglement (real-estate rooted in speculation, money and its relation to debt and work that is redundant) that ‘lock’ us currently in our daily realities. In response to this, what are the acts and instances of what we could call “structures of mutual support”, opening up both the politics and practices of possibility, to arrive at alternate realities for our lives?
14.30 – 17 workshop session 1
introduction and work in groups
17 – 18 collective discussion
from 18 cooking together
Thursday 15/3 (@Bomassan)
10 – 16 workshop session 2 
participants work in groups, on their own
16-18 discussion on findings

The Only Clients Will be Our Lives is developed and presented as a collaboration between STEALTH.unlimited, the KKH course Research-Lab: Architecture, Urban Artefacts, Collective Representation and the Konstfack course Sites and Situations – organising platforms for socially engaged design and architecture.


*) Please note that the workshop has limited number of places. It is primarily for course participants from the Konstfack course Sites and Situations and the KKH course Research-Lab: Architecture, Urban Artefacts, Collective Representation. To attend you must sign up before 6th March by sending an e-mail to magnus.ericson@konstfack.se

STEALTH.unlimited (2000, Rotterdam/Belgrade) is the spatial practice of Ana Džokić and Marc Neelen. Their initial interest in the ‘stealth’ urban processes manifested itself in a series of research and mapping projects. Following a number of curatorial involvements that explored and exposed collective citizen capacity to confront the neoliberal enclosure and financialisation of space, around 2012 in Belgrade and Rotterdam they co-initiated long-term engagements to deal with the spatiality of production and (social) reproduction, particularly in the domain of housing.


Screen Shot 2018-02-27 at 17.21.57

Europe is facing a potential crisis in the Balkans. It has to act soon: Ivan Krastev

The promise of EU membership for states in the region is welcome, but Russia, China and Turkey could create instability

Screen Shot 2018-02-25 at 20.36.41  “But for the EU to succeed in its ambition to transform the region, it has to be aware of the momentous geopolitical changes that have taken place. In 2003, when the EU first promised membership, there seemed little doubt that the region’s future would be European. Russia was looking to the Balkans primarily as a transit area for its energy exports to western European markets. Moscow’s ambition then was to preserve a degree of influence rather than to compete with Brussels.

Fifteen years ago, Turkey was enthusiastic about its chances of joining the EU. As a result, it framed its Balkans policies so as to demonstrate its own strategic value to Europe. Back then, nobody spoke of China in the Balkans.

Today, geopolitical competition is rife. China is set to become the number one foreign investor in Serbia this year. Plans to build a high-speed railway between the Greek port of Piraeus and Budapest, via Belgrade, are of immense value to China as it deploys its “one belt, one road” trade route between Asia and Europe. The Chinese hope the western Balkans will eventually be integrated into the European single market, though China is in no hurry for its infrastructure projects to abide by EU rules.

This raises many questions. Should the EU start pushing western Balkan countries to adopt its procurement rules now, or later? And is the EU ready to offer compensation if those states end up losing Chinese investments as a consequence of EU integration? Russia’s approach has changed too. Brussels doesn’t need to have a spy in the Kremlin to know that Moscow will do everything it can to prevent Macedonia from joining Nato – not because of its strategic significance, but for its symbolic value.

And European policymakers should be aware that if the long-running dispute between Greece and Macedonia (over the latter’s name) is not resolved before the next EU summit on the western Balkans in May, then that will spell a double defeat: Macedonia’s ambitions will have been dashed and Brussels’ efforts to be taken seriously in the region will have fallen flat.”

Copenhagen gets six meters tall statue of Christian IV in the middle of the city

Screen Shot 2018-02-09 at 06.09.17

As this report included here below states, a new statue is in the planning stage for a six meter tall sculpture of King Christian IV in a central square in Copenhagen. This project appears to be an historical anomaly, in that statues to Kings in central public squares would seem to be a thing of the past, yet it apparently isn’t. As Patrizia Dogliani, an Italian historian once pointed out, the commemorative statues from WWI, pedestals decorated by cannon, cannon shells, mortars, rifles etc., fell out of fashion by the time another generation of civic monuments were erected to commemorate those who fell in WWII. These post war monuments abandoned the display of arms and other heroic symbols to feature predominately heroic acts, typically clusters of figures in some kind of theatrical embrace… This particular kingly statue in Copenhagen begs the question of private patrons and sponsors in today’s society, and although this thing would not have been odd for a bunch of burgers to propose 400 years ago, certainly this effigy brings up the question of what constitutes symbolic public art in today’s modern urban context.

thanks to NANNA BALSLEV STRØJER for alerting me to this news item.


google translation (not the best)

There are plans to raise a six meter tall statue of Christian IV in Copenhagen at the square in front of the Børsen next to Christiansborg next year.
From the top of a reverse roundabout in front of the stock exchange, Christian IV (1577-1648) from next year will look beyond Copenhagen, as a developer, he helped to put his mark on.

In the spring of 2019, the municipality of Copenhagen estimates that it will be time to consecrate an almost six meter high sculpture in the bronze and granite of the king, which among other things gave the Copenhageners Round Tower, Børsen and Rosenborg Castle.

The work is expected to be completed in about a year, so that the monument can be convened in spring 2019 with expected royal participation, “it says.

The statue has been a long way since the committee in 2010 said yes to it with a location in front of Børsen.

However, its appearance and location has been the subject of discussion.

The whole glory costs about 1.8 million kroner and is funded by private contributions collected by a committee who for a number of years has worked to get another statue of Christian IV to stand in Copenhagen. The committee counts good people like Bertel Haarder (V) and Per Stig Møller (K). There is already a statue of the king made by H.W. The bishop of Nyboder, as Christian IV also helped to build.

However, the Copenhageners themselves will be responsible for the attachment of the new royal state in front of Børsen, owned by Dansk Erhverv. In addition, it costs about 30,000 tax crowns in a lump sum to get it up.

The Faroese artist Hans Pauli Olsen has designed the sculpture. He describes how the round tower formed in granite constitutes the socket, which is thus integrated into the sculpture, while the rest of it is made in bronze.

He explains that the king is going to throne on the top of the work as a man of power in all his power. Big, strong and hard about life. And with braid. But no blow to the eye.

He adds that the tower from Rosenborg, the tower from Børsen and from the Round Tower represents some of the most distinctive buildings from the time of the king.

But is it not strange that they turn their heads?

“Yes, you can say that. But it may be a bit different, “he says.

“In fact, you can not see the three buildings together at once.”

Hans Pauli Olsen explains how he works a lot with mirrors, and how the converted elements of the sculpture can also be seen as a kind of reflections in water.

Member of the departing visual art committee, Jens-Kristian Lütken (V), does not mean that there should be a statue in front of the stock exchange just opposite Christiansborg.

“In general, be careful about what you put up in the city. Especially if it has a deconstructed expression like in this case where it does not fit in, “he says:

“This area is best in the fact that there is no statue coming up, so there is the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful building.”