Filed under: Creative Activism, Satire, The Big One
Here’s a rare glimpse behind the enigma of the legendary Center for Tactical Magic as founder Aaron Gach shares his background, philosophy, and success stories in this interview with Regine Debatty.
“Interview with The Center for Tactical Magic”
by Regine Debatty
We Make Money Not Art
August 14, 2015
…The Center for Tactical Magic uses any craft and scheme available, from the most magical to the most pragmatic, to address issues of power relations and self-empowerment.
At the CTM we are committed to achieving the Great Work of Tactical Magic through community-based projects, daily interdiction, and the activation of latent energies toward positive social transformation.
CTM’s work combines appealing aesthetics, humour and language with actions that invite people to think, question and reclaim their civil rights. Their most famous project is the Tactical Ice Cream Unit, a truck distributing free ice cream along with propaganda developed by local progressive groups. Another of their initiative saw them launch a bank heist contest. And a year before that, they responded to New York’s stop-and-frisk policy by screening Linking & Unlinking on a digital billboard in Manhattan. The billboard showed amateur footage demonstrating how to pick a pair of handcuffs, magicians performing a classic magic trick called “linking rings“, while a text from the American Civil Liberties Union was scrolling down and explaining passersby what their rights were if they were stopped by the police. In 2013, they set up big Witches’ Cradles that evoke the Inquisition and enveloped people into an altered state (of consciousness, or an altered political state). Most recently, Gach directed and performed a radical magic show which drew parallels between magic acts and contemporary issues such as economic manipulation, political deception, vanishing resources, and social transformation.
Street artists in Athens are expressing their economic concerns and frustration with vivid imagery:
See more images from Huff Post Greece.
From the website of Yolanda Dominquez, visual artist and activist who, “through irony and contextualization as principal strategies, creates situations or scenarios in which the viewer is involved and can participate.”
She recently asked young children to talk about images fashion brands use to promote their new collections.
Read more here: Kids Point Out Dark Side Of Fashion Ads That We’ve All Been Ignoring, by Jamie Feldman, July 30, 2015, HuffPo.
Meet the Man Who Beat the KKK With a Tuba
by Ben Collins
July 22, 2015
A video of Matt Buck humiliating the Klan with his tuba has gone viral. We talked to the American hero about the rally, his song selection, and ‘Tuba Libre’ social justice.
Matt Buck walked alongside a Klan rally with his sousaphone on Saturday, farting out a low, slow version of Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” as a plodding gaggle of KKK members slowly clopped toward the South Carolina State House.
His mini-protest only lasted a couple of minutes, but most of it was on video. That 95-second clip, which was taken by a stranger, has now reached 3.6 million views at press time—most of them since Tuesday morning.
Read the rest of this article here.
Racial Satire ‘White Squad’ Is Painfully Hilarious But All Too Real
by Aaron Barksdale
July 18, 2015
This satirical ad nails everyday racial inequality.
Meet the “White Squad” a group of well-meaning white people looking to help out people of color. The squad is introduced in a new, brilliant satire by MTV Decoded that tackles racial inequality that privileges white people and disadvantages people of color in everyday situations.
In the video above, members of the company provide a white stand-in for minorities who may encounter discrimination.
“Is your skin color holding you back? Are you tired of systemic prejudice ruining your day?” the narrator asks before before offering “professional white advantage services,” which include hailing a cab, finding a better apartment and seeking legal services.
From their paste-colored office to their all-white employees, the company insures that their whiteness will work in your favor. With a few convincing testimonials, it’s hard to believe that this isn’t an actual service.
While entertaining, the video raises some disturbing flags of actual oppression that can’t be fixed with a call to a 1-800 number.
From Erin: Giving The Donald his due.
Donald Trump Piñatas Are a Hit In Mexico
by Jacob Davidson
June 30, 2015
“This pinata especially is the one everyone wants to break.”
Mexicans have found a way to hit back at Donald Trump. Literally.
Reuters reports that piñatas bearing Trump’s likeness, including “a flange of blonde hair and a big mouth,” have hit store shelves in Mexico and are proving popular among customers eager to protest the billionaire’s recent remarks against immigrants.
Trump, who is a Republican candidate for president, drew criticism after declaring in his campaign announcement speech that Mexican migrants were bringing “drugs, crime, and rapists” to the United States. He later called his comments “100 percent correct,” but insisted he was a strong supporter of Mexicans. “How can I not love people who give me many millions of dollars for apartments?” Trump said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
The Donald’s comments prompted piñata maker Dalton Remirez to design an extremely bashable piñata bearing Trump’s visage. The candy-filled sculpture retails for about $40, and Ramirez says it has been flying off shelves. “This piñata especially is the one everyone wants to break,” the artist told Reuters.
I Fooled Millions Into Thinking Chocolate Helps Weight Loss. Here’s How.
by John Bohannon
May 27, 2015
“Slim by Chocolate!” the headlines blared. A team of German researchers had found that people on a low-carb diet lost weight 10 percent faster if they ate a chocolate bar every day.
It made the front page of Bild, Europe’s largest daily newspaper, just beneath their update about the Germanwings crash. From there, it ricocheted around the internet and beyond, making news in more than 20 countries and half a dozen languages. It was discussed on television news shows. It appeared in glossy print, most recently in the June issue of Shape magazine (“Why You Must Eat Chocolate Daily,” page 128). Not only does chocolate accelerate weight loss, the study found, but it leads to healthier cholesterol levels and overall increased well-being. The Bild story quotes the study’s lead author, Johannes Bohannon, Ph.D., research director of the Institute of Diet and Health: “The best part is you can buy chocolate everywhere.”
I am Johannes Bohannon, Ph.D. Well, actually my name is John, and I’m a journalist. I do have a Ph.D., but it’s in the molecular biology of bacteria, not humans. The Institute of Diet and Health? That’s nothing more than a website.
Other than those fibs, the study was 100 percent authentic. My colleagues and I recruited actual human subjects in Germany. We ran an actual clinical trial, with subjects randomly assigned to different diet regimes. And the statistically significant benefits of chocolate that we reported are based on the actual data. It was, in fact, a fairly typical study for the field of diet research. Which is to say: It was terrible science. The results are meaningless, and the health claims that the media blasted out to millions of people around the world are utterly unfounded.
The Incredible Ways Art Is Helping Charleston Unite After Church Massacre
June 27, 2015
…In the week since the shootings, many other Charleston residents have expressed their emotions in powerful and creative ways, from thousands of people joining hands in a unity chain to making handmade signs honoring the victims…
Sara Green Studio, Instagram
Madeleine Schimming, Age 7
See the whole article here.
Confederate flag raised again at South Carolina Statehouse after woman climbs pole to remove it
by David Boroff, Rachelle Blidner
June 27, 2015
Bree Newsome used a climbing mechanism to reach the top of the 30-foot pole. Bruce Smith/AP.
A woman climbed a flagpole and removed the Confederate flag from the South Carolina Statehouse Saturday — only to be arrested and have the banner raised again less than an hour later.
Bree Newsome scaled the 30-foot pole using a harness just after dawn as officers yelled for her to come down on the Columbia grounds, organizer Tamika Lewis told the Daily News.
“You cannot get to me with hatred and oppression and violence,” Newsome shouted from the top of the pole, according to video. “I come to do this in the name of God. This flag comes down today.”
Newsome took her time climbing down, citing prayers as she did so. When she reached the bottom, State Police took the flag out of her hands and arrested her.
Another activist, James Tyson, spotted Newsome at the bottom of the pole to make sure she didn’t fall, Lewis said. He was arrested alongside Newsome as a group of onlookers cheered off camera. Read the rest of this article here.
YouTube video from The Tribe:
From Deborah Thomas:
There’s a Massive, Illicit Bust of Edward Snowden Stuck to a War Monument in Brooklyn
by Bucky Turco
April 6, 2015
While most people slept, a trio of artists and some helpers installed a bust of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in Brooklyn on Monday morning. The group, which allowed ANIMAL to exclusively document the installation on the condition that we hide their identities, hauled the 100-pound sculpture into Fort Greene Park and up its hilly terrain just before dawn. They fused it to part of the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument, a memorial to Revolutionary War soldiers. As of press time, the sculpture was still there.
Afghan artist dons armour to counter men’s street harassment
by Emma Graham-Harrison
12 March 2015
Kubra Khademi’s eight-minute walk in Kabul wearing steel armour that emphasised her body shape inspires anger and death threats
It took a month for Kubra Khademi to get the armour made exactly to her design; hours spent with a quiet, patient metalworker who usually made stoves.
The performance artist was an unusual customer on a street of dusty workshops in Kabul, where she chose her craftsman for his lack of curiosity about the outrageous steel plates she sketched out.
In a deeply conservative country where women are expected to shroud their figure and almost every inch of bare skin beyond hands, face and feet, she wanted steel armour that slipped over and emphasised her breasts, belly, crotch and bottom.
“He was a quiet man,” she recalls. “He didn’t question me at first, maybe because of my attitude. Then he asked: ‘What the hell is it?’, because other people were asking him.”
It was in fact part of a vanishing occurrence in the Afghan capital: a piece of performance art, planned by 27-year-old Khademi. The armour would be both protection and a defiant rebuke to the men whose groping hands and leering remarks make Kabul’s streets uncomfortable for almost any woman who walks them unchaperoned.
It was also an almost unimaginable provocation in a city where pornography may be avidly consumed in private, but women’s appearance is fiercely policed in public. Her performance lasted less than 10 minutes, but pictures soon ricocheted around social media, drawing anger and death threats – genuine worries in a country where women have been murdered for working as news anchors, actors and singers.
Read the rest of this article here.
419 scams (a/k/a “NIGERIAN PRINCE” emails) have long, long fascinated certain quarters of the internet. They’ve flooded inboxes with outsider poetry and inspired satire and scambaiting, a prankish and dangerous literary subgenre explored at length in the fascinating work of journalist Eve Edelson.
Craigslist killers, social media “catfishing” scams, and the internet vigilantes of Anonymous now get much more attention, making 419ers look like relics, at least by internet standards. And yet, great work still emerges from the scambaiter milieu.
Here’s the absurd story (from 2013) of how a few intrepid 419-eaters orchestrated the cover of Vice, for posterity.
“How We Got the Skammerz Ishu Cover”
By Mishka Henner
December 17, 2013
Scam-baiting is a form of internet vigilantism in which the vigilante poses as a potential victim to expose a scammer. It’s essentially grassroots social engineering conducted as civic duty or even amusement, a cross-cultural double bluff in which participants on separate continents try to outdo each other in an online tug-of-war for one’s time and resources – and the other’s private banking information.
The baiter begins by “biting the hook” – answering an email from the scammer. The “victim” feigns receptivity to the financial lure, engaging the scammer in a drawn-out chain of emails. The most important element of baiting is to waste as much of the scammer’s time as possible – when a scammer is preoccupied, it prevents him from conning genuine victims.
The cover of the issue you’re looking at is a trophy from the most elaborate bait I’ve ever been involved in. Three scammers, spread across Libya and the United Arab Emirates, set the con. They posed as a widow named Nourhan Abdul Aziz, a doctor named Dr. Ahmadiyya Ibrahim and a banker going by Ephraim Adamoah. From Nourhan’s initial contact with my associate, Condo Rice, to Ephraim’s actually donning an Obama mask and shooting our cover for us, 7,000 words were exchanged over nearly four months of emails. During that time, Condo and I negotiated our way through a labyrinthine network of fake websites, bogus documents and broken English, and ended up with the weirdest photograph I’ve seen in a long time. Read the actual email correspondence here.
Shared Hope International, whose mission is to eradicate sex trafficking, unveils their “Children Aren’t Playthings” doll box campaign to warn the public of the potential for and dangers of sex trafficking of minors at “mega” sporting events like the upcoming Super Bowl. Young women take turns standing in the box for hours on end to bring attention to this cause.
From Huffington Post, January 28, 2015:
The 7-foot exhibit debuted on Monday at Arizona State University, which is a hosting a weeklong anti-trafficking campaign, Offenbacher added.
It will also be stationed at Grand Canyon University, Glendale Community College and downtown Phoenix throughout the week leading up to Super Bowl Sunday, according to a statement released by SHI. Saturday’s event will be held in conjunction with StreetLightUSA, a local Arizona group that rehabilitates sex trafficking survivors between the ages of 11 and 17.
Read more about it here.