Art is …. (redux)

If, just to throw a random dart, art is a testament to futility, perhaps Graziano Cecchini wins the prize. Described by RadarOnline as a “right-wing Italian art prankster”, Cecchini gained some notoriety last year when he dyed the waters of Rome’s historic Trevi Fountain red as a protest against the costs of the city’s film festival. While Cecchini is said to be under police surveillance in the wake of that stunt, nobody stopped him from sending a half-million colored plastic balls down the famed Spanish Steps. Radar’s Michael Dougherty reports that Cecchini was quoted as saying that each of the balls “represented a lie told by a politician”. The Associated Press said that Cecchini told TG5, an Italian newscast, that he creates “art—if we want to call it art—to stress our malaise”.

Image by Reuters (Remo Casilli)

The question arises, as indeed it is invited by Cecchini himself, as to whether or not such demonstrations qualify as art. While an act of minor and apparently harmless vandalism, like the Trevi Fountain stunt, might have a hard time achieving proper artistic status, there is, in dumping a half-million balls down what has been dubbed the longest and widest staircase in Europe, some aspect of performance art. To the other, though, such art does seem futile. While leaflets distributed at the scene asserted, “Italians’ balls are broken“, it could be that the number is insufficient.  Rome is, after all, among the most venerable cities in the world, and while the world has witnessed much turmoil and corruption in modern Italian politics, we can only speculate at the real number of lies told over the millennia.

For the record, some of the balls that were recovered by passers-by turned up on eBay within a few hours of the demonstration.

Labor abroad

From “Soy Bomb” to Happy-Face Bombers, Americans have nothing compared to Bolivian prostitutes when it comes to dramatic protests. Back in October, Reuters brought us an interesting item:

Prostitutes in the Bolivian city of El Alto sewed their lips together on Wednesday as part of a hunger strike to demand that the mayor reopen brothels and bars ordered closed after violent protests by residents last week.

We are fighting for the right to work and for our families’ survival,” Lily Cortez, leader of the El Alto Association of Nighttime Workers, told local television.

Tomorrow we will bury ourselves alive if we are not immediately heard. The mayor will have his conscience to answer to if there are any grave consequences, such as the death of my comrades,” she said, surrounded by about 10 prostitutes who had sewn their lips together with thread.

Some 30 other women were shown fasting inside a medical clinic nearby.

Apparently (get this) students helped the push against the prostitutes. It seems student activists went on a hunger strike in an effort to close down seedy business establishments such as bars, brothels, and karaoke rooms.

And then, just to add yet another dimension to it, a third hunger strike apparently includes leaders of an association representing the bars and karaoke rooms.

Seriously, no wonder the Iraqi Bush War is still afoot. Maybe the Republicans would pay attention if Mike Jones decided to sew his mouth shut.

On a more serious note, I have to do some scrounging around for a decent update. One copy of the Reuters story ran in the “Oddly Enough” listings. I remembered this story just the other night, after weeks of not thinking about it, and there’s just not a whole lot to go on. I guess the sewing of the lips was the sensational part, and who cares about the rest?

Marina has some commentary on the situation over at Objectify This. That’s about all I could find for now.

The Year of Dying Famously

This can’t be good.

I mean … damn it. Keith Coffman reports for Reuters:

Police said a gunman opened fire outside the New Life Church in Colorado Springs after Sunday services and that three to five people had been taken to local hospitals. No fatalities were reported.

Police said they had detained a suspect but gave no details about his condition or a possible motive.

In an earlier incident, 70 miles away, two people were killed and two were wounded shortly after midnight when a gunman entered a training center for young missionaries in the Denver suburb of Arvada, police said.

Right. that New Life Church:

The New Life Church, which has about 14,000 members, was founded by pastor Ted Haggard, who resigned in disgrace in 2006 after admitting to sexually immoral conduct.

Right. That New Life Church. As Noel Black puts it:

Despite the homophobia that pervades the church and its teachings, almost everything about Haggard’s church is a flaming testament to his repressed homosexuality and meth-ish megalomania.

Don’t get me wrong; I was as surprised as anyone that Haggard actually got caught. Just because everyone knows you’re a repressed, hypocritical piece of shit doesn’t necessarily mean you’re stupid enough to get caught. But those of us who live in Colorado Springs knew something was up. And we knew because the church itself told us everything Haggard was hiding.

I’m caught between reports.  Another I just found says that there are five dead at New Life:

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa told AFP there was “one gunman down” and “four deceased, possibly one wounded” in the incident but said the casualty toll was “preliminary.”

This is just not what anybody needs right now. The best we can hope for is a completely random tragedy. Anything remotely more complicated only detracts from the value of the human toll. What is it about the holiday season this year? What the hell is going on?

I guess we have to stay tuned.  Or not.  ‘Tis the season to be jolly, after all.