Monthly Archives: February 2017

Fake Paintings

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To this day, I still see news on television regarding Chun Kyung-Ja’s mysterious painting. To those unfamiliar, a quick summary: the late Chun Kyung-ja is one of Korea’s most successful painters. One of her paintings was purchased by the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, but she declared in 1991 that it was the work of a forger. A forger even admitted to the fact but later retracted his claims. Lawsuits and forensic investigations afterwards, the official story is that the work is indeed authentic. Scientific analysis and some provenance backs up that claim, although Chun Kyung-Ja’s family continue to claim that it is not authentic, and that officials are perhaps protecting the reputation of Korea’s art experts.

Is this not the best problem to have? To be so good and to be so talented that not only are other people trying to copy your work, but reputations are at stake to prove that work you may or may not have done is indeed authentic.

In any case, I could certainly see the motivation to prove that the painting Beautiful Woman is authentic. It would be a big embarrassment should it be proven that the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art purchased and exhibited a forgery (Although some of the pieces I saw them exhibit a few years ago are quite disheartening themselves).  I don’t see the motivation of why an artist would lie and claim that a piece of artwork wasn’t done by them. Perhaps if it was an embarrassing piece of work or its political or social commentary might cause the artist some backlash. But if it’s as cherished as Beautiful Woman seems to be, I don’t see why the artist would claim she did not paint it.

It is true what Ms. Chun Kyung-Ja said. Speaking as a visual artist, I know which artwork was done by me. Even after evolving and considering some of my past works embarrassing or not reflective of the body of work I would like to be most remembered for, I know whether I’ve done something myself or not. Creating art is an intimate process. Visualizing then replicating a mental image into reality is such a unique and memorable experience that it’s very hard to forget. It is much different from putting words on paper. One can easily forget what they said one or two years ago. Some of the things I’ve blogged about on the Internet I’ll probably be unfamiliar with and be quite embarrassed to know that I’ve written them. And yet, we often remember childhood drawings we did once we see them again.

As much as I believe in science, I don’t think the science in many areas of forensic analysis has been settled yet. There have been several questions regarding the reliability of bite mark analysis and handwriting analysis. I just don’t find the art analysis evidence to be very convincing. Same materials can be bought. Brush strokes can be imitated. There’s a whole industry of painters creating the same paintings cheaply in many countries right now. Surely, a better forgery can be made at a much higher budget.

While people are speculating that the museum might be protecting its own experts by claiming that Beautiful Woman is authentic, I think it’s quite out of character for the museum, especially as Koreans who are often respectful to their elders to a fault, to be attacking the artist. They claim that perhaps Ms. Chun Kyung-Ja doesn’t remember she created the piece due to dementia. Those are very serious charges in a country that regards being called “crazy” as one of the worst insults a person can say. And as much as the museum trotted out several art experts to bolster their claims, I am curious to see if they presented any evidence to support suggestions of the artist’s failing memory at the time.

But that is the museum’s simple explanation. The artist forgot. So it’s a battle of simple explanations. Did the artist forget or did the museum get duped? I am quite biased, and I do believe that in this case, the artist did not forget. This won’t be the first time an art institution bought and displayed a forgery or misattributed a piece.

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There Goes their Martyr

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Let me get this straight. So flirting with racists and terrorizing black and transgender people is okay, but pederasty is not? Got it.

Just this morning, a well-known alt-right troll, let’s call him DayGlo Metropolis, just got a speaking gig at CPAC as well as book deal cancelled because a video of him defending pederasty (and some may argue pedophilia) came to light. While this is one of the few instances where bad behavior doesn’t get rewarded by more media exposure, I’m sure that the alt-right is already hailing DayGlo as a martyr to their cause. It’s quite ironic since these are the same people that rage against people using victimhood as a form of currency, something that DayGlo has accused feminists of doing. In any case, here are a few things regarding the interesting week with DayGlo.

Bill Maher is a show man. He’s not a deep intellectual, nor is he a particularly funny comedian. He’s a show man in the guise of an intellectual. His show is a good platform for people and would frequently feature good dialogue on current issues, but he also uses it to occasionally raise the profiles of people who couldn’t be more transparent about their fraud. Or worse, he normalizes people who should ideally be run out of the room. He’s had Joe the Plumber. He’s had SE Cupp, a supposed atheist who admires those with religious convictions. He’s friends with Ann Coulter. And last Friday, he had DayGlo. He likes to defend booking vile personalities by saying that people should be free to debate and cloaks himself as a freethinker, but in reality, it’s all about the ratings. He was after the DayGlo crowd and those who wanted to see him taken down a notch. He delivered, and DayGlo was shown as a shallow fraud, but that’s not how DayGlo’s supporters see it. And in the end, it just raised his profile, adding another notch to his growing list of media appearances.

I actually share a lot of Bill Maher’s views. His show can be very enlightening and has certainly changed my mind on some issues. But his flirting with noxious personalities as well as Islamophobia is making me skip his show more often in the past couple of years.

There’s great irony in DayGlo spreading hate against transgender people, particularly by raising concern over their bathroom access in fear of them preying on children. Not only is this a dumb concern; people and children will not be attacked by transgender people much more than by cisgender people, but he’s the one who defending relations between teens and much older men. I have yet to see a transgender person defend pederasty. I’ve only seen DayGlo do so.

DayGlo made his bones through #GamerGate which was a bit of a controversy a couple of years ago. A hack feminist, let’s call her Bonita Sarcastaman, made a video series claiming that video games were often sexist. She inflated many of her claims, but I couldn’t really argue with the point that some video games do traffic in a bit of sexism. Sex sells. Shorthand on sexual imagery both on male and female characters is just something that’s par for the course. In any case, Bonita made it a bigger issue than it should be (there ARE other more crucial feminist issues out there), gamers took the bait and made it an even bigger issue, and DayGlo became their champion as he took on Bonita and her supporters. So yeah, hack feminist produces hack “provocateur” intellectual. No one wins.

The funny thing is DayGlo is the tech editor for Breitbart news, which I imagine is why he got involved in #GamerGate in the first place. But when was the last time anyone heard DayGlo talk about tech? Hey gamers, you know how you accuse Bonita of not being a “real gamer” as if being a gamer is a virtue? I doubt if Dayglo wants to do anything with you either.

CPAC and conservatives would embrace anyone as long as they are against their enemies (The enemy of my enemy is my friend?). It is no coincidence that the first homosexual they tried to have as a speaker also happens to hate being homosexual. Many of the black conservatives on television are often there to condemn other black people. These conservative outliers are the immunity idols. They are what allow people to say hateful things because a member of the group they hate happens to agree with their hateful views. “I’m not homophobic. This gay guy says that homosexuals are a danger to children. I just happen to agree with him.”

I’m not a fan of gotcha journalism. Too often, words or actions are taken out of context, and people are brought down by them. This applies even if their sins do not particularly relate to their function in society. Context matters. I particularly was not too concerned about Donald Trump’s Howard Stern appearances because back then, no one really thought he was going to be president. Also, he was in the Howard Stern Show. Things were bound to get outrageous. However, I was concerned about his comments in the bus regarding “grabbing pussy.” At that point, he was no longer entertaining an audience. He was bragging to another guy, trying to impress him with tales of sexual assault. It was demonstrating someone’s privilege and misogyny.

Someone dug up an old video of DayGlo and used it to damage him. I normally don’t approve of this, but in this case, I believe whoever did it was just doing the homework that Simon & Schuster should’ve done. They didn’t realize that DayGlo was a vile character? Why are they in the business of enriching people who terrorize others? Didn’t they hear about what happened to Leslie Jones? Was that not enough? I believe Simon & Schuster is just as guilty as Bill Maher in trying to monetize DayGlo’s hateful notoriety. I also believe that Bill wouldn’t have booked DayGlo if the pederasty video surfaced earlier. But the thing is, just like Simon & Schuster, I don’t think Bill and his producers really cared about DayGlo’s hateful history. They saw it as a plus. Yay, more ratings! I really hope they do get some repercussions for their actions as well. It is one thing to be a bully, but it’s another to sit by and encourage a bully to work his craft.

And no, I don’t think liberals are afraid of DayGlo (as Bill Maher suggested). I don’t think liberals are scared of the likes of Tomi Lahren, Alex Jones, etc. They just don’t want to reward dumb and hateful people with more attention, especially when these bigots are not interested in sincerely and intelligently discussing issues. The reason why I don’t listen to Rush Limbaugh is because I already know what he’s going to say. The same thing with Sean Hannity. There’s not one original thought that ever came out of their heads. Why waste time listening to a talking point on a loop?

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Making Out with Canada Again

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There are times when I wish I could kiss Canada in the mouth. This is one of those times.

Apparently, the government of Manitoba has been very supportive of refugees crossing the border from the United States into Canada. The small town of Emerson, instead of being worried about terrorist boogeymen, is more worried about refugees hurting themselves and not being prepared for the cold weather. The RCMP stated that they will devote resources to refugees coming in from the states should their numbers overwhelm the small town. Leaving the US is not a criminal act, and they will be screening individuals instead of turning them in.

Of course, I don’t know how accurate that last part is. Leaving the US is not a criminal act, but I believe illegal immigration to Canada is still punishable by deportation. It is a problem that many people believe will only get worse with the new Trump administration. There was a poll that found a majority of Canadians believe that illegal immigrants should be deported. Ironically, that poll also found that Quebecers, with their rather “close-minded” reputation, overwhelmingly believe that illegal immigrants should get some form of accommodations instead of simply being deported. But then again, I don’t know how accurate that poll is now especially with Trump as president down south and our Prime Minister announcing that Canada will be welcoming refugees.

And speaking of illegal immigration down south, there are reports of ICE agents rounding up illegal immigrants in the US, with some having lived in the States for years and have kids who are American citizens. Some government agents are even following school buses in order to arrest illegal immigrant parents. Great job, guys (especially, you family values folks)! Instead of constructive solutions, you break families apart. How will broken families improve the economy? How will they make your country safer?

So God bless Canada. We may not be as tempting to move in to as the United States, but we care for those who try to come in and be Canadians. I should know, I am an immigrant. And even though it was difficult for the first couple of years, most Canadians welcomed me as neighbor and a friend. I remember even without taking my oath of citizenship, some friends already regarded me as a countryman.* But that was back then, and that was in Canada. It must take tremendous courage now to be an immigrant in the United States, especially if you’re a minority or a Muslim. God help and protect you.

 

*Of course there are some people who will never see me as a full Canadian even if I was the product of generations living in the country. I will always be asked, “yes, you’re Canadian, but where are you REALLY from?” I’ve written about this soft racism several times, and so have other writers.

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The Message with Sally Yates

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I was going to write a love letter to Manitoba, but recent news has got me upset. What happened with Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates was not the Saturday Night Massacre. Nixon was more subtle by comparison. The Trump administration had the constitutional right to remove Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates from her position for not following Trump’s executive order to ban Muslim immigration from seven countries, but there is absolutely no reason to tar and feather her by saying she “betrayed” the country and that she is “weak on borders and weak on illegal immigration.” The statement they issued was petty and vindictive, and they flaunt their authority over the justice system, completely ignoring the federal court orders to have the immigration ban stayed. Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates cannot act on the executive order when federal courts are against it and the Supreme Court has not made a ruling on its legality.

As the top lawyer of the United States, it is not the attorney general’s job to agree with everything the president does. To do so would make the position technically moot. This also isn’t the first time an attorney general or a deputy attorney general has acted against a sitting president’s orders. James Comey famously went against the president’s wishes just a few years ago. Of course, many attorney generals go along with the administration’s wishes. After all, they get their by the administration’s recommendation. Eric Holder was extremely partisan and didn’t go after the big banks after the Obama administration mentioned that they weren’t looking to prosecute them. But while they are partisan appointees, their job is to uphold the law and make sure that the executive branch acts within the scope of the law. It is not the attorney general’s job to do something which they believe is illegal or somehow bend the rules to make them legal. They definitely can, and can be rewarded for being loyal partisan actors, but it’s blatantly unethical to relieve someone of their position for not doing something which they believe is illegal.

This constitutional duty to not blindly follow the leader but to follow the letter of the law as well as what is ethical is what allows me to sleep at night despite knowing that Trump has the nuclear codes. He may order a country to be bombed simply because a citizen there annoyed him on Twitter, but it is the officer’s as well as everyone else in the hierarchy’s duty to not follow his order if they deemed it illegal, immoral, or unethical. It is their civic duty to do so; and to follow the president’s order in such a case would be a dereliction of duty. This is what Trump asked Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates to do, to carry out an act which is in her opinion, an opinion based on a lifetime of working for the justice department, is both illegal and indefensible. It was her duty to refuse the president. And for that, she got sacked.

But really, what choice does she have. The Muslim ban is clearly a disaster and several federal court orders agree. It was an executive order that was hastily made without consultation from the president’s own top advisors. His own Secretary of Defense, General Mattis, does not support the order, and believes it endangers the troops he’s been recently made in charge of. As far as I can tell, the only people who were certainly in the room when Trump drafted the order was Stephen Miller, a young political operative with a racist history, and Steve Bannon, a publisher of a Web site frequented by neo-Nazis. They’re not exactly the people with the most expertise regarding immigration and national security. But then again, neither is Trump. The woman Trump fired had more years serving the public, more years keeping the country safe, than Trump.

And to those defending the Muslim ban, calling it a mere travel restriction, even Trump calls it a ban. And whatever name you call it, and even if you only limit it to those seven countries, it still affects Muslims. It still goes against the notion of having no religious test for the country. It flies in the face of common decency. The measure doesn’t make the US safer. It makes it harder for the military to gain allies in those seven countries and serves as a great recruitment tool for ISIS. But then again, what do expect from the great military expertise of Trump, Miller, and Bannon?

Sally Yates’ firing goes along with the message that the Trump administration is sending out. From journalists and employees at the National Park Service, to long-time government employees and officials- if you’re not with the Trump agenda, you should be fired. This is an amazingly flagrant display of authoritarianism.

It’s been a really dark few days. Even Canada has not been immune to Trump’s brand of intolerance. Quebec has been marred with tragedy, with the shooting of a mosque. And while some detractors will point out that Quebec has had a history of intolerance long before the Trump phenomenon, the shooter has been a part of the same alt-right movement which supports Trump.

It’s going to be a tiring few years. I believe the wave of bigotry will continue to wreak havoc long after we stopped getting daily bad news from Trump. There will be frequent protests and frequent outrages. Luckily, it is exactly during these times when people can become heroes by fighting injustice. Sally Yates will now be remembered as a hero. Honestly, I doubt if many people knew her name before she stood against Donald Trump. Now it’s time for people to go against him, take advantage of the growing rage against the US government’s recent actions, and make a name for themselves. If not because it is the right thing to do, but it is also good politics.

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