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Art Thou Aware

Illustration by Erica Pahk

Potter Paranoia

The latest film to be denounced by conservative critics is a far cry from Last Tango in Paris, Natural Born Killers, or The Last Temptation of Christ. It is the film based on an innocent children´┐Żs book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, that has riled up Christian conservatives. Since the book's release the far right has protested that the young sorcerer represents satanic witchcraft and tempts young children to join the occult. Staged book burnings and circulation of phony reports claiming that children have been joining satanic cults have been the result. Just before the movie's release in November, author Richard Abanes went on an eight-city tour to promote his book, Harry Potter and the Bible: The Menace Behind the Magick, in order to dissuade parents from taking their kids to a film that has "occult parallels." Wow, Harry Potter is making it evil, and thus super cool, to be a nerd.

The Sexualized Superstar

Those who travel to Los Angeles over the holidays or for winter break should venture to the California Museum of Photography to see Queer(ing) Warhol: Andy Warhol's (Self) Portraits. This may be a unique opportunity to see the ultimate voyeur of the post-war art world as the object of a voyeuristic gaze. The infamously asexual and detached Warhol is revealed as a sexual being in a portion of the show which focuses on his performances in drag. Though these pictures concentrate on Warhol as a subject, one wonders if they only serve to contribute to the mysterious and enigmatic identity of the superstar - would Warhol only pose for the camera when hidden behind make-up and costume? A symposium of Warhol scholars discussing the Queer performances will be held on January 19 and 20.

Fighting for Filmmaker

The issue of freedom for Islamic women in Iran resonates with a recent controversy over an arrested and revered feminist filmmaker. Last month Facets Multimedia announced that over 1500 filmmakers and individuals in the film community have signed a declaration of solidarity with Tahmineh Milani, an Iranian filmmaker who has been charged with supporting counterrevolutionary and armed opposition groups in making the film The Hidden Half, which was released earlier this year. The Hidden Half, a romantic drama, tells the story of a married woman who has to hide a troubled past of leftist-feminist politics in Iran before the Islamic revolution, has won the praise of critics worldwide. Although Milani was released from prison in August, the Iranian filmmaker still awaits a trial for this crime which is terrifingly punishable by execution under Islamic law in Iran. To find out how you can sign the declaration and help to support this movement of solidarity with Milani, visit www.facets.org.

McSonian?

As a condition for accepting a gift of $38 million, the secretary of the Smithsonian Institute has granted a private donor the right to have a say in the design and curating of an exhibition at the American History Museum devoted to famous achievers. As a result Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart may be among the honored. Reportedly, Lawrence Small, the new secretary of the Smithsonian who took his post last spring (Small is the first Smithsonian secretary to come from a business background), has upset many curators and critics for such actions, and has even been the reason why several museum directors have recently resigned. Critics say that Small is insensitively commercializing museum culture as he's making plans to open a McDonald's in the basement of the Air and Space Museum, as well as renaming the transportation exhibit the The General Motors Hall of Transportation. He also plans to install prominent signs for Kmart, the main sponsor of an upcoming exhibition in honor of Black History Month, throughout several galleries. Although the secretary has raised record funds for the capital's museum system, many fear that the museum may soon resemble a strip mall.

Do You Want it Back?

The bulletin boards and halls of SAIC have long served as sites for protest or activist photocopy art. Lately such art has been cause for some debates. Throughout October and November a series of letters were posted along the halls of the 11th floor of Sharp in reaction to the anonymous posters "How do we go on?" and "How do we Construct Now?" which showed images of the aftermath of the WTC attacks. Many of the letter writers protested that these posters only served to exploit the violence in New York and make a cliché out of the emotional consequences of Sept 11. The most recent such protest art has come in the form of an advertisement for a course offering. The course information for "Body Language, Video 4010" is listed in its entirety on this posting, including a course description and syllabus readings. However, the word "cancelled" stamped across the ad, the fact that all text is crossed out in white and the question at the bottom "Do You Want it Back?" makes one realize this is not an advertisement for a course, but some sort of protest concerning the school's curriculum, or perhaps even censorship? Anonymous copy artist: please make clear your intentions in the next installment so that we may react accordingly! You've certainly caught our attention, especially with the facscimile of that controversial Mappelthorpe photograph.


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