Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Animal-human hybrid stickers invading Parisian streets


While marketing and mainstream communications campaigns have derived branding inspiration in the comic-like cartoon style of street art, and the values attached to its culture—freedom, community, transgression—the paradox still exists to see it framed and sold through traditional art channels.


We caught up with street artist Rafael Suriani at his recent show, "Collages Urbains", at Cabinet d'amateur gallery in Paris, where he told us more about street art and his relationship with the medium.


Suriani's mark features animals, surviving and thriving in the streets for its powerful and highly recognizable aesthetic. In his half-human-half-animal figures, the animal faces act as liberating masks, allowing the artist to express social criticism in an elegant way. The vibrant, seemingly playful creatures refrain from getting too serious and maintain a suggestive tone that avoids the obvious.

Suriani-8.jpg Suriani-3.jpg

The stickers are the result of a double-binding process that first assembles man and animal, then adheres the resulting figure to the wall. In the past, Suriani has drawn from his Latin-American heritage, playing with shamanic mythology figures such as toucan or jaguar. In his recent series, on the other hand, he is more interested in urban domestic animals such as cats and dogs—according to the artist, the convention that they tend to resemble their owners offers a metaphoric way to talk about us people. Recently Suriani made a series of French "Bulldogs" as a special dedication on London walls, using this breed to cartoon and make fun of some French characteristics. Each dog expresses a different state of mind—humor, spirituality, criticism or beauty.

Suriani-9.jpg Suriani-10.jpg

Suriani uses the rare technique of hand-painting every poster he sticks on the streets. Making each sticker is the result of a process involving selecting photos from the Internet, cutting them in Photoshop, then screening and painting before cutting the final product. Such repetition lies at the heart of street art practice, which is often based on plastering as many spots as possible, invasion-style.


When considering the ephemeral fate of the piece of work destined for degradation of the elements, police destruction or theft from passers-by, the time and effort for such little reward seems remarkable. Suriani explains, however, that the fleeting nature of his work is freeing and allows him to be audacious with both subject and technique. To him, because there is no pressure or constraint, that achievement is rarely a failure.


In the end, the piece of art is not the only sticker by itself, it is the sticker in its context, seen as a whole on the wall with the daylight shining on it, the motorbikes parked against it or the branch of a tree creeping across. Rarely is the work's time spent on the wall its only life, after all, with the rise of dedicated photographers immortalizing the scenes for the Internet.


Suriani claims his intention to step into the city's landscape by bringing much-needed beauty comes with a positive message. Rather than being aggressive or controversial, Suriani takes pleasure in having people on the street enjoy his figures. His work is bound to the city—physically, geographically and socially—compelling the public to refresh their view of their surroundings and drawing their eyes to the places that typically go unnoticed. As an architect, Suriani has found a way to unveil the city and change people's perception of the scenes they see everyday without truly seeing them. The choice of venue is very important, based on aesthetic consideration with attention to the context and surroundings like the location.


Euro 2012 Posters by David Watson

Euro 2012 recently began and, for those of you who don’t know, it’s the European football championship. European football is what we Americans call soccer, and it has slowly gained steam over the years, although still not as popular as American football…  Whether you’re into the championship or not (or even sports in general), you’ll probably love these simple, modern posters David Watson ofTrebleseven designed for it.

 Euro 2012 Posters by David Watson

Each poster represents a particular country that’s playing, and the colors of their flag are incorporated into one of the various circular designs. I love the typographic twist these posters have and how they don’t have blatant sports references in them.

Euro 2012 Posters by David Watson

Euro 2012 Posters by David Watson

Euro 2012 Posters by David Watson

Euro 2012 Posters by David Watson

Euro 2012 Posters by David Watson

Euro 2012 Posters by David Watson

Euro 2012 Posters by David Watson

Euro 2012 Posters by David Watson

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Assange seeks political asylum

On Tuesday night WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange applied for political asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London after failing in his bid to avoid extradition to Sweden to face sex crime allegations. The 40-year-old Australian is currently inside the building in Knightsbridge, having gone there on Tuesday afternoon to request asylum under the United Nations Human Rights Declaration. The country's foreign minister Ricardo Patino told a press conference in the South American country that it was considering his request. In a short statement last night, Mr Assange said: "I can confirm that today I arrived at the Ecuadorian Embassy and sought diplomatic sanctuary and political asylum. This application has been passed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the capital Quito. I am grateful to the Ecuadorian ambassador and the government of Ecuador for considering my application." The computer expert, who was on £200,000 bail after failing in several attempts to halt extradition, attracted several high-profile supporters including Ken Loach and socialite and charity fundraiser Jemima Khan, who each offered £20,000 as surety. Other supporters included Bianca Jagger and veteran left-winger Tony Benn. The Swedish authorities want him to answer accusations of raping a woman and sexually molesting and coercing another in Stockholm in August 2010 while on a visit to give a lecture. Assange, whose WikiLeaks website has published a mass of leaked diplomatic cables that embarrassed several governments and international businesses, says the sex was consensual and the allegations against him are politically motivated. The Supreme Court last month ruled in favour of a High Court ruling that his extradition was legal. Last week the Supreme Court refused an attempt by him to reopen his appeal against extradition, saying it was "without merit". He had until June 28 to ask European judges in Strasbourg to consider his case and postpone extradition on the basis that he has not had a fair hearing from the UK courts. A statement issued on behalf of the Ecuadorian Embassy said Mr Assange would remain at the embassy while his request was considered.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Spain's grinding economic misery will get worse this year despite the country's request for a European financial lifeline of up to €100 billion to save its banks

Spain's grinding economic misery will get worse this year despite the country's request for a European financial lifeline of up to €100 billion to save its banks, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Sunday.

A day after the country conceded it needed outside help following months of denying it would seek assistance, Rajoy said more Spaniards will lose their jobs in a country where one out of every four are already unemployed.

"This year is going to be a bad one," Rajoy said Sunday in his first comments about the rescue since it was announced the previous evening by his economy minister.

Protesters in Madrid hold up signs against the bailout: 'This isn't a rescue, it's a fraud' and 'Hands up, this is a rescue.'  Protesters in Madrid hold up signs against the bailout: 'This isn't a rescue, it's a fraud' and 'Hands up, this is a rescue.'(Paul Hanna/Reuters)

The conservative Prime Minister added that the economy, stuck in its second recession in three years, will still contract the previously predicted 1.7 per cent even with the help. Small businesses and families starving for credit will eventually get relief as the funding props up banks and they increase lending, but Rajoy didn't offer guidance on when.

Spain on Saturday became the fourth, and largest, of the 17 countries that use Europe's common currency to request a bailout. Its economy is the eurozone's fourth largest after Germany, France and Italy.

Across the country, Spaniards reacted with a mixture of anger and relief to the news. The amount of the rescue fund, if all is tapped, amounts to €2,100 of new debt for each person in the nation of 47 million where the average annual salary for those with work is about the same amount and the unemployment rate for those under age 25 is 52 per cent.

The country is already reeling from deep austerity cuts Rajoy has imposed over the last six months that have raised taxes, made it easier to hire and fire workers, and cut deep into cherished government programs including education and national health care.

"It's obviously a shame," said civil servant Luisa Saraguren, 44, as she strolled on a sunny Sunday morning with her young daughter. "But this bailout was fully predictable, and the consequences of this help are going to be a lot bigger compared to the cuts we've been living with already."

Belgian tax office accuses EU trade chief of 'fraud'

Belgian tax authorities have accused the European Union's trade commissioner Karel De Gucht of failing to declare a 1.2-million-euro ($1.5-million) profit on shares, a Dutch-language daily reported on Tuesday. The business newspaper De Tijd said investigators had written to the former Belgian foreign minister and his wife regarding alleged "fraud" after discovering the transaction in 2005. A lawyer for the De Guchts, Victor Dauginet, told the newspaper that the accusation was "scandalous." Dauginet said the profit dated from 2001 when the British firm Hill & Smith entered into Belgian insurer Vista's capital. He said De Gucht was not liable for tax at that time. The probe has focused on the purchase by the De Guchts of a second home in Tuscany. Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly told a regular news briefing that it was a "private matter." Bailly said that De Gucht had informed Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso of his position, and that the Commission was adopting a "presumption of innocence."

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Bank of England meets amid talk of £50bn stimulus

Bank of England policymakers meet today to decide whether to change interest rates or to pump in more money into the ailing economy, with leading economist saying they may opt to inject a further £50bn of stimulus.

Europe is on the verge of financial chaos.

Global capital markets, now the most powerful force on earth, are rapidly losing confidence in the financial coherence of the 17-nation euro zone. A market implosion there, like that triggered by Lehman Brothers collapse in 2008, may not be far off. Not only would that dismantle the euro zone, but it could also usher in another global economic slump: in effect, a second leg of the Great Recession, analogous to that of 1937. This risk is evident in the structure of global interest rates. At one level, U.S. Treasury bonds are now carrying the lowest yields in history, as gigantic sums of money seek a safe haven from this crisis. At another level, the weaker euro-zone countries, such as Spain and Italy, are paying stratospheric rates because investors are increasingly questioning their solvency. And there’s Greece, whose even higher rates signify its bankrupt condition. In addition, larger businesses and wealthy individuals are moving all of their cash and securities out of banks in these weakening countries. This undermines their financial systems. 423 Comments Weigh InCorrections? Personal Post The reason markets are battering the euro zone is that its hesitant leaders have not developed the tools for countering such pressures. The U.S. response to the 2008 credit market collapse is instructive. The Federal Reserve and Treasury took a series of huge and swift steps to avert a systemic meltdown. The Fed provided an astonishing $13 trillion of support for the credit system, including special facilities for money market funds, consumer finance, commercial paper and other sectors. Treasury implemented the $700 billion Troubled Assets Relief Program, which infused equity into countless banks to stabilize them. The euro-zone leaders have discussed implementing comparable rescue capabilities. But, as yet, they have not fully designed or structured them. Why they haven’t done this is mystifying. They’d better go on with it right now. Europe has entered this danger zone because monetary union — covering 17 very different nations with a single currency — works only if fiscal union, banking union and economic policy union accompany it. Otherwise, differences among the member-states in competitiveness, budget deficits, national debt and banking soundness can cause severe financial imbalances. This was widely discussed when the monetary treaty was forged in 1992, but such further integration has not occurred. How can Europe pull back from this brink? It needs to immediately install a series of emergency financial tools to prevent an implosion; and put forward a detailed, public plan to achieve full integration within six to 12 months. The required crisis tools are three: ●First, a larger and instantly available sovereign rescue fund that could temporarily finance Spain, Italy or others if those nations lose access to financing markets. Right now, the proposed European Stability Mechanism is too small and not ready for deployment. ●Second, a central mechanism to insure all deposits in euro-zone banks. National governments should provide such insurance to their own depositors first. But backup insurance is necessary to prevent a disastrous bank run, which is a serious risk today. ●Third, a unit like TARP, capable of injecting equity into shaky banks and forcing them to recapitalize. These are the equivalent of bridge financing to buy time for reform. Permanent stability will come only from full union across the board. And markets will support the simple currency structure only if they see a true plan for promptly achieving this. The 17 member-states must jointly put one forward. Both the rescue tools and the full integration plan require Germany, Europe’s strongest country, to put its balance sheet squarely behind the euro zone. That is an unpopular idea in Germany today, which is why Chancellor Angela Merkel has been dragging her feet. But Germany will suffer a severe economic blow if this single-currency experiment fails. A restored German mark would soar in value, like the Swiss franc, and damage German exports and employment. The time for Germany and all euro-zone members to get the emergency measures in place and commit to full integration is now. Global capital markets may not give them another month. The world needs these leaders to step up.


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