Feb 11, 2012

NYT - From Michelangelo and Benetton to the Arab Spring

by Libya S.O.S
“The World Press Photo jury has selected a New York Times photo taken in Yemen last fall as the photo of the year for its encapsulation of the anguish that accompanied the Arab Spring uprisings,” says Dylan Stableford , a senior media reporter for Yahoo News.

"A thin man rests his head on the shoulder of a burqa-clad woman, the pair collapsed together against a wall," Kerri McDonald writes on the New York Times Lens blog. "The expression on her face can't be seen. But her body language (right arm wrapped tightly around his neck, left hand clinging to his arm)conveys everything her expression cannot.”
New York Times photographer Samuel Aranda took the shot (which the Times describes as having "the mood of a Renaissance painting") at the entrance to a mosque-turned-hospital.
Koyo Kouoh, one of the jurors, added: "It stands for Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria, for all that happened in the Arab Spring.”
Now let’s see this “spontaneously”-taken, pathetic-sounding photo of the year:
Photo of the Year 2011 - Muslim Style Pieta
For Imperialist propaganda purposes maybe?
I mean for a start, it looks painfully obvious that the inspiration for this pose was Michelangelo Buonarroti’s Pieta sculpture. 
Origin of the term Pieta: 
"It was associated by Romans with the duty humans owed their gods".

The Pietà (1498–1499) is a masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture byMichelangelo Buonarroti, housed in St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City
It is the first of a number of works of the same theme by the artist. 
It is the only piece Michelangelo ever signed. 
This famous work of art depicts the body of Jesus on the lap of his mother Mary after the Crucifixion. The theme is of Northern origin. It balances the Renaissance ideals of classical beauty with naturalism. The statue is one of the most highly finished works by Michelangelo.
Michelangelo Buonarroti – Pieta
The Florentine Pietá Michelangelo Buonarroti
Pieta is a remarkable piece of art, which was copied many many times, through different art forms. 
Let’s see some of its copies...

The American Pieta by James N. Muir
The American Pieta by James N. Muir

“This one is based on Michelangelo's Pieta' of Mary and the Christ, which symbolizes the sacrifice made for Human "Spiritual" Liberty; this sculpture stands as America's symbol honoring the sacrifices made for Human "Physical" Liberty.
In this sculpture by James N. Muir, Mary has become Lady Liberty with the classical warrior lying in her arms. His shield bears the crest of the United States of America; his helmet is that of Athena, Goddess of War. The Sword of Truth and Justice that has slain tyrants, is taken from his grasp by "Liberty" to be passed on to the next courageous warrior who will step forward to take his honored place in the phalanx of Freedom

This Memorial is dedicated to "All American Soldiers" who have died in thenever-ending battle "to make men free”, stands written on author’s site. [1]
Let’s see some other copies:
Game Over (2008) by Kordian Lewandowsky -Pieta of Super Mario

Game Over (2008) by Kordian Lewandowsky -Pieta of Super Mario

It’s carved in a “block of Carrara styrofoam” and presents the dying Mario in the arms of princess Peach. Looks kind of cool and unpretentious, one can almost see it as a mockery of a modern day marketing mass-usage of Pieta. Salute... [2]
And than we can turn our attention to 
Benetton Pieta print ad  Showing David Kirby dying of aids
Benetton Pieta print ad

The photo of AIDS activist David Kirby was taken in the Ohio State University Hospital in May 1990, with his father, sister and niece at his bedside. The photo was taken by Therese Frare. Frare included the black and white photograph in a photographic documentary on the lives of clients and caregivers in a hospice for people with AIDS. The photograph was included in LIFE magazine in November 1990, and went on to win the 1991 World Press Photo Award.

[Hmmm, it looks that many of the World Photo Awards are reserved for Pieta theme users.]

Tibor Kalman, working with Oliviero Toscani, saw the Frare photograph in Life Magazine and suggested that Benetton include it in their advertising campaign. He gained consent for the use of the photograph by the Kirby family.[It was not mentioned if they actually sold their dead son’s photo to Benetton ]

When considering whether to stay with black and white or go with color, the creative team decided that it needed to look like an advertisement, raising the shock value.

Toscani had put his Benetton ad above Jesus Christ and Michelangelo by saying: “The Michelangelo’s Pieta during the Renaissance might be fake, Jesus Christ may never have existed. But this death is the real thing.”

There were many negative reactions however. A number of AIDS activists believed that the photograph and its use in advertising actually painted AIDS victims in a negative light, spreading fear rather than acceptance. Others perceived the campaign as a vindication of homosexuality. For some there was sensitivity about the implied connection between the deaths of David Kirby and Jesus.
But Hailed be Jesus, shock value is all that matters..

Maybe that’s why this "awarded" Arab Spring photo (Muslim style Pieta) by NYT photographer depicts naked man [weirdly] gripped by supposedly "arab woman" with extremely white wrists accidentaly peeking underneath abaja. Can someone explain to me why this man would be naked in a hospital when his body shows no sign of injuries? 

What's more, the figure in black seems more a man than a woman according to the slope and broadness of the shoulders, the size of the wrists and hands and how they hold the body. There is not a shard of tenderness - some of the people I spoke to thought it was a masked terrorist about to kill a hostage. In a word, the image is Kitsch, and its selection the worst example of political agenda.

If the winning photo is not enough, we stumbled upon another photo from the same shoot.
We can call it an "Arab Spring Pieta by NYT":
Arab Spring Pieta by NYT

This photo was supposedly taken moments after or before the winning one. Remember guys-its spontaneous and real... Urmm, is that why the lights are different and the position of his arms is totally the same although his whole body is suddenly turned to the other side? 

Let’s try to be logical, if he is half-dead as it (is made to) look, how come he turned this way? 
The person with burka which is supposed to be a woman wouldn’t realy have enough strenght (nor need) to turn him around. Well if she was the one who did it, she would at least drop her handbag in order to do it I suppose, and not have it in an absolutely same position afterwards. And if he was the one who indeed turned himself around, how come he didn’t change the awkward position of his arms ( I mean he would probably have to use his arms to turn himself around, don’t you agree?) 

This kind of frozen, or a shop-window doll behaviour is very usual among the modelling and acting crowd. The only things which worked well during this photo shoot were facial expressions.

But it is still interesting that some will glance at this image and take the accompanying caption at face value. 
The power of propaganda.

If there is someone not informed about open imperialistic tendencies of New York Times, maybe the interview (duel) featuring NYT’s Robert Mackey and independent journalist Lizzie Phelan will open hers/his eyes. [3] 
In the meantime we would like to suggest to New York Times a very naive looking piece of unrelated art which would be more appropriate to use for depicting the truthful suffering of the Libyans during the Arab Spring

The Black Pieta by Zaidi's Art House
The Black Pieta by Zaidi's Art House

The artist simply states: “I sought to portray a black mother's painful and fearful dilemma ('Sorriness') on how to enable her black son to flourish as a man, and at the same time, ensure his safety and survival [in America] “[4]

Please have a look at the link to the horrendous crimes commited on black Libyans during the fight for “freedom” [of the western mercenaries] in Libya during “Arab Spring”.. note: 
These racist crimes are still being commited due to the silence of NYT and company, and even obvious efforts to cover it up with such as these well-publicized fake-art propaganda moments..

Oh, and please don’t miss the link which reveals how kids were/are used for propaganda in Libya.

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