Δευτέρα, 29 Αυγούστου 2011

Abu Graib by Fernando Botero

Fernando Botero, born April 19, 1932, is a Colombian figurative artist. His style is fat people with happy childish faces. Except two macabre series, one about the drug cartel terrorism in his country (man hunt and settling accounts executions), and the most prominent, the Abu Graib atrocities. In 2005 Botero gained considerable attention for his Abu Ghraib series, which was exhibited first in Europe. He based the works on reports of United States forces' abuses of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison during the Iraq War. Beginning with an idea he had on a plane journey, Botero produced more than 85 paintings and 100 drawings in exploring this concept and "painting out the poison." The series was exhibited at two United States locations in 2007, including Washington, DC. Botero said he would not sell any of the works, but would donate them to museums.

Τετάρτη, 24 Αυγούστου 2011

Maori Mokomokai

Mokomokai are the preserved heads of Māori, the indigenous people of New Zealand, where the faces have been decorated by tā moko tattooing. They became valuable trade items during the Musket Wars of the early 19th century. Moko marked rites of passage for people of chiefly rank, as well as significant events in their lives. Each moko was unique and contained information about the person’s rank, tribe, lineage, occupation and exploits. When someone with moko died, often the head would be preserved. The brain and eyes were removed, with all orifices sealed with flax fibre and gum. The head was then boiled or steamed in an oven before being smoked over an open fire and dried in the sun for several days. It was then treated with shark oil. Such preserved heads, mokomokai, would be kept by their families in ornately-carved boxes and brought out only for sacred ceremonies.

In the early 19th century, with the arrival of Europeans in New Zealand, tribes in contact with European sailors, traders and settlers had access to firearms, giving them a military advantage over their neighbours. This gave rise to the Musket Wars, when other tribes became desperate to acquire firearms too, if only to defend themselves. It was during this period of social destabilisation that mokomokai became commercial trade items that could be sold as curios, artworks and as museum specimens which fetched high prices in Europe and America, and which could be bartered for firearms and ammunition. The demand for firearms was such that tribes carried out raids on their neighbours to acquire more heads to trade for them. They also tattooed slaves and prisoners (though with meaningless motifs rather than genuine moko) in order to provide heads to order. The peak years of the trade in mokomokai were from 1820 to 1831. In 1831 the Governor of New South Wales issued a proclamation banning further trade in heads out of New Zealand, and during the 1830s the demand for firearms diminished because of market saturation. By 1840 when the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, and New Zealand became a British colony, the export trade in mokomokai had virtually ended, along with a decline in the use of moko in Māori society, although occasional small-scale trade continued for several years.

Τα Mokomokai ήταν τα μουμιοποιημένα με τατουάζ προσώπου κεφάλια κάποιων προσωπικοτήτων των Μαορί της Νέας Ζηλανδίας. Αυτοί εν ζωή στόλιζαν το πρόσωπό τους με τατουάζ (Moko) που αποτελούνταν από πληθώρα σχεδίων που συμβόλιζαν διάφορες στιγμές της ζωής τους, συνήθως κοινωνικής ανόδου, προσωπικές ή της φυλής και της τοπικής κοινωνίας. Οταν κάποιος από αυτούς πέθαινε, το κεφάλι του μουμιοποιούνταν με διάφορες τεχνικές και διατηρούνταν ως κειμήλιο της φυλής. Οταν στις αρχές του 19ου αι. έφτασαν μαζί με τους Ευρωπαίους πυροβόλα όπλα εκεί, τότε αναπτύχθηκε το επαχθές εμπόριο των Μοκομοκάι. Από τη μια οι Ευρωπαίοι ζητούσαν απεγνωσμένα τέτοια "εθνικ" και ξωτικά αντικείμενα για τις συλλογές τους, από την άλλη, οι ντόπιοι αναλάμβαναν να καλύψουν τη ζήτηση, είτε κάνοντας επιδρομές και δολοφονώντας μέλη εχθρικών φυλών με τα νέα όπλα τους, είτε σκοτώνοντας δούλους ή φυλακισμένους, αφού πρωτα τους είχαν ζωγραφίσει τατουάζ στα πρόσωπα, με σχέδια χωρίς νόημα. Μετά το 1831 αυτό το εμπόριο απαγορεύτηκε και σταδιακά εξαφανίστηκε.

Horatio Gordon Robley was a British army officer and artist who served in New Zealand during the New Zealand land wars in the 1860s. He was interested in ethnology and fascinated by the art of tattooing as well as being a talented illustrator. He wrote the classic text on the subject of moko, Moko; or Maori Tattooing, which was published in 1896. After he returned to England he built up a notable collection of 35-40 mokomokai which he later offered to sell to the New Zealand Government. When the offer was declined, most of the collection was sold to the American Museum of Natural History.

Σάββατο, 20 Αυγούστου 2011

Unit 731, the forgotten holocaust.

This was the first female prisoner of Unit 731
and she was exposed alive to
phosphorus burn experiments

Unit 731 was a covert biological and chemical warfare research and development unit of the Imperial Japanese Army that undertook lethal human experimentation during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945) and World War II. It was responsible for some of the most notorious war crimes carried out by Japanese personnel. The number of people killed in Unit 731 is around 580,000. Unit 731 was based at the Pingfang district of Harbin in Northeast China). More than 95% of the victims who died in the camp based in Pingfang were Chinese and Korean, including both civilian and military. The remaining 5% were South East Asians and Pacific Islanders, at the time colonies of the Empire of Japan, and a small number of the prisoners of war from the Allies of World War II.

Vivisected when alive pregnant woman and her baby

Test subjects were gathered from the surrounding population and were sometimes referred to euphemistically as “logs” Prisoners of war were subjected to vivisection without anaesthesia. Vivisections were performed on prisoners after infecting them with various diseases. Scientists performed invasive surgery on prisoners, removing organs to study the effects of disease on the human body. These were conducted while the patients were alive because it was feared that the decomposition process would affect the results. The infected and vivisected prisoners included men, women, children, and infants. Prisoners had limbs amputated in order to study blood loss. Those limbs that were removed were sometimes re-attached to the opposite sides of the body. Some prisoners’ limbs were frozen and amputated, while others had limbs frozen then thawed to study the effects of the resultant untreated gangrene and rotting. Some prisoners had their stomachs surgically removed and the oesophagus reattached to the intestines. Parts of the brain, lungs, liver, etc. were removed from some prisoners. Human targets were used to test grenades positioned at various distances and in different positions. Flame throwers were tested on humans. Humans were tied to stakes and used as targets to test germ-releasing bombs, chemical weapons, and explosive bombs. Prisoners were injected with inoculations of disease, disguised as vaccinations, to study their effects. To study the effects of untreated venereal diseases, male and female prisoners were deliberately infected with syphilis and gonorrhoea, then studied. Prisoners were infested with fleas in order to acquire large quantities of disease-carrying fleas for the purposes of studying the viability of germ warfare. Plague fleas, infected clothing, and infected supplies encased in bombs were dropped on various targets. The resulting cholera, anthrax, and plague were estimated to have killed around 400,000 Chinese civilians. Prisoners were subjected to other torturous experiments such as being hung upside down to see how long it would take for them to choke to death, having air injected into their arteries to determine the time until the onset of embolism, and having horse urine injected into their kidneys. Other incidents include being deprived of food and water to determine the length of time until death, being placed into high-pressure chambers until death, having experiments performed upon prisoners to determine the relationship between temperature, burns, and human survival, being placed into centrifuges and spun until dead, having animal blood injected and the effects studied, being exposed to lethal doses of x-rays, having various chemical weapons tested on prisoners inside gas chambers, being injected with sea water to determine if it could be a substitute for saline and being buried alive.

a young Russian woman prisoner who died
during the test of the ceramic bomb explosion
effect on a human body when alive.
These ceramic bombs were developed for
delivering anthrax and bubonic plague.

Every member of the group was ordered “to take the secret to the grave”, threatened to be found and executed if they failed, and prohibiting any of them from going into public work back in Japan. Potassium cyanide vials were issued for use in the event that the remaining personnel were captured. Skeleton crews of Japanese troops blew the compound up in the final days of the war to destroy evidence of their activities, but most were so well constructed that they survived somewhat intact as a testimony to what had happened there. Many of the scientists involved in Unit 731 went on to prominent careers in post-war politics, academia, business, and medicine. Some were arrested by Soviet forces and tried at the Khabarovsk War Crime Trials; others surrendered to the American Forces. In 2007, Doctor Ken Yuasa testified to the Japan Times that, “I was afraid during my first vivisection, but the second time around, it was much easier. By the third time, I was willing to do it.” He believes at least 1,000 people, including surgeons, were involved in vivisections over mainland China.

a female victim developed gas gangrene
of her buttocks after the test of the ceramic
bomb filled with Clostridium bacterial spores

Η Μονάδα 731 ήταν μια μυστική μονάδα του Ιαπωνικού Αυτοκρατορικού Στρατού στον Σινο-ιαπωνικό πόλεμο (1937-1945) και Β’ Παγκόσμιο πόλεμο, όπου γίνονταν έρευνα για ανάπτυξη βιολογικών και χημικών όπλων. Σε αυτή τη μονάδα έγιναν απίστευτης ωμότητας πειράματα πάνω σε ανθρώπους, Κινέζους και Κορετάτες αιχμαλώτους, στρατιώτες ή αμάχους, ακόμα και μερικούς ευρωπαίους συλληφθέντες στρατιώτες. Υπολογίζεται να έχουν φονευθεί εκεί περίπου 580.000 άτομα σε όλη τη διάρκεια της λειτουργίας της. Βρισκόταν στην περιοχή Pingfang της ΝΑ Κίνας.

A bound chinese woman suffered the
insertion of a live cockroach in her vagina

Οι κρατούμενοι υποβάλλονταν σε πειράματα και χειρουργικές επεμβάσεις, αφαιρέσεις οργάνων και ακρωτηριασμούς χωρίς αναισθησία, αφού πρωτα είχαν μολυνθεί με διάφορους μολυσματικούς ιούς και τοξικά. Τα θύματα μπορεί να ήταν ακόμα και έγκυες γυναίκες, παιδιά και βρέφη. Όλα αυτά τα αποτρόπαια πειραματα γίνονταν για να μελετηθεί η αντίδραση του ανθρώπινου οργανισμού σε εκθέσεις σε τοξικά, ιούς, ακόμα και πόσο μπορεί να ζήσει κάποιος με σοβαρό ακρωτηριασμό και γάγγραινα. Επίσης σε ανθρώπινους στόχους δοκίμαζαν την αποτελεσματικότητα πυροβόλων, βομβών, και φλογοβόλων ανάλογα με την απόσταση. έπαιζαν με ανατομικές τερατογενέσεις, πχ άλλαζαν θέση σε όργανα και μέλη σε ζωντανούς ανθρώπους. Μόλυναν γυναίκες με αφροδίσια νοσήματα, εμβολιάζονταν με θανατηφόρους ιούς, εκτίθονταν σε μολυσμένα έντομα (ψύλλους, κατσαρίδες, κλπ). Μόνο οι συνεπαγόμενες λοιμώδεις αρρώστιες σκότωσαν περίπου 400.000 άτομα σε αυτή τη μονάδα. Αλλοι φυλακισμένοι υφίσταντο διάφορα βασανιστήρια, τους έκαναν ενέσιμο αέρα ή ακόμα και ούρα για να δουν τις επιπτώσεις, θάψιμο ζωντανών, πείνα, δίψα, έκθεση σε ακραίες θερμοκρασίες, ακτινοβολίες και πιέσεις για να μελετηθεί η αντοχή του ανθρώπινου σώματος σε αυτές τις κακοποιήσεις.

Shiro Ishii (1892–1959) was a Japanese microbiologist
and the lieutenant general of Unit 731.
He was never prosecuted for any war crimes.

Οσοι συνένοχοι συμμετείχαν στα πειράματα είχαν δώσει όρκο θανάτου και να πάρουν το μυστικό στον τάφο τους. Για την περίπτωση σύλληψης κάποιου είχαν προμηθευτεί με κυάνιο για να αυτοκτονήσουν. Στο τέλος του πολέμου, ειδικά σώματα στρατιωτών ανατίναξαν τη μονάδα για να εξαφανίσουν κάθε ίχνος και μαρτυρία, αλλά η έκταση και οι θεμελιώσεις ήταν τόσο εκτεταμένες που δεν ήταν αποτελεσματική η επιχείρηση. Όμως, παρόλο που έγιναν γνωστές αυτές οι ωμότητες, ελάχιστοι από τους υπευθύνους δικάστηκαν και καταδικάστηκαν, οι περισσότεροι έκαναν καριέρα στην ιατρική, στην πολιτική, στα πανεπιστήμια και στον επιχειρηματικό τομέα. Το 2007, ένας από τους συμμετέχοντες γιατρούς δήλωσε κυνικότατα: «Στην αρχή με τρόμαζαν οι «ανατομικές επεμβάσεις» αυτές, μετά ήταν πιο εύκολα και τελικά άρχισε να μου αρέσει να το κάνω».

Τρίτη, 16 Αυγούστου 2011

Egon Schiele

Pregnant Woman And Death (1911)

Egon Schiele (1890–1918) was an Austrian painter. His work is noted for its intensity, and the many self-portraits the artist produced. The twisted body shapes and the expressive line that characterize Schiele's paintings and drawings mark the artist as an early exponent of Expressionism, although still strongly associated with the art nouveau movement. His nude paintings and his relations with young girls as models led him to persecution and imprisonment, but later the charges of seduction and abduction were dropped, but not the charges for creating "pornographic material" accessible to children. When he get married, he wanted to keep his relation with the young model, but she left him immediately and never saw him again. Under this circumstance he painted the Death and the Maiden (1915). He died in 1918, 28 years old from spanish flu pandemic, three days after his pregnant wife. His paintings Pregnant Woman and Death and Dead Mother, of 1911 and 1910 respectively, tragically seem to forsee their premature death.

Dead Mother (1910)

Death and the Maiden (1915)

Dead Girl (1910)

Death and Man (1911)

Παρασκευή, 12 Αυγούστου 2011

Salvator Rosa's paintings (Witchcraft and memento mori)

Salvator Rosa (1615–1673) was an Italian Baroque painter, poet and printmaker, active in Naples, Rome and Florence. As a painter, he is best known as an "unorthodox and extravagant" and a "perpetual rebel" proto-Romantic. He was one of the least conventional artists of 17th century Italy, and was adopted as a hero by painters of the Romantic movement in the later 18th and early 19th centuries. He was mainly a painter of landscapes, but the range of his subject matter was unusually wide and included portraits and allegories. During his years in Florence (1640-49) he also depicted scenes of witchcraft, influenced by Northern prints.

Witches -Morning-1645-1649

The Witch (1646)

Ghost of Samuel Called Before Saul by the Witch of Endor (1668)

A Witch (1640-49)

A Friar Tempted by Demons (1660-1665)

Witches At Their Incantations (1646)
It's his most famous witchcraft painting.
View a high resolution HERE

Humana Fragilitas (1st half of 17th century)

Δευτέρα, 8 Αυγούστου 2011

The Imperial Crypt, Vienna, Austria

The Imperial Crypt, usually called "Capuchins' Crypt") in Vienna, Austria lies below the Capuchin Church and monastery founded in 1618 and dedicated in 1632. It is on the Neuer Markt square of the Innere Stadt, near the imperial Hofburg Palace. Since 1633 it has been the principal place of entombment for members of the Habsburg dynasty. The bodies of 145 Habsburg royalty, plus urns containing the hearts or cremated remains of four others, are deposited here, including 12 emperors and 18 empresses. The most recent entombment was in 2011. The visible 107 metal sarcophagi and 5 heart urns range in style from puritan plain to exuberant rococo. The Imperial Crypt is one of the top tourist attractions in Vienna. To this day, some of the dozen resident Capuchin friars continue their customary role as the guardians and caretakers of the crypt along with their other pastoral work in Vienna.

Πέμπτη, 4 Αυγούστου 2011


An ex-voto is a votive offering to a saint or divinity. It is given in fulfillment of a vow (hence the Latin term, short for ex voto suscepto, "from the vow made") or in gratitude or devotion. Ex-votos are placed in a church or chapel where the worshipper seeks grace or wishes to give thanks. They are not only intended for the helping figure, but also as a testimony to later visitors of the received help. As such they may include texts explaining a miracle attributed to the helper, or symbols such as a painted or modelled reproduction of a miraculously healed body part, or a directly related item such as a crutch given by a person formerly lame.

Healing and faith have always played a role in the lives of the faithful. They are interwoven in the fabric of social history. How we regard illness and healing, and how we cope with them have captured our imagination throughout the ages. The expression of our relationship with illness is wonderfully illustrated in the ex-voto, a devotional painting giving thanks to a saint or deity for a miraculous healing or a blessing. The faithful have always used prayer to invoke the aid of saints as a means to heal the sick and end one’s suffering. These devotional paintings are an individual’s expression of thanks for the intercession of the divine in a crisis, a snapshot in time of illness and healing. They offer a rare opportunity to view health, healing, and illness through the hearts and minds of the ordinary person.

From its beginnings in 15th century Italy through its spread to the New World in the 16th century, ex-votos have played a role in the daily lives of the faithful especially in Mexico. When many people think of exvotos in Mexico, they think of those painted on tin or sheet metal. This use of tin started in the 19th century and are the majority of the pictures I post. These exvotos are generally around a foot in length, and were often painted by a local artist or artisan for the giver, who may not have been able to read and write. Most Mexican exvotos have a detailed explanation of why the donor is giving thanks.

They continued to be a popular expression of faith and healing into the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the most prolific period of ex-voto production. Although the ex-voto experienced a decline in the 20th century, the faithful still continue to commission artists to create them today. Most remain a personalized expression of thanks for a healing or a restoration of health, but their purpose has expanded to include the commemoration of a special event or to address a concern in an individual’s life. Ex-votos continue to be a reflection of a tradition where faith and healing play a vital role in daily life.U.S. National Library of Medicine

Πρόκειται για τα γνωστά σε εμάς τάματα ή αναθήματα. Τα υπό παρουσίαση αφορούν καλλιτεχνήματα που αφιερώνονται στο Θείο ως ένδειξη ευγνωμοσύνης που εισακούστηκαν οι προσευχές και θεραπεύτηκε ο ασθενής, είτε με τη βοήθεια της ιατρικής, είτε και επιστημονικά ανεξήγητα ως "θαύμα". Η ποικιλία αυτών των αναθημάτων σε μορφή είναι τεράστια, ανάλογα με την εποχή, τον πολιτισμό, κλπ. και η απαρχή της συνήθειας χάνεται στα βάθη των αιώνων. Αυτά που παρουσιάζω είναι μικρής κλίμακας ζωγραφιές του γεγονότος με σύντομες επεξηγήσεις για την πορεία της ασθένειας, τη χρονιά που τελέστηκε το "θαύμα" και όλα εκτός του πρώτου, που είναι ευρωπαϊκό και πολύ παλιό (1777) τα άλλα προέρχονται από το Μεξικό (μεταξύ μέσων 19ου και μέσων 20ου αι.) και είναι ζωγραφιές πάνω σε κομμάτι λαμαρίνας, διαστάσεων περίπου 30-35 εκ. Η δημιουργία τους ανατίθεντο σε λαϊκούς καλλιτέχνες. Οι αφιερώσεις αυτές δεν είχαν σκοπό μόνο την ευχαρίστηση του θείου για την προσφορά του, αλλά αποτελούσαν και μαρτυρίες για το γεγονός ώστε να ενδυναμωθεί η πίστη και στο υπόλοιπο εκκλησιαστικό κοινό.