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Tuesday, April 30, 2019

National Archives receives WWII diary in signing ceremony

 Robert Edsel, chairman of the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art, shows pages from the diary of S. Lane Faison, Jr., given by the Foundation to National Archives/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Pages from the diary of S. Lane Faison, Jr. given by the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art to National Archives/Photo by Patricia Leslie


 In a signing ceremony Monday morning at the U.S. National Archives, on the eve of the 74th anniversary of the suicide of Adolph Hitler, a diary kept by a U.S. Navy Reservist about Nazi art theft in World War II was donated to the National Archives by the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art.

The diarist, S. Lane Faison, Jr. (1907-2006), recorded observations he made during 1950 and 1951 when he directed the Munich Central Collecting Point which was a storehouse and distribution center for the recovery of art the Nazis seized from museums and private collectors.

A page from the diary of S. Lane Faison, Jr. given by the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art to National Archives/Photo by Patricia Leslie


 Since the National Archives affords access to records by all and Monuments Men wants as many persons to see the documents as possible, it made sense for Archives to have the diary, Robert Edsel, chairman of the Monuments Men Foundation, said at the ceremony.

Earlier, Mr. Faison's four sons had given the book to the Foundation.

 
Dr. Greg Bradsher, senior archivist and "expert on Holocaust-era asset records," with S. Lane Faison, Jr.'s diary/Photo by Patricia Leslie
 
From left, Dr. Greg Bradsher, senior archivist, with Robert Edsel, chairman of the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art, at the signing ceremony at National Archives for the gift acceptance from the Monuments Men Foundation to Archives of S. Lane Faison, Jr.'s diary. Open on the table are pages from one of 43 "Hitler's Albums" recovered and at Archives/Photo by Patricia Leslie


The diary will be reunited with 43 volumes of the "Hitler Albums" which have been recovered and already given by the Foundation to the Archives where they may be digitally accessed. The Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg , the Nazi task force devoted to seizing art and other valuables, compiled the albums, perhaps for the pleasure of Hitler who loved art, Mr. Edsel said.

The volumes are among the estimated 100 albums of photographs of stolen art the Nazis kept with careful documentation about each piece, including the rightful owner, said Dr. Greg Bradsher, senior archivist at Archives and "expert on Holocaust-era assets," according to an Archives statement.
A page from one of "Hitler's Albums" on display at the signing ceremony for the gift acceptance of the diary of S. Lane Faison, Jr. by National Archives from the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art/Photo by Patricia Leslie
A photograph of a stolen painting from one of "Hitler's Albums." Under the photograph is picture identification (below)/Photo by Patricia Leslie
In a "Hitler Album," the identification page underneath the photo which identifies the painting and the family from whom the Nazis stole it, as carefully recorded by the Nazis/Photo by Patricia Leslie


 The majority of the volumes are still missing, and presumably sitting in attics, barns, old houses and garages. A team of about five researchers from the Foundation is actively searching for them, Mr. Edsel said.

It is a crime for anyone to knowingly sell historical documents, artifacts and other records.

The albums were all the same size, Dr. Bradsher said, and were used as evidence during the Nuremberg trials.

Robert Edsel, chairman of the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art, notes that not all 43  recovered "Hitler Albums" have title pages. The one on display has a title page/Photo by Patricia Leslie
On the left is David Ferriero, archivist of the U.S., who signed documents to accept the gift of the diary of S. Lane Faison, Jr. from the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art,. Robert Edsel, chairman of the Monuments Men, is on the right and, standing, is Dr. Greg Bradsher, senior archivist/Photo by Patricia Leslie
From left, David Ferriero, archivist of the U.S., Robert Edsel, chairman of the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art, and Dr. Greg Bradsher at the signing ceremony at National Archives for the gift from the Monuments Men Foundation of the diary of S. Lane Faison, Jr. to National Archives/Photo by Patricia Leslie


 Mr. Edsel said art was extremely important to Hitler who kept volumes of it from the time he was 16 until he died, including some of the "Hitler Albums."

During the war, General Dwight D. Eisenhower issued more than one order to Allied troops that they leave premises as they found them and not take souvenirs, Mr. Edsel and Dr. Bradsher said. With teenaged and 20-something aged soldiers, the order was difficult to follow and enforce.

Today, these sites would be treated as crime scenes, said Mr. Edsel who wrote The Monuments Men which was picked up by George Clooney and made into a film in 2014.

From left, David Ferriero, archivist of the U.S., Robert Edsel, chairman of the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art, and Dr. Greg Bradsher with S. Lane Faison. Jr.'s diary/Photo by Patricia Leslie
From left, David Ferriero, archivist of the U.S., Dr. Greg Bradsher, senior archivist, and Robert Edsel, chairman of the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art, with S. Lane Faison. Jr.'s diary on the left on the table and, on the right, one of 43 recovered "Hitler Albums"/Photo by Patricia Leslie

At Williams College, Mr. Faison was the director of the Museum of Art and headed the art history department where one of his students was recently retired National Gallery of Art director, Earl A. Powell III. Photographs of looted art and memorabilia seized by the Nazis may also be found at the National Gallery’s own Munich Central Collecting Point Archive.

Mr. Faison was born in Washington, D.C.

According to Hilary Parkinson of the Archives' public affairs office:

"The diary will be available to the public in NARA’s textual research room at College Park in the near future. We will be exploring options for providing access to digital images once the diary has been transferred to College Park.
 
"Some of the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR) Photograph Albums have been digitized and can be seen here."

Also present at the ceremony was David Ferriero, archivist of the United States.
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Saturday, April 27, 2019

Give your pulse, your heartbeat and fingerprints for a Hirshhorn show

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer (b. 1967), Pulse Room, 2006, at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C., 2018/Photo by Patricia Leslie

An exhibition in Washington will leave its perfect home here tomorrow.  

Pulse by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer has been up at the Smithsonian's Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden since last fall, during which time it has collected thousands of heartbeats, pulses, and fingerprints from visitors who have stopped to wonder and add their own identities to produce the display.
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer (b. 1967), Pulse Index, 2010, at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C., 2018/Photo by Patricia Leslie

 Some of the latest technologies in yet another interactive art show (isn't that what most contemporary shows are these days?) are combined with voluntary contributions with results to be seen pronto

Water, lights, human movement, sensors, touch, and vital signs mix in huge galleries to show a little bit of just who you are in the grand population, physiologically speaking. (Not that you can pick out your own pieces in the show since they all look and sound alike!)

Three Pulse installations fill the museum's second floor, the first, Pulse Index records fingerprints and heart rates when visitors insert their fingers in a sensor. 

That information enters a large grid cell of 10,000 others while simultaneously discarding the oldest record, somewhat like the grand scheme of life. ("Out with the old and in with the new!  Fare thee well!")
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer (b. 1967), Pulse Tank, 2008, at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C., 2018/Photo by Patricia Leslie

The second installation, Pulse Tank (2008) finds visitors interacting with sensors on water tanks. Computers detect pulses, sending ripples on the water which reflect shadows to fall over walls in a combination of unidentified human offerings and links.

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer (b. 1967), Pulse Room, 2006, at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C., 2018/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Hundreds of light bulbs electrified by visitors touching a sensor, hang from the ceiling in the third installation, Pulse Room (2006) Heartbeats and the concomitant sounds are heard throughout the space.  As more people come through the gallery, new beats become the latest part of the bulb sensation and move on down the row or line, making a pattern of movement until they, too, exit the story at the last bulb or end.  (Question:  How long does this journey take? It would seem to depend on the number of people in the gallery.  A lot would mean a fast exit.)


Rafael Lozano-Hemmer was born in 1967 in Mexico City and graduated from Concordia University in Montreal with a B.S. in physical chemistry. In 2003 he founded the Antimodular Research Laboratory in Montreal where engineers, architects, programmers and artists from around the world study, create and make. Now he and his team are at work on more than 20 permanent installations, commissioned by global "new age" electric collectors.

In 2007 Lozano-Hemmer's art took him to Venice and the Biennale where he was the first artist to represent Mexico

Large interactive Lozano-Hemmer displays may be found in New York, Vancouver, Berlin, and museums around the world.

From his website:

His main interest is in creating platforms for public participation, by perverting technologies such as robotics, computerized surveillance or telematic networks. Inspired by phantasmagoria, carnival and animatronics, his light and shadow works are "antimonuments for alien agency".

Whether the FBI, the CIA, the FSB, or the North Koreans would okay their employees engaging in Pulse is debatable, but, on the other hand, maybe they are the ones behind it all. Could be a joint venture.


What:  Pulse by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer

When:  Now through tomorrow, April 28, 2019, from 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Where:  Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden on the National Mall at Independence Avenue and Seventh Street, S.W.

How much:  No charge

Metro stations:  Smithsonian or L'Enfant Plaza (Maryland Avenue exit)

For more information:   202-633-1000

patricialesli@gmail.com

Friday, April 26, 2019

At the think tanks: Russia's political prisoners, a talk

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 Izabella Tabarovsky, the moderator, and Sergey Davidis at the Kennan Institute, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, D.C., April 23, 2019/Photo by Patricia Leslie

 At the Kennan Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars on Tuesday afternoon, the head of Russia's Political Prisoners Support Program said the nation has 263 "political" persons in jail, arrested on vague charges stemming from Russia's Criminal Code

It is an “incomplete number,” said Sergey Davidis, also a member of the Council at the Memorial Human Rights Center in Moscow. Since “we are conservative in our approach,” the actual number is probably two or three times 263, he said.


The prisoners support group determined the number 263 by researching official documents and other materials.

Among those jailed are two journalists and many persons from Ukraine One prisoner, Mr. Davidis said, has been sentenced to 20 to 22 years for participating in the "Chechen war." (Wikipedia identifies two Chechen wars: 1994-1996 and 1999-2006.)

Another prisoner, a “random person,” was sentenced to eight to ten years.  Researchers have identified four others on the list who are jailed for “random” reasons. Some have lawyers.

Of the 263, 186 have been identified as religious minorities; 60 are affiliated with Jehovah's Witnesses. So far, the maximum prison sentence has been 24 years.

None of the prisoners condone violence, often mentioned in the Russian Federation Criminal Code as a reason for arrest. The prisoners have expressed “no signs of violence.” They practice opposition peacefully, 
Mr. Davidis said, when they disagree with authorities.

“The aim of the state is scare the society …and frighten people,” he said. “It’s important for the state to send [the people] a signal.” Persecution in the Russian Federation is “rather uneven.”

Izabella Tabarovsky, the moderator, and Sergey Davidis at the Kennan Institute, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, D.C., April 23, 2019/Photo by Patricia Leslie

He cited several articles from the Criminal Code which are used to arrest political prisoners: Article 212.1 is related to punishment for those engaged in “mass riots,” and Article 318, for violence against an officer.

Article 354 ("Public Appeal to Unleash An Aggressive War”) is "seldom used" to arrest anyone, but still it is “obviously dangerous” and can be used to arrest those who attempt to incite the public.

Articles 280 and 282 (“not widely cited”) concern extremist activity, behavior, and freedom of expression. Article 205 describes acts of terrorism, punishment and recruiting others to commit terrorist activities. 

Questions from the audience were invited near the close of the one hour session. One person asked if Russia has prisoner quotas and Mr. Davidis answered that several factors are involved but sometimes, yes, there are “real quotas” which “vary from region to region.”

Another questioner asked about prisoner exchanges between Russia and Turkey. Mr. Davidis confirmed that Turkish president
Recep Tayyip Erdogan 
had exchanged two Russian criminals jailed in Istanbul for murdering four Chechens, for two Tatars jailed for religious beliefs, an uneven exchange the questioner noted.

The Kennan website states: Mr. Davidis was educated in sociology at Moscow State University and in law at Moscow State Law Academy. For many years, he was a participant and one of the organizers of the democratic opposition movement. His research interests are closely related to activities to support political prisoners in Russia, and he studies the sociological and legal aspects of politically motivated deprivation of liberty, in particular, in the context of world practice and international norms.


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Monday, April 22, 2019

Electric cherry blossoms light D.C.


All hail the power of flowers!  Lift your hands and watch flowers move in the design made by Akiko Yamishita with Sachiko Yamashita & Mikitype, Hana Fubuki, 2019 at Artechouse/Photo by Patricia Leslie
A little girl atop a man's shoulders is mesmerized by the power she weaves at Artechouse.  Digitized art reflects a pond of colors /Photo by Patricia Leslie

And you just thought they were gone.

At Artechouse, you can still see them, an inside, electric visualization with womanmade flowers which fill walls from floor to ceiling in a dream-like world.

And the floor reflects them.  

It's like skating on a frozen pond of glass, with colors and shapes to cover the floor and take you to fantasy land in a psychedelic swirl.
Flowers, flowers everywhere at Artechouse /Photo by Patricia Leslie
He raises his arms and like swim strokes making waves, he moves flowers at Artechouse /Photo by Patricia Leslie
Bend this way and that at the Artechouse and command the universe/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Artechouse is not only for adults; children are welcome and encouraged to visit this "new age" experiment in "augmented reality," a different expression of art, digitized with music to deepen the experience.
 
Here visitors weave magic with a sweep of their hands or arms. Watch synchronized flowers move with human motion. See them sway with the "wind."  Or, dance a jig and observe the power of humans to make blossoms respond.
 
Not mannikins but figures enveloped by surround sights and sounds in a starry night at Artechouse/Photo by Patricia Leslie
By Lisa Park, Blooming, 2018. This is a hi-tech cherry blossom tree with changing colors in its very own gallery at Artechouse/Photo by Patricia Leslie
If we point that way, the flowers follow our movements. At Artechouse /Photo by Patricia Leslie
 
And if we point both ways, they match us in floral movements. At Artechouse/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Touch a plant and turn on a light.

Enchanted Garden is found in another section of the gallery, created by "augmented reality" using natural and recycled materials to tell the story of a Japanese folk tale, the Rabbit in the Moon
Paige, an Artechouse employee, turns on a light by touching the plant. Must see to believe! /Photo by Patricia Leslie

The designs are creations of two Japanese sisters who were inspired by their grandfather, a poet and nature lover whose adoration of the outdoors was passed to his progeny.

Come on in and take a peek. Or a sweep, and experience art in a new way.
 
A bar is onsite.

What: In Peak Bloom

When:  Now through May 27, 2019. Sunday - Thursday, 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. After Hours, 7 - 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. After Hours, 5:30 - 11:30 p.m.

Where: Artechouse, 1238 Maryland Ave., S.W. Washington, D.C. 20024. A few steps from the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

Admission: Adults, $16 (online), $20 (onsite); students, seniors, and military, $13 or $15; children (2-14) $8 or $10 plus tax and processing fee.

Metro station:  Smithsonian, exit 12th and Independence Avenue; walk 10 minutes (.3 mile).

The bar: Opens at 11 a.m.
   
Footcovers:  Mandatory and available. (No charge.)

For more information:  No telephone number found. Email: tickets@artechouse.com.

patricialesli@gmail.com