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Joined on December 03, 2012
Photograph courtesy Estate of Reza Abdoh
The New Yorker: It is always startling to hear the dead breathe again, speak again. Reza Abdoh, one of the more profound and original theatre artists of the twentieth century, died, of AIDS, in the spring of 1995; he was thirty-two. And yet it’s his voice—political, inconsolable—that we have the privilege of hearing once again in “Reza Abdoh” (at MOMA PS1), the first large-scale retrospective devoted to this Iranian-born spinner of epic, omnivorous tales about queerness, AIDS, American TV and violence, the cult of celebrity, and the gay child’s relationship to the patriarchy. Co-curated by the museum’s director, Klaus Biesenbach, and Negar Azimi, Tiffany Malakooti, and Babak Radboy, of Bidoun, the show is a marvel of archival research and curatorial empathy, paying the kind of attention that Abdoh craved for most of his professional life but had trouble receiving.
In the exhibition’s six rooms, monitors flicker with scenes from the nine productions that Abdoh wrote and directed, including “Peep Show” (1988), which was staged in a derelict motel in Los Angeles and featured sometimes scantily clad performers, full of testiness and threat, acting out scenarios about porn, drugs, and the Contras. Two years later, in New York, Abdoh, with his brilliant company, Dar A Luz, devised “Father Was a Peculiar Man,” an event that took place in the ungentrified meatpacking district, where the air smelled of offal and the cobblestones were slippery with blood. Amid all that, Abdoh’s performers reënacted President Kennedy’s assassination; it was a show that tore apart the idea of heteronormative masculinity as strength, as damage >>>
"For her leadership in campaigning for peace, justice, and the abolition of the death penalty and for her unwavering efforts to promote the human rights and freedoms of the Iranian people, despite persecution that has forced her to suspend her scientific pursuits and endure lengthy incarceration."
Narges Mohammadi, an Iranian physicist, engineer, and human rights defender currently serving a 16-year sentence in Evin Prison (Tehran), was born in Zanjan in 1972. She majored in physics at Imam Khomeini University in Qazvin, where she became actively involved in promoting rights and social justice by founding a political student organization and publishing on issues related to women’s and students’ rights. After graduating, she worked both as an engineer with the Iran Engineering Inspection Corporation and as a journalist, highlighting issues related to gender equality. Ms. Mohammadi’s efforts to maintain a career in the sciences while speaking out about human rights abuses were unsuccessful. In 2009 she was dismissed from her position with the Engineering Inspection Corporation. The same year, she was arrested and incarcerated.
communities, and other vulnerable groups. She has also been deeply involved in efforts to promote free and fair elections and abolish the death penalty in her country. As spokesperson and vice-president of the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC), an organization founded in 2001 by Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi and other prominent Iranian lawyers, and closed by the government in 2008, Ms. Mohammadi helped to provide pro bono legal assistance to prisoners of conscience and monitor the human rights situation in Iran. She also served as president of the Executive Committee of the National Council of Peace in Iran, an organization dedicated to opposing military conflict and violence. Together with other human rights activists, she created the Women’s Civil Center, a body that defends the rights of women, political prisoners, and minorities. Her courageous actions in support of human rights have taken many forms, from protests before parliament concerning acid attacks on women to prison vigils with the families of individuals facing execution. Ms. Mohammadi is the recipient of the 2009 international Alexander Langer Award and the 2011 Per Anger Prize for human rights.
2018 Selection Committee Members: Don A. Howard (Chair), Robert S. French, Lucas F. Hackl, Joel L. Lebowitz, Shelly Rae Lesher, Usha Mallik, Vladimir Mirnov, Surajit Se
The New Yorker: Look at “Saint Luke Drawing the Virgin,” a fifteenth-century portrait by Rogier van der Weyden, and you’ll notice two figures in the middle distance, lingering at the crenellations in the courtyard. One gestures in faint surprise; somebody has captured their attention. It’s not Luke the Evangelist, the Virgin Mother, or even the infant Christ. It’s a faraway man who has stopped to piss on a high wall.
This isn’t an isolated incident. The fact is, a river of piss runs through art history. For centuries, painters and sculptors have depicted the act of urination. Men piss. Women piss. Most of all, young boys piss, so much so that scholars assigned a Latin term, puer mingens, to their ubiquitous appearances. Now Jean-Claude Lebensztejn, a French critic, has written “Pissing Figures, 1280–2014,” a genealogy of the pisseurs and pisseuses who haunt our canvases, fountains, and frescoes. The book, in a rangy, fluent translation from Jeff Nagy, is a record of what Lebensztejn calls our “diuretic fantasies”—of the lore and lust surrounding urine, sacred and profane.
In the beginning was the pissing boy, the putto. He appeared first in the margins of illuminated manuscripts, peeing discreetly as if in fear of detection: the gentle plash, the flaxen strands as wispy as a maiden’s hair. By the fifteenth century, he’d grown brazen and begun to multiply—“processions of urinating children set about inundating paintings and sculptures in villas and public squares,” Lebensztejn writes. They pissed into vases and basins and shells and conchs, onto snowdrifts and poppy husks and flocks of cupids. They pissed in the mouths and anuses of other boys, who themselves pissed in more mouths still. These were no ordinary boys. Spritely and seraphic, often winged and laurelled, they charmed their way into old churches, where they patrolled the transepts and friezes, pure of heart and full of bladder. In Padua’s Ovetari Chapel, for example, Andrea Mantegna painted a cycle of frescoes that included a pissing putto suspended from a garland, where, according to Lebensztejn, he “lets loose a long jet of urine, as if it were a bemused, symbolic paraphrase of the baptismal water.”
Indeed, a boy’s piss seems at some point to have crossed streams with holy water, becoming blessed with ablutionary powers. In Italy, Lebensztejn notes, “it is still customary, even today, to call an infant’s intemperate pee acqua santa.” Sometimes the gift of pure piss transferred to adulthood, though it helped if you were aiming heavenward. A thirteenth-century fresco in the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi shows three angels, grown men, holding their penises over Christ on the cross, as if they might relieve his suffering by relieving themselves.
Of course, the angels, being angels, feel no relief as they piss. They get their celestial jollies by raining a little holy water on us, but they know nothing of urination as a physical urge. If you want to enjoy some real salt-of-the-earth pissing, Lebensztejn reports, you have to skip ahead to 1600. It was then that, with the advent of genre painting, and its attendant embrace of everyday experience over iconography, more and more adults began to piss in images. In Rembrandt’s “Pissing Man” and “Pissing Woman,” both from 1631, we’ve at last found a couple urinating without ceremony, the peasant woman “turning around to reassure herself that no one is watching.” >>>
In other words, his thoughts led him to questions. Why, in the world of computer science and engineering, the world in which he was involved, was there so much focus on sharply-delineated categories? It was the heyday of Game Theory, and “models” not tied to the real world ruled the roost in many a department. But weren’t things more … fuzzy in real life?
This simple idea gave birth to a concept, which Lofti christened Fuzzy Sets and later Fuzzy Logic — a concept that quite simply changed the world. It was first embraced by engineers, who used it in industrial process controls. It played a fundamental role in the design of early smart products, like hand-held camcorders and microwaves. It traversed the globe and found special favor in that tech-nut of a country, Japan. Fuzzy logic was used to help design the underground train system in the city of Sendai in 1987 —a crowning achievement of an idea that had proved itself.
Before Lofti Zadeh passed away on September 7, at the age of 96, he was one of the most influential living minds in computer science and mathematics >>>
Thursday, Aug 20, 2015 8:30 PM PDT (8:00 PM Doors)
The Mint, Los Angeles, CA
18 years and over >>> Tickets