Geek Mythology

March 29, 2009

The cocaine trail.

Filed under: Main — Mackanlee @ 3:45 pm

Much of the cocaine that flows into Europe and Scandinavia is shipped or flown from South America over to the West African coast line. Usually the cocaine is dropped from ships or planes into the water near the West African coast where boats are waiting to pick up the parcels (that are equipped with GPS tracking devices) and bring them onto the African soil. Here the cocaine is taken care of by organized criminal networks that cut the cocaine and see to it that its exported to Europe.

The reason that the South American drug cartels have chosen West Africa as a destination for its prized cocaine is that the old smuggle routes to Europe are now too heavily guarded by police and coast guards. Its much easier to ship the product to poor countries like Guinea Bissau (the 5th poorest country in the world) that have underpayed police forces and governments that suffer from corruption. This cocaine trade is devestating these countries economies. In Guinea Bissau the cocaine trade generates more than 10 times the national income. The criminal organizations that are making a killing off the cocaine business are not only involved in drug dealing. They also organize human trafficking and arms sales.

Criminal organizations have started using a “shotgun approach”, whereby a large number of drug smugglers are dispatched on the same flight.
When there are 10 people on the same flight who all have swallowed the cocaine the customs at the arriving airport only have the man power to take down three or four of them. This means that a large part of the group will be getting into the country in Europe with the cocaine in their stomachs. There is a huge risk in transporting the cocaine within ones own body. Often the containers break resulting in overdoses or death for the drug mules. The drug carriers are often desperately poor people who are used by drug cartels to smuggle their product.

The cocaine is then taken out of the carriers shit and distributed in local European markets. Its ironic how this incredibly expensive product used by the elite in nightclubs around Europe and Scandinavia has been brought in from Africa inside a human beings anus. Cocaine tested in forensic laboratories often show that it contains faecal matter as well as other chemical substances that are used to “cut” the drug. The cocaine is also brought into Spain by traditional hashish smuggling routes that run through Marocko. Once the products hits the streets its taken care of by a network of local dealers.

Africa has a long history of being exploited by European powers. The European hunger for cocaine just follows in an old tradition of things like the slave trade, colonization and cold war manipulation. This is something to think about when celebrity junkies like Kate Moss makes cocaine use seem fashionable and hip. Europes cocaine addiction is threatening to cause the downfall of some African states because corrupt and weak governments are very vulnerable to the influence of drug money.

Rebecca Shapiro, Marcus MÃ¥rtenson, and Frank Zeni at the Garde Rail gallery in Seattle

Filed under: Main — Mackanlee @ 4:40 am

April 2 – May 30, 2009

OPENING FIRST THURSDAY: Thursday April 2, 2009 – 6pm-8pm
OPEN DAILY: Wednesday thru Saturday 11am-5pm
CLOSING: Saturday May 30, 2008
WHERE: Garde Rail Gallery – 110 Third Avenue South – Tel.206.621.1055

Seattle artist Rebecca Shapiro was a hit at the recent Outsider Art Fair in New York City. Garde Rail Gallery first met Rebecca in late 2008, and where well impressed enough with her delicate yet odd embroideries on muslin, that her work was taken straight to the Fair, where they were well received and well purchased by collectors. In many ways, Rebecca’s artwork is intended as a collection of oddities; a celebration of human cleverness that stands regardless of any eventual scientific disproof.

Swedish artist Marcus MÃ¥rtenson was first introduced to Garde Rail Gallery by the travelling Internal Guidance Systems exhibit, an international collection of artists on the fringes of the mainstream, curated by Anne Grgich. His bright and colorful works on wood are influenced by the traditional religious art found in medieval churches in Sweden, yet his imagery draws from urban contemporary subject matter.

Frank Zeni was born in a small village in Italy, and moved to the US when he was 14. Now living in Houston, Frank Zeni is an unconventional architect, whose home in is an architectural wonder. Frank is also an artist, whose works on paper result in fantastical “places”, where “environment has the power to return you to all that makes us idealistic, noble, and human” and where “Disney meets modernism”.

March 28, 2009

Filed under: Main — Mackanlee @ 4:35 pm

“Long afloat on shipless oceans I did all my best to smile.”

March 26, 2009


Filed under: Main — Mackanlee @ 7:46 pm

Im showing new work at HAMMARBY ARTPORTS art party on saturday. Come on down!

March 25, 2009

Filed under: Main — Mackanlee @ 6:02 pm

March 24, 2009

Filed under: Main — Mackanlee @ 11:09 am

March 21, 2009

Rota fortunae

Filed under: Main — Mackanlee @ 3:29 pm

The wheel of fortune is a motif that I really like . It was commonly used in middle ages and originally belonged to the Roman goddess Fortuna . She is sometimes depicted as spinning the wheel, with a blindfold over her eyes.This wheel is painted in many medieval Swedish churches as well.

The wheel traditionally depicts a young, happy-go lucky character that, in the prime of his youth, jumps onto the wheel. The doves by his side representing his innocence. Flanking him in my image is a picture of the rising sun, symbolizing the early morning stages of life. Written beside him is the text “I will rule”. In the older versions of the wheel the latin text “Regnabo” was written which means “I shall reign”. To the above left of him is the greek letter ALPHA. This is the first letter of the Greek alphabet and this also signifies the beginning. On the top right is the Greek letter OMEGA. This is the last letter in the Greek alphabet. Alpha and Omega comes from the phrase “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” from the book of Revelations. This is a reference to the nature of the wheel- it brings the young rookie from the Alpha point towards the Omega point. The Omega point being the place of ones death.

On top of the wheel there is a muscle man standing waving a gun defiantly in the air. He is strong and is in the prime of his life. Behind him the sun is at its highest point in the sky. He feels like an indestructible conqueror that nothing can stop. Behind him there is a text that says “I rule” making a reference to the old latin text “Regno” or “reign”, which accompanied this character.

Lastly and old man is being pulled towards his grave by a smiling devil. The night has come and life has started to fade in the last cycle of the wheel. The moon looks on as all this transpires. Written by his side is the text”I ruled” signifiying that his time is at an end. In the original wheels the latin text “Regnavi” or “I reigned” was written. Finally below the wheel a skeleton lies silently on the ground saying nothing while animals look on as the wheel keeps spinning. This piece can also be seen at the show that Im in at the Garde Rail gallery opening on April 2nd in Seattle.

Filed under: Main — Mackanlee @ 2:54 am

Alfredo Garcia and Ophelia Sierra Goldfarb present a real labour of love…

check it out for yourself here:


March 18, 2009

The three living and three dead kings

Filed under: Main — Mackanlee @ 9:41 am

The “memento mori” motif was very popular in middle age art. “Memento mori” means “remember that you will die”, reminding a person of his or her mortality. It was also a harsh reminder of the vanity of earthly riches. I have been inspired by an old medieval poem called “The three living and the three dead kings” (also known by its Latin name ” De Tribus Regibus Mortuis” or as “The Three Living and the Three Dead”). It is written in 15th century middle English and “is the only English poetic retelling of a well-known memento mori current in mediaeval European church art”.It tells the story of three young kings who are riding in the forest in a boar hunting party who eventually get lost. All of a sudden they meet three dead kings in the form of corpses whom are waiting for them. The living kings become terrified and want to flee. Before the living kings leave, the dead kings tell them that they have to keep them in their memory and remember the fleeting, temporary quality of their lives so that they dont waste it. Finally the kings leave and once they return home they have an artist paint the motif on the local church wall.

Here are some examples of the “Three living and three dead kings” motifs found in medieval European churches:

In the image below I have placed this old story in a modern night club.Three young up and coming player type of characters are in a night club celebrating and drinking champagne. Sitting across from them are three corpses who laughingly look over at them reminding them that their time on earth is limited and that they where also materialistic and pleasure loving like the three young nightclub kings a long time ago.The three dead kings are saying that no amount of gold or silver or fame can buy them free from their coming fate. The three living kings look over at them with starteled expressions while the corpses laugh. The nightclub itself being called Vanitas(the word is Latin, meaning “emptiness”) is filled with a few lonely individuals. The main character being the man with the mustache who looks right at the viewer of the drawing with a dead expression. I have drawn him alot before, he represents a kind of “mans ruin” motif. “Mans ruin” is a popular tatoo image that shows how addictive behaviour can bring a person down. This image amongst others will be shown at the Garde Rail gallery in Seattle starting April 2nd:

I really think of the story of the three living kings and three dead kings when I hear the old traditional American bluegrass song called “Oh death” by Ralph Stanley. The song is a dialouge between a living man and death:

O, Death
O, Death
Won’t you spare me over til another year
Well what is this that I can’t see
With ice cold hands takin’ hold of me
Well I am death, none can excel
I’ll open the door to heaven or hell
Whoa, death someone would pray
Could you wait to call me another day
The children prayed, the preacher preached
Time and mercy is out of your reach
I’ll fix your feet til you cant walk
I’ll lock your jaw til you cant talk
I’m death I come to take the soul
Leave the body and leave it cold
To draw up the flesh off of the frame
Dirt and worm both have a claim
O, Death
O, Death
Won’t you spare me over til another year

March 16, 2009

The Ship of fools

Filed under: Main — Mackanlee @ 10:26 pm

The ship of fools motif is an old medieval motif that was commonly used as an allegory in Western literature and art.

The allegory shows a boat “populated by human inhabitants who are deranged, frivolous, or oblivious, passengers aboard a ship without a pilot, and seemingly ignorant of their own direction.”

Famous examples of this is the painting “Ship of fools” by one of my favorite artists Hieronymus Bosch and the 15th century book Ship of Fools (1494) by Sebastian Brant, which inspired Bosch. Here is Boschs classic Ship of fools painitng from c. 1490–1500:

I have used this old image and placed it in a modern setting with contemporary characters on it. This image together with other new pieces will be showed at the Garde Rail gallery in Seattle, opening April 2nd. Here is a walkthrough of the different characters on the ship and what has inspired me to draw them.

1. First off there is an artist.

This is kind of a selfportrait. The artist is hiding behind a pair of sunglasses. Trying to look cool but actually not wanting to be identified with the others on the ship, thinking he is different but painfully aware of the latin phrase “communio peccatorum”. Ths drawing is based on a self portrait I made of myself a while back when I had a mustache and sported a messed up smile.

2. The model.

She is lost in her own narcissim, not paying attention to anyone but herself. Like the greek youth Narcissus she has become obssessed with her own image, not seeing those around her or the dangerous situation she is in on the ship. But in her mirror she actually sees a reflection of the skeleton that is behind her. This is inspired by the old medieval drawing of the beautiful young woman lost in her own self reflection. But what she is actually looking at is the devils buttcheeks that is taunting her from behind. The playful image illustrates this young womans true nature.

3. The smooth operator:

This man is spellbound by the beautiful woman, even though she dosent notice or care about him. Foolishly he lets himself fall in love with her.

“She looks at herself instead of looking at you, and so doesn’t know you.
During the two or three little outbursts of passion she has allowed
herself in your favor, she has, by a great effort of imagination, seen in
you the hero of her dreams, and not yourself as you really are.
(Le rouge et Noir, Stendahl,Page 401, 1953 Penguin Edition, trans. Margaret R.B. Shaw).”

His face was inspired by a slick 1950s dude I drew a while back.

4. The party photographer.

At any given trendy nightclub or party you will find them. Adbusters magazine describes them well in their article “Hipster: the dead end of western civilization”:

“Perhaps the true motivation behind this deliberate nonchalance is an attempt to attract the attention of the ever-present party photographers, who swim through the crowd like neon sharks, flashing little blasts of phosphorescent ecstasy whenever they spot someone worth momentarily immortalizing…In many ways, the lifestyle promoted by hipsterdom is highly ritualized. Many of the party-goers who are subject to the photoblogger’s snapshots no doubt crawl out of bed the next afternoon and immediately re-experience the previous night’s debauchery. Red-eyed and bleary, they sit hunched over their laptops, wading through a sea of similarity to find their own (momentarily) thrilling instant of perfected hipster-ness.”

5. The drunk.

This is an alcoholic who instead of seeing the precarious situation this ship is in decides to keep drinking. He is in the center of the piece and brings the thought to a pirate captain. He comes from an image I made where he is passed out on a living room floor in a crappy rundown appartment.

6. The hipster.

He is reading a fashion magazine with a pair over sized glasses. This image is inspired by an image from the original “ship of fools” manuscript showing a fool reading old books with huge glasses. Making the point that this person has no real life other than reading about it. He substitutes reading for living. The modern fashion blogging urban hipster can easily take his place. Next to him is a green devil representing the hipsters envy. He is envious of all those who are in the fashion magazine who are cooler and hipper than he is.

7. The gunman.

Here is a man shooting at the bird up in the sky. This image is inspired by the old poem “Rime of the ancient mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. This poem tells the story of a sailor who while on a boat with other crewmen shoots and kills an albatross that has been following the boat with his crossbow. The albatross is considered to be a good luck mascot by the other crewmen and once he has killed it the boat runs into a lot of trouble. The crewmen blame the mariner for shooting the bird and bringing on their bad luck so he has to wear the dead bird around his throat.

This is an image from Gustav Dores kick ass illustrated version of “Rime of the ancient mariner”. This image shows the albatross being shot by the mariners arrow:

8. Next to him are two people engaged in a fist fight.

It is a woman dressed in black and a man dressed in white. These are the two polar opposites that are no longer in harmony. Here they stand in conflict with each other and imbalance and chaos prevails.

9.Above the fighting pair is a clueless bird, looking happily up at the business man.

This is a symbol for all the bird brained people on the boat. Stupid people are often jokingly called “birdbrains” because the birds brain is much smaller than the human brain.

10. The business man wiping his sweaty forehead.

This is an image of the business man who is at the eye of the financial crisis storm. Through greed and crazy investments he has helped to unleash a global economic collapse. He watches as the treacherous waters rise higher and higher around the ship and the feeling of impending doom creeps closer and closer. I have been drawing this guy for ages, originally inspired by a wet-fresh napkin that my friend Phil got off some Asian airline. Heres what the pack looked like:

11.The monkey

In the ships lookout tower there is a monkey. Usually the person in the lookout tower is supposed to give the ships captain reports on where the horizon is, weather changes and help with keeping direction. With the monkey in this position the ship has become hopelessly lost due to the primates incompetence.

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