Geek Mythology

October 30, 2009

Art workshop this weekend!

Filed under: Main — Mackanlee @ 1:49 am

Today Valeria and I set up a few sculptures at the Swedish Social Democratic parties job congress. We have been invited by them to show art and have an art workshop there this saturday. If you are in Stockholm this saturday and you feel like making some art with us then come to Älvsjömässan where the workshop will be taking place between 11am and 4 pm. It’s free ( but it ain’t cheap!).

October 28, 2009

“The complexity of all this is hard enough for experts to understand.”

Filed under: Main — Mackanlee @ 12:15 am

This is a picture I took in Berlin on July 24th 2008 when Barack Obama held a speech there. In it he outlined his plans to expand the war in Afghanistan.

I have been following the conflict in Afghanistan and Pakistan for a while now and watched as it has grown and taken a bigger place in the news. My impression is that there is still not a great interest amongst most people in the war itself although public opinion in America has started to turn against it. It is a confusing conflict to follow with many different actors. One analyst at Georgetown University has said: “The complexity of all this is hard enough for experts to understand. It’s not surprising if it baffels alot of people.” President Barack Obama has chosen to follow through on his promises to take the war to Al Qaida. This is something that the Bush administration failed to do, instead they declared their illegal war on Iraq, giving the Taliban a chance to regroup in Pakistan and then striking back in Afghanistan. Obama started off by sending in approximatley 20,000 new troops. They positioned themselves mainly in the Helmland provinces of Southern Afghanistan and began erradicating the Taliban heroin networks that existed there.

Now President Obama has been overseeing a policy review where he is on the verge on deciding wether or not he will send more troops to Afghanistan. Obamas General in the region, Stanley Mc Chrystal has asked for 40,000 more troops. Obama will probablly give his answer around the 7-11th of november. He will only do this after the run-off election has been held in Afghanistan. The elections that where held on August 20th in Afghanistan have been declared illegitemate due to the industrial sized fraud that went down. But when I listened to the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee John Kerrys speech today that he gave at the Council for foreign relations in Washington DC it seems like the result will be more of a compromise between General Mc Chrystals strategy and the light footprint strategy of vice president Joe Biden who wants to send in less troops and involve more special operations aimed at taking out the Al-Qaida leadership in Pakistan. This also includes continuing the unmanned drone missile attacks inside of Pakistan which has raised so much anti-Americanism in that country. Some Pakistanis also feel that the US have an imperial arrogance towards them that they don’t like.

The US are targeting the Taliban in Afghanistan who have now escalated their attacks on them and the ISAF troops. Today 8 US troops where killed in IED attacks and yesterday 14 US troops died in two different helicopter crashes. The Afghan Taliban are putting up a fierce resistance to the war effort there. But there is another front, and that is the one in Pakistan. There the Pakistani army is also waging a war against the Pakistani Taliban who have been increasing their attacks on the Pakistani government in the last few weeks. One of the most brazen attacks occured when a group of Taliban attacked the building which is the Pakistan’s “Pentagon” in the city of Rawalpindi. Here they took hostages and in the raid on them over 20 people died. These attacks took place in anticipation of the major offensive that the Pakistani army just unleashed against the Pakistani Taliban in Southern Waziristan.

So what it comes down to is that there a two different Talibans. The Afghan Taliban and the Pakistani Taliban (also called the Tehrik-i- taliban). They both have Pashtun ethnicity but they have different goals. Juan Cole, who writes the excellent blog “Informed Comment” makes this clear when he says that the Pakistanis army attack on the Pakistani Taliban will not have a great effect on the American war effort against the Afghan Taliban. According to one reporter who has interviewed many of them, the Afghani Taliban don´t care that much what happends to the Pakistani Taliban. The Afghan Taliban have on the other hand always had a good connection with the Pakistani intelligence agencies. Pakistan has used the Afghan Taliban as a proxy force to stave off Indian influence in Afghanistan (India has itself supported the Northern Alliance as a proxy force to gain influence in the country). In a recent issue of the Herald Tribune a former British intelligence officer says that the Afghan Taliban don´t like the way that the Pakistani Taliban have been attacking the Pakistani government.

The Afghan Taliban where founded by Mullah Omar in 1994 and their main aim is to regain the power that they lost when they where ousted by the American invasion of Afghansitan in 2001 after the 9/11 attacks. Mullah Omar is currently thought to be residing in the city of Quetta in the southern region of Pakistan. From here he is giving orders to the Afghan Taliban on the other side of the border. The two others leaders of the Afghan Taliban are the two older warlords Gulbbudin Hekmatyar and Jalaluddin Haqqani (both of these warlords recieved funding from the US for their work in fighting the Soviet Army in Afghanistan during the 1980s). They are also thought to be residing in Pakistans tribal areas. America is afraid that if they fail to secure Afghanistan then the shadow government in waiting led by Mullah Omar will return to Afghanistan and take the power back. This could then lead to the collapse of Pakistan which has nuclear weapons. This would be the ultimate worst case scenario for the United States.

Hidden in the midsts of all of this is the original target of Americas attack on Afghanistan in 2001: Al Qaida. They where guests of the Taliban in Afghanistan and then fled with them into Pakistan after the US invasion in 2001. A talk was given by Mr.Shuja Nawaz from the South Asia Center called “The Threat From Al Qaida and the Situation in South Asia”. He spoke about the current situation in Pakistan in relation to Al Qaida. According to him Al Qaida is feeding off the lack of governance and democracy in the Southern Asian region. When there is mismanagement of economies then there is alot of unemployment and unrest. The majority of Pakistanis population of 170 million people are under the age of 30. There is a huge recruitment pool for Al Qaida amongst these young people in the regions of the country that are hardest hit by poverty and unrest.

In Pakistan there is a now a homegrown Taliban movement that want to take over as much as they can of Pakistan and turn it into a caliphate. There is an increasing connection by this group to the Kahsmiri jihadi groups who where once sponsored by the Pakistani state and trained by the Pakistani intelligence wing the ISI to fight against India in Kashmir. But according to Mr.Nawaz, after Pakistan’s attempt at reconciliation with India over Kashmir these miltant groups have “gone rogue”. They are now out of control and no attempt was made to see how they could be demobilized. The ties to them where cut off and there was a hope that they would just go back to what they once had been. But most of these guys didnt have any jobs and the families of the killed jihadis also didnt get support from the state. So this has created the environment where the Punjabi Sunni militant groups have started collaborating with the Tehrik-i- taliban. The Punjabi groups who where trained by the Pakistani state are now supplying their knowledge of bomb making, and how to make suicide vests to the Taliban forces in Pakistan.

October 27, 2009

Jazzfest 2010

Filed under: Main — Mackanlee @ 12:04 am

Me and my friend Pete saw the Meters play live in New York in the early 90´s. They are pioneers of the early funk music that came out of New Orleans in the late 60´s. Art Neville was the frontman of this band and Cyril Neville later joined in as a percussionist and vocalist.They also had an incredible drummer named Zigaboo Modeliste who many, many rappers have sampled. I didn´t really know who they where back then but I can remember they played a great show.

Now when I was in New Orleans me and Pete met up again and saw Cyril Neville play with George Porter Jr. who was the bassist of meters. This to was a great show. I just heard from Pete again, he´s planning on going out to New Orleans to Jazzfest, a celebration during two weekends in the end of april with just tons of great bands playing kick ass music and people partying. This time it will go between April 23rd and May 2nd 2010. I will definetly try to meet up with him for this.

October 26, 2009

Book documenting my elevator installation at Hammarby Artport

Filed under: Main — Mackanlee @ 2:27 pm

On friday there was a book release for a book that documents the art project I took part of where I painted and designed the interior of an elevator inside the building where the Hammarby Artport gallery is. The book looked great, here are some pictures from it showing my work. This is what the text says:

” Marcus MÃ¥rtenson har sedan länge gjort mÃ¥lningar pÃ¥ lastpallar och satt samman pÃ¥ stora bildbyggen. Ett myller av bilder visar människor, händelser, föremÃ¥l, och symboler som leder tankarna till nära och främmande delar av världen, väcker nostalgi, nyfikenhet, kanske oro. De är mÃ¥lade med tydliga färger i en synes naiv stil som förenar dem och bildar ett porträtt av mänskligheten.

TvÃ¥ storformatsutskrifter sitter bakom skyddande akrylglas. En del av figurerna är upförstorade till stora väggmÃ¥lningar direkt pÃ¥ schaktets vägg. Personer som använder hissen regelbundet upptäcker efterhand att mÃ¥lningarna är gjorda pÃ¥ lastpallar och att de smÃ¥ figurerna dyker up som större varianter pÃ¥ de olika vÃ¥ningsplanen.”


” Marcus MÃ¥rtenson has for a long time been making paintings on wooden loadingpallets and put these together to form larger collages. A mass of images showing humans, happenings, objects and symbols makes one think about other parts of the world, feel nostalgia, curiosity and maybe uneasiness. They are painted in clear colors in a naive style that brings them together and creates an image of humanity.

Two large format prints have been placed behind protective acrylic glas. Some of the figures have been enlarged as big murals painted directly on the elevator wall. People who use the elevator on a regular basis will notice that these paintings have originally been made on loadingpallets and that the smaller figures turn up as larger ones on the different floors.”

October 25, 2009

Rocket Room!

Filed under: Main — Mackanlee @ 10:40 pm

On friday I return to the Rocket Room, Stockholms no.1 club for great music, to deliver more cool science fiction and horror visuals!

October 21, 2009

Making art with the Kvarnhags school

Filed under: Main — Mackanlee @ 2:30 am

Valeria and I are busy producing artwork together with the kids from the Kvarnhags school in Botkyrka here in Stockholm. They got to make drawings on paper that we later transfered to large pieces of wood. They then got to color these larger versions of their own drawings. We have then sawed the drawings out from the wood and are going to varnish them. After this we will decorate their school yard with these great pieces of art!

October 20, 2009

Filed under: Main — Mackanlee @ 2:51 pm

Whaddup whaddup! If you are not doing so already then be sure to follow my twitter feed!:

October 19, 2009

Herbert Singleton (1945-2007)

Filed under: Main — Mackanlee @ 11:02 am

Herbert Singleton (1945 – 2007) from Barrister's Gallery on Vimeo.

A long time ago I came across the images of an African American woodcarver called Herbert Singleton. These where powerfull pieces that had a tremendous effect on me. They inspired me with their direct style, bold colors and powerfull imagery. They conveyed messages of joy and pain, but also of images from the bible, violence and racism. Many years passed and later I was invited to exhibit my art at the great Barristers gallery in New Orleans. So I went down there this month for the opening of the group show “Folk magic and Curious objects” where I had a few of my pieces. It turns out the Herbert Singleton, the woodcarver who I really liked was from New Orleans and that he himself had shown art at Barristers gallery many times. He was a good friend of the gallery owner Andy. I really liked Andy(who is also featured in this video), who had an amazing art collection and a deep and compassionate understanding of art and the creative process. Here is a video interview with Herbert Singleton , where he talks about his life and art. I feel that I have to return to the South in the states so I can learn more about this incredibly rich American artistic tradition.

October 16, 2009

New Orleans (part 3)

Filed under: Main — Mackanlee @ 1:13 pm

On the weekend I met up with my old friend from New York, Pete, and got a hotel downtown. Pete is a drummer and he often comes down to New Orleans to listen to music and hang out.This is our window view.

Pete behind the counter at New Orleans best Po Boy sandwich restaurant and bar called Domelise.

Later we went to a sportsbar called Cooter Browns cause Pete wanted to watch the Yankee came, so we got a plate of raw oysters. It didnt cost much and it was tasy as hell with horseradish, lemon and tomatosauce.

We realized that Cyril Neville of the mighty Neville brothers was having a birthday party and playing live so we got pretty psyched.

Me infront of the kick ass live music club Blue Nile on Frenchman street.

Later that night all the electricty went out on two whole blocks on Frenchman street where alot bars and clubs are. Cops rolled in but all the bar owners just lit candels and people kept partying. Alot of the musicians played horns and percussion so the music kept playing too.

Guess who was in town for a relatives wedding? I`ll give you a hint: one time she went under the name Arwen Undómiel. I invited her to come check out the artshow at Barristers.

Back at the hotel I saw an old Swedish opera with english text translation. That was kind of random to see Papageno singing in Swedish in downtown New Orleans.

Peters super jew t-shirt. Sweet.

This is the mausoleum that the voudou priestess Marie Laveau is buried in. She lived and worked in New Orleans during the 1800s. She is buried in Saint Louis cemetary #1.

A plate on Marie Laveaus grave, telling a little about her background and history.

Saint Louis cemetary #1 is the oldest and most famous cemetary in New Orleans. It was opened in 1789 The cemetery spans just one square block, but is the resting place of over 100,000 dead (many whom have been cremated).

Angel on top of a grave in Saint Louis cemetary.

Another statue in the cemetary.

This symbol, the burning torch turned upside down, was on alot of the graves. It means that the body is dead but the soul lives forever.

We went to Cyril Nevilles 61st birthday party at the Blue Nile. A whole bunch of his family and friends came out to celebrate and perform with him. Here you can see his niece Charmaine Neville and his nephew Jason Neville. Next to her singing is her son who was as big as a house. Kind of reminded me of Aaron Neville in size. The guitarist in the background who looks like Weird Al Yankovic was an amazing blues/funk guitarist from Texas called Jimmy Dreams. Others who performed that night where George Porter Jr. (bassist of meters), Trombone shorty, Glen David Andrews (trombone), Tim Greene (sax), and Brian Jay (guitar), Norman Caesar on keyboards and Ricky Caesar on drums. It was possibly one of the most amazing live shows I’ve seen. I was blown away by how good these guys where live. They played for 5! hours straight with new dudes taking the stage the whole time. Towards the end the drummer got so tired that he just stood up and said:”Is there anyone in the house who can play the drums?”. My friend Pete, who is a great jazz and funk dummer walked up on stage and traded places with him! Pete played the full last 20 minutes of the show! Thats what I liked so mutch about the town, the open atmosphere. We didnt know the band but still Pete was invited up to play with some great New Orleans musicians. So awesome. I HAVE to return and listen to more of this music!!!

Two mardi-gras Indian chiefs came and performed with Cyril Neville as well. This is Big chief Bo Dollis Jr from the Wild Magnolias tribe singing. In the back you can see Cyril Neville with the hat together with the Big chief from the flaming arrows. The Neville brothers uncle Big Chief Jolly, was the leader of a Mardi Gras Indian tribe called The Wild Tchopitoulas.

Two of Cyrils friends came out with a birthday cake in the form of the number 61.

The next day Julie, who is my friend Burleighs girlfriend, took us out into the Louisiana swamp. She works as a biologist for the New Orleans university and they have set up a station way out in the swamp where they collect sampels from trees that they then study for signs of change that are climate related.

There was a major amount of life out there. Like this huge cricket. We also saw tons of huge spiders, an aligator an heard a swamp owl.

This is Pete trying to get through the dense swamp vegetaion. These things where really heavy and sharp!

Cyril Neville singing “I’ll fly away” with the Re-Birth brass band.

See you next time New Orleans!!!

October 15, 2009

New Orleans (part 2)

Filed under: Main — Mackanlee @ 2:27 pm

This was the backyard of Julies house who was Burleighs girlfriend. She was a biologist at the university of New Orleans. You can see there is a banana tree in the back of her garden. This place was so hot, it got up to 90 degress during the day and 85 during the evening.

Serious termite damage to some of the wooden buildings.

Heres another example of typical architechture in New Orleans. These metal balconies where common. On the flag you can see the “fleur-de lis” which is the seal of New Orleans.

A statue of Jean D’arc inside the St.Louis cathedral in New Orleans. She is the patron saint of the city.

This is a sweet pick-up truck I saw on the city streets.

Inside the Louisiana music factory, now I know where the dudes from Peppar get their posters!

More art.

A security guard.

A heavy duty air circulator. These things where all over the place.

This is me at Congo Square. This is where the slaves used to gather in their free time and it probablly existed as far back as 1740. Here the slaves could participate in all forms of social, and cultural activities that made their life more bearable. During the Spanish rule they could even purchase their own freedom. The place was also the scene of legendary dances and weekly processions. These would later develop into the mardi-gras indian groups and second line jazz marching bands.

A sign at the square telling of some of its rich history.

A statue of “Satchmo” or Louis Armstrong. The guy grew up on the tough streets of New Orleans and didnt have anything. One day he took the rap for a crime that a friend had committed and then he got thrown in a juvenile detention center. Here he was given a trumpet and he learned how to play. The rest is history.

The “Backstreet cultural museum” is located in the Tremé neighbourhood of New Orleans. This neighbourhood is an important center of the city’s African-American and Créole culture. The museum is a small white house that is run by a real nice guy named Sylvester who is an expert on matters related to the local African-American heritage. The museum documents a wide range of these cultural traditions including the Mardi-Gras indians, second line Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, jazz funerals, and brass band music. The people who made the tv show “The Wire” are currently producing a new show about musicians from this neighbourhood.

What I found most fascinating inside the museum was the hand sown suits that the Mardi-Gras indians would wear. When slaves managed to escape from their owners they would traditionally seek refuge with the Indians who lived in the swamp areas outside of the city. Since the Indians also had been persecuted they protected the slaves and kept them hidden. To pay tribute to this the African-American community developed a culture where they dressed like Indians and performed dances and songs in their honour. A huge culture developed around the city where different tribes sprang up in different neighbourhoods. These suits where worked on during the whole year and then brought out during Mardi-Gras.

The Mardi-Gras Indian culture is closely associated with the ideas of freedom and political advancement in the African-American community in New Orleans. One of their main chants is “We won´t bow down”. The big chief is the leader of the tribe, there is a spy boy who acts as a look out when the tribe is marching, and there is also a flag boy who carries the tribes standard, there is also usually a queen. A long time ago the different Mardi-gras indian tribes would often come into violent conflict with each other when they met, but now this has calmed down and confrontations are solved through singing and dancing. The old song “Iko iko” (originally called “Jock-A-Mo”) tells the story of rivalry between two Mardi-Gras indian groups. Its about a spy boy for one band of Indians encountering the “flag boy” for another band. He threatens to set the flag on fire. Here is a clip of some Mardi-Gras indians in action:

Mardi Gras Indians

Thre is a large amount of poverty in New Orleans. Alot of people got hit hard by hurricane Katrina in 2005. Many people had put all their savings into their homes without having the money to insure them. When their houses where destroyed they where left with nothing.

A nice mural depicting the city of New Orleans. They call it the crescent city because the city is built along the bend of the Mississippi river.

Every now and then you would see a house that was burnt down or severley damaged by the hurricane.

This is the street that the Neville brothers grew up on.

I ate a couple of delicious pulled pork sandwiches to!

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