#Unteilbar

People at a demonstratiopn at night

Source: Tagesschau

Unteilbar, adjective, German: inseparable.

Sometimes, there are good news, things that give you hope. Yesterday such a thing happened. In Berlin (and other cities), people protested against racism, xenophobia and attenpts to split society along ethnic, national and religious lines, against Nazis and in favour of rescuing refugees. It was a broad alliance of parties, churches, organisations, unions prominent people*. The organisers had hoped for and registered the demonstration for 40.000 people. Those 40.000 people came and brought 200.000 more along with them.

But today there’s a general election happening in Bavaria, the Texas of Germany. Let’s see what happens there.

 

*The conservative party explicitly did not support it because of “radical left wing organisations”, which they’ll keep complaining about until the moment they themselves will be prohibited as such.

Teacher’s Corner: Retarded!

As you may know by now I have recently started a new job as a special ed teacher without having actually trained as a special ed teacher. This is pretty challenging on top of the job being challenging anyway, and I’m trying to desperately read up on the concepts and theories of the discipline. In doing so I stumbled across a word that is one of the nastier ones flung around in English: retarded.

And I discovered that it is a good word. Or at least used to be.

See, special ed went through it’s development just like regular teaching. Concepts and ideas about children, learning and teaching have changed, change which is often (though not always) reflected in our schools. In its earlier stages, special ed saw children who were slow to learn as “defective”. Children who could more or less keep up with the classwork were “normal” and the other ones were broken, damaged goods, lacking. You see where this is going.

Then came science and studied children and how they learn. They put many things educators had long known on a scientific basis and formulated scientific concepts. One of the still most influential people in this area is the Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget, who described the processes through which we learn and also formulated stages through which we develop.

Screenshot of Piaget bok covers

Yes, there’s an endless amount of books on and by Piaget

All legitimate criticism aside (it relates mostly to how far you can take his models and where are limits of their application), his models are still important. As teachers we want and we need to challenge our students to help them in that development, which isn’t an automatism. We need to construct our input at the right level. Primary school teachers will endlessly use concrete things and pictures to teach their students. They need to literally take away five marbles to find out what 12-5 is.

What especially Piaget’s students found out was that not all children develop at roughly the same pace. Some children are much slower than the average, they stay behind, they are “retarded”. The concept as such was revolutionary. The children were no longer seen as defective, just slower. They were not inferior to their peers but would reach the same levels of cognitive development as their peers, just later. This had, and has, great importance for teaching children with special needs, as it means that we need to give them different input, teach them using a much more hands on approach than with their peers and most importantly, get them to the same place, just a little more slowly.

It’s sad to see how ableist ideas turned such a revolutionary concept into a nasty slur. It also shows that you need to change society, not just words. The slur does not mean what the word means in a professional context. It still means “broken and defective”.

 

The Chains of Intolerance.

Andrew Ellis Johnson, “The ICEman Cometh” (2018, detail), ink, charcoal, wax, graphite.

Andrew Ellis Johnson, “The ICEman Cometh” (2018, detail), ink, charcoal, wax, graphite.

Art and artists most definitely have a place in answering wrongs, great or small, and everything in between. Andrew Ellis Johnson has a searing piece up at Hyperallergic. It’s well worth seeing and reading.

Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts.

Page from Wake by Rebecca Hall and Hugo Martinez (all images courtesy Hugo Martinez).

Page from Wake by Rebecca Hall and Hugo Martinez (all images courtesy Hugo Martinez).

In 1712, New York City witnessed a dramatic uprising when over 20 black slaves, fighting against their unjust conditions, set fire to several houses of white slaveowners and fatally shot nine. Known today as the New York Slave Revolt of 1712, the insurgence resulted in the conviction and public execution of 21 slaves, as well as more severe slave codes. While sources often state that these rebels were all men, the historian Dr. Rebecca Hall has identified four women who were captured during the clashing and were tried. Their names were Amba, Lilly, Sarah, and Abigail.

Erased from history books, their stories will now be told in vivid form by Hall, who has devoted much of her career to unearthing the roles of women in slave revolts. Hall is currently working on her first graphic novel, which will highlight female rebels in various 18th-century uprisings, from three in New York to those that broke out on slave ships. Titled Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts, the 150-page work emerges out of Hall’s 2004 dissertation on the same topic. She is now collaborating with independent comic artist Hugo Martinez to produce the storyboards and, through Friday, May 4, is raising $5,900 on Kickstarter to realize it for submission to publishers.

“The way the history of slave resistance has been written, this very gendered narrative developed about how manly and masculine enslaved men actually were, which served to elide the role that women played,” Hall told Hyperallergic. “I was going against everything being taught in women’s roles in slave resistance by insisting that, if I looked, I bet I would find these women.” She recalled how her dissertation advisor had told her that she wouldn’t find any sources to realize her chosen topic; how one archive claimed that it had no related material.

This is a fascinating, and I think, a necessary work. You can read and see much more at Hyperallergic, as well as on the kickstarter page, where there’s also a video. They are close to their goal, but could use a bit more help, so if you can’t donate, you can help to spread the word!

Trump Behind Bars.

Installation view of Indecline’s “The People’s Prison” (2018) at the Trump International Hotel & Tower (all photos by Jason Goodrich for Indecline and used with permission, unless indicated otherwise).

Installation view of Indecline’s “The People’s Prison” (2018) at the Trump International Hotel & Tower (all photos by Jason Goodrich for Indecline and used with permission, unless indicated otherwise).

Robert Mueller may not have succeeded in bringing Donald Trump to justice yet, but for a fleeting few hours Friday night, the shadowy art collective Indecline did what millions of people in the US and beyond have dreamed of doing since November 2016: they put Trump behind bars.

It may not have been the actual maximum security prison of our collective dreams, but Indecline — most recently known for surreptitiously staging a graveyard at Trump’s Bedminister Golf Course, hanging a troupe of “Ku Klux Klowns,” and previously for planting naked Trump statues in multiple cities during the 2016 election — managed to stage a prison cell installation, dubbed “The People’s Prison,” in a suite on the third floor of the Trump International Hotel & Tower next to Columbus Circle. The work was installed in less than 24 hours, entirely undercover, and without the knowledge of hotel employees, who unwittingly helped carry all of the props and equipment to the room.

Installation view of Indecline’s “The People’s Prison” (2018) at the Trump International Hotel & Tower.

Installation view of Indecline’s “The People’s Prison” (2018) at the Trump International Hotel & Tower.

Surrounding the one-man prison cell were portraits rendered on American flags, burned and tattered at the edges, each illuminated with its own individual lamp. Indecline worked with 12 artists — including Molly Crabapple, Ann Lewis, LMNOPI, and the Panic Collective — to create the portraits of 12 artists and activists from across history, including Muhammad Ali, Leonard Peltier, Angela Davis, Hunter S. Thompson, Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, and even more contemporary figures like Erica Garner and Edward Snowden. Interviews with each of the portrait subjects played for the duration of the show over a background soundtrack of strangely relaxing ambient music.

All of the figures in the portraits, an Indecline spokesman told Hyperallergic, are “activists and fighters that we look up to. Activists that made a difference and made a good point. He has to sit here with the people who actually made a difference.” The spokesman continued: “Everyone on these walls fought to make this flag stand for something greater than it does currently under the Trump administration … they’re the ones who should be regarded as historical figures.”

You can read and see much more at Hyperallergic!

Sunday Facepalm.

Students protest for tighter gun laws in Washington, DC, on March 14, 2018. (Photo: Bradley Williams for People For the American Way).

Students protest for tighter gun laws in Washington, DC, on March 14, 2018. (Photo: Bradley Williams for People For the American Way).

Master of rabid frothery Kevin Swanson is upset about guns, sort of. He can’t seem to figure out why those meddling kids are upset, but da youth is going to destroy Amerikka, yessir, just like every generation gone before them.

Radical right-wing pastor Kevin Swanson was not impressed with yesterday’s nationwide walkout in which thousands of students left school to protest gun violence in the wake of the mass shooting last month at a Florida high school, saying that the fact that the movement is being led by young people is a sign that America is under the judgment of God.

[Snips irrelevant passage from Isaiah]

“In other words, the young folks have all this revolutionary zeal but no real wisdom to govern what they are doing,” he said. “This is the result of the breaking of the commandment of God. Things are not going well with us in the land, we are not seeing things going well for tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of people across the country largely because the massive violation of the Fifth Commandment: Honor your father and your mother.”

Oh, the same old shite argument: you don’t have experience! Taking action is one way to gain experience, Mr. Swanson, and all kids need to start somewhere. Also, I am sick to death of these self-righteous assholes acting as though all the high school students are toddlers. A good many of these young people are mere months away from legal adulthood and voting. Others are quite a few years away from that, but you don’t get to act as though they have no right to think about issues and come to a conclusion about them. As issues go, guns are an easy one. We don’t need the fucking things, they should be under strict control, if for no other reason, to prevent more young people from needlessly dying. Most of these kids are in favour of gun reform, so they don’t even want to completely take your lethal toys away. The kids are alright, they are doing the right thing. As for your commandment, did it not occur, Mr. Swanson, that the majority of these kids have parents who stand behind them one hundred percent? Parents who are proud of their children for taking action and refusing to back down?

I’ve always hated that idiotic commandment. A lot of people end up with shit parents, you know, and no, they aren’t deserving of honour, or obedience, or any other thing. When it comes to parents and children, that whole ‘honour’ business needs to work both ways. Parenting is a difficult business much of the time, but you are supposed to be raising up individuals who can think for themselves. Well, at least if you’re not an asshole christian, who is more into brainwashing and numb obedience.

“Young people need to come to grips with the fact that they have not honored their parents’ wisdom,” Swanson said. “For this, God is bringing his judgment upon these individuals and upon this nation.”

Uh huh. Perhaps you’d like to say that to the parents who have lost a child to gun violence. Seems to me that a lot of parents are embracing their children’s wisdom, and they are acting together for the greater good. They don’t want more dead children and parents lost in a lifetime of grief, which is more than I can say for you asshole christians, who think some dead kids here and there are an acceptable price to pay in order to keep your lethal toys.

The whole thing is at RWW.

Katastwóf Karavan.

Kara Walker with her “Katastwóf Karavan” at the Mississippi River Trail on February 23, 2018, in New Orleans. Josh Brasted/Getty Images.

Kara Walker with her “Katastwóf Karavan” at the Mississippi River Trail on February 23, 2018, in New Orleans. Josh Brasted/Getty Images.

[…] Walker titled the whole montage the Katastwóf Karavan, or Caravan of Catastrophe, the use of Haitian Creole signaling the mix of Caribbean and Southern histories that shaped New Orleans. Walker’s first public installation since the 2014 Marvelous Sugar Baby — the enormous Sphinx-like mammy figure that she built out of sugar in the now-demolished Domino factory in Williamsburg — the Karavan went up for the closing weekend of the Prospect.4 triennial, which ran for three months at multiple sites around New Orleans. The installation was freighted with layers of site-specific symbolism — none of it subtle if you knew a bit about local history, yet all of it obscured by years of avoidance or, at best, awkward notes in the narratives delivered by school curricula or tourist brochures.

Thus Algiers Point: Here, in the eighteenth century, traders warehoused disembarked captives — those who survived the Middle Passage — before selling them on the opposite bank in the markets that dotted the French Quarter and surroundings. This is where families were rent apart, humans assessed and packaged as commodities. Thus, too, Walker’s tableaux, relevant across the landscape of chattel slavery but especially here.

And thus the calliope, a direct retort to the one on the Natchez — “the OTHER calliope,” Walker called it on her handout for the event — and its sonic broadcast of a whitewashed history. Several times a day, the vessel’s instrument blares out to the city (there is no such thing as a quiet calliope) items from a hoary playlist such as “Old Man River,” “When the Saints Go Marching In,” “God Bless America,” and, yes, “Dixie’s Land.” […]

You can read and see much more about Kara Walker’s latest piece here.

Everyday American Hell.

Peter Williams, “Resistance II” (2017), oil on canvas, 48 x 36 inches (photo by Carson Zullinger).

Peter Williams, “Resistance II” (2017), oil on canvas, 48 x 36 inches (photo by Carson Zullinger).

[…] Williams uses caricature to invite viewers — whatever their political persuasion— to reflect upon how they see people of a race different from their own, as well as underscore the intolerance, distrust, and fear running throughout our everyday lives. A brave and intrepid curator ought to buy “Mass Murder” and install it near the entrance of a museum.

Walking home, I remembered something a black artist friend told me about raising his son in New York City: “I told him never to run down the street.” This is the reality we inhabit. There is nothing “united” about the United States, something artists as different as Jasper Johns and Peter Williams have known their whole lives.

Peter Williams: With So Little To Be Sure Of continues at CUE Art Foundation (137 West 25th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan) through March 29.

Hyperallergic has an in-depth article on Peter Williams’s latest works and show, well worth a detour in your day to read and see many more art pieces.

The Migrant Quilt Project.

TUCSON SECTOR 2004-2005, 282 deaths.
Made by Carol Hood, Sunny Klapp, Phyllis Sager, & Virginia Wenzel, of Prescott, Arizona.

Picked from the desert, I’m gazing at the tiny pieces of Jeans. These are what’s left of real lives. They had hopes and dreams of better and safer futures. (Virginia Wenzel)

There is a wealth of heartbreak at The Migrant Quilt Project, but it’s heartbreak all should feel. No one should be able to turn a cold heart and hateful mind to the mute witness of so much death.

The Migrant Quilt Project.