Critique

The Vigelands Park in Oslo, Norway, is the result of a unique contract between the sculptor Gustav Vigeland and the City of Oslo. In 1921, the artist agreed to donate all originals of previous and future artistic work to the city, as long as it would provide him with a place to live and work. He soon moved into a grand, red brick building overlooking the Frogner fields and donated the subsequent forty years of his life to the creation of a park quite unlike anything else.

Alex Maccioni, our Latin America correspondent, pays a visit to artist Luz Maria, arguably Chile's only true pastoralist: "Tranquillity and peace are words that you just can’t avoid while in the company of Luz Marie and looking at her paintings. Her paintings are almost a reflection of her surroundings and character. The two children lying on a mat outdoor is one of many in her collection that depict casual leisure activities."

Ishmael Annobil visits Speaker's Corner in summer 2007 to check the 'mood' of the world: "If you strayed into Hyde Park’s famous Speakers Corner and had no knowledge of its history, you might mistake it for a mere religious parley suffused with jesters and cranks. Forgive me, but you’d be actually watching a sweet vestige of British democracy, and its inherent checks and balances, at work. It lacks perfection, its grates often, and it infuriates, but it still embraces all peoples and ideas."

Ishmael Annobil retraces his steps to 80's Southern Sudan to establish the seeds of discord that that evolved into internicine strife, keeping the nation in turmoil, even after the secession and independence of Southern Sudan: "Darfur is the new Rwanda. The poorer relative paradigm is here again to test us, and the world is failing again. Could it be because we don’t have a collective nostalgia for peace? Or, are Africa’s own endemic divisions to blame."

Actress, writer and broadcaster Kathy Owen assesses the rising spectre of racism in Spain, recounting her own battles as well as those of the African Boat People: "I no longer went to dinner parties just because I had been invited (so that they could scrutinize the Black souvenir the Spaniard picked up) – politeness wasn’t allowed to override my comfort."

Kathy Owen bemoans the media bias besetting Democratic candidate Brack Obama during the 2008 campaign for presidency of America; specifically the Economist's off-handed cover illustration relegating Obama to the status of Jack of Hearts, in its playing card analogy: "Now I’m no gambler but I could have bet that I wasn’t the only one who’d noticed the ‘subtle’ message that was being transmitted here."

Ishmael Annobil finally makes it to Trafalgar Square's Fourth Plinth, to pay homage to Marc Quinn's groundbraking sculpture: "Marc Quinn's decision to use Alison Lapper as his candidate for the contested fourth plinth does not surprise me. He, too, is of my generation; a generation traumatised by the images of unholy history making and processes; the sort of things that make a poet of everyone, in lieu of direct childhood trauma..".

Stieve Delance revisist Shiela Jeffrey's authoritative book on the oldest profession: "Jeffreys does indeed argue throughout the book that all prostitutes are victims and that all who say that it is their choice are either using it as a defence and self validation mechanism of the position they find themselves in or that they are being untruthful albeit unconsciously. However, it is the intellectual feminist argument that women in the sex industry are unable to intellectualise and self analyse their own circumstances." 

Pontus Kyander gives a retrospective view of Gustav Metzger: " Born 1926 to a Polish-Jewish family in the German city of Nuremberg, he was fascinated as a child by the spectacular Party Days that the Nazis organised there every year. He had an early interest in German art and culture, and has remained attached to the German language. Most of his family, including both parents and an older sister, perished in the Holocaust, while he and his brother Mendel escaped to England in 1939..."

Ishmael Annobil and George Keane review Radovan Kruguly's remarkably weighted and challenging exhibition. Hathor: Milky Way: "Kraguly's central theme in Hathor: Milky Way, was (is) the manipulation and consumption of animals by man. For the purposes of his discourse we were confronted by a recurring, ubiquitous COW hide motif, the cow being the archetypal victim of man, juxtaposed with sublime reminders of man's insidious power tools of exploitation."

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