Judge Declares Mistrial In Bill Cosby Sexual Assault Case  

Bill Cosby looks on as spokesman Andrew Wyatt triumphantly raises his fist outside the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa., on Saturday. Cosby’s legal and publicity team treated the mistrial as a victory, though prosecutors immediately said they plan to retry the case. Matt Rourke/AP hide caption

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Matt Rourke/AP

Bill Cosby looks on as spokesman Andrew Wyatt triumphantly raises his fist outside the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa., on Saturday. Cosby’s legal and publicity team treated the mistrial as a victory, though prosecutors immediately said they plan to retry the case.

Matt Rourke/AP

Updated at 11:57 a.m. ET

The judge in the sexual assault case of comedian Bill Cosby has declared a mistrial. After several days of deliberations, the jury could not come to a unanimous agreement on whether Cosby drugged and molested Andrea Constand, a former employee of Temple University, at his home near Philadelphia in 2004.

But this does not mean an end to the high-profile case: Prosecutors immediately said they will retry the case.

Cosby, 79, remains charged with three second-degree felony counts of aggravated indecent assault, and each count carries a minimum sentence of five years in prison. All told, if found guilty, Cosby could spend the rest of his life in prison.

“I remind everyone that this is not vindication or victory,” Montgomery County Judge Steven T.O’Neill said Saturday. “A mistrial is merely the justice system at work.”

Nevertheless, Cosby’s legal and publicity team emerged onto the front steps of the courtroom triumphant.

“Justice is alive in Montgomery County,” Cosby’s attorney, Brian McMonagle, said with his client standing silently behind him. “We wanted an acquittal, but like the Rolling Stones song says, you can’t always get what you want; sometimes you get what you need.”

And in a scathing statement read aloud by a representative, Cosby’s wife, Camille, called the the district attorney “heinously and exploitatively ambitious” and the judge “overtly and arrogantly collaborating” with him — among other allegations.

Asked later whether he believes Saturday’s mistrial represents a victory for Cosby, spokesman Andrew Wyatt said: “I do. I think the DA — he has to say he’s going to retry. But why keep costing these citizens millions of dollars?”

Meanwhile, Constand’s attorney, Bebe Kivitz, told Buzzfeed News that this is far from over. “We are ready” for a retrial, Kivitz said. “Can we come back tomorrow?”

Andrea Constand is “entitled to a verdict in this case,” District Attorney Kevin Steele said at a news conference later Saturday. “We will push forward to try to get justice done.”

He says that legally, he has 365 days to retry the case but that he hopes to “push it along” sooner than that.

“You can’t put a price tag on justice,” Steele said, when asked by reporters about the cost of the trial. “If you do, you’re saying if someone is wealthy or famous, they don’t deserve the same sort of justice as everybody else.”

How the case unfolded

Constand is not the only woman who says Cosby raped or sexually assaulted her. Dozens of women have come forward over the past several years, with stories that echo one another. But in most of those cases, the statute of limitations had expired by the time the women told their stories publicly. Constand’s case was the exception.

She reported the crime to police in 2005 and filed a civil suit against Cosby after prosecutors declined to press charges. A decade later, as more and more women stepped forward with accounts of assault, prosecutors took a second look at the allegations and this time, filed criminal charges.

Prosecutors argued that Cosby drugged Constand to incapacitate her so he could assault her. They cited Cosby’s own statements that he gave her pills and touched her sexually and called another accuser to the stand to make the case that Cosby had a pattern of drugging and assaulting women.

Cosby’s defense team questioned Constand’s credibility, pointing to inconsistencies in her accounts to the police, and argued that the 2004 encounter was consensual and “romantic.”

The prosecution took five days to present their case; the defense, less than a day. Cosby did not testify in his own defense.

Cosby’s wife, Camille, joined him in the courtroom as his defense team presented its case. Supporters and well-wishers also gathered outside the courthouse; at times during the trial, Cosby “appeared in good spirits” as he spoke to and saluted his fans, The Associated Press reports.

Jury deliberations started Monday afternoon. As the days passed, the jury repeatedly asked to rehear portions of the testimony.

On Thursday, after more than 30 hours of deliberations, the members of the jury told the judge they were deadlocked and could not reach a unanimous consensus. The judge ordered them to try again, giving them instructions meant to motivate an undecided jury to come to a conclusion.

By the time a mistrial was declared Saturday, the exhausted jurors had spent more than 50 hours in deliberations.

A growing wave of allegations

For decades, Cosby’s public image seemed not just untarnished, but untarnishable. He was the star of the wildly popular The Cosby Show and a successful stand-up comic. Genial, avuncular, beloved: He was America’s dad.

As NPR’s Gene Demby has written, Cosby was a black luminary who served not just as a racial and cultural ambassador to white America, but also as a financial backer of black America.

“Black colleges and prospective black college students were buoyed by his philanthropy, while his collections of black art graced important museums,” Gene writes. “Even before his late-career turn as black America’s moral scold, Cosby had spent decades leaning into his popular image as a paternal figure to bolster his influence as a paternalistic one.”

Cosby presented himself as a sort of moral leader and advocate for responsibility: His controversial “pound cake” speech excoriated poor black Americans for what he described as ignorance and poor parenting.

In Philadelphia, where he grew up, Cosby was a hometown hero. “Cosby gave money to the city, and whenever he could, his time,” Annette John-Hall reported for NPR. “In the early 2000s, he participated in ‘callback sessions’ with public housing residents in North Philadelphia, where they would talk about education, violence and teen pregnancy, among other issues.”

In short, Cosby’s name was synonymous with community leadership, black success, sitcom fatherhood, bold sweaters and Jell-O ads.

But a series of allegations of rape and molestation began swirling around the edge of that reputation. In 2000, a woman accused Cosby of groping her. Then Constand’s allegations drew attention in 2005.

Constand’s story led another woman to step forward, telling the Today show that Cosby drugged and assaulted her in the 1970s. Then another woman. Then another.

Cosby repeatedly and vehemently denied any wrongdoing. Almost a decade passed, and no criminal charges were filed. Cosby’s legacy and career survived — by early 2014, Gawker described the allegations as “effectively forgotten.”

Then, in the fall of 2014, comedian Hannibal Buress mentioned the allegations in a set. He said he was annoyed by Cosby’s “smug” persona: ” ‘Pull your pants up, black people. I was on TV in the ’80s. I can talk down to you because I had a successful sitcom.’ Yeah, but you raped women, Bill Cosby. … Brings you down a couple notches.”

“You leave here and Google ‘Bill Cosby rape,’ ” Buress told the audience. “It’s not funny. That s*** has more results than Hannibal Buress.”

The bit went viral, and suddenly Cosby’s alleged assaults were back in the news. As in 2005 and 2006, more women stepped forward with stories of assault.

But this time, the wave of allegations didn’t stop, and few people seemed inclined to forget and move on.

NPR’s Scott Simon asked Cosby to directly address the allegations in a November 2014 interview. Cosby responded with an attention-grabbing series of silences.

The Associated Press went to court to get access to a previously sealed deposition from Constand’s civil suit against Cosby. The wire service released the document — in which Cosby admitted that he obtained quaaludes, a sedative, with the intent of giving the drug to women he wanted to have sex with.

Then 35 women told their stories to New York magazine. Side by side, the stories showed the same themes again and again: Women who saw Cosby as a mentor, a father figure or an admired celebrity. A drink or a pill. Helplessness or fear or a night entirely lost to memory. Years of silence.

Cosby has continued, through his representatives, to deny that he committed any sexual assaults — admitting to infidelity but maintaining that all the sexual contact was consensual.

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Pain of racism can sting more when source is familiar

… months — a phenomenon known among African-Americans as “driving while black.” A … in Philadelphia. Racism in any form is painful enough for black Americans. But … . Eager to portray his fair, African-American complexion as accurately as possible … RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News

The controversial Whitney Houston documentary… Didn’t she almost have it all?  


Whitney with her husband Bobby Brown
Whitney with her husband Bobby Brown
Shattered lives: Whitney and her daughter Bobbi Kristina

At one point during Nick Broomfield’s moving new documentary, Whitney: Can I Be Me, the singer pauses onstage during her 1999 world tour and gestures wildly to the wings. Slowly, hesitantly, her five-year-old daughter Bobbi Kristina edges into the spotlight and walks towards her mother, arms outstretched.

Instead of picking her up, however, Whitney urges her to sing a chorus she’d rehearsed, and dances wildly around the bewildered child, who stares slack-jawed into the yawning crowd.

“As you watch it,” Broomfield says, “you wonder what on earth is going on. It sort of creeps up on you subliminally, and a moment that first seemed quite sweet becomes alarming.”

It’s all the more poignant, of course, because both mother and daughter are now dead. After decades of drug use, Whitney drowned in a bathtub at the Beverly Hills Hilton in 2012, the day before the Grammy Awards. Three years later, Bobbi Kristina was found in a coma in another bathtub, in Georgia, and died shortly afterwards, at the age of 22.



Whitney with her husband Bobby BrownWhitney with her husband Bobby Brown

Whitney with her husband Bobby Brown

But Broomfield’s documentary isn’t out to get Whitney: on the contrary, it’s out to rescue her from decades of criticism and misconceptions.

“She was the first really massive crossover artist, who paved the way for people like Beyoncé. With that responsibility came a lot of difficulties, and though I didn’t know that much about Whitney to start with, I just felt she was so condemned towards the end of her life, so under-appreciated, that it seemed a good time to look at her career again.”

Broomfield’s is not the only Whitney documentary we’ll see this year: Scottish director Kevin Macdonald is currently completing a film with the blessing of Whitney’s formidable mother, Cissy. But Whitney: Can I Be Me? is anything but authorised.

Once the Houston family heard about Broomfield’s film, “they sent this mass email out to everyone who had ever known Whitney, really from nappies, telling them not to take part. And I think with a lot of people it encouraged them to take part, because they thought the estate had behaved so badly towards Whitney, selling all (her personal items) off so soon after she died.”

Of course, Broomfield is not known for his use of official channels. A legend among documentary filmmakers, he has over the past 40 years or so challenged our preconceptions of everyone from rock stars to serial killers in films like Kurt & Courtney, Biggie & Tupac, and Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer.

He’s often credited with changing the very nature of the genre by interposing both himself and the investigative process into his films. “I remember when I started,” he says, “I felt so restricted by that cinéma vérité way of telling a story, which ignored the other part of the story, which was all the shenanigans you had to go through to make it.



Shattered lives: Whitney and her daughter Bobbi KristinaShattered lives: Whitney and her daughter Bobbi Kristina

Shattered lives: Whitney and her daughter Bobbi Kristina

“The thing that compelled me to change was making a very unsatisfactory film about Lily Tomlin. She was preparing for this show, Search for Signs of Intelligent Life, which turned into this big hit,” he says, noting that the actress was resistant to certain parts of the process being filmed, and eventually sued them.

“I was so frustrated: we had all these great stories that we would tell our friends at dinner, and none of them were in the film. So on the next film, I thought, ‘I’m gonna put it all in as an experiment, and see if it works.'”

In the last decade of her life, Whitney Houston spent more time on the tabloid covers than in the charts, but in her pomp, there was no bigger singing star. Six Grammys, two Emmys, 200 million records sold worldwide – the statistics speak for themselves.

Remoulded as a pop princess by her handlers, she achieved the huge crossover success no other black artist had to that date, but her own community turned against her and felt her music was too ‘white’. Broomfield’s film captures the moment when she was booed by the crowd at the 1989 Soul Train Music Awards, a reaction that left her devastated.

Then, stories of drug use began to circulate, and her formidable cocaine and crack habits were widely blamed on her bad-boy husband, rapper Bobby Brown. But Broomfield’s film puts paid to that notion.

“I went to the street where Whitney Huston was born in Newark, and there was a crack house 10 doors down from where her house was.

“It’s probably worse now than when she grew up, but it was a rough area, you know, you had these terrible race riots in the 60s which she would have witnessed as a child – it was a tough, tough place. And there were a lot of drugs around… One of her brothers says in the film that he was 10 years old when he tried heroin. That’s the ambience Whitney grew up in.”

The director sees “no downside” in his film not being official.

Thanks to that intriguing footage taken on and off stage during her 1999 world tour (filmed by Rudi Dolezal, who is credited as co-director), we get to see her perform 14 songs live. And with an unsanctioned film, Broomfield says, “You can tell the story you actually believe to be there, rather than some party line the estate is putting together. Which would probably mean painting Bobby Brown as the bad guy, and cutting Robyn Crawford out of the story altogether.”

Robyn Crawford was a childhood friend of Whitney’s who became her inseparable companion during the 1980s. It’s been widely speculated that they were romantic partners, and the dogmatic and religious Cissy Houston was always antagonistic towards Robyn.

There was tension too between Robyn and Bobby Brown, which comes across in a fascinating scene where Bobby corners Robyn at a backstage party. Their contempt for each other leaps from the lens.

Having grown tired of being caught in the middle of jealous fights between Bobby and Whitney, as well as Cissy’s disapproval, Robyn quit as Whitney’s assistant in 2000 and the pair reportedly didn’t speak again.

Broomfield spoke to plenty of Whitney’s close associates and friends for the film, but neither Bobby, Cissy nor Robyn agreed to talk. “I feel that as a character, Robyn comes through very strong in the film, you have a real sense of who she is,” he says.

Broomfield thinks his film is “a very sympathetic portrait of (Whitney), and also of her relationships with Bobby and Robyn. I don’t feel it’s judgmental.

“She was a gladiator. I can’t think of another singer who would pump it out like she did – and it was just her up there (on stage), it wasn’t like Madonna who has this enormous thing with fairy lights and all going on around her. It’s just Whitney, sweating and sweating, pushing herself, giving it all.”

Irish Independent

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A Black Abortion Rights Activist On White Women And The Myth Of ‘Black Genocide’

When Jasmine Sherman pulls up at her local Charlotte abortion clinic to volunteer, everyone knows that she’s arrived: her windows are down and her music is blasting as she drives full-speed into her preferred parking space at the corner of the clinic’s lot. 

Sherman has learned to take up her rightful space in an arena that’s dominated by white voices and white bodies. 

As a leading participant of local activist group Pro Choice Charlotte, and the only black member, she helps to oversee the “clinic defenders” ― those who counter-protest the far-right anti-abortion demonstrations that have become a regular presence outside the clinic. Every Saturday, protestors flock to A Preferred Women’s Health Center Charlotte with sound equipment and Bibles in tow to harass patients and Pro Choice Charlotte members. 

Sherman told HuffPost last week, after a 600-man protest outside APWHC, that she got involved with Pro Choice Charlotte because the issue of reproductive health care access “isn’t just a white feminist issue.” In a debate that often leaves out women of color, and in a city that enables clinic harassment, she feels it’s her responsibility as a black woman to “help [her] sisters in need.”

Abortion isn’t just a white feminist issue.
Jasmine Sherman, Pro Choice Charlotte

Sherman is often victim to a specific breed of harassment ― the anti-abortion community has attempted to co-opt the Black Lives Matter movement, and the “antis” often use the phrase to bolster their argument that abortion (a procedure that women of all colors depend on but black women face more barriers to accessing) is “black genocide.” 

While recognizing the role of racism in the abortion rights and contraceptive movements is essential ― Margaret Sanger, who founded Planned Parenthood, was a eugenicist, and the side effects of birth control pills would not be known without the pill having been tested on black and brown women in Puerto Rico ― black women in the present are tokenized by anti-abortion groups, and targeted for contributing to the “genocide” of their own community. 

The antis outside APWHC hurl questions at Sherman regularly: “What about all those brown babies?” they ask, or “Do black lives not matter?” Sherman responds with finesse, asking them in turn if they’ll be partaking in demonstrations against issues that actually affect black lives, like police brutality ― a particularly relevant issue in Charlotte after the fatal shooting of Keith Lamont Scott by a member of Charlotte-Mecklenburg police last fall. 

HuffPost talked to Sherman about her devotion to abortion rights activism, and how she feels about the hypocrisy of the anti-abortion community and their co-opting of racial justice movements to push their far-right agenda. 

Jenavieve Hatch for HuffPost

Jasmine Sherman counter-protests outside APWHC last Saturday.

What made you decide to be involved with Pro Choice Charlotte?

[Over a year ago] I saw an advertisement on this Facebook group for escorts to come out and help patients get into the clinic. I did the escorting for a while and while I found that we were helpful, it was really necessary to be a part of something where I could communicate with the protestors, and let them know what they’re doing is not OK. There are a lot of people who want to silently support women, and it made me think of all the times in my life where I had an argument and people came up to me later and said, “I had your back, I didn’t say anything but I had your back.”

In my mind, that doesn’t help me. Every situation where’s there’s vocal support, it makes it easier to hold your head up. So I always value offering vocal support, and that’s why it was important to move from a clinic escort to a clinic defender. 

What does your participation entail? 

We are actually incorporated in the state of North Carolina now, and technically in writing, I’m the president. It’s something that’s run with two other people. We speak at city council, we volunteer at the clinic, we do donations to patients if they don’t have funds [for an abortion], we provide food for companions as well. We put on educational seminars in the community, and really try to be a well-rounded organization.

Are there specific challenges you feel you’ve faced as a black woman involved in the pro-choice movement? 

How honest can I be? A lot of the problems that I’ve found with that group is just different styles. I’m the only African American within our organization. There are so many other movements that African Americans are focused on right now. We have bigger issues … we have police killing us, our kids are not growing up in safe neighborhoods, our kids are not getting fed. There are so many fights that we’re out there fighting. This one isn’t usually worth fighting over because it’s a no-brainer.

Within this movement, because of that, it typically does seem like a white feminist issue. You see a lot of Caucasian women fighting for that right. It does seem like it’s one of the few fronts where white women are persecuted … so within our group, as me being the only black woman, the way I communicate comes across as aggressive. I’m definitely more direct. It’s not just a black thing, I mean, I’m from New York. But a lot of the individuals in my group are more passive.

[Black women] go hard, we’re not beating around the bush, we don’t have time for that. I’m always getting some cultural pushback, and it creates a lot of friction. Sometimes I feel like some of my ideas are rejected [because of that].  

As a feminist I don’t identify [with the word]; that’s usually a white woman thing. Often when you bring up the term white feminism, they get offended. I’m trying to tell you how I feel ― I don’t need you to come back and be like, “I’m not doing that.” Just listen. And possibly open your mind. And sometimes white women can be just as bigoted as white men in terms of being open to learning. Not everything is about you. Within the group, a lot of women are trying to make it about them.

I don’t want to hear anybody tell me about black genocide.
Jasmine Sherman

I’ve never had an abortion. But I do feel like I can relate to the women coming to that clinic a little bit more. Someone once made a comment about why people bring their kids with them to their appointments. It’s upsetting, that they’re so obtuse that they don’t understand they bring their kids because they don’t have a choice.

Maybe I should rephrase and say that a lot of the volunteers are people who have time to volunteer ― they’re not really aware of what the struggle is with poverty.

When you’re out at the clinic on Saturday mornings, what’s the most frustrating part of dealing with the anti-abortion protestors?

There are white women that come to that clinic. There are Spanish women, a lot of black women at the clinic. I feel like it’s one more way for some white guy to tell us what to do with our bodies and how we should do it. I am pretty sure, based on conversations I’ve had with them, that they don’t have an interest in those women. What they want to do is push their Jesus agenda.

They’re very nice until you say “No, thanks,” and the conversation quickly switches to how we’re going to burn in hell and how we’re whores.

A lot of what I heard you deal with [outside the clinic] is the concept that abortion is “black genocide.” Celebrities like Nick Cannon have also brought this up. How do you feel about that argument?

That’s B.S. The problem with that is that black women are more than baby-makers. We are so much more than that. To say it’s black genocide is just B.S. Nobody cares about the fact that in our community, we’re struggling to create safe spaces. Segregation is supposedly over, but you try putting a whole bunch of black kids into a “good school” in [a nice neighborhood]. They don’t even want to send their kids to charter schools with ours. So I don’t want to hear anybody tell me about black genocide. 

Especially in Charlotte, where it’s hard to rise from poverty, if you have one mistake – Caucasian people, people with means, can bounce back from [a pregnancy]. But there are some women in my community that have a baby on Monday and have to be back at work on Wednesday because they don’t have time off. They don’t have luxuries. There is no support system. The kids they have at their house have to eat now. And they have to pay their rent.

We don’t worry about the kids that are already here. We stick police in their schools. The cops abuse them, they learn to have a problem with police, and no one gives two shits. The concept of black genocide is B.S. You can’t say it’s black genocide. And a lot of the people talking about it sure do support the death penalty and sure have no problem with mass incarceration. 

The anti-abortion movement has tried to adopt the same language as Black Lives Matter ― last summer they used the hashtag #UnbornLivesMatter to try to steal the movement’s thunder after the shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.

Have the “antis” outside APWHC ever shown interest in supporting Black Lives Matter or other racial justice movements in Charlotte? 

No. We can talk about that. I have literally invited them to black lives rallies. They have declined to come to Black Lives Matter rallies, to participate in the march [for Keith Lamont Scott]. They refuse to participate in all of that.

I had a negative reaction once at the clinic, when they brought out signs of black people hanging from nooses. I definitely lost my crap. It was the only time that I got really angry and aggressive. That was when I knew I needed to stop being an escort and be a defender. They had that sign and they were like, “Don’t yell at us, you’re doing the same thing.” And I’m trying to explain to them that it’s not the same thing, at all.

They definitely try to play the race card when it’s convenient but when it comes to actually dealing with black people, they don’t come out. 

Like a lot of the mainstream feminist movement, the pro-choice movement has a white feminism problem. How do you think the pro-choice movement can do a better job of serving women of color?  

The pro-choice movement would do a better job if more people were open to understanding brown women or women of color. I’m very fortunate to be in a setting where my white friends are very conscious that they’re not woke all the time. They’re not trying to collect a friend or associate. They see that I’m a person and that I happen to be brown. They’ll go to things ― events, parties that you’re having ― where there are other brown people. If I had a cookout, the clinic admin or my co-directors, they would come. They wouldn’t care if there were a whole bunch of brown faces.

In Charlotte, we had 35,000 women for the Women’s March. Now I can’t get 500 women to sign a petition. Where are all those white women? Where are they?
Jasmine Sherman

There are people, though, who are like, “I’ve got my one brown friend.” The minute you treat us like we’re a color, or a pocketbook accessory, that’s when you have a problem.

A lot of the times I’ve asked people of color to come out to the clinic and they say ‘No.’ The Caucasian people say that they need to be more inclusive. But I have to point out to them that they’re not there when we’re marching for equality. They’re not there when one of our children gets killed. I’m not going to lie, there are a couple. But they don’t come out for those things.

In Charlotte, we had 35,000 women for the Women’s March. Now I can’t get 500 women to sign a petition. Where are all those white women? Where are they?

Until the white feminists or the white community stops treating us like an accessory and takes value in getting to know us and spend time with us on a regular basis, then you’re not going to have anything.

But I have a question for you. Would you be talking to me if I wasn’t black?

You know what? It’s a good question. When I came down for that initial Love Life Charlotte protest on Dec. 3, I remember thinking, “This is a lot of white women.” I’m up here in New York, I’m a clinic escort in Queens, and there are more women of color out there than there are in Charlotte.

To be completely honest, I’ve talked to a lot of the other women [in Pro Choice Charlotte] and, yeah, I did want to hear your opinion as a black woman. And I want our audience to know that they need to be listening to you, I guess, if I can say that. 

Yeah, you can say that. I guess I’m just curious, right? It’s a Catch-22. As much as I want to be valued as a person, you still need that brown voice. But it does suck to be that only brown voice. I didn’t mean to give you crap. 

This interview has been edited and condensed. 

Stage set for Edinburgh’s festival of magic …

Fifers are being invited to let their ‘imagination fly’ this month by heading over the Forth to the 2017 Edinburgh International Magic Festival when it returns to the city.

Magicfest is celebrating its eighth year in the capital with a variety of shows taking places at venues across Edinburgh from June 30 to July 8.

This year’s festival is set to mark the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017 by partnering with Scottish Historic Buildings Trust, Edinburgh Museums & Galleries and Edinburgh World Heritage.

It aims to build on the success of last year and highlights of this year’s programme include: The return of MagicFair at Summerhall after a sell-out launch last year with family events and late night sessions; a ‘Levitations’ themed gala show bringing MagicFest 2017 to a grand finale at the city’s Festival Theatre with international acts and gravity defying performances as well as solo shows from Morgan & West, R Paul Wilson, David Stone, Dave Alnwick and Luke Eaton.

After a sell-out launch last year, MagicFair returns with over 80 live magic shows and 20 of the greatest illusionists from around the world.

Best described as a magic theme park, the three-day event offers all ages a spellbinding day out across morning, afternoon and late sessions. One ticket in gives festival-goers entry to up to seven 20-minute shows, where they will experience live magic in intimate groups of 10 or 120 seat theatres, plus drop-in events and courtyard fun. Whichever sessions visitors choose, they are promised a thrilling ride on the MagicFair rollercoaster.

Kevin Quantum (Pic: Matt Turner)

Kevin Quantum (Pic: Matt Turner)

There is also entertainment for children – under fives go free to family-orientated morning sessions (10am-2pm). Here kids can enjoy mini magic school workshops, wand-crafting, brilliant beasts and six different magic shows including Morgan & West, Tricky Ricky and Monkey Magic with Gary Dunn. There will also be alchemy themed afternoon sessions (2-6pm) boasting mind wizards, fake magic, tech tricks and laboratory experiment shows with the chance to get hands-on and learn magic tricks with the pros in new drop-in workshops.

As the sun goes down, things take a darker turn for the late sessions (7.30-11.30pm) with horror magic, mind-control and daredevil stunts, plus street food, music and pop-up bars in the courtyard for revellers to party with into the wee witching hours.

This year the festival will also expand its sell-out show ‘The Secret Room’ from four to 20 performances, bringing three of Edinburgh’s unique historical venues and their untold mysteries and dark pasts to life with captivating magic tours.

Kevin Quantum, who is from Fife, is the founder and director of Magicfest. He explained how ‘The Secret Room’ has been developed for 2017.

He said: “Following a four-year sell-out run at Lauriston Castle, the hugely popular ‘Secret Room’ expands across the city this summer, bringing the colourful history and untold stories of Edinburgh’s hidden gems to life with magic-filled tours.

“New venues include Riddle’s Court and The Writers’ Museum, where magicians will take groups of secret-seekers on a magical adventure as they animate the dark past and unsolved mysteries of each with captivating magic. The expansion of Secret Room comes from a partnership between MagicFest and the Scottish Historic Buildings Trust, Edinburgh Museums and Galleries and Edinburgh World Heritage allowing more people to experience magic in an innovative way, while exploring the historic architecture and cultural heritage of Edinburgh.”

Another new event for this year includes the UK debut of ‘From the Dark’, a show originally designed for the blind, which invites sighted and non-sighted audiences to experience the world’s only illusion show performed in complete darkness.

Juan Esteban Varela invites the curious to experience illusions and the feeling of astonishment while blindfolded in complete darkness.

Designed after 10 years of research, From the Dark has been adapted so both non-sighted and sighted people can experience this one-of-a-kind show, redefining the definition of disappearance.

Kevin explained what audiences can expect from this unique performance.

He said: “This show has never been done in Scotland or the UK before and I am really excited to include it as part of this year’s festival. The audience is led into the theatre blindfolded and given a box and the surprises unfold from there. It is a trick they experience through touch. The first I heard of it was about three or four years ago and I have always wanted to feature it live at the festival.

“The audience are subjected to sensory-stimulation to activate their imagination and emotion and force their judgement to work against them to create deceptions of the mind. This is magic as never ‘seen’ before.”

And this year’s ‘Levitations’ themed gala show on July 8 brings MagicFest to a grand finale at the spectacular Festival Theatre. Audiences will be treated to two-and-a-half-hours of enchantment where the greatest illusionists and circus acts from around the world will defy the laws of gravity to perform visually stunning and dreamlike flights of fancy as they float, fly and soar through the air…

Highlights at the gala show will include French performers Cubic Act and their floating box; the master of mystery and suspense Aaron Crow who captures the audience without uttering a single word; black art illusionists Les Chapeux Blancs, and world magic champion Marko Karvo with his dazzling bird act.

Kevin said this year’s festival has a specific theme: “This year it is all about levitation and people flying. It is something I have always been fascinated with and have never had the opportunity to work into the festival before. But we are taking it seriously this year. It will feature in the big Festival Theatre gala show. Magicians will levitate and we will also have birds that will fly over the heads of the audience – it is quite a spectacular act.”

Kevin continued: “I’m delighted to see more Scottish performers than ever before in this year’s line-up, many of whom, in the Secret Room performance, are creating new work inspired by Edinburgh and her history.

“The Magicfair was launched last year and it’s always challenging doing something for the first time. But it was such a success and it fitted well as a venue for the magicians. It worked so well that we are bringing it back this year.” He added: “There are magicians from all over the country taking part in this year’s festival – there is something for everyone.” For tickets, visit: www.magicfest.co.uk

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Republicans are privately angry at Trump for accidentally unmasking their big scam

President Trump called Democrats in Congress “obstructionists” for resisting his health care reform during a cabinet meeting on June 12. (The Washington Post)

THE MORNING PLUM:

House Republicans are angry with President Trump for blurting out an inconveniently candid view of their health-care bill, Politico reports today. Trump reportedly told a closed-door gathering of GOP senators that the House repeal-and-replace bill is “mean” and called on them to make it “more generous.” This promptly leaked, and a lot of people are noting that Trump undercut House Republicans politically and provided Democrats with ammo for a thousand attack ads.

But I’d like to argue that this moment has broader significance than that. If you place Trump’s private candor in the context of the indefensibly opaque and secretive process that Republicans are using to get this health-care bill through, it reveals in a fresh way just how scandalous their approach to remaking one-sixth of the U.S. economy really has been.

Here’s how Politico characterizes the anger at Trump among House Republicans right now:

Imagine if you’re a House Republican, and voted for the leadership’s health-care bill in May after being told that you were doing the newly elected president a solid. You listened to the White House’s pleading — perhaps you got a phone call from Vice President Mike Pence, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus or even the president himself. The administration was on the Hill nonstop to push their legislation. You explained to your constituents that the late-in-the-game changes made to the bill helped cover more people. You celebrated with him in the Rose Garden after passage.

Now you hear the president has gone behind closed doors and told senators the House bill is “mean” and says it doesn’t do enough to cover people. Wouldn’t that anger you? Well, it’s angering a lot of House Republicans, who believe their president put them at political risk with that comment … If you’re a House Republican, are you going to help the White House next time after the president privately just dumped all over you after you cast a vote for him? A lot of GOP lawmakers are buzzing about it, and many are none too pleased with the president right now.

The multiple reports on Trump’s comments differ slightly in the details, but not in their overall thrust. Sources who spoke to the Associated Press said Trump told GOP senators that the House bill is “mean, mean, mean” and must be made “more generous.” CNN adds that Trump told the lawmakers that the House bill would leave too many people vulnerable and that he wants more money spent on those people. One Republican senator related that Trump “talked about the need to take care of people.”

House Republicans are now angry at this, Politico reports, because they stuck out their necks making the case for a bill that would leave many millions without coverage and gut protections for people with preexisting conditions. They “explained to their constituents” that the last-minute changes to the bill (adding all of $8 billion) would make it less destructive to that latter group. But Trump has now upended all of this, putting them at greater political risk.

During a short address at Cincinnati Municipal Lunken Airport, June 7, President Trump accused congressional Democrats of “destroying health care.” (The Washington Post)

But their anger over this is particularly galling, because Republicans themselves do not want their constituents to actually know what is in the bill they are set to pass. And they are taking active, extensive and possibly unprecedented steps to make sure they don’t. Trump merely made this harder for them to get away with.

Let’s not forget that House Republicans deliberately voted on their bill before the Congressional Budget Office produced its final score of it. That analysis concluded that 23 million fewer people would be covered and that the bill’s provision allowing states to waive the ban on jacking up premiums for people with preexisting conditions would lead to soaring costs for many of them, leaving untold numbers without coverage entirely. After lying relentlessly about the bill — claiming that no one would be worse off and that it would strengthen protections for the sick — House Republicans deliberately held a vote before the CBO’s final analysis gave voters a way to evaluate those lies in the light of empirical analysis.

Now Senate Republicans are urgently working to soften the bill, because a number of moderates can’t be seen embracing something that cruel. But, if anything, they are going further than their House counterparts to forestall any kind of serious public awareness of what they are doing. Two GOP aides recently told Axios that there are no plans to publicly release the Senate version well in advance of the vote, because, as one of them put it, “we aren’t stupid.” There have been no public hearings. Even some Senate Republicans have expressed befuddlement about what’s in the bill that they will be voting on.

As Brian Beutler and Jonathan Chait have noted, avoiding public scrutiny and accountability is the whole legislative strategy — the process itself is a scandal, given how many millions of people, and how large a swath of the economy, it will impact. And as University of Michigan law professor Nicholas Bagley argues, that could have untold other consequences: The lack of scrutiny and debate could lead to major, destructive flaws in the bill itself and, more broadly, could further erode basic norms of legislative transparency.

We do know a few things about the Senate bill. It will likely phase out the Medicaid expansion more slowly, to allow moderates to argue that they have “softened” the House version, which cuts $800 billion in health-care spending on poor people while delivering to the rich an enormous tax cut. It may also nix the provision deregulating protections for preexisting conditions, but, by keeping the one that allows for skimpier health plans, it could end up nonetheless harming untold numbers of sick people who would need previously covered essential services.

Trump’s admission that the House bill is “mean” should not be taken seriously as an actual statement of values, because he himself has championed it in public, and thus simply means the Senate version needs to provide a way to pretend the final product is far more “generous” than it will surely end up being, which is a lot like the House bill. Indeed, the GOP’s extraordinary lack of transparency is itself a concession that Republicans know how “mean” it will be. Republicans are angry that Trump admitted, in a way guaranteed to leak, that he knows it will hurt huge numbers of people, when they had taken such great pains to obscure that. Trump’s real transgression was to provide the public with a glimpse of a reality that they themselves have gone to extraordinary lengths to keep hidden.

* SHOOTER IS IDENTIFIED: A gunman opened fire on congressional Republicans at a baseball practice in Alexandria, and the suspected shooter has been identified:

The shooter at the GOP congressional baseball practice this morning is James T. Hodgkinson of Belleville, Ill., according to law enforcement officials. Hodgkinson, 66, owns a home inspection business. His home inspection license expired in November 2016 and was not renewed, state records show.

Hodgkinson was charged in April 2006 with battery and aiding damage to a motor vehicle, according to online records in St. Clair County, Illinois. The charges were dismissed, records show.

Majority whip Steve Scalise was among those injured, and multiple reports this morning detailed the heroism of his security detail. Without them, many might have been killed, those reports noted.

* INSIDE TRUMP’S THINKING ON SPECIAL COUNSEL: The New York Times reports that Trump will not try to get special counsel Robert S. Mueller III removed, but by golly that could change. Here’s the thinking:

But people close to Mr. Trump say he is so volatile they cannot be sure that he will not change his mind about Mr. Mueller if he finds out anything to lead him to believe the investigation has been compromised … The president was pleased by the ambiguity of his position on Mr. Mueller, and thinks the possibility of being fired will focus the veteran prosecutor on delivering what the president desires most: a blanket public exoneration.

It’s the latest sign of just how out of touch Trump is with basic institutional realities. Also, how much will it take for Trump to persuade himself the investigation has been “compromised”?

* TRUMP MULLED REMOVING MUELLER, STOKED BY CONSERVATIVE MEDIA: The Times story also reports that Trump genuinely did contemplate trying to get rid of the special counsel:

Angered by reports in Breitbart News and other conservative news outlets that Mr. Mueller was close to Mr. Comey, Mr. Trump in recent days has repeatedly brought up the political and legal implications of firing someone he now views as incapable of an impartial investigation. He has told his staff, his visitors and his outside advisers that he was increasingly convinced that Mr. Mueller, like Mr. Comey, his successor as director of the F.B.I., was part of a “witch hunt” by partisans who wanted to see him weakened or forced from office.

The key point here is that the ease with which Trump concludes he is being unfairly persecuted shows how effortlessly he might come to “believe” the investigation itself is “compromised.”

* IN VIRGINIA, IT’S NORTHAM VS. GILLESPIE: Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and former Republican National Committee chair Ed Gillespie won their gubernatorial primaries in Virginia last night. Two tidbits from The Post’s write-up:

Overall, Democrats turned out in far greater numbers than Republicans. About 540,000 voters cast ballots in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, while just over 360,000 voters cast ballots on the Republican side … In his remarks, Gillespie … did not invoke Trump, who has cast a shadow over the governor’s race all year.

The general election will draw massive spending and national attention as one of the only major races this year, and an early sign of how Trump will affect the party’s fortunes.

* DEMOCRATIC ENTHUSIASM IS REAL: Politico’s Gabriel Debenedetti comments on the meaning of Northam’s win, noting that the more-than-half-million Democratic votes dwarfed the 320,000 voters who showed up in the last competitive primary:

Democratic Party enthusiasm is very real … his win included higher-than-expected numbers in regions with more African-American voters, a major question mark heading into the vote. That bodes well for his general election chances. If Democrats are going to mount a comeback in the Trump era, governor’s mansions must be a big part of it.

There are three dozen gubernatorial races in 2018, many in states held by Republicans, and winning some back could make a big difference on health care, climate change and redistricting.

* TRUMP REAL ESTATE SOLD TO SECRETIVE BUYERS: USA Today reports that since Trump won the GOP nomination, the majority of sales by his real estate companies are to buyers who use shell companies to disguise their identities:

Over the last 12 months, about 70% of buyers of Trump properties were limited liability companies – corporate entities that allow people to purchase property without revealing all of the owners’ names … Anyone who wanted to court favor with the President could snap up multiple properties or purposefully overpay, without revealing their identity publicly.

Now try to imagine how much of this sort of thing might take place without ever being disclosed, thanks to Trump’s refusal to divest and show meaningful transparency.

* PENCE’S DUMB DISSEMBLING ABOUT OBAMACARE: Vice President Pence has been citing the fact that many Americans still remain uninsured as “evidence” that the Affordable Care Act is in a death spiral. The Associated Press notes that Pence is leaving something out:

Pence … omitted any mention of the … Medicaid expansion estimated to cover 12 million low-income people this year. More would be covered, but 19 states have refused the expansion because of opposition from Republicans … legislation that’s before Congress would phase out enhanced federal financing for Medicaid expansion and trim subsidies for private insurance. Progress reducing the number of uninsured could be lost.

Can we also pause to note how contemptibly dishonest it is to cite the remaining uninsured as a data point in your push to leave 23 million more uninsured on top of them?

Magicfest launches biggest programme to date for 2017

Locals are being invited to let their ‘imagination fly’ this month by heading over the Forth to the 2017 Edinburgh International Magic Festival when it returns to the city.

Magicfest is celebrating its eighth year in the capital with a variety of shows taking places at venues across Edinburgh from June 30 to July 8.

Juan Esteban Varela invites the curious to experience illusions and the feeling of astonishment while blindfolded in complete darkness.

Juan Esteban Varela invites the curious to experience illusions and the feeling of astonishment while blindfolded in complete darkness.

This year’s festival is set to mark the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017 by partnering with Scottish Historic Buildings Trust, Edinburgh Museums & Galleries and Edinburgh World Heritage.

It aims to build on the success of last year and highlights of this year’s programme include: The return of MagicFair at Summerhall after a sell-out launch last year with family events and late night sessions; a ‘Levitations’ themed gala show bringing MagicFest 2017 to a grand finale at the city’s Festival Theatre with international acts and gravity defying performances as well as solo shows from Morgan & West, R Paul Wilson, David Stone, Dave Alnwick and Luke Eaton.

After a sell-out launch last year, MagicFair returns with over 80 live magic shows and 20 of the greatest illusionists from around the world.

Best described as a magic theme park, the three-day event offers all ages a spellbinding day out across morning, afternoon and late sessions. One ticket in gives festival-goers entry to up to seven 20-minute shows, where they will experience live magic in intimate groups of 10 or 120 seat theatres, plus drop-in events and courtyard fun. Whichever sessions visitors choose, they are promised a thrilling ride on the MagicFair rollercoaster.

The Secret Room has been developed for 2017.

The Secret Room has been developed for 2017.

There is also entertainment for children – under fives go free to family-orientated morning sessions (10am-2pm). Here kids can enjoy mini magic school workshops, wand-crafting, brilliant beasts and six different magic shows including Morgan & West, Tricky Ricky and Monkey Magic with Gary Dunn. There will also be alchemy themed afternoon sessions (2-6pm) boasting mind wizards, fake magic, tech tricks and laboratory experiment shows with the chance to get hands-on and learn magic tricks with the pros in new drop-in workshops.

As the sun goes down, things take a darker turn for the late sessions (7.30-11.30pm) with horror magic, mind-control and daredevil stunts, plus street food, music and pop-up bars in the courtyard for revellers to party with into the wee witching hours.

This year the festival will also expand its sell-out show ‘The Secret Room’ from four to 20 performances, bringing three of Edinburgh’s unique historical venues and their untold mysteries and dark pasts to life with captivating magic tours.

Kevin Quantum, who is from Fife, is the founder and director of Magicfest. He explained how ‘The Secret Room’ has been developed for 2017.

The Magicfair has something for all ages.

The Magicfair has something for all ages.

He said: “Following a four-year sell-out run at Lauriston Castle, the hugely popular ‘Secret Room’ expands across the city this summer, bringing the colourful history and untold stories of Edinburgh’s hidden gems to life with magic-filled tours.

“New venues include Riddle’s Court and The Writers’ Museum, where magicians will take groups of secret-seekers on a magical adventure as they animate the dark past and unsolved mysteries of each with captivating magic. The expansion of Secret Room comes from a partnership between MagicFest and the Scottish Historic Buildings Trust, Edinburgh Museums and Galleries and Edinburgh World Heritage allowing more people to experience magic in an innovative way, while exploring the historic architecture and cultural heritage of Edinburgh.”

Another new event for this year includes the UK debut of ‘From the Dark’, a show originally designed for the blind, which invites sighted and non-sighted audiences to experience the world’s only illusion show performed in complete darkness.

Juan Esteban Varela invites the curious to experience illusions and the feeling of astonishment while blindfolded in complete darkness.

Designed after 10 years of research, From the Dark has been adapted so both non-sighted and sighted people can experience this one-of-a-kind show, redefining the definition of disappearance.

Kevin explained what audiences can expect from this unique performance.

He said: “This show has never been done in Scotland or the UK before and I am really excited to include it as part of this year’s festival. The audience is led into the theatre blindfolded and given a box and the surprises unfold from there. It is a trick they experience through touch. The first I heard of it was about three or four years ago and I have always wanted to feature it live at the festival.

“The audience are subjected to sensory-stimulation to activate their imagination and emotion and force their judgement to work against them to create deceptions of the mind. This is magic as never ‘seen’ before.”

And this year’s ‘Levitations’ themed gala show on July 8 brings MagicFest to a grand finale at the spectacular Festival Theatre. Audiences will be treated to two-and-a-half-hours of enchantment where the greatest illusionists and circus acts from around the world will defy the laws of gravity to perform visually stunning and dreamlike flights of fancy as they float, fly and soar through the air…

Highlights at the gala show will include French performers Cubic Act and their floating box; the master of mystery and suspense Aaron Crow who captures the audience without uttering a single word; black art illusionists Les Chapeux Blancs, and world magic champion Marko Karvo with his dazzling bird act.

Kevin said this year’s festival has a specific theme: “This year it is all about levitation and people flying. It is something I have always been fascinated with and have never had the opportunity to work into the festival before. But we are taking it seriously this year. It will feature in the big Festival Theatre gala show. Magicians will levitate and we will also have birds that will fly over the heads of the audience – it is quite a spectacular act.”

Kevin continued: “I’m delighted to see more Scottish performers than ever before in this year’s line-up, many of whom, in the Secret Room performance, are creating new work inspired by Edinburgh and her history.

“The Magicfair was launched last year and it’s always challenging doing something for the first time. But it was such a success and it fitted well as a venue for the magicians. It worked so well that we are bringing it back this year.” He added: “There are magicians from all over the country taking part in this year’s festival – there is something for everyone.”

For tickets, visit: www.magicfest.co.uk

The magicians …

David Stone is an award-winning crazy French magician specialising in comedy and misdirection. Spectators will be dumbfounded as they watch him multiply objects and make champagne bottles from thin air.

Internationally acclaimed master of deception, Paul Wilson, shares his most cherished secrets, scams and fantasies with mindreading, conjuring, cons and manipulation.

Time-travelling duo Morgan & West celebrate their 10th anniversary with baffling magic, their favourite tricks and a totally genuine ability to travel through time.

This ‘Ginger Ninja Wizard’ attempts to brainwash his audience with a devastatingly dangerous combination of brilliant mentalism and genius sleight-of-hand stunts. Cult magician Dave Alnwick entices his audience into a world of mind trickery and astonishment, meticulously delivered with sublime control and contagious enthusiasm and Luke Eaton delivers a stomach-churning repertoire of bizarre magic.

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment

Dr. Cornel West’s Malice: Angry Professo

There goes Cornell
West again. This time he’s criticizing President Barack Obama for “being
concerned about his legacy;” for being concerned about getting his name
on “Mount Rushmore.”  Talk about a petty man.

If this is so, Mr.
Obama truly deserves the honor of being on the iconic Mount Rushmore,
but not for the reasons Mr. West would assign when viewed from his
narrow, anti-Obama stance. 

After all, Cornel West has consistently
criticized the President for his performance: first, for allegedly not
doing enough for Black people, and now for allegedly being concerned
about his legacy. Mr. West’s attacks became increasingly personal since he disclosed that the president had not invited him to the inauguration.

Purportedly, this has to do with his re-election —
because the status of being on Mount Rushmore is only accorded to great
presidents who, for one thing, were elected to two terms. 

The
President has had to rescue the nation, fight to defuse the “Party of
No” minefield he has had to function in, chart a vision for the future
and fight back the significant re-election challenge of Super PACs such
as Carl Rove’s running $25 million of negative Ads and Ricketts $10
million proposal to use Rev. Wright as a negative tool, which attempt
will resurface in another form.

Two things quickly. First, while
we’re told Mitt Romney repudiated the Ad featuring Rev. Wright as an
anti-Obama strategy, we must not be mislead into believing he was being
civil, humane and considerate towards the President. Then again, the
media spin is that this was just an idea that was dismissed. Quite the
contrary! According to New York Times reporter Jeff Zeleny, this idea
got “pretty far in the discussion phase.” Fact is, since Rev. Wright is a
religious figure, religion becomes an issue and this introduces Mr.
Romney’s Mormon faith as a legitimate subject of discussion.

Equally,
the Mormon’s exclusion of Blacks is a Pandora Box issue Romney does not
want to open. So self interest guided his decision to not go after Rev.
Wright.

Second, one has to wonder if Cornel West knows the origin
of the idea that led to Mount Rushmore and the honor to American
Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt and
Abraham Lincoln; their images adorn the mountainside near Keystone in
South Dakota.

While Mr. West is alleging that the
President is not doing enough for Blacks, the question should be posed:
“What is Mr. West doing for Blacks?” He is trying to tear down the Black
president. How many Black PhD candidates has Mr. West successfully
advanced in his elevated academic leadership position?

Despite
attacks from the left, the right and center, Mr. Obama can still boast
that he stands on his record of: sustained job growth, with more than 4
million jobs created over the last two years; emphasis on education for
the young and industrious; the bill to eventually extend health care for
all Americans, help for the Middle Class; financial and economic
regulation to protect consumers and prevent Wall Street excesses;
“insourcing” of jobs; and tax assistance for businesses that hire
Veterans.

This election will be close. Mr. Obama will be re-elected
and as one politician said recently, “We will download the power of the
President’s second term.” 

Mount Rushmore? And why not one day, should a grateful nation decide to honor how far we’ve traveled as a country by honoring the
first African American President in such a manner? When young students are given
the Washington Tour and ponder the inspiring figure and personality of
Barack Obama, Dr. Cornell West will long be a memory.

Venice Biennale: Viva Arte Viva!

 The 57th edition of the Venice Biennale which opened in May this year drew crowds rushing in from around the world for a glimpse of the world’s most sought after art event. Most were taken aback by the works of 120 artists spread over the Giardini and Arsenale and 45 other shows across the city, turning Venice into a massive gallery. The Biennales’ Artistic Director, Christine Macel, also chief curator of the Pompidou Centre, Paris has chosen Viva Arte Viva (Long live living art) as her central theme, which seeks to turn the last two biennales’ over-defined and over-purposeful art into something less individualistic and more poetic.

As  a result, a walk through the circuitous main pavilion at the Giardini or the labrynthine Arsenale often led to works by indigenous people, marginalised women (particularly older women), and those engaging with ecology and climate change. Weaving, knitting, knotting and even macrame as immersive art which engaged with the ‘other’ seemed the order of the day.

It was unsurprising that the German pavilion, heavily-guarded and allowing only a few people at a time, won the Golden Lion for the best national presentation. Anne Imhof’s Faust uses painting, sculpture, installation and performance to confront the brute reality of our times. Visitors look down from a brilliantly-lit glass floor at creeping humans performing below, with their androgynous black gear and gestural work only heightening the drama of the moment. The audience is split into predator /victim binaries with echoes of Nazi times, as Dobermans stand guard in metal cages.

It set the tone for what was to follow. African-American artist Mark Bradford’s Tomorrow is Another Day reveals his concern for the intense uncertainty circling the state of affairs in the world and particularly the US today.  Blackish-purple works made with commercial hair dye, redolent with melancholy, speak of slavery and the migration crisis, while a Medusa radiates in the centre of the room. In the Pavilion’s rotunda, Bradford creates the atmosphere of a grand archaeological ruin. “This a Jeffersonian-type space, something you see in state capitols,” he said, pointing to its central dome. “I wanted it to feel like a ruin, like we went into a government building and started shaking the rotunda till the plaster peeled. Our rage made the plaster fall off the walls,” said Bradford, who refers to his pavilion as The White House. Being black and gay as well a liberal and progressive thinker, he no longer feels represented by his own government.

The Australia pavilion has aboriginal artist Tracey Moffatt negotiate a haunting poetic journey from nothingness to being. According to Moffat, “There are times in life when we all can see what’s ‘coming over the horizon’ and this is when we make a move. Or we do nothing and just wait for whatever it is to arrive.” Her Body Remembers, a desolate, sensual suite of 10 photographs tells the story of a maid returning to a ruin wearing a 1950s, lace-trimmed dress, a white apron and Victorian mourning earrings. With Moffatt herself dressed as the maid, audiences get a glimpse of her inner turmoil as she caresses a wall, look dolefully out of a window or are poised on the edge of a shadow. Is she recalling her employment or mourning the passage of time?

Moffatt grew up in foster care in a 1960s working class suburb in Brisbane. She was taken from her birth parents as a baby, following the Government’s policy of giving aboriginal children a ‘proper’ education and training.

Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti, refused, during his life, to be exhibited at his national pavilion at Venice having considered himself an international citizen. In 1956, he presented his elongated, sculptural group Women of Venice in the pavilion of his adopted country France. Ironically enough, the Swiss pavilions exhibiton this year titled Women of Venice has a slow film with an 81-year-old man telling the story of his mother Flora Mayo, who collaborated with Giacometti  in her youth. She scarcely merits a mention in his biography although they worked closely and had a passionate affair. The film laments her wasted talent and her impoverished existence. In the courtyard, Carol Bove, referencing Giacometti, erects coiled poles with layered associations.

A 30-minute walk, however, brings us to Damien Hirst’s blockbuster Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable where works made from precious metals are being sold for between $500,000 and $5million.A 30-minute walk, however, brings us to Damien Hirst’s blockbuster Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable where works made from precious metals are being sold for between $500,000 and $5million.

 Ms. Macel’s curatorial note emphasises that the exhibition favours artists who want to change the world rather than seek the star system created by the art market. A 30-minute walk, however, brings us to Damien Hirst’s blockbuster Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable where works made from precious metals are being sold for between $500,000 and $5million. Gigantic, mythical, coral-encrusted shapes risen from the ocean, treasures from a 2000-year-old shipwreck, a vessel built by Amotan, a freed slave, which was recovered in 2008.

A looming Kali engages a Hydra in battle, although the former bears little resemblance to the deity save for the multiple arms.A looming Kali engages a Hydra in battle, although the former bears little resemblance to the deity save for the multiple arms.

Crowds milled around the Pinault museums as a gigantic, beheaded demon rose from the central courtyard of the museum. A looming Kali engages a Hydra in battle, although the former bears little resemblance to the deity save for the multiple arms.

 Whatever happened to South Asian representation after the euphoria of last year’s Indo-Pak collaboration My East is your West? Indian origin artist Rina Banerjee’s fusion of fabric and fantasy at the Arsenale was done with her trademark wit and humour and Rashid Araeen, the well-known, London-based Pakistani artist of Third Text fame transformed the space into minimalist forms. Shezad Dawood, born to a Pakistani mother and an Indian father caused a stir at the collateral shows with his presentation, Leviathan, where issues of marine welfare, climate change and migration will become a ten-part marathon.

India, however, was conspicuous by its absence, an indication of gross negligence on the part of the country of art and the well-being of culture. The Biennale continues until November 26th.

The writer is an art historian and independent curator based in Delhi. She is the author of several books including Amrita Sher-Gil: A Life (2006)

RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment