Sunday, January 04, 2009

The Hand of Fatima [a sketch]

Chinese, Islamic, African, Bolivian Women -- Guerilla Woman Fighter
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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Mexicali - Day of the Dead Art Show

For the Day of the Dead Festival, the City of Mexicali installed an Art Show on their side of the US-border-fence. This is where cars wait in line to cross into the United States -- usual wait time is around two hours. So, they've got plenty of time to take in this ART SHOW !!! The Art Show is intense. It is not filled with the usual Day of the Dead Images. . .
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Monday, January 29, 2007

MASKS - title for this series of drawings

The general idea for the drawings was "MASKS" -- just taking a stroll thru the world and looking at why people wish to make themselves anonymous. I would like to make lots of other drawings on that theme. It is a kind of anthropologists look at society today -- including my strong prejudices that is. I never did believe in the so-called objective reporting notion.

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Aristide Supporters

Eleven charcoal Drawings, 23" x 35" ...

03/26/2004 HAITI, Port du Prince, protestors attempt to defend democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide during bloody coup orchestrated by Washington and Paris.

I've never been able to understand US involvement in Haitian affairs, THE-poorest country in the western hemisphere -- no resources. Ever since the United States placed Aristide back in power, the US government, then initiates a stop on all miniscule aid packages that were earmarked for this country, why, because the election was not "democratic", what in the hell? Then orchestrate this coup, what did Aristide do? This country that has withstood U.S. meddling since 1915; a U.S. invasion that further enslaves the Haitian people. I'm confused !?!

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Iraqi Death Squad

04/2006 IRAQ Death Squad -- the Salvador Option has been invoked, a campaign of terror by death squad. The ministry of interior in Baghdad, which is run by the CIA, directs these squads. The goal: to incite real civil war.

Off the top of my head I can mention two journalists that were killed investigating the Iraqi Death Squads: former art-critic turned war correspondent Steven Vincent and Knight Ridder Iraqi journalist Yasser Salihee.

This picture depicts former Saddam Hussein security forces, now part of the neo-Baathist militia / death squad.
Of course it’s not simple, the Iranians, Syrians, and Saudi Arabians, all have a hand in the Iraqi mess, the biggest mess-makers at this point in time is the U.S.

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Aerial Bombardment of Somalia

01/12/2007 SOMALIA, U.S. AC-130 gun-ships mount a weeklong aerial bombing campaign of Jubaland. Bombs hit vital water sources, large groups of nomads and their animals. At least 70 people and hundreds of camels, cattle, goats and sheep were killed; more than 70,000 people displaced!

The orchestrated war on Somalia, executed by Ethiopian and U.S. militaries -- no reports in the U.S. media on that one. For those more informed, the Africans, they do not want to send troops to join the UN Peace Keeping Forces. They believe that their troops would be seen as complicit in what is viewed as U.S.-revenge for Mogadishu Black-Hawk-Down: the week-long-massive-bombing-campaign of Jubaland covered an area that consists of 3 provinces and 15 regions; which was autonomous until June 2006 and ironically not pro-Islamic Council.

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Costa Rican Protestor

10/23/2006 COSTA RICA, San Jose, thousands marched to protest against a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the U.S. and Central America, which Costa Rica has not ratified. Brian Retana in Bat Man Mask, has a head band that says, "Stand-up Costa Rica, Stand-up, NO to the (TLA) FTA.

Oscar Arias, a president that was once the most beloved of all Costa Rican presidents, especially because of the role he played in ending the Central American wars in the 1980s. Now he seems to be the latest president to fall victim to the vicious capitalist takeover of that country.

Costa Rican's are looking around, witnessing the government take over of precious resources in Venezuela and Bolivia, and are wondering where their country is headed.
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ETA Ceasefire

3/22/2006 SPAIN, Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA), Basque Homeland and Freedom. Releasing a statement to the Basque media – ETA declares a permanent ceasefire.

ETA's symbol – a snake wrapped around an axe – the snake represents politics, and the axe stands for armed struggle.

Just recently, 12/30/2006, ETA broke the ceasefire with a car bomb attack at the Barajas International Airport, Madrid, killing two Ecuadorian immigrants. Why, I have not been able to figure out!

The ETA is a legacy of the popular front of communists, socialists, anarchists, and republicans who fought for freedom and equality against General Franco during the Spanish Civil War 1936-1939. Franco's Fascist regime ruled Spain for another 30 years; ETA was formed in 1959.

ETA is renowned for assassinating Franco's right hand man and pick for successor, Admiral Carrero Blanco. This killing was not condemned, many in Spain still feel indebted to ETA as Blanco's death was clearly the most pivotal event that set Spain FREE, where the Spanish were finally able to establish a democracy.

Carrero Blanco's car pulled up and parked for his routine church service when large explosions caused the car to fly several stories in the air, up and over a three story building landing on the next street over.

The joke in Spain is that their only rocket to outer space was built by the Basques.

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MEXICO, Chiapas, San Andrés Larrainzar, Zapatista

The Zapatista Army of National Liberation (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN) is a revolutionary group based in Chiapas, one of the poorest states of Mexico. Members of the EZLN are mostly indigenous, but are supported by a large international network.

The group takes its name from the Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata; they see themselves as his heirs, and heirs to five hundred years of indigenous resistance against imperialism.

On January 1, 1994, the Zapatistas launched their legendary insurrection in Chiapas as NAFTA came into effect. They called NAFTA a "death sentence" for Mexico's Indians. As changes to the Constitution accompanied the adoption of NAFTA, legally privatizing communal peasant lands -- robbing the residents of lands that were fought for in the Revolution of 1910 to 1919.

Ever since, Zapatismo has played an enormous role in awakening society. The needs of indigenous Mexicans were brought into the national political discussion for the first time; the Zapatistas effectively use radio and Internet communiqués to broadcast their worldview and effect change. On both sides of the border this movement has challenged Mexico’s widespread economic suffering and racial divides, and has reenergized the Chicano movement in the United States.

The struggle on the ground remains extreme; the Mayan Indians face a dire human rights situation and the world media pays little note. Chiapas is pervaded by roadblock after roadblock of heavily armed military troops searching vehicles and harassing travelers of all nationalities. The Mexican government has resorted to using dirty-war tactics to gain control over the state, the Indians face not only harassment but terror. Arbitrary detentions are common. There are more than 100 political prisoners in Chiapas and 20,000 displaced by paramilitary groups.

After twelve years, my heart is with them.

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Nigerian Freedom Fighters

12/21/2006, NIGERIA, Movement for Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), is demanding $1.5 billion in compensation from Royal Dutch Shell for environmental pollution, and asking for a greater share of government oil revenues.

The situation in the Niger Delta dates back to Nigeria's pre-independent colonial days when the Willink (Minorities and Fiscal Commission), in 1958, recommended that the delta region of the Niger should be regarded as a special developmental area requiring particular economic assistance.

This recommendation was never implemented. The number of deaths resulting from poverty and misery in this endangered region as a result of this non-compliance has never been investigated. Throughout the years, children, women and the aged have been massacred in Yenagoa, Odi, Odioma, Warri, Port Harcourt, and many other parts of the Delta due to the low-intensity war.

The most recent group to emerge continuing this struggle are the MEND, who represent the Ijaw people, the majority tribe in the Delta and claim to represent a union of all the militant groups in the Niger Delta.

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Italian Woman With Burka

10/2004 ITALY, Drezzo, a small town near the Swiss border; Sabrina Veroni is fined 80 euros for appearing in public wearing a burka.

An Italian woman who converted to Islam nine years ago and took to veiling her face after performing the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, received two fines from the authorities in the village where she has lived all her life.

There are ten other Muslims in the village, but Sabrina is the only one who wears the veil. The Mayor of Drezzo has strong views on such practices. He has found support from a member of the xenophobic and separatist Northern League, Cristian Tolettini, who found two laws on the books to help stamp them out: one was passed under Mussolini’s fascist rule in 1931, banning the wearing of masks in public; and another dating from 1975, at the height of the Red Brigades scare, forbids the wearing of items that disguise a person’s identity. The Mayor has instructed local police to enforce these laws.

Through her lawyer, Varroni said: “I have been wearing the veil for years, I am Italian, raised in Drezzo, and I have never done any harm to anyone. Why are they so furious with me?”
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Iraqi with ID Number

05/25/2005, IRAQ, Haditha, a U.S. marine writes an identification number on an Iraqi during the second major operation in one month.

In May 2005, U.S. forces launched “Operation New Market” in Haditha to stamp out the insurgents controlling the city.

During the early months of 2005, with the arrival of coalition and Iraqi forces, numerous roadside bombs were discovered and numerous indirect-fire attacks were launched against coalition forces. During these military operations Coalition Forces commit "collateral damage" in local towns and villages, such as broken doors, to total destruction of individual houses, and the killing of innocent civilians.

Today (01/2007) there is one road in and one road out of Haditha. Iraqi police, backed by US Marines, check all travelers and search all vehicles. There are metal wand detectors, mirror plates and bomb sniffing dogs. Anyone wanting to leave has to obtain written permission signed by the U.S. marines. Supply convoys are admitted subject to search. A total ban on vehicle traffic in the town has ended car bombings, suicide car bombings and drive-by shootings.
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Chinese Activist - Don't Buy Japanese Goods

3/26/2004, CHINA, Beijing - activists stand in front of the Japanese embassy demonstrating against Japan's arrest of seven activists who landed on a disputed island, called Diaoyus by China, and Senkakus by Japan.

September 1996 was the first time that an expedition to reclaim the islands from Japan took place.

Ever since, Chinese activists have held protests in an attempt to assert their sovereignty over the island, and have been unsuccessful -- as either their ships are driven away or the Japanese coast guard arrests the activists shortly after landing.
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PALESTINE, al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade

01/13/2007 PALESTINE, Hebron, members of al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, the armed wing of the Fatah Political Party, are celebrating 42 years of the their Party's existence. The Bush administration will give $86.4 million dollars to the Fatah security forces on the condition that they overthrow the Hamas led Palestinian Authority (democratically elected 01/25/2006).

The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades emerged shortly after the intifada (uprising) on Sept. 30, 2000. The uprising is usually referred to as the al-Aqsa intifada, the organization derives its name from the al-Aqsa Mosque, located on top of the disputed holy site in Jerusalem, known as the Temple Mount to the Jews, and the Holy Sanctuary by the Muslims. The al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade was supported and supervised by Arafat's Fatah-Tanzim, an extremist youth military wing of the Fatah movement, and one of Arafat's numerous security forces in the West Bank and Gaza.

Since early 2002, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades carried out more attacks on Israelis than its Islamist counterparts, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. As a result, the U.S. State Department designated the organization a Foreign Terrorist Organization in March 27, 2002. A U.S. policy shift, where the U.S. condemns Fatah, and now supports it has taken place. As they now slap an embargo on the Hamas governed Palestinian Authority.

I'm not saying that the U.S. Congress voted specifically to support the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade but the age-old relationship between political parties and their armed wings needs to be taken in to account. What I am attempting to state is that the U.S. and Israel have taken steps to foment a civil war within Palestine.
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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Shiite Women Mourning

Oil on Canvas
60” x 40”

A field of Iraqi women in mourning. The shinny cross is meant to imply a sword.

Shiite women's sacred mourning rituals are amazing. The women pound their chests, sob and chant couplets and texts. These lamentations link today's Shiite women across time through fourteen centuries, as each new death is transformed into a new narrative which is added to existing memories and then passed on through the generations.

We can learn from these women who have continued to resist and to hope despite unimaginable suffering. They remain strong and defiant, teaching us how to say No to those forces that would deny us of justice, hope and, ultimately life.
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Mary and Joseph

Oil on Canvas
40” x 60”

All the scenes above were taken from a number of Luke Powell’s photographs of Afghanistan. The idea here was to paint something that would counter the necessary prejudices one nation must cultivate in order to wage war against the other. The images of Afghanistan are essentially the images of Christianity ages ago.
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One God - Tree of Life

Oil on Canvas
40” x 60”

This is a painting that evolved out of a drawing I made in Spain. And is basically a look at the three most violent religions on the planet; and the fact that they evolved out of one another.
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Fatima's Embrace of Iraq

Oil on Canvas
40” x 60”

This painting was a response to the fact that virtually ALL media about Iraq ranges from the horrible to the most totally horrific à that not one beautiful piece of art, poem, landscape, or simple human story currently exists in our collective consciousness. By painting the mosques that were destroyed as rebuilt and beautiful; placing the Iraqi flag on former Saddam's Palace turned U.S.-Embassy; adding an Iraqi family enjoying a picnic along the Tigris River. We find ourselves looking at a kind of storybook version of Iraq, as these images do not exist in non-Islamic countries outside of the dream images from the story of Aladdin's Lamp. These images somehow manage to twist the current images of catastrophic reality, tragedy, the Arab-demonizing, symbols into that of a child’s dream. Add to that dream, the real dream, the U.S. Military leaving Iraq to Iraqis.
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Bombing Congress

Oil on Canvas
36” x 36"

"The republican national committee is responsible for this advertisement . . ."

After viewing an advertisement released by the Republican National Committee on October 19, 2006, I was so furious that I decided to make a painting. Paint exactly what the Advertisement implies. Look at it, yes, it looks ridiculous! Who's bombing congress, the Arabs or the Republicans?

The advertisement is called “The Stakes”, which includes quotes from two al-Qaeda leaders, still not found (at large) – Osama bin Laden and Ayman Al-Zawahiri. Certain phrases are repeated twice like “kill the Americans” or “suitcase bombs”. The only sound is that of a ticking bomb, which grows progressively louder, followed by the sound of a beating heart, brief video clips of explosions and terrorists in training, and ending with an explosion and the message "These Are The Stakes. Vote Nov. 7."

AND, most of the footage for this advertisement is taken from Al-Jazeera, as they state the source along with day, month and year of the footage. These maniacs, not only was the US-military responsible for three attacks on Al Jazeera and the killing of their journalists; they turn around and use their footage to attempt to persuade the US public that they should VOTE Republican!!!


If they really did believe their own advertisement, they would be promoting some kind of general awareness among the populace about this threat, and what precautionary measures should be taken. Like, nuclear response training, basic nuclear fallout knowledge, like DEFENSE. Not just offense, an offense that is stupid, creating more enemies by the minute.

There are pills that can be taken to help children especially if they happen to be located within 100 miles of a nuclear explosion. People should lock themselves in their houses for a week; anything that was exposed to the outdoors they should not be allowed inside their houses. They should probably consider staying at home, instead of risking worse exposure by attempting to flee in the midst of traffic.

I've said enough for now!
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Psychological Operations and Art

This was first written as my ARTIST STATEMENT, titled Artists Statement and Manifesto, by Marijo Zilstra.

It was a kind of therapeutic thing to do, writing about myself some 25 years ago, attempting to remember who I once was, and who I am now. So, apologies for mentioning, Kim did this and Kim did that over and over, repetitive.

Also, it's intentions were to write about art using the language that I use when writing about US-foreign-policy, rather than the language of the art-world. Seeking new ways of evaluating art.

Hope you enjoy the ideas being tossed about ...

P.S. painting by Jackson Pollock (just one of the many "great artists" of the 20th century)

Marijo Zilstra – Artist History and Manifesto
December 10, 2006
By Kim Alphandary


Marijo Browning was once a contributing Artist to the L.A. Art-Scene during the 1980's.  Her art evolved out of Minimalism, Installation Art and Conceptual Art.  At this time, most Artists believed that painting was a dead art form.  Marijo chose to continue painting because she believed that there were indeed very real possibilities for Artists to create something "new" using the antiquated art form of painting.  At this point it must be stated that the first and foremost important rule for the modern Artist was to create something that was new and original, something never seen before.  Marijo chose to paint following the minimalist tradition, which was a method of painting that examined painting as an object, a study of art itself using mostly geometric images.  Marijo modified this style of painting by replacing the square, lines or rectangle with recognizable two-dimensional images -- Minimalism was reversed, the discussion moved toward ideas outside of Art.  Another way of explaining this would be to say that Marijo's paintings were idea oriented.  Each and every painting Marijo made was totally and entirely different from the other, not even close to some kind of a serial painting project that was also popular at the time.  Marijo's paintings analyzed indigenous art, modern art, and vaguely talked about the world of images and their meaning or converted meanings in our lives, creating a kind of modern political-lite type art.


Marijo eventually stopped all art activity because she rejected the code of behavior for up-and-coming modern-Artists at that time.  The standards that were pushed upon the Artist in the 80's were an unintended contribution to the continual suppression of the Artist in our society.   The Artist was to act out the faulty myth of Artist-as-bohemian -- the once groovy European streets of Paris decades before transplanted to the very non-European streets of L.A.  Young, very poor Artists were supposed to live "creative" lives in the most wretched enclaves of Los Angeles; living in fear for their lives because of the ghetto they inhabited, or cohabiting downtown streets with the many thousands of desperate homeless people.  There were no bars and cafes where people gathered to discuss art and philosophy, in its stead was: how you dressed, art openings and rabid competition.  Shabby living conditions and friend shattering competitiveness were the least sinister aspects of the absurd LA-Artists existence. The fact is that Artists, while living in squalor, were expected to produce a form of art that did not remotely address anything about their daily lives: injustice, crime, hate, poverty or even love for that matter.  The art was to be about itself, it's own isolationist history -- art as a so-called-sophisticated artifact.


Marijo, with limited skills and knowledge of the world at that time of her life, sought to remedy her confusion about that environment by falling back on a habit that she'd picked up at a very young age -- traveling the world.  After searching for many years, Kim found herself!  She became a radio and print journalist, and activist.


After five years of working as an activist/journalist, she returned to painting when she was living in Spain, 2003 to 2004.  The return to painting occurred accidentally.  Journalistic pursuits in the small town she resided in were non-existent.  The moment Marijo decided to paint again occurred when she noticed that the Spanish held an unusually high regard for painting.  This time around Marijo decided to paint how a journalist would -- she chose to cover the Iraq War.  So that her Art could reach a larger audience, she decided to adopt a more realistic style of painting.  And since Mexican Art and Culture had long influenced her, she also chose to re-create existing religious iconography into a format that would illustrate the stories she was covering.  Marijo had a show at the Casa de Cultura in Ronda, Malaga, Spain.  The show was extremely anti-Iraq-war, and illustrated some of the most gruesome aspects of the US occupation of Iraq.  The poor innocent Spanish people, who were the first nation to pull their troops out of the "coalition of the willing", and in fact are extremely anti-American, were shocked; many cried after viewing the onslaught of images that she had to share with them.  Marijo has since returned to the states and been given another opportunity to have an exhibition, she is painting again.  It aint a pretty picture I can tell you that.  This time she is attempting to address a large range of politically volatile topics, with a definite focus on the dark side.  She needs time! And more Time to really pay this very worthy endeavor its due.


To add further analysis to society's oppression of the Artist, here is a list of specific tasks that western Artists dutifully execute:  Artists aspire to the American Dream, Artists lead the advance in the process of gentrification, Artists create art for the ultra-wealthy and, Artists remain ignorant and undereducated.

1)  The American Dream: We have people with creative inclinations fighting for the one-in-a-million "famous Artist" spot, just like the white rapper, Eminem, or any number of newly-rich famous people that then turn their backs on their past and flee straight into assuming their new role as a wealthy, don't give a damn about your fellow man type person.  Now that they are on the other side of the fence -- and for once in their lives could actually effect positive change by contributing to the very community that birthed them -- they instead embrace the task of developing a new skill-set: super-calabunga-consumerism.

2)  Leading Gentrificationers:  As far as the oppression of Artists is concerned, this is a great training ground.  This is where these once sensitive souls gain the necessary desensitization to become colonialists.  Where Artists learn how to exist in a community where they do not belong, nor have connections with, nor feel any responsibility toward that radically unjust reality.  This type of conditioning produces in the Artist a complete inability to see the oppressed human beings around them, neighbors are rendered totally invisible.   This desensitization prepares the Artist to be able to participate in the brutal competitiveness of the art-world -- no second thoughts about stabbing friend or foe in the back.

3)  Art for the Ultra-Wealthy: The purpose, especially of modern Artists, is to please the wealthy, or another term would be the "owning-class" who are conditioned from a very young age to become uncaring, insensitive, and isolated in order for them to successfully perpetuate their class as rulers -- so that they can without batting an eye, practice all kinds of nasty forms of oppression.  Back to the Artist, once the Artist joins the gentrificationers and is trained to identify with his benefactor, he is a much more pleasant and compliant servant.  And more importantly, the dislocated Artist has long forgotten any kind of solidarity he felt toward his old friends and therefore will work to repress any attacks against his patrons and their station in society.  This brings an image to mind; the Mau-Mau Rebellion in Kenya where a large number of African servants rose up and killed their beloved white "masters". [1]

4)  Ignorant and Undereducated: Artists attend Institutions of Higher Education.  Our universities are filled with bad Artists that are extremely good at political-maneuvering.  And of course, since these professors love their jobs, their privilege, and have a good understanding of just exactly how scarce cushy teaching jobs are -- professors support the status quo.  Artists are cranked out, supposedly creating something "new" and in all actuality are creating the same ole' shit all the other students are creating -- big, big paintings, sloppy paint, and about, hum, it's kind of hard to figure out what the hell these paintings are about.  They've been taught nothing about anything except for the, I'll admit intellectually challenging, History of Art--for-arts-sake.   Art about anything else is not studied.  This is another guarantee that Artists will remain easily oppressible.

By following these four tenets of behavior, Artists have become self-neutralizing. Once upon a time, the Artist was an extreme threat to society.  This is because they could seriously destabilize existing power structures with their skills: acting, writing, painting, and philosophizing.  The Artist was once what is now termed, a Psychological Operations Warrior.  A British military analyst, J. F. C. Fuller in 1920 predicted that the traditional means of warfare might someday become,

“. . . replaced by a purely psychological warfare, wherein weapons are not used or battlefields sought. . . the corruption of the human reason, the dimming of the human intellect, and the disintegration of the moral and spiritual life of one nation by the influence of the will of another is accomplished.” [2]

In the case of this country, perhaps this has already come to pass.  Psychological Operations have been directed toward us more than they have been toward any other peoples.  Virtually all media in this country has been infiltrated by various governmental agencies.  Speaking only in terms of the psychological-battlefield, not including any of the other catastrophes, i.e. preemptive war, the removal of habeas corpus and the sanctioning of torture.  Looking at this small section of society that falls under the category of Artist, the self-neutralized Artist, coupled with advances in Psychological Operations – we have already lost the war, a battle that should have been fought by us, the Artists, but was never waged.


Slap me in the face, wake me up! 


1.  The "Mau Mau Rebellion" of 1952 to 1959 was in fact a struggle for independence.  The British used psychological warfare to depict the Mau Mau as murderous mobs that killed their white masters.  During this eight-year time period the Mau Mau killed only 32 white civilians, while killing 2,000 African civilians.  The British killed 11,000 insurgents; recent research indicates that up to 100,000 Kenyans died, many through torture, starvation and neglect in the British prison camps.  Mau Mau veterans to sue Britain over torture and illegal killings in Kenya, The Guardian Unlimited, by Chris McGreal.   06 October 2006. Url:,,1888754,00.html

2.  The Art and Science of Psychological Operations: Case Studies of Military Application, Volume One, US Department of the Army, by William E. Daugherty, April 1976.  Url:
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Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Yep, I decided to follow the Virgin of Guadalupe model and make a candle ... if you want to buy one they are $10.00, plus shipping costs.

Fatima, the Virgin of Abu Ghraib

Fatima, an Iraqi woman who was the sister of a suspected resistance fighter, was arrested and imprisoned at Abu Ghraib when US Troops raided her house and failed to find her brother. Fatima managed to smuggle a letter out to her family. Here is an excerpt from her heart-wrenching letter:

"I am your sister in God (Fatima). The raped me on one day more than nine times. Can you comprehend! Imagine your sister being raped. Why can't you imagine it, as I am your sister. With me are 13 girls, all unmarried. All have been raped before the eyes and ears of everyone! Brothers, I tell you again, fear God! Kill us with them so that we might be at peace. Help! Help! Help!"

Fatima's elder brother organized a hundred men and launched an attack on the prison; Fatima was struck fatally in the head during the bombardment and died January 7, 2005.

Prayer of Peace to Fatima

God of the poor and the oppressed,
May we follow our Lord Jesus, who became poor,
Who suffered to liberate captives from bondage.
Bind the hands of tyrants,
Silence those who invoke your name as they torment others.
Send your Holy Spirit of comfort into every cell, into every heart,
Loving God, who causes war to cease,
Proclaim to us your holy gospel,
Announcing the healing of the nations,
Calling ever tongue, tribe, and nation to promote peace,
Change from the inside out,
So that we might act justly, love mercy and walk humbly, Amen.

by Flora Olivera (Mexico) 2004
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Thursday, September 08, 2005

Art Exhibitions in Spain

The following posts on this blog, from "Shots in the Head" through "Fatima, the Virgin of Abu Ghraib" were exibited in Spain.

Art Exhibition Title: “For Peace” and ““Themes and Dreams”
Artists: Maryjo Zilstra and Annabelle Lim
Place: Casa de Cultura
Address: Ronda, (Málaga), Spain
Date: July 21st through August 4th, 2005

The painting was sold for $50 euros, I'm not good at making money! The drawings are currently on exibit at the Cafe Voltaire, Ronda, Malaga, Spain. All the drawings, except for "Fire, the same roots and only one tree", are drawings taken from photographs, with the date of publication included in the titles.

The painting, "Fatima, the Virgin of Abu Ghraib" took me two months to complete. And includes a text about a story that is one of the most powerful modern myths to emerge out of the war in Iraq. The story of Fatima was widely distributed in the mainstream Islamic press; from the publication of Fatima's letter, the subsequent bombing of the prison, her funeral, and interviews with neighbors. And in English, the story only appeared in a few minor Internet News Services. I created this painting because it gave me an opportunity to deal with one of the most understated, not talked about crimes in this world: RAPE IN TIMES OF WAR.

Please feel free to reprint or repost, please feel free to contact me for larger .jpg files.
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Shots in the Head

A newspaper from the UK (I don't remember the name of the paper) came out with this article on July 23, 2005, the second day of my art show. They had no photographers on the scene, but were able to reconstruct events from a series of interviews that they conducted. Something that I've never seen a major US newspaper do, use an artist to depict events. Such a horrific event as this needs to be exposed.

In case you're unaware of this event ... Jean Charles de Menezes, a Brazilian electrician was mistakenly gunned down by anti-terrorist police at Stockwell tube station, he was shot eight times in the head. Mr De Menezes, 27, died on Friday, the day after the failed suicide bombings on London's transport network.

Basically, the folks in the UK have gone stark-raving mad, Londoners were telling me that people-of-color were no longer traveling on the subways, nor daring to carry a backpack, and that the buses were empty.
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Fire - the same roots and only one tree

The title "FIRE" was mainly intended to help the viewer understand that this Tree-of-Life is in fact, on fire. This is a a sketch for a painting, as I'm searching for a means to emphasize the connections and similarities between these three religions:

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Against the desecration of the Koran

US-Flag and Israeli-Flag painted on the floor of the entry-way of a mosque in Basra, Iraq. May 2005.
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A contractor-mercenary SNIPER, January 2005.
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Bombing mission, January 2005.
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Suicide Bomber

What a suicide bomber looks like .... this particular bombing took place June 2005. I think that many of the suicide bombers are coming into Iraq from Saudi Arabia and Iran.
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US military man attempting to celebrate Halloween with the most similar vegetable available, a watermelon. I felt this was possibly more sinister than a graphic war-image!
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Iraqi Prisoner

A drawing of a photo that I believe appeared on the cover of the New Yorker, December 2003.
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Transport to Guantanamo

Drawing of a photo that was smuggled to the net via an anonymous US military person, November 2002.
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Make Shift Cemetary in Football Field

The title speaks for itself. Make-shift cemetary, during first invasion of Fallujah, April 2004.
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Ali, son of the profit

I waited at my art opening for a friend to arrive that spoke arabic, he explained to me that this symbol signified Ali, not thinking straight, I mixed up Ali with Allah. Thus the marking out of God. Those that pray to Ali are Shiite.
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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Bombing Falluja, Iraq - November 2004

Drawing this photograph pushes this image, this radical tradegy, into even more remoteness. One more step removed from the images that were presented to us on television.
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Friday, July 15, 2005

Fatima, the Virgin of Abu Ghraib

Title: Fatima, the Virgin of Abu Ghraib

Materials: Oil Painting
Dimensions: 44’’ by 44’’

This painting is dedicated to Fatima, an Iraqi woman who was held in Abu Ghraib Prison*.

Fatima was arrested sometime in 2004 and managed to smuggle a letter out to her family. Here is an excerpt from her heart-wrenching letter:

“… I am your sister in God (Fatima). They raped me on one day more than nine times. Can you comprehend? Imagine one of your sisters being raped. Why can't you all imagine it, as I am your sister. With me are 13 girls, all unmarried. All have been raped before the eyes and ears of everyone… Brothers, I tell you again, fear God! Kill us with them so that we might be at peace. Help! Help! Help!”

Fatima's elder brother organized a hundred men and launched an attack on the prison; Fatima was struck fatally in the head during the bombardment and died on December 21, 2004.

The case of Fatima is not unique; many Iraqi women have sent messages begging loved ones to ‘please kill us all.’ U.S. guards are perpetrating systemic abuse and torture against Iraqi women who are held in indefinite detention without charge; this is happening not just at Abu Ghraib but all across Iraq.

In my opinion, the rape of Fatima was one universal rape of all women of this world that cuts across all races, colors, ideologies and creeds.

This author painted Fatima's Story, investigated and reported her Story in the hopes that MAN(humankind) will never again, I'll repeat this, NEVER AGAIN view the rape of women during times of war as a conqueror's perk or privledge. The consequences of this type of despicable behavior for the perpetrator and the victim are oftentimes worse than death. ENOUGH, NO MORE!

* Abu Ghraib prison is located in Iraq and came to the notice of the world when the New Yorker article by Seymour M. Hersh of April 30, 2004 publicized several graphic photos of prisoner abuse by personnel of the U.S. armed forces, CIA officers and contractors involved in the occupation of Iraq.

Update 01/2007: As far as the Fatima story goes, two months ago a jihad video was published, a Saudi Arabian came to Iraq, and was filmed: post-posthumously-marrying Fatima, then strapped on explosives, and into the streets blowing up himself and others. This is aside the fact that every Islamic newspaper (Indonesia, Pakistan, Persia, and Arabic countries), has been covering the Fatima story extensively – publishing letter, prison bombing, funeral, interviews with neighbors, etc.
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Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Why I Chose To Paint Fatima

“Fatima, the Virgin of Abu Ghraib”
Why I Chose to Create This Painting
July 23, 2005, By Kim Alphandary

Kim Alphandary spent her formative years as a modern artist, after devoting ten years to that endeavor she became disillusioned and quit; and eventually chose to express her creativity as a freelance journalist covering U.S. foreign policy. Here she talks about her recent decision to pick up the brush again and create a series of anti-war art that is currently on exhibition in Spain.

My art show consists of one painting and 12 large drawings. The most important work in the show is a painting titled “Fatima, the Virgin of Abu Ghraib”. This painting is an illustration of one woman’s story in Iraq, a story that has become a modern day myth. It is a powerful tale about how a women and her family deal with rape during times of war.

Beginning to Paint Again

My daughter and I moved from the United States to Spain late last summer to live in Spain for a year. My daughter attended the local high school while I worked from home.

As we lived in Ronda, I kept bumping into artists who were having art shows, ranging from amateur to professional. The idea occurred to me, if Spain is so supportive of the arts, why don’t I paint something too? Eventually I found the courage, booked a show at the local “Casa de Cultura” (Culture House), with two and a half months to create a few paintings. I ran down and bought some oil paints, I’d always wanted to paint in Oil. Also, the idea of painting again had been brewing in my mind for the last couple of years. I’d been slowly but surely, along with my normal obsession of following the news, Colombia, Afghanistan and Iraq in particular, began collecting photographs.

I started my first painting on rough canvas to see where and how I was going to approach this project, what’s my style, and more basically, teach myself how to paint in Oil. It was a painting of the bombing of Fallujah. I thought that it would be interesting to push these types of images even further, make the bombing look so beautiful, remote and awesome, that it’s extreme lack of reality would shock you into dealing with that very reality. The painting was turning out okay, but the canvas was of such poor quality that it buckled and twisted, and just turned into a mess.

Chronological Account of my relationship with Fatima

Once the Abu Ghraib scandal was exposed by Seymour Hersh I began to notice occasional comments on the Internet like, “What about the women?” “Are there any women in Iraq? These small pleas kind of silently entered my consciousness but never really took root, as in; I did not make a deliberate decision to research this topic.

Then I stumbled across the story of Fatima, more than once, and suddenly, so moved by the story, and hit with an idea of how I wanted to deal with it, I immediately began painting; I bought a stretched canvas this time and went to work. I was especially struck by this story, realizing that this is a powerful modern myth. Myths are great, as Diego Rivera illustrated in his transformation of Mexican society’s understanding of itself, creating new myths that sought the truth in just how their mixed race society came into existence.

Another element to the idea of how I was going to portray this myth was based on a commitment that I developed as a journalist, to never create a story that portrays the actors as victims and nothing more, to make sure to give voice to their purpose, courage and dignity.

Fatima, in writing her letter to her family showed such incredible courage in being willing to write something so brutally honest, especially when considering her religion and culture, much less the fact that she was an extremely young and shy woman.

So. The idea I had was to paint her with the ultimate cultural dignity that I could, as a Virgin, using the symbolism that is found everywhere in the Southern U.S. and Mexico, the Virgin of Guadalupe. I also wanted to paint a painting that could appeal to the widest audience possible, paint for the East and the West. I verified all the symbolism that I used with Islamic friends of mine. Green for the cloak, green for Islam. The hands were transformed into those of Christ bound by rope, as Islamic people do not pray with their hands cupped together as shown in all of the Virgin of Guadalupe paintings. Though, I am beginning to discover that I am a rare bird, no matter which way I go, from extremely intellectual modern art to my “art for the masses”; I’ve painted something that most people cannot or do not want to deal with. RAPE. No matter what kind of incredible dignity that victim might display, no matter how great and strong that person might be.

Why Did I Create this Painting?

I created this painting because it gave me an opportunity to deal with one of the most understated, not talked about crimes in this world. Men too suffer incredible crimes, this is true, so do women. Even though sexual crimes in times of war have become the focus of increased public attention in the last decade, as we stand witness to the reporting on Iraq, we can see that we have a long way to go.

The painting took two months to complete, painting almost full time. Many times I would have quit if it had not been for my commitment to the retelling of Fatima’s story. The fact that I believed in this painting was unshakable. I continually researched this topic as I painted, the more I learned the more committed I became. I cried. I listened to Irish music the whole time I painted; the music gave me the spiritual peace of mind to be able to paint. Why did I cry? For Fatima. For all the peoples of Iraq. And for myself.

I was raped by a number of soldiers in 1980, in Bolivia, I was picked up by a roving truck of soldiers, it was curfew, they rounded up all persons in the streets that were out past ten o’clock. The ordeal lasted for some eight hours. At that time I was young, I’d been to art school, but never really read any books or had any kind of ability to write, or awareness of anything beyond the world that I could see or touch. I never sought counseling. Throughout the years I shared my secret with a handful of friends. If awoken at night, I would awake in a panic, looking around, carefully calculating where I was, what country or place or home was I in, was it safe. Only now, 25 years later, during the process of painting this painting, have I gained the ability to tell almost anyone about what happened 25 years ago.

Art Show

With my art show scheduled for the 21^st of July, I realized there was no way that I was going to be able to fill the gallery with paintings, as one painting was not yet complete, so I invited a friend to show her work as well. There were still two walls that needed to be covered. So, I decided to whip out as many sketches as I could in charcoal. I took the photos that I’d collected and began to draw them. All the drawings had a large upper border where I put large titles and dates, the date indicating when what they are looking at actually happened. The bombing of Fallujah finally got a voice, I also drew the make-shift cemetery in a football field in Fallujah, a sniper, a suicide bomber, an Iraqi in prayer, a US marine carving a watermelon for Halloween, etc, etc.

I don’t know if I’ve done anyone any favors. I don’t know at all if I should have drawn these drawings. The show has been open for two days now. People come into the gallery with a happy look on their faces; they are going to enjoy themselves by looking at some art. My friend’s art is quite colorful, kind of a cross between Joan Miro and folkloric art from India, two walls worth. Then they stumble across my drawings. Some move quickly, others more slowly, most seem to stop and contemplate the suicide bomber’s remains, calculating that that must be what is left of a person who has had explosives attached to their waist. Some look at the painting for only a minute and leave, others take the time to read the story on the wall. All, except for a few friends, leave the gallery quickly, a few in tears, nobody has questions, no one wants to talk. I am not at all sure about what I’ve attempted to do. An experiment in forms of expression, forms of activism, I will most likely leave behind the world of art and return to journalism as my form of self-expression.
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Thursday, July 29, 2004

Wondering what happened to Iraq's Womens Army ...

I found this photo on the net before the bombing of Bagdad and had been wondering ever since, what happened to these women when finally I stumbled across the following article, which i edited down for simplicity.

Thursday, July 29, 2004, By Hannah Allam, Knight Ridder Newspapers

Women fighters among Mahdi Army militia signal cleric building military might

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Umm Muhammad's green eyes flashed one day last week as she listened to the imam at a rundown Baghdad mosque preach about how women should be silent and unseen, traveling only "from the home to the grave."

She knew the edict didn't apply to her; the same imam had blessed her before battle when she became one of the first female commanders in rebel cleric Muqtada al Sadr's Mahdi Army militia.

"Even my husband didn't know I was fighting, or he pretended not to know," Umm Muhammad, 34, said. "He tells me, `One day you're going to go and never come back.' I tell him I dream of martyrdom."

The presence of women in the ranks of al Sadr's militia is another troubling sign that al Sadr, who has said he's considering forming a political party, is building his military capability. ... Now, with a cease-fire and a government ban on militias in place, al Sadr's Mahdi Army is relying more on women like Umm Muhammad - smart, covert and willing to die - to transport guns and gather intelligence... At least 150 women in the Mahdi Army are being trained as suicide bombers, weapons experts and intelligence agents... Women fought alongside men during al Sadr's uprising against U.S. forces in April, and at least two female guerrillas died in combat. Their funeral banners proclaimed them "shaheeda," the feminine form of the Arabic word for martyr.

Sabriya Beqal, a 50-year-old mother of eight, was killed by U.S. fire last month as she was bringing water to the Mahdi Army fighters camped out in her courtyard, her family said. Her sons and other militiamen carried her coffin to the cemetery and noted the shock of passersby who overheard that the fallen fighter was a woman.

"No less than 10 Americans will be killed to avenge my mother," said Beqal's 25-year-old son, Ahmed. "She was such an honor for us. All my friends wish their mothers could be martyrs, too. When we're all dead, we know the women will still be there, fighting."

Shiite clerics and militiamen who were once reluctant to embrace female fighters now hail their sacrifices. A popular recruiting video for the Mahdi Army features two veiled women - one wearing a necklace of hand grenades, the other holding an assault rifle with an ammunition belt slung across her black robe... Last week, a newspaper aligned with al Sadr ran a front-page story under the headline, "The Mothers of Mahdi Army." The accompanying photo showed an elderly woman hitching up her robes as she fired a mortar round.

... Umm Muhammad, who's now seven months pregnant, received her own brigade in the early months of her pregnancy and shared the weapons expertise she calls "the only benefit" reaped from Saddam's regime. Saddam made gun training mandatory for women during the Iran-Iraq war. Umm Muhammad - who taught her soldiers how to aim a grenade launcher through a veil - has since earned the nickname "Lightning Bolt" from her impressed comrades for her sharp shooting.

... On a sweltering Friday this month, Umm Muhammad's soldiers offered her kisses instead of salutes. They pushed her toward the only chair in the teeming women's section of the mosque, in deference to her pregnancy.

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Thursday, June 24, 2004

The National Liberation Army (ELN) of Colombia released their two hostages sometime in December 2003. A German woman and a Spanish man.

I never saved the story, AP articles are usually pretty boring, especially articles about hostage-releases.

Looks to me like they were treated well -- I mean, they look healthy, and the farewell seems like fun. And the German gal, she looks like a beautiful woman who can kick-ass!!

Something like ten Colombians are kidnapped a day in a population of 30 million. It's a kind of built-in tax system for the privledeged -- the phycological-tax of kidnapping.

So much for Colombia today anyway!!
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Wednesday, June 23, 2004

I stumbled across this photo of two protestors in Spain ...
powerful and beautiful ...

When the Prestige oil tanker sank on November 13th, 2002, millions of people were shocked by the gravity of the ecological and economic consequences. Fishermen were trying to hold back the waves of oil with their hands, huge black slicks along one of Europe's most beautiful coastlines, and the thousands of volunteers who struggled with the clean up.

Massive public protests were held throughout Spain,
their motto -- 'Nunca Mas' or 'Never More'.

Posted by Hello
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