Considering the Ankara Assassination Photos As History Painting

Jerry Saltz writing on Burhan Ozbilici’s powerful photographs of the assassination of Russian ambassador Andrey G. Karlov in Istanbul:

In this image, frozen perpetual motion — an entire scene of action and worldview is caught in an instant. Notice the picture is in perfect focus. This is not the shaky, out-of-focus, ill-framed onlooker iPhone shot of assassinations and revolutions past. Ozbilici is obviously a pro, there on assignment — in a dark irony, on assignment to cover an art party. And the setting is surely an element of the image’s strangeness — again, it feels both quotidian and “staged.” The gallery lighting balances and color-corrects everything, theatricalizes it all the more, making the action that much more striking. Look close and notice the key factor: This picture is taken from eye level. The photographer isn’t running away, hiding, in another room or in a crouch. Whether cravenly or by instinct, the photographer immediately reacted, moved into the action from almost straight on and framed the picture perfectly. He or she values frontality, clarity, structure, density, form. This is far from an accidental image. This is a radically self-determined picture, instantly polemical, powerfully formal.

Worth linking here is the New York Times summation of the assassination, which not only has more of Ozbilici’s photos in higher resolution, but also gives more context to the act itself:

Russia’s ambassador to Turkey was assassinated at an Ankara art exhibit on Monday evening by a lone Turkish gunman shouting “God is great!” and “don’t forget Aleppo, don’t forget Syria!” in what the leaders of Turkey and Russia called a provocative terrorist attack.

The gunman, described by Turkish officials as a 22-year-old off-duty police officer, also wounded at least three others in the assault on the envoy, Andrey G. Karlov, which was captured on video. Turkish officials said the assailant was killed by other officers in a shootout.

Fidel Castro is dead

by: Glenn Garvin

on: The Miami Herald

Fidel Castro, who towered over his Caribbean island for nearly five decades, a shaggy-bearded figure in combat fatigues whose long shadow spread across Latin America and the world, is dead at age 90. His brother Raul announced the death late Friday night. …

Few national leaders have inspired such intense loyalty — or such a wrenching feeling of betrayal. Few fired the hearts of the world’s restless youth as Castro did when he was young, and few seemed so irrelevant as Castro when he was old — the last Communist, railing on the empty, decrepit street corner that Cuba became under his rule. …

He also was a ruthless dictator, the Maximum Leader who reneged on his promise of free elections, executed thousands of opponents, imprisoned tens of thousands, installed a Communist regime and made his island a pawn in the Cold War. His alliance with the Soviet Union brought the world to the brink of nuclear war in 1962. …

Meant to post this yesterday; someone on Twitter called it the definitive obituary, and that doesn’t seem off.

File under: this week in ’20th century recedes ever faster into the past.’

The surveillance economy has 67 days to disarm before Trump is sworn in

by:  CORY DOCTOROW

on: boingboing

The Obama administration asserted the power to raid the massive databases of peoples’ private, sensitive information that ad-based tech companies have assembled; the Trump administration has promised to use Obama’s powers to effect the surveillance and deportation of 11 millions undocumented migrants, and the ongoing, continuous surveillance of people of Muslim heritage.

Companies like Google and Facebook have 67 days to minimize their data collection and retention before Trump is sworn in. That’s 67 days during which they can take a hard, close look at how much of their data they actually need to do their jobs, and how much they’re storing because hard drives are cheap and someone might have a cool idea down the line somewhere.

63 days and counting…

AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY – David Remnick

The election of Donald Trump to the Presidency is nothing less than a tragedy for the American republic, a tragedy for the Constitution, and a triumph for the forces, at home and abroad, of nativism, authoritarianism, misogyny, and racism. Trump’s shocking victory, his ascension to the Presidency, is a sickening event in the history of the United States and liberal democracy. On January 20, 2017, we will bid farewell to the first African-American President—a man of integrity, dignity, and generous spirit—and witness the inauguration of a con who did little to spurn endorsement by forces of xenophobia and white supremacy. It is impossible to react to this moment with anything less than revulsion and profound anxiety.

GLENN BECK TRIES OUT DECENCY – Nicholas Schmidle

Saw lots of screen-caps of this going around Twitter today. It’s eye opening but not that shocking.

“I did a lot of freaking out about Barack Obama.” But, he said, “Obama made me a better man.” He regrets calling the President a racist and counts himself a Black Lives Matter supporter. “There are things unique to the African-American experience that I cannot relate to,” he said. “I had to listen to them.”

Beck’s interactions with Donald Trump helped, too. He told a story of Trump summoning him to a guest room at Mar-a-Lago; Trump then telephoned him from an adjacent room. “We had this weird, almost Howard Hughes-like conversation,” Beck said. He left convinced that Trump was nuts. “This guy is dangerously unhinged,” he said. “And, for all the things people have said about me over the years, I should be able to spot Dangerously Unhinged.”

But really, where’s the commentary about this bit:

“I’m at a Dadaist time in my life,” he said. “So much of what I used to believe was either always a sham or has been made into a sham. There’s nothing deep.”

Has the irony not been lost?