May 12th, 2006

Chris Keeley

This is a man who's been accused of very serious crimes, and who, as far as I can tell, has no acade

Georgetown Faculty Object to Appointment of Iraq War Architect Douglas Feith as Professor in School of Foreign Service
Thursday, May 11th, 2006

http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=06/05/11/1445248
A number of faculty members at Georgetown University are objecting to the appointment of Douglas Feith - the former Under Secretary of Defense and a chief architect of the invasion of Iraq - as a visiting professor in the School of Foreign Service. We host a debate with one of the key faculty members speaking out and the dean of the school. Collapse )
Chris Keeley

William Gibson on NSA wiretapping

William Gibson on NSA wiretapping 
http://www.radioopensource.org/the-nsas-new-new-phone-database/

Open Source Radio did a special yesterday on the NSA's indiscriminate, illegal wiretapping of American citizens, revealed in an expose in yesterday's USA Today. They got William Gibson on for a rare interview and he was fascinating, trying to place this in context as a spasm generated by humanity's inability to master its technologies. Audio starts about 34 minutes in.
I can't explain it to you, but it has a powerful deja vu. When I got up this morning and read the USA Today headline, I thought the future had been a little more evenly distributed. Now we've all got some...

The interesting thing about meta-projects in the sense in which I used them [in the NYT editorial] is that I don't think species know what they're about. I don't think humanity knows why we do any of this stuff. A couple hundred years down the road, when people look back at what the NSA has done, the significance of it won't be about terrorism or Iraq or the Bush administration or the American Constitution, it will be about how we're driven by emerging technologies and how we struggle to keep up with them...

I'm particularly enamored of the idea of a national security "bubble..." Technologies don't emerge unless there's someone who thinks he can make a bundle by helping them emerge...

I've been watching with keen interest since the first NSA scandal: I've noticed on the Internet that there aren't many people really shocked by this. Our popular culture, our dirt-ball street culture teaches us from childhood that the CIA is listening to *all* of our telephone calls and reading *all* of our email anyway.

I keep seeing that in the lower discourse of the Internet, people saying, "Oh, they're doing it anyway." In some way our culture believes that, and it's a real problem, because evidently they haven't been doing it anyway, and now that they've started, we really need to pay attention and muster some kind of viable political response.

It's very hard to get some people on-board because they think it's a fait accompli...

I think it's [the X-Files, Nixon wiretapping, science fiction]. I think it's predicated in our delirious sense of what's been happening to us as a species for the past 100 years. During the Cold War it was almost comforting to believe that the CIA was reading everything...

In the very long view, this will turn out to be about how we deal with the technological situation we find ourselves in now. We've gotten somewhere we've never been before. It's very interesting. In the short term, I've taken the position that it's very, very illegal and I hope something is done about it.

Link
Chris Keeley

The tune for "Yesterday" came to Paul McCartney in a dream...

Inventions and creations inspired by dreams

BrilliantDreams -- a site for lucid dreaming -- hosts a page of famous discoveries and inventions inspired by dreams, like the dream in which Friedrich August Kekulé von Stradonitz discovered the Benzene molecule:
"...I was sitting writing on my textbook, but the work did not progress; my thoughts were elsewhere. I turned my chair to the fire and dozed. Again the atoms were gamboling before my eyes. This time the smaller groups kept modestly in the background. My mental eye, rendered more acute by the repeated visions of the kind, could now distinguish larger structures of manifold conformation; long rows sometimes more closely fitted together all twining and twisting in snake-like motion. But look! What was that? One of the snakes had seized hold of its own tail, and the form whirled mockingly before my eyes. As if by a flash of lightning I awoke; and this time also I spent the rest of the night in working out the consequences of the hypothesis."
Link
http://www.brilliantdreams.com/product/famous-dreams.htm
Chris Keeley

Freedom to Tinker

Diebold voting machines can be 0wned in minutes

Diebold's notoriously insecure voting machines -- in use across the USA -- have been found to have an even deeper vulnerability than previously known. A new report by Harri Hursti, released on BlackBoxVoting, documents how an attacker with a few moments' of private physical access to a machine could compromise it and load it with his own software, compromising every function of the machine, including the ability to count votes.

Ed Felten and Avi Rubin have written an excellent summary and analysis of the Hursti paper and published it on Freedom to Tinker -- if you care about whether you vote gets counted in 2006, read this now.

Hursti’s findings suggest the possibililty of other attacks, not described in his report, that are even more worrisome.

In addition, compromised machines would be very difficult to detect or to repair. The normal procedure for installing software updates on the machines could not be trusted, because malicious code could cause that procedure to report success, without actually installing any updates. A technician who tried to update the machine’s software would be misled into thinking the update had been installed, when it actually had not.

On election day, malicious software could refuse to function, or it could silently miscount votes.

Link 
http://www.freedom-to-tinker.com/?p=1014
Chris Keeley

Blacks and Hispanics are barred from becoming full members of organized crime by Mafia protocol, whi

May 12, 2006 Grisly Mob Killing at S.I. Mansion Is Detailed By WILLIAM K. RASHBAUM In some respects, a racketeering indictment unsealed yesterday in federal court in Brooklyn is a classic in the mob canon. Collapse )A Mafia soldier and four associates stand charged with killing one of their own. There are accusations of loan-sharking. There is arson. There is assault. And among the court papers prosecutors filed in the case are several sensational details that depict the murder for hire as a grisly and awkward affair. The victim was lured to a secluded landmark, a Victorian mansion on a hilltop on Staten Island, but he proved hard to kill. When an effort to strangle him failed, he was stabbed, then dragged to a nearby pond and drowned. His body was dismembered with hacksaws and incinerated in the mansion's furnace. The charges reveal another interesting aspect to the case: The mob associate and former marine who prosecutors say was paid $8,000 by a Bonanno crime family soldier to carry out the hit is black. And one of his accomplices disposing of the body that day is Hispanic. Both are something of a rarity in the Mafia, not an enterprise known for its commitment to diversity. Prosecutors contend that the soldier who ordered the murder, Gino Galestro, oversaw a crew of several associates, including the former marine, Joseph Young, 27, and the three other men charged in the indictment. Law enforcement officials said that the victim, Robert McKelvey, 39, had committed crimes with the men and had run afoul of Mr. Galestro, a former newspaper delivery driver for The New York Post and The Daily News and a former official of the drivers' union. Mr. McKelvey, one of the officials said, owed Mr. Galestro money and had angered him. "He had a big mouth," the official said of Mr. McKelvey, who lived on Staten Island. A fourth associate, who took part in the murder and several other crimes with the defendants, recently began cooperating with F.B.I. agents and prosecutors and told them about the April 2005 killing, according to a letter asking a federal judge to hold three of the men without bail. The letter, by an assistant United States attorney, Joey Lipton, did not identify the witness. The cooperating witness told F.B.I. agents and prosecutors that the murder had occurred at the hilltop landmark known as the Kreischer Mansion, at 4500 Arthur Kill Road in the Charleston section, which neighborhood residents have long said was haunted. Last month, F.B.I. agents searched the home and conducted forensic tests in an effort to find traces of blood, but are still awaiting the results. They learned that the mansion's owners, who had no knowledge of the crime and are developing the property as an assisted living center for older people, had replaced the furnace as part of their renovations. A lawyer for Mr. Young, who was living at the mansion at the time of the murder as its caretaker, said his client had no criminal record. "We intend to enter a plea of not guilty and proceed to trial on these matters," said the lawyer, Felix T. Gilroy. Prosecutors said Mr. Young served seven months in the Marine Corps before going AWOL and getting an other-than-honorable discharge. Mr. Young was arrested in January on the arson charges that are part of the racketeering conspiracy. He was charged with murder for hire last week in the killing of Mr. McKelvey, and held without bail on Wednesday. Mr. Galestro, 37, who was convicted of loan-sharking conspiracy on April 22, 2005, was sentenced to a year and a day in prison and is expected to be released on June 8. Prosecutors said he sought and won a lighter-than-usual sentence in that case, citing among several reasons his wife's pregnancy. He will be arraigned on the new charges in several weeks. His lawyer, Richard Ware Levitt, declined to comment. Both Mr. Galestro and Mr. Young — who also face charges of murder in aid of racketeering and murder for hire — could face the death penalty if convicted of the most serious charges. The three other men charged, John Tufarelli, 25, Jose Garcia, 34, and Stefan Cicale, 32, were arrested yesterday morning. They pleaded not guilty at their arraignments and were held without bail at a hearing in front of Ramon E. Reyes Jr., a United States magistrate judge. Lawyers for the three men declined to comment. Prosecutors believe Mr. McKelvey was murdered in late April 2005, sometime around Mr. Galestro's sentencing. Several days later, his sister filed a missing persons report, which described him as 5-foot-8, 170 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes and a tattoo of a bird and a skull on his right forearm. The report said he was last seen wearing a black sweatshirt and black sweat pants. The accusation of a black man serving as a mob associate is rare, but not extraordinary. Blacks and Hispanics are barred from becoming full members of organized crime by Mafia protocol, which requires members to be full-blooded Italians. "It certainly is not unprecedented — it's unusual," said Jerry Capeci, a newspaper reporter, author and organized crime expert who runs the ganglandnews.com Web site. "But when it comes to making money, the mob will go into business with blacks, Latinos, Asians — anyone who they think will put money in their pockets." In fact, while Jewish and Irish criminals have served as high-level mob associates, black criminals in similar roles are rare, though there have been significant figures. They include Leroy Barnes, known as Nicky, a Harlem heroin merchant in the 1960's and 70's associated with the Bonanno family, and Ellsworth Johnson, known as Bumpy, who was involved in gambling and narcotics in Harlem in the 1930's, 40's and 50's. More recently, black criminals associated with the Genovese and Gambino families have been involved with groups that extorted money from construction contractors under the guise of seeking more jobs for minorities at particular construction sites. While Mr. McKelvey had been missing for more than a year, his neighbors had few fond memories. Marcella Liotta, 49, a homemaker across the street from the small bungalow at 413 Hunter Avenue on Staten Island where he lived until he disappeared, called him a "shady type of guy," and said the police were often called to his home regarding complaints that he beat his girlfriend. "We're not sorry to see him go," she said. A man at a relative's home on Staten Island — who said he was Mr. McKelvey's brother-in-law but would not identify himself further — said the family did not know why he was killed. "He was a guy who didn't deserve that," he said. Ann Farmer contributed reporting for this article.
Chris Keeley

(no subject)

 

May 12, 2006

Grisly Mob Killing at S.I. Mansion Is Detailed

In some respects, a racketeering indictment unsealed yesterday in federal court in Brooklyn is a classic in the mob canon. A Mafia soldier and four associates stand charged with killing one of their own. There are accusations of loan-sharking. There is arson. There is assault.<lj-cut> 

And among the court papers prosecutors filed in the case are several sensational details that depict the murder for hire as a grisly and awkward affair. The victim was lured to a secluded landmark, a Victorian mansion on a hilltop on Staten Island, but he proved hard to kill. When an effort to strangle him failed, he was stabbed, then dragged to a nearby pond and drowned. His body was dismembered with hacksaws and incinerated in the mansion's furnace.

The charges reveal another interesting aspect to the case: The mob associate and former marine who prosecutors say was paid $8,000 by a Bonanno crime family soldier to carry out the hit is black. And one of his accomplices disposing of the body that day is Hispanic. Both are something of a rarity in the Mafia, not an enterprise known for its commitment to diversity.

Prosecutors contend that the soldier who ordered the murder, Gino Galestro, oversaw a crew of several associates, including the former marine, Joseph Young, 27, and the three other men charged in the indictment. Law enforcement officials said that the victim, Robert McKelvey, 39, had committed crimes with the men and had run afoul of Mr. Galestro, a former newspaper delivery driver for The New York Post and The Daily News and a former official of the drivers' union.

Mr. McKelvey, one of the officials said, owed Mr. Galestro money and had angered him. "He had a big mouth," the official said of Mr. McKelvey, who lived on Staten Island.

A fourth associate, who took part in the murder and several other crimes with the defendants, recently began cooperating with F.B.I. agents and prosecutors and told them about the April 2005 killing, according to a letter asking a federal judge to hold three of the men without bail. The letter, by an assistant United States attorney, Joey Lipton, did not identify the witness.

The cooperating witness told F.B.I. agents and prosecutors that the murder had occurred at the hilltop landmark known as the Kreischer Mansion, at 4500 Arthur Kill Road in the Charleston section, which neighborhood residents have long said was haunted.

Last month, F.B.I. agents searched the home and conducted forensic tests in an effort to find traces of blood, but are still awaiting the results.

They learned that the mansion's owners, who had no knowledge of the crime and are developing the property as an assisted living center for older people, had replaced the furnace as part of their renovations.

A lawyer for Mr. Young, who was living at the mansion at the time of the murder as its caretaker, said his client had no criminal record.

"We intend to enter a plea of not guilty and proceed to trial on these matters," said the lawyer, Felix T. Gilroy.

Prosecutors said Mr. Young served seven months in the Marine Corps before going AWOL and getting an other-than-honorable discharge.

Mr. Young was arrested in January on the arson charges that are part of the racketeering conspiracy. He was charged with murder for hire last week in the killing of Mr. McKelvey, and held without bail on Wednesday.

Mr. Galestro, 37, who was convicted of loan-sharking conspiracy on April 22, 2005, was sentenced to a year and a day in prison and is expected to be released on June 8. Prosecutors said he sought and won a lighter-than-usual sentence in that case, citing among several reasons his wife's pregnancy. He will be arraigned on the new charges in several weeks. His lawyer, Richard Ware Levitt, declined to comment.

Both Mr. Galestro and Mr. Young — who also face charges of murder in aid of racketeering and murder for hire — could face the death penalty if convicted of the most serious charges.

The three other men charged, John Tufarelli, 25, Jose Garcia, 34, and Stefan Cicale, 32, were arrested yesterday morning.

They pleaded not guilty at their arraignments and were held without bail at a hearing in front of Ramon E. Reyes Jr., a United States magistrate judge. Lawyers for the three men declined to comment.

Prosecutors believe Mr. McKelvey was murdered in late April 2005, sometime around Mr. Galestro's sentencing. Several days later, his sister filed a missing persons report, which described him as 5-foot-8, 170 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes and a tattoo of a bird and a skull on his right forearm. The report said he was last seen wearing a black sweatshirt and black sweat pants.

The accusation of a black man serving as a mob associate is rare, but not extraordinary. Blacks and Hispanics are barred from becoming full members of organized crime by Mafia protocol, which requires members to be full-blooded Italians.

"It certainly is not unprecedented — it's unusual," said Jerry Capeci, a newspaper reporter, author and organized crime expert who runs the ganglandnews.com Web site. "But when it comes to making money, the mob will go into business with blacks, Latinos, Asians — anyone who they think will put money in their pockets."

In fact, while Jewish and Irish criminals have served as high-level mob associates, black criminals in similar roles are rare, though there have been significant figures.

They include Leroy Barnes, known as Nicky, a Harlem heroin merchant in the 1960's and 70's associated with the Bonanno family, and Ellsworth Johnson, known as Bumpy, who was involved in gambling and narcotics in Harlem in the 1930's, 40's and 50's.

More recently, black criminals associated with the Genovese and Gambino families have been involved with groups that extorted money from construction contractors under the guise of seeking more jobs for minorities at particular construction sites.

While Mr. McKelvey had been missing for more than a year, his neighbors had few fond memories.

Marcella Liotta, 49, a homemaker across the street from the small bungalow at 413 Hunter Avenue on Staten Island where he lived until he disappeared, called him a "shady type of guy," and said the police were often called to his home regarding complaints that he beat his girlfriend.

"We're not sorry to see him go," she said.

A man at a relative's home on Staten Island — who said he was Mr. McKelvey's brother-in-law but would not identify himself further — said the family did not know why he was killed.

"He was a guy who didn't deserve that," he said.

Ann Farmer contributed reporting for this article.

</lj-cut>
Collapse )
Chris Keeley

the SurvivaBall - an orb-like inflatable suit that would keep corporate managers safe from global wa

The Yes Men Strike Again: Group Poses As Halliburton Reps At “Catastrophic Loss” Conference

Friday, May 12th, 2006

http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=06/05/12/1353258

The Yes Men have struck again. On Tuesday, a man claiming to be a representative of Halliburton gave a presentation at the "Catastrophic Loss" conference at the Ritz-Carlton in Amelia Island, Florida. Conference attendees include leaders from the insurance industry. We speak with the Yes Men's Andy Bichlbaum, who took part in the hoax.

 


The The Yes Men have struck again. On Tuesday, a man claiming to be a representative of Halliburton gave a presentation at the "Catastrophic Loss" conference at the Ritz-Carlton in Amelia Island, Florida. The conference included leaders from the insurance industry. The phony spokesperson gave his name as Fred Wolf and began by warning conference-goers of the dangers of climate change.

 

  • Fred Wolf, Yes Man Andy Bichlbaum posing as a Halliburton spokesperson.

     

The corporate impersonators went on to tell conference-goers that Halliburton had come up with a new invention, the SurvivaBall - an orb-like inflatable suit that would keep corporate managers safe from global warming. While Fred Wolf suited up into the Survivaball, fellow Yes Man Mike Bonanno introduced the new technology.

 

  • Min Bonnano, Yes Man Andy Bichlbaum posing as a Halliburton spokesperson.

     

The suits look like large plastic bubbles with six hands, two speakerphone-looking ears and an opening for the executive's face. The Yes Men hoax comes less than two years after a Yes Men member appeared on the BBC claiming to be a spokesperson for Dow Chemical. He said Dow was taking responsibility for the Bhopal chemical disaster -- forcing the company to remind the world it did not take responsibility for the disaster and that there was no compensation fund set-up for the victims.

We are joined in our firehouse studio a member of the Yes Men, Andy Bichlbaum.

 

http://www.theyesmen.org/

Chris Keeley

the island of Diego Garcia have won a long-term battle to return home.

Headlines for May 12, 2006

Friday, May 12th, 2006

http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=06/05/12/1353201

- Bush Admin. Stonewalls Questions on Latest NSA Revelations
- IAEA Head: Iran Dispute Can Be Resolved Diplomatically
- Chomsky Criticizes US Stance on Iran
- 4 US Troops Killed in Reported Accident
- Diego Garcia Islanders Win Legal Battle To Return
- EU Lawmakers In US For CIA Prisons, Rendition Investigation
- US Mulls Troop Deployment To Mexican Border
- Kentucky Governor Indicted For Conspiracy, Misconduct
- Bush’s Approval Rating Sinks to 29%


 

 

Bush Admin. Stonewalls Questions on Latest NSA Revelations
The Bush administration has responded to the latest in the domestic spy scandal with near silence. At the White House, President Bush declined to address Thursday’s report the National Security Agency was creating a database of phone call records with the help of three of the country’s largest telecom companies. The President said only that the spy program was lawful -- but did cite any constitutional or legal authority to back up his claim. At another press conference, CIA Director nominee Michael Hayden, who headed the NSA at the time the spy program was implemented, said he would not discuss any specifics. Hayden made the comments after he unexpectedly cancelled meetings with Senators to discuss his nomination. On Capitol Hill, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Arlen Specter announced he would call officials from the three telecom companies -- AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth -- accused of helping the government spy on US citizens. Congressmember Maurice Hinchey repeated his calls for a full investigation.

  • Maurice Hinchey: "We have a lot of difficulty upon denying that there have been renditions. They prefer to always use the same answer. We can not mention any specific case and when there is evidence in specific cases, the answer is 'We can not (comment) ... but we can explain the context.' The context is that there is no law in America to investigate and process this person, the suspect. So then what do we do? Do we free them?"

IAEA Head: Iran Dispute Can Be Resolved Diplomatically
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency says he’s confident the standoff over Iran’s nuclear activities can be resolved diplomatically. Mohamed ElBaradei spoke in Amsterdam Thursday.

  • Mohamed ElBaradei: "I am very optimistic. I hope both sides will move away from the war of words, I hope the pitch will go down, I hope people will adopt a cool-headed approach, I hope people will make necessary compromises, and we need compromises from both sides, to ensure on the one hand that Iran has the right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, nobody questions that right, but at the same time, Iran owes it to the international community to make sure that its program is exclusively for peaceful purposes, so they have work to do with IAEA to clarify outstanding issues.”

Chomsky Criticizes US Stance on Iran
Meanwhile, on a visit to Lebanon, MIT professor Noam Chomsky was asked about the Bush administration’s row with Iran.

  • Noam Chomsky: "The regional superpower Israel is threatening to attack [Iran], the U.S. is threatening to attack it. These threats alone are outright violations international law and of the U.N. charter. Iran is in difficulty. Iran has been trying for some years to negotiate settlement but the U.S. just refuses."

4 US Troops Killed in Reported Accident
In Iraq, four US soldiers were killed earlier today when their tank plunged into a canal in the town of Karmah. Their deaths bring to 12 the number of US service members to lose their lives in the past week.

Diego Garcia Islanders Win Legal Battle To Return
In the Chagos Archipelago of the Indian Ocean, natives of the island of Diego Garcia have won a long-term battle to return home. British forces expelled the islanders nearly 40 years ago to make way for a US military base. Recent attempts to return were blocked on the grounds the US needed the islands to carry out the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan. Some 2,000 US troops remain on Diego Garcia.

US Mulls Troop Deployment To Mexican Border
The Associated Press is reporting the Pentagon is examining ways to use the military to patrol the United States border with Mexico. Paul McHale, the assistant secretary of defense for homeland security, has asked aides to draw up plans for the deployment of military resources and troops, including the National Guard. The news comes on the heels of a meeting this week between White House political strategist Karl Rove and several Republican lawmakers where the issue was discussed. Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill Thursday, lawmakers approved a measure that would allow limited deployments of military personnel to assist border officials.

Kentucky Governor Indicted For Conspiracy, Misconduct
In Kentucky, Republican Governor Ernie Fletcher was indicted Thursday on charges he illegally rewarded political supporters with state jobs. Fletcher was charged with conspiracy, official misconduct and violating laws against political discrimination.

Bush’s Approval Rating Sinks to 29%
And President Bush’s approval rating has hit another new low. According to a poll by Harris Interactive, just 29% of Americans believe the President is doing a good job. Another poll tracking views on the President and the outlook for the United States led the New York Times to conclude: “Americans have a bleaker view of the country’s direction than at any time in more than two decades.”

Chris Keeley

Instant Dreams

http://www.instantdreams.com/

 

Stefanie Schneider: Dreams set in Polaroid

Stefanie Schneider: Dreams set in Polaroid. Works by Stefanie Schneider at LUMAS. "...A pool, a chain link fence, a dark car in a dusty parking lot. Most of us have heard enough about cheap porn flick productions to have our ears prick up when we hear “Max by the Pool.” What kind of water games is the scene triggering? This type of girl-woman, decked out with quick temptation’s classic attention-grabbers, suggests a bit of a fantasy film script. The impression is broken through the model’s absent, lost-in-thought bearing. We get this impression not through action but in a moment of calm nearly next to the camera. The out-of-focus, over-exposed snapshot provokes curiosity in its intimacy and raises the question of what happened before and after the shot. Even in a nine-part work with a couple on the beach, Stefanie Schneider doesn’t provide much more information. With a few props, she rouses associations with the glamorous 1950s and the Hollywood dream factory with its goddess-like divas and failed marriages." Also... Instant Dreams - Photographs by Stefanie Schneider.
Chris Keeley

Alec Soth

 


Alec Soth: NIAGARA

Alec Soth... Fairway Motor Inn (Chromogenic Print). From Alec Soth: NIAGARA at Weinstein Gallery in Minneapolis, MN. "...In NIAGARA Soth continues exploring with his 8" x 10" camera, this time photographing along the Canadian and American borders of Niagara Falls. The show will include approximately 25 large-scale, color photographs. Once again, Soth creates a body of work that makes the ordinary extraordinary. In NIAGARA, he takes on motifs of relationships and romance, from newlywed bliss to broken-hearts. His subjects include portraits of couples, hand-written love letters, motels, and all the detritus associated with love and love lost. The content is often tough, but the poetic and lyrical quality of Soth’s images is pervasive."
Chris Keeley

Joel Peter Witkin a favorite

http://www.edelmangallery.com/witkin.htm

Joel Peter Witkin's

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Miss La Tour (2002/05) Joel-Peter Witkin

 Joel-Peter Witkin is a photographer whose images of the human condition are undeniably powerful. For more than twenty years he has pursued his interest in spirituality and how it impacts the physical world in which we exist. Finding beauty within the grotesque, Witkin pursues this complex issue through people most often cast aside by society -- human spectacles including hermaphrodites, dwarfs, amputees, androgynes, carcasses, people with odd physical capabilities, fetishists and "any living myth . . . anyone bearing the wounds of Christ." His fascination with other people's physicality has inspired works that confront our sense of normalcy and decency, while constantly examining the teachings handed down through Christianity. His constant reference to paintings from art history, including the works of Bosch, Goya, Velasquez, Miro, Botticelli and Picasso are testaments to his need to create a new history for himself. By using imagery and symbols from the past, Witkin celebrates our history while constantly redefining its present day context. Visiting medical schools, morgues and insane asylums around the world, Witkin seeks out his collaborators, who, in the end, represent the numerous personas of the artist himself. The resulting photographs are haunting and beautiful, grotesque yet bold in their defiance a hideous beauty that is as compelling as it is taboo. Witkin begins each image by sketching his ideas on paper, perfecting every detail by arranging the scene before he gets into the studio to stage his elaborate tableaus. Once photographed, Witkin spends hours in the darkroom, scratching and piercing his negatives, transforming them into images that look made rather than taken. Through printing, Witkin reinterprets his original idea in a final act of adoration. Joel-Peter Witkin lets us look into his created world, which is both frightening and fascinating, as he seeks to dismantle our preconceived notions about sexuality and physical beauty. Through his imagery, we gain a greater understanding about human difference and tolerance. 

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Humor and Fear, New Mexico, 1999, Joel-Peter Witkin