Sigurdur William’s photograph of the Northern Lights by the Kerid volcanic crater lake in Iceland is quite stunning. (via Colossal)

  • Well, someone asked a doozy of a question about being an artist on Quora, and they got quite an answer in response. Tough love? The question:

I think I’m a good artist, but nobody is buying my representational watercolor/mixed media art. What can I do to sell my art?

The answer includes:

Second – this is a pleasant little artwork, but it is primarily an illustration rather than a fully accomplished painting. So that if this is the kind of work you do, the person who suggested that you seek success as an illustrator probably gave you good advice. If you wish to be a professional painter, you need to get more training. Your work is not yet professional level. Your drawing is okay, but your backgrounds need work, and this is not a full-on finished work of art.

  • The Dubai Frame is the latest building to join the UAE city’s skyline, but an architect is claiming the design was stolen from here:

“It’s shocking,” Mr. Donis said. “The Frame is mine, and they don’t want to grant that it is mine. The infringement doesn’t just victimize me. They have taken something from all architects — the protection of our ideas.”

Raised as a monument to Dubai’s aspirations as a center of international commerce, the Frame is now a physical manifestation of the crude system that erected it.

Not only does Banksy’s language undermine the Palestinian struggle and reduce it to a mere “disadvantage” in comparison to Israelis, but it also encourages this false non-partisan silence when it comes to the Palestinian Question, falsely depoliticizing it and misleading his guests into assuming this pseudo-neutrality, and effectively siding with the oppressor. It encourages a veiled forgiving attitude towards what is, in fact not “a simple divide between the people,” as Banksy writes. Rather, it is simple and present and material.

Here’s a grimly edifying set-piece for twenty-first-century feminists to ponder: when my grandmother was a teenager at Greenwich Academy, a girls’ prep school in Connecticut, she and her fellow students were required to pose nude for photographs taken by the P.E. teacher. Once a year, in a mirrored studio on campus, they would shed their itchy, matronly uniforms—green tweed skirts and jackets, green neckties over tan button-down shirts, tan stockings held up with garter belts—and take turns presenting themselves before a big camera.

Truth be told, I was somewhat impressed that unlike many protests around the country, this one did not tolerate the burning of American flags. I assumed that the intolerance for that activity was rooted in the fact that more Native Americans serve in the military than any other ethnic group per capita.

The deputy had plenty of vitriol for those who had stood opposite him in the protest camp though. He had ample reason to be angry given the actions perpetrated by some protesters that were a far cry from peaceful as they claimed. I have always been a proponent of not trying to dishonestly sugar coat one’s activities. If you’re going to throw tea in the harbor, don’t try to tell me it was anything else but that. I attempted to keep the conversation light and upbeat, but realized that he had more in common with the protestors he had so much disdain for than he probably realized.

In the 1930s fascism’s face was immediately recognizable in colonial Africa. Historians are now engaging in a fruitful debate about the similarities and differences between fascism and colonialism, and whether one was a form of another. What is less recognized is that this debate was in no way peripheral to colonized people at the time. My own recent research in Ghanaian and Nigerian newspapers has found that editorials debated the nature of fascism on the same page as news reports of forced labor practices in Kenya; of segregation and “extermination” policies carried out by General Hertzog and his government in South Africa; of the use of militarized force to suppress labor in Northern Rhodesia and the power of one-man rule by colonial governors.

A German court rejected Tuesday a Syrian refugee’s request for a temporary injunction to force Facebook to remove posts falsely linking him to attacks he did not commit. The posts at issue feature a photo Anas Modamani, a 19-year-old refugee from Damascus, took with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a Berlin refugee shelter in September 2015. The photo quickly went viral, and was erroneously used in posts connecting him to the 2016 Brussels Airport bombing and to the attack of a homeless man by a group of migrants last December. Though the court in its decision conceded such posts constitute “indisputable defamation,” it ruled Facebook is neither a “perpetrator nor a participant” by hosting the content.

  • Everyone is talking about this major report in The New Yorker about Trump’s hotel in Baku and the shady realities around it:

The building, a five-star hotel and residence called the Trump International Hotel & Tower Baku, has never opened, though from the road it looks ready to welcome the public. Reaching the property is surprisingly difficult; the tower stands amid a welter of on-ramps, off-ramps, and overpasses. During the nine days I was in town, I went to the site half a dozen times, and on each occasion I had a comical exchange with a taxi-driver who had no idea which combination of turns would lead to the building’s entrance.

The more time I spent in the neighborhood, the more I wondered how the hotel could have been imagined as a viable business. The development was conceived, in 2008, as a high-end apartment building. In 2012, after Donald Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, signed multiple contracts with the Azerbaijani developers behind the project, plans were made to transform the tower into an “ultra-luxury property.” According to a Trump Organization press release, a hotel with “expansive guest rooms” would occupy the first thirteen floors; higher stories would feature residences with “spectacular views of the city and Caspian Sea.” For an expensive hotel, the Trump Tower Baku is in an oddly unglamorous location: the underdeveloped eastern end of downtown, which is dominated by train tracks and is miles from the main business district, on the west side of the city.

横柄な男の解説= “patronizing man’s explanation”

YouTube video

Required Reading is published every Sunday morning ET, and is comprised of a short list of art-related links to long-form articles, videos, blog posts, or photo essays worth a second look.

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic.