Harvey Weinstein ‘Casting Couch’ statue debuts pre-Oscars

A gold sculpture of Harvey Weinstein on his infamous casting couch holding an Oscar statue is on display in Hollywood, California on March 1, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 02 March 2018
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Harvey Weinstein ‘Casting Couch’ statue debuts pre-Oscars

LOS ANGELES: A golden statue of a bathrobe-clad Harvey Weinstein, seated regally atop a couch with an Oscar in hand, took up temporary sidewalk residence close to the site of Sunday’s Academy Awards.
“Casting Couch” is a collaborative work between a Los Angeles street artist known as Plastic Jesus and Joshua “Ginger” Monroe, designer of 2016’s nude Donald Trump statues placed in major US cities.
The life-sized Weinstein sculpture, displayed Thursday on Hollywood Boulevard, aims to spotlight the entertainment industry’s sexual misconduct crisis and the disgraced studio mogul’s role in it, Plastic Jesus said.
“There’s so much about Hollywood that’s great and celebrated in the Oscars, but there’s also this underbelly of darkness within the industry that we often sweep under the carpet or ignore,” said Plastic Jesus, formerly a London-based photographer.
The phrase “casting couch,” used to describe the demand of sexual favors for work, may seem a relic of a bygone era but is “still very much a part of the Hollywood culture,” he said.
Plastic Jesus said he and Monroe first considered a standing Weinstein statue but quickly decided to incorporate a chaise lounge. The project, made of fiberglass and acrylic resin, was in the works for two months.
It will be on display this weekend, weather permitting.
Visitors to the sculpture were sitting next to the faux Weinstein and taking selfies, turning it into an interactive installment, Plastic Jesus said.
It also expands the symbolism, he said.
“For many, many people, aspiring actors and actresses, that would have been their dream to be close to Harvey,” but that reality has proven a nightmare for some, the artist said.
Weinstein has been accused by dozens of women of sexual harassment or sexual assault, including rape. He’s denied all allegations of non-consensual sex, but apologized for “the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past.”
Plastic Jesus has created a series of Oscar-timed statues, including one last year of Kanye West in a crucified pose and titled “False Idol.”


BOOK REVIEW: Nine Palestinian refugees tell Shatila’s stories in this innovative book

Updated 17 July 2018
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BOOK REVIEW: Nine Palestinian refugees tell Shatila’s stories in this innovative book

  • “Shatila Stories” is a collaborative work of fiction written by nine refugees from the Shatila camp in Beirut

CHICAGO: A novel born in extraordinary circumstances, “Shatila Stories” is a collaborative work of fiction written by nine refugees from the Shatila camp in Beirut that was commissioned by Peirene Press.

The authors, ranging from the ages of 20 to 43, captivate the reader by painting a picture of muddied walkways, crumbling walls and desperate faces.

From beginning to end, the phenomenal words of Omar Khaled Ahmad, Nibal Alalo, Safa Khaled Algharbaqi, Omar Abdellatif Alndaf, Rayan Mohamad Sukkar, Safiya Badran, Fatima Omar Ghazawi, Samih Mahmoud and Hiba Mareb take the reader on a powerful journey. 

“Shatila Stories” begins with the character of Reham, who is leaving Damascus for Beirut. She and her family look to Shatila as a refuge from the strife at the Yarmouk camp in Syria. Reham’s story is embedded in spirituality and faith, a strength that drives many of the book’s characters. After Reham, the reader is told the story of Jafra, named after the revolutionary Palestinian fighter who was killed in an airstrike in 1976. 

Evil lurks within the boundaries of the Shatila camp — children are exploited, disease is rampant and the methods used to safeguard residents are sometimes more harmful than helpful.

The writers have done a brilliant job of conveying the constricted yet vibrant lives led by many in the camp, as they wander alleyways that are “narrow yet wide enough to hold a thousand stories.”

The effort to publish nine refugee writers began with Mieke Ziervogel, publisher of Peirene Press, who journeyed from London to Beirut with editor Suhir Helal after getting in contact with an NGO that runs a community center in the camp. 

After handpicking the writers during a three-day workshop, the manuscripts were received and translator Nasha Gowanlock got to work. It was a Herculean effort that reminds us that storytelling may be an art, but everyone has a story to tell.