Art or censorship? Expo shows just top of famed David statue

Art or censorship? Expo shows just top of famed David statue
Visitors take photos of the 3D re-production of Michelangelo’s David at the Italy’s pavilion at the Expo 2020 Dubai. (AP)
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Updated 13 October 2021

Art or censorship? Expo shows just top of famed David statue

Art or censorship? Expo shows just top of famed David statue
  • Original David is nude and some visitors see the limited view offered as a form of artistic censorship
  • David’s nudity has been part of a centuries-old debate about art pushing boundaries and the rules of censorship

DUBAI: One of the most talked about attractions at the world’s fair under way in Dubai is a towering statue made of marble dust that’s raising eyebrows just as the original did more than 500 years ago.
At Italy’s pavilion, a 3D replica of Michelangelo’s David stands tall, his gaze intense and defiant. For most visitors, though, the David’s head is all they will see as they tour the pavilion. Only VIPs with special access will be able to catch a view of the statue from head to toe while it’s on display for the next six months at Dubai’s Expo 2020.
The original David is nude and some visitors see the limited view offered as a form of artistic censorship. Others say the way David is displayed at the Expo is a form of artistic expression.
“It is no coincidence that David is not seen from the bottom to the top, as it normally is, but it welcomes people by looking at them in the face,” said David Rampello, the director of art at the Italian pavilion.
An art historian in Rome said choosing who can view the statue in full and who cannot creates a hierarchy.
“What the rich, the great and the good can see and what the ordinary folk can see shouldn’t be two different things,” said Professor Paul Gwynne, who teaches medieval and renaissance studies at the American University of Rome.
It took a team of Italian experts 40 hours of digital scanning to create the replica, made with what organizers describe as one of the world’s largest 3D printers. Artists used filaments from recycled plastic material, then a mix of resins and marble dust to create it.
At its home in Florence’s Galleria dell’Accademia since 1873, the original David draws gasps from onlookers to this day. Michelangelo’s mastery and his passion for human anatomy, from the contracted muscles of David’s abdomen to the flexing of his right thigh muscles, make the piece unforgettable for those looking up at the towering work of art.
In Dubai, those details get lost. David stands in the center of a narrow octagonal shaft, presented from his chest up and surrounded by replicas of Roman columns. Visitors in the public area can see parts of David’s torso if they lean over a railing.
The rest of his body sits inside a clear partition on the separate floor. His genitals and buttocks find themselves between the floors, though fully visible if an onlooker stands near the partition and peers up.
That position drew the ire of a La Repubblica reporter writing on Expo’s opening.
“Why can’t you see the whole body of the biblical hero, because you only see the head, the magnetic eyes staring at you silently? And where is the rest?” an article in the daily newspaper read, at one point referring to David’s “beheading.”
David’s nudity has been part of a centuries-old debate about art pushing boundaries and the rules of censorship. In the 1500s, metal fig leaves covered the genitals of statues like David when the Roman Catholic Church deemed nudity as immodest and obscene.
Nudity even bumps up against mores in the modern era. Controversy erupted in 2016 when officials erected wooden panels to shield nude statues at Rome’s Capitoline Museums during a visit by Iran’s then-President Hassan Rouhani. That spurred some politicians to accuse the government of caving in to “cultural submission” though Rouhani himself thanked Italians as being ” very hospitable people” when asked about the gesture.
In the wider United Arab Emirates, a few nude artworks can be seen at the Louvre Abu Dhabi, though the museum largely caters to more conservative pieces.
Expo visitor Calli Schmitz from Germany she said she didn’t think the way the replica was displayed at the Expo did it much justice.
“I think it was not as exposed as it should have been,” she said. “I think because of the gold everywhere, people did not really realize it was the statue of David.”
Italian visitor Ricardo Mantarano offered another take.
“It’s a different way of approaching the same sculpture and putting it in another perspective,” he said.
Dinara Aksyanova, a 31-year-old visitor from Moscow, however, wasn’t as forgiving.
“Why was it only half? It makes no sense,” she said. “The most interesting part is underneath.”


Man asks Italian police to jail him to escape wife at home

Man asks Italian police to jail him to escape wife at home
Updated 24 October 2021

Man asks Italian police to jail him to escape wife at home

Man asks Italian police to jail him to escape wife at home
  • The man was already under house arrest when he made his plea

Rome: For some people, going to prison can feel like escaping to freedom.
A man under house arrest in Italy showed up at a police barracks asking to be put behind bars because life with his wife at home was unbearable, police said Sunday.
The 30-year-old Albanian citizen living in Guidonia Montecelio, outside Rome, “was no longer able to cope with the forced cohabitation with his wife,” Carabinieri police from nearby Tivoli said in a statement.
“Exasperated by the situation, he preferred to escape, spontaneously presenting himself to the Carabinieri to ask to serve his sentence behind bars,” they wrote.
The man had been under house arrest for drug crimes for several months and had a few years left to serve, Captain Francesco Giacomo Ferrante of the Tivoli Carabinieri told AFP.
“He lived at home with his wife and family. It wasn’t going well anymore,” Ferrante said.
“He said, ‘Listen, my domestic life has become hell, I can’t do it anymore, I want to go to jail.”
The man was promptly arrested for violating his house arrest and judicial authorities ordered his transfer to prison.


Police: Burglar gets new keys before she’s locked up

Police: Burglar gets new keys before she’s locked up
Updated 23 October 2021

Police: Burglar gets new keys before she’s locked up

Police: Burglar gets new keys before she’s locked up

CORONADO, California: A woman pretended she owned a Southern California home so a locksmith would make her new keys. Then police locked her up.
Officers arrested a 43-year-old woman on suspicion of burglary Thursday night in Coronado, a resort city across the bay from San Diego.
The brazen burglary was foiled when the real homeowner called Coronado police and said her neighbor noticed suspicious activity at the home. The homeowner was out of town, yet the neighbor saw the home’s lights being turned on and off.
Officers arrived and the neighbor — a relative of the homeowner’s — gave them a spare key. But it didn’t fit the front door’s lock, and metal shavings and pieces of an old lock were on the ground nearby.
As police walked around the home, they saw back doors open and a fireplace turned on as music played inside. After calling for a helicopter and a K-9 unit, officers saw someone moving around on the second floor in what was supposed to be an empty house with only one spare key.
Police called out to the person inside, who came out a few minutes later and was arrested. The woman claimed there were two kids in the house, but a police search turned up empty.
The woman told police the home was hers and said she’d called a locksmith earlier to change the front door’s locks.
No word if the burglar gave anyone a spare key.


Endangered orangutan in New Orleans expecting twins

Endangered orangutan in New Orleans expecting twins
Updated 21 October 2021

Endangered orangutan in New Orleans expecting twins

Endangered orangutan in New Orleans expecting twins
  • “We are very excited about this pregnancy,” Bob MacLean, senior veterinarian at the Audubon Zoo, said
  • The births in December or January will be the first for Menari, 12, but the third and fourth sired by Jambi

NEW ORLEANS: A critically endangered Sumatran orangutan in New Orleans is pregnant with twins, the zoo in New Orleans announced Thursday.
“We are very excited about this pregnancy,” Bob MacLean, senior veterinarian at the Audubon Zoo, said in a news release. “Twinning is extremely rare in orangutans — there is only about a 1 percent chance of this happening.”
The births in December or January will be the first for Menari, 12, but the third and fourth sired by Jambi, a male brought to New Orleans in late 2018 from a zoo in Germany.
It may be six years or more before the group’s next babies.
Sumatran orangutans wean their offspring at about 7 years old and have the longest period between births of any mammals — 8.2 to 9.3 years, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
The great apes named for their long red hair have been decimated by hunting as well as the destruction of the forests and peat swamps where they spend nearly all their time up in trees.
About 13,500 are believed to exist in sustainable wild populations, and “overall numbers continue to decline dramatically,” according to the IUCN.
Watching matriarch Feliz and Reese, who came to New Orleans in 2018 from ABQ BioPark in Albuquerque, give birth to and bring up their daughters has helped prepare hand-raised Menari for motherhood, officials said.
Bulan was born in July 2019 to Feliz, who also is Menari’s mother. Reese’s daughter Madu was born in February.
The zoo said keepers and veterinarians are giving Menari daily training and enrichment sessions to prepare her for motherhood and the possibility that she might need help raising one or both.
If all goes well, the orangutan twins will be the second pair born at Audubon.
Bon Temps and Lagniappe, nicknamed Bonnie and Lana, were hand-raised after their birth in 1985 to an orangutan named Sarah. Bonnie died in 2016 at Zoo Miami; Lana, 36, is in Greenville Zoo in South Carolina.


‘Mo, meet Mo’: Salah introduced to Madame Tussauds waxwork for first time

Mohamed Salah meeting his waxwork doppelgänger during a private viewing at London’s Madame Tussauds. (Supplied)
Mohamed Salah meeting his waxwork doppelgänger during a private viewing at London’s Madame Tussauds. (Supplied)
Updated 21 October 2021

‘Mo, meet Mo’: Salah introduced to Madame Tussauds waxwork for first time

Mohamed Salah meeting his waxwork doppelgänger during a private viewing at London’s Madame Tussauds. (Supplied)
  • Star striker said it was “a blessing” to be included in lineup of stars at famous London attraction

LONDON: Liverpool and Egypt superstar Mohamed Salah was introduced to his waxwork doppelgänger during a private viewing at London’s Madame Tussauds museum on Thursday.

Though he can count Premier League and Champions League titles and playing for Egypt at a World Cup among his achievements, now Salah has achieved a genuine celebrity milestone.

Coming face to face with his waxy likeness for the first time since a measurement sitting with the Madame Tussauds artists, the striker said it was “a blessing” to be included in the lineup of stars at the famous attraction.

“It’s a blessing to be recognized and immortalized in this way,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it when I stood alongside ‘me,’ it’s like looking at my own reflection in a mirror! I can’t wait to see what the fans think.”

While Salah is instantly recognizable the world over wearing the red kit of Liverpool, his figure in the museum dons a cream suit, like the real Salah wore on the front cover of GQ Middle East magazine.

His figure also has fingers pointing upwards in his classic red carpet pose and goalscoring celebration. 

The statue will be viewable for the public from Oct. 22 and can be found alongside other A-listers, including members of the British royal family, David and Victoria Beckham, Dwayne Johnson, Dame Helen Mirren, Brad Pitt and Priyanka Chopra Jonas.

Salah’s two goals on Tuesday against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League, meanwhile, saw him become the first player in Liverpool’s history to find the net in nine consecutive appearances in all competitions.


Canadian wins 18th Chopin international piano competition

Canadian wins 18th Chopin international piano competition
Updated 21 October 2021

Canadian wins 18th Chopin international piano competition

Canadian wins 18th Chopin international piano competition
  • Japan’s Kyohei Sorita came joint-second with Italian-Slovenian Alexander Gadjiev. Spain’s Martin Garcia Garcia came third

WARSAW, Poland: Canadian pianist Bruce Xiaoyu Liu was awarded first prize in the Chopin piano competition in Warsaw on Thursday, clinching one of the world’s most prestigious music awards.
“Being able to play Chopin in Warsaw is one of the best things you can imagine,” 24-year-old Liu said as the jury announced their decision at the Warsaw Philharmonic Concert Hall.

The first prize in the 18th Frederic Chopin international piano competition comes with a 40,000-euro ($45,000) award.

Japan’s Kyohei Sorita, 27, came joint-second with 26-year-old Italian-Slovenian Alexander Gadjiev.
Spain’s Martin Garcia Garcia, 24, came third.

The winner will receive a gold medal and the financial prize funded by the office of Poland’s president, as well as prestigious recording and concert contracts.
The second prize is worth 30,000 euros ($35,000,) third prize is 20,000 euros ($23,000,) and the fourth is 15,000 euros ($17,000.) There are also prizes for the fifth, sixth and seventh place as well as other awards for the finalists, funded by Poland’s government, music institutions and by private donors.
Held every five years since 1927, the Chopin competition would normally have been held last year, but was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic — a first since World War II.
“It was challenging to get all the competitors into Poland,” Artur Szklener, director of the National Institute of Frederic Chopin, which organizes the competition, had told AFP.
But one of the 17 jury members, Argentinian concert pianist Nelson Goerner, said that pandemic-related lockdowns helped raise the standard of this year’s competition.
“The level this year is remarkable,” Goerner told AFP earlier in the competition.
“The pianists have had more time to prepare and I think the pandemic has awakened in all of us a desire to go further, to surpass ourselves,” he said.
“You can hear it in how these young pianists are playing.”

Born in Paris, Liu graduated from Montreal Conservatoire.
He has performed with the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and has been on two tours in China.
“The pandemic actually made this kind of meeting for me more special,” Liu said after his victory.
Liu said he had to be “really careful all the time” during the coronavirus crisis, so as to be able to keep up his competition and concert schedule, and as a result had “not met many people” in the past two years.
He also said he hoped the competition would be “just a start” in his musical journey.
“It’s hard to keep the freshness, to continuously find new ideas so I hope this is not the last point,” he told reporters.
He added that he was looking forward “to be finally able to sleep and party.”
This year’s event drew 87 pianists from across the globe, including 22 from China, 16 from Poland and 14 from Japan.
Broadcast live on YouTube and via a bespoke mobile app, the contest attracted record online interest.
Some 70,000 people watched the result streamed online.
Among previous winners are Maurizio Pollini of Italy, Argentina’s Martha Argerich, Garrick Ohlsson from the United States, Poland’s Krystian Zimerman and Artur Blechacz, and Seong-Jin Cho of South Korea.
Chopin, Poland’s best known and beloved classical music composer and pianist, was born in 1810 in Zelazowa Wola near Warsaw to a Polish mother and a French father. He left Poland at 19 to broaden his musical education in Vienna and then in Paris, where he settled, composing, giving concerts and teaching the piano. He died on Oct. 17, 1849, in Paris and is buried at the Pere Lachaise cemetery. His heart is at the Holy Cross Church in Warsaw.
The auditions can be followed live on the Chopin Institute YouTube channel and on Polish state radio.