Arts and Culture

Underfunded & under-maintained: Eiffel tower workers strike for repairs, fair treatment

France’s iconic Eiffel Tower was closed for a fourth day on Thursday as employees extended a strike over the monument’s management, unions said. The stoppage at one of the world’s best-known tourist sites is the second within two months in protest of what unions say is insufficient investment. The tower’s operator, SETE, has advised ticket holders to check its website before showing up, or to postpone their visit. E-ticket holders were asked to check their […]

Iran’s long-lasting love for gemstones

By Menna Zaki and Ramin Khanizadeh TEHRAN, Feb 2, 2024 (AFP) – At a prominent Shiite shrine in southern Tehran, Qasem Ashgari was buying yet another gemstone ring in the hope it would help his prayers to be answered promptly. Asghari, in his 30s, who was already wearing several bands on each hand, had a specific ring in mind: a silver one, adorned with yellow agate and engraved with religious scripts. “The reward of one […]

App lets Indigenous Brazilians connect in own languages

By Mohamed RACHEDI For Indigenous communities in the Brazilian Amazon, getting online is a challenge. Now, a smartphone app is making it easier to connect by allowing them to use their own native languages. Hyper-connected Brazil has more cell phones than people — over 250 million, for a population of 203 million, according to communications consultancy Teleco. But even when they have smartphones and internet connections, the sprawling country’s 1.7 million Indigenous inhabitants have often […]

Art attack: masterpieces targeted by activists

The dousing of a glass-covered Mona Lisa in pumpkin soup is the latest in a string of cases of priceless artworks being targeted by environmental activists. Here are some of the other cases that have made headlines in the past two years: – Soup for “Sunflowers” – In October 2022, two activists from the Just Stop Oil group emptied cans of tomato soup over the glass protecting Vincent van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” in London’s National Gallery. […]

Beyond algorithms: Sandra Rodriguez hacks AI tools for art

By Mathiew LEISER MONTREAL, Jan 19, 2024 (AFP) – Canadian artist and academic Sandra Rodriguez, by hacking artificial intelligence, hopes to demystify the novel technology topping the news of late, while showcasing its power and potential to brighten but also disrupt our lives. In a dimly lit Montreal art space, visitors interact with her exhibit — an AI trained on millions of online searches for erotica that generates a mosaic of pornographic videos that eventually […]

London police arrest second man after Banksy installation removed

LONDON, Dec 24, 2023 (AFP) – Police in London said on Sunday that officers had arrested a second man on suspicion of theft and criminal damage, after a Banksy artwork was removed from a south London street corner within hours of appearing. A man in his 20s arrested on Saturday over the incident the previous day has been released on bail until a date in mid-March pending further inquiries, the British capital’s Metropolitan Police Service […]

Police arrest man after Banksy installation removed from London street

LONDON, Dec 24, 2023 (AFP) – Police in London said Saturday officers had arrested a man on suspicion of theft and criminal damage after a Banksy artwork was removed from a south London street corner within hours of appearing. The installation, a traffic stop sign covered with three aircraft resembling military drones, emerged at an intersection in the Peckham neighbourhood on Friday morning. Less than an hour after Banksy confirmed it was his latest work […]

Two men run off with new London Banksy installation

LONDON, Dec 22, 2023 (AFP) – British street artist Banksy revealed his latest UK street artwork Friday — only for two men to run off with it just hours later while being filmed by bemused onlookers. The installation, a traffic stop sign covered with three aircraft resembling military drones, was erected at an intersection in Peckham, south London, on Friday morning. An image was posted to Banksy’s social media just after midday. But shortly afterwards […]

Merriam-Webster crowns ‘authentic’ as word of the year

WASHINGTON, Nov 27, 2023 (AFP) – In an age where forces from AI to Donald Trump have left Americans doubting the truth, US dictionary Merriam-Webster says that 2023’s most looked-up word was “authentic.” The venerable publisher, whose dictionary is especially popular online, said the trend was driven by people reading and talking about artificial intelligence, celebrity culture, identity and social media. “Authentic” beat out other contenders such as “deepfake,” “rizz” (young-people speak for charisma) and […]

Indigenous writer Ailton Krenak, postponing the end of the world

By Luján Scarpinelli SAO PAULO, Nov 14, 2023 (AFP) – The year was 1987, Brazil was just exiting a long military dictatorship, and Indigenous writer Ailton Krenak stood before the country’s constitutional assembly in a pristine white suit, smearing black paint across his face. “Indigenous peoples have watered every scrap of Brazil’s eight million square kilometers with their blood,” the handsome young activist defiantly told the assembly, using a traditional mourning ritual to protest centuries […]

Titanic menu sells for £84,000 at UK auction

A first-class dinner menu from the Titanic’s ill-fated maiden voyage offering oysters, beef and mallard duck has sold for £84,0000 ($103,000), the UK auction house responsible for its sale said Sunday. The menu, for a meal served on April 11, 1912, is decorated with a red White Star Line burgee but the original gilt lettering is no longer visible. More than 1,500 passengers and crew died when the vessel sank after hitting an iceberg on […]

Picasso’s ‘Woman with a Watch’ fetches $139 mn at NY auction

By Nicolas REVISE NEW YORK, Nov 9, 2023 (AFP) – One of Pablo Picasso’s masterpieces, “Woman with a Watch,” was sold at auction Wednesday night for $139.3 million by Sotheby’s in New York, the second-highest price ever achieved for the artist. In a jam-packed room at the venerable auction house, it only took a few minutes of telephone bidding for the 1932 painting depicting one of the Spanish artist’s companions and muses, the French painter […]