Headlines: France, Malevich and New York
1) Grab a Free Short Story to Fill the Time
French publishing company Short Edition has installed eight short-story vending machines in public locations throughout the city of Grenoble, France. The idea is to encourage people to kill time by reading short literature, rather than constantly checking their phones. Each vending machine dispenses stories in one-minute, three-minute and five-minute length options. The stories are free, and printed on receipt paper that can be easily folded up and tucked into a wallet or a pocket. These vending machines are the most recent in a series of exciting initiatives around the world to keep printed books and stories accessible and appealing in the internet age.
2) Racist Joke Possibly Uncovered on Black Square
An x-ray performed on Kazimir Malevich’s 1915 painting Black Square may have revealed a tiny racist joke scrawled on the bottom left hand corner of the painting, in the white border around the square. While the phrase is only partially visible and researchers in Moscow are still deciphering it, the text seems to read “negroes battling at night” or “negroes battling in a cave.” The phrase, if this is indeed the correct translation, is likely a reference by Malevich to an earlier work by the French writer and humourist Alphonse Allais. In 1897 Allais created a painting of a black square entitled negres dans une cave, pendant la nuit. The discovery of the text may help historians build a more detailed picture of how closely artists in Russia were following the trends in France at the time.
3) French President Announces Asylum for Artworks
French president Francois Hollande announced earlier in the week that France is planning to put in place asylum laws for artworks and other pieces of cultural heritage at risk of being destroyed by ISIS. At this point the idea of a law to protect these artworks must still be agreed upon by the French parliament. Hollande wishes to stop these heritage items both from being destroyed and from being seized and put on black markets. The extremist group ISIS has already destroyed numerous cultural artifacts and artworks throughout Syria and Iraq, including UNESCO World Heritage sites.
4) New York Photographer Captures the Ecosystem of the Subway
On a lighter note, New York artist Craig Ward has answered the question of just what’s living on the hand rails and seats of the city’s subway system. The artist collected a range of samples from every subway line in New York last summer, allowing the samples to bloom in petri dishes before photographing them on top of matte black surfaces for his Subvisual Subway series. The bacteria Ward picked up from the trains are mostly harmless to healthy individuals, but looking at the series certainly shows that even if your train car appears empty, you’re probably still sharing the ride.