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COVID-19 has turned Times Square from a tourist hellscape into a resistance art stronghold.
Since the coronavirus pandemic rendered Times Square a dystopian landscape in March, an unlikely development has taken hold: the empty streets have transformed into a hotbed for protest art. From Brooklyn artist Don Perlis’s billboard painting of George Floyd to the summer-long ‘Juneteenth Jubilee’ event to the Lincoln Project’s viral digital billboards castigating Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, it’s been a welcome surprise for the local art community. “It lacks the same history of worker organization spaces like Union Square, but with the spread of digital graphics and art during the Covid-19 pandemic and Black-led uprisings, Times Square has made itself a unique site for protest in a city with more empty space, and an ongoing stream of creative mobilizations,” says Sarah J Seidman, a curator at the Museum of the City of New York.
New Jersey voters pass a new tax to help fund the cash-strapped cultural sector.
While the nail-biting presidential election still looms large, smaller victories are being celebrated elsewhere. One such example is Jersey City, NJ, which recently passed a tax to help fund the financially burdened arts sector. While mayor Stefen Fulop wasn’t certain that the ballot measure would garner public approval given the pandemic’s devastating financial toll, local arts administrators were adamant that residents wouldn’t mind being charged half a penny per $100 of assessed property value to contribute to ailing cultural organizations. While that rate is only expected to generate $1 million to $2 million per year and be distributed to select organizations chosen by a committee, the victory perhaps signals something much larger: Arts and culture are economic drivers that people truly value.
One designer reimagines America’s electoral map to accurately depict red and blue voters.
Irked by a ubiquitous and misleading political map of the U.S, posted on Twitter by Lara Trump showing the country awash in Republican red, Belgian designer Karim Douïeb decided to solve the issue once and for all. He created an animation that depicts red and blue votes as proportional circles instead of the electoral college results that makes it appear as if thousands of miles of empty land voted for Trump. The result: a polka-dotted map with more clusters of blue than red that went viral after Douïeb replied to Lara Trump’s post with it. “Other attempts have been [made to] represent every single vote into a point,” Douïeb says. “But the key here was to start from the original map and make the transition. It’s like a counterargument, where you start with the argument of the opponent and attack it straight away. But then you keep the context of what it was initially.”
The urbanist and architecture critic Nikil Saval wins election to the Pennsylvania senate.
Nikil Saval, an urbanist, architecture critic, and community organizer, has won election to represent the First Senate District of Pennsylvania, effectively ending the 12-year career of Senator Larry Farnese Jr. and becoming the first Asian American to be elected to the state’s Senate. That’s no small feat given his progressive platform of backing a Green New Deal, a pledge to build one million units of affordable housing, and a plan to upgrade the state’s crumbling public schools. After unseating Farnese this past June in the Democratic primary, Saval ran unopposed in the general election.
France votes to return 27 colonial-era artifacts to Benin and Senegal within the year.
On Wednesday, France voted unanimously to approve a bill that would restore 27 colonial-era artifacts to museums in Benin and Senegal within one year. The bill cites objects stolen in 1892 from Benin by French troops that are currently in possession of the Musée du Quai Branly–Jacques Chirac in Paris, as well as a sword belonging to a West African military commander that’s currently on loan from France’s Army Museum to the Museum of Black Civilizations in Dakar. The vote culminated from a 2018 survey, commissioned by French president Emmanuel Macron, that recommended a series of agreements aimed at achieving large-scale repatriation of African objects.