Sunday, June 21, 2015

Summer-tunes [for Litha] #2

This months cover by K.K.W,
with layout by Aleksandar Ares.
Music now: the summer-list (for Litha/summer solstice) Part 2 By K.K.W

Spring came late this year and summer is already here, as we move towards Litha, turning us right-round and cleansing our troubles. And what better compliment to the glorious season then fine music [aside from good booze, food, friends and a reasonable supply of cash or credit to ensure one hell-of-a-great ride!]?

So, in the Spirit of Apollo, Aten, & Juno, we give you a list of music to guide you towards, through & past Litha:

Life Recorder. Image courtesy of the artist.
nd_baumecker. photo courtesy of the artist. 
Bastille. Photo courtesy of the artists. 
Abe Ana Choveche. Photo by K.K.W
Tropical Rock. Image courtesy of the artist.
herMajesty. Photo courtesy of the band.
Michael Vincent Waller. Photo courtesy of the artist. 
Hopefully some of the music will strike a cord in you,
and you'll buy it. 'Art is the reason, art is the way'

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Russian Oil & The Republic of Macedonia

This months cover by K.K.W,
with layout by Aleksandar Ares. 
A Russian oil pipeline & VMRO falling? By K.K.W

You don't have to be an energy expert to know that every country, its cities and economy depend on it. And when it comes to oil & natural gas the U.S may not care for the influence on Western Europe from Russia. And, that the Republic of Macedonia stands to gain a great deal financially from part of a Russian pipeline through their country. "...several countries in southeast Europe, including Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary and to some extent Austria, remain enthusiastic about obtaining a direct feed of Russian gas through the South Stream pipeline, which Gazprom proposes to build across the Black Sea. They think the pipeline would reduce risk of cutoffs by bypassing Ukraine, while most other European countries, plus Brussels, lean against it because it would largely remove a key card that Kiev has in its duel with Russia." [1]
Photo by Ognen Teofilovski. 
However, the "South Stream" pipeline project was abandoned in December [because of an EU rule that forbids one entity from owning the pipeline & the gas it carries through EU territory] after which, "Turkish Stream" was conceived. And seeing no alternative, Moscow has agreed to relinquish its shares in the pipeline given that Gazprom is a state owned company. 

The pipeline would go through Turkey, the Balkan's [The Republic of Macedonia & Serbia], possibly Greece then under the Adriatic sea to Italy. Aside from avoiding further disruptions from Ukraine, given the current situation & those in the near future, the pipeline would be yet another stable source of energy to Europe. The current leaders of Macedonia [especially Gruevski, who is on record as such] are against sanctions imposed on Russia, and in favor of the "Turkish Stream" pipeline. The pro-western opposition in Macedonia clearly feels otherwise, and most recently released recordings [& transcripts] of mass- illegal wiring-tapping by Gruevski's government. 

Sergei Lavrov. Photo courtesy of Business Insider. 
The recordings [giving evidence of murder cover-up, bribes, etc] led to major protest's, international intention & social media backlash. All of this causing Russia to wonder about the situation in the country, and some to speculate that outside forces may have helped in causing all this. Russian news service Tass, quoted Sergei Lavrov as saying "the Macedonian events are blatantly controlled from the outside". [2]  Vladimir Choizhov, Russia's ambassador to the EU, agreed; "I don't have any hard-line facts, but its a logical suspicion" [3], he told Bloomberg TV. 
"Well this is a result of the fact that the opposition leader was served these transcripts by foreign intelligence services and he admitted that". [4] "What is very interesting is that this unrest, the latest terrorist attack took place on May, 9 - precisely at the time when the Macedonian PM was only one of the few European leaders in Moscow attending the Victory Day parade". [5] 

Photo by Ognen Teofilovski.

The West is pushing for its own pipeline, TANAP [ shipping gas from Azerbaijan & maybe Turkmenistan as well] which would not only eliminate Ukraine from the equation, but Russian gas into south eastern Europe, and reduce their exporting into western Europe as well. If "Turkish Stream" is implemented and goes through The Republic of Macedonia, it could be a serious catalyst for the economy, leading the country to a new era. And provided the profits are used wisely, many of the country's problem's could be greatly reduced. 

Partisan Blvd, Skopje [The Republic of Macedonia].
Photo by K.K.W
If you would like to know more, go to:, or:

1 - N.Y, Times, David Buchan. A senior research fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies. 

2-3 from the article Macedonia caught in East -West pipeline tug-of war, by Andy Tully of 

4-5 Srdja Trifkovic, from his interview with

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Summer-tunes [for Litha]

This months cover by K.K.W,
with layout by Aleksandar Ares. 
Music now:the summer-list (for litha/the summer solstice) part 1

Spring came late this year and summer is already here, as we move towards Litha, turning us right-round and  promising to cleanse our troubles. And what better compliment to the glorious season then fine music [aside from good booze, food, friends, and a reasonable supply of cash or credit to ensure one hell-of-a-great ride!]?
Rachel Mason - photo by K.K.W
Muriel Louveau - photo courtesy of the artist
Jeanann Dara - photo by K.K.W
Herzel - photo courtesy of the artist
Genoveva - photo courtesy of the artist

Melis Aker - photo by K.K.W
Anna/Kate - photo by K.K.W
Lily Virginia - photo by K.K.W
Along with listening to the music, purchase what you like & support the artist's. 'Art is the reason, art is the way'

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Q&A: Souhad Rafey

This months cover by K.K.W,
with layout by Aleksandar Ares.
Samira Abbassy [left] & Souhad Rafey
"Artistic Weapons of Mass Communication", with Souhad Rafey. Photos & interview by K.K.W

K.K.W: What was the earliest influence of art in your life?

SR: I would have to say my mother, since she was incredibly artistic and creative. As a young child I was impressed by everything, from pottery she made, to works she painted, to clothes she designed and sewed for me. My mother had a great sense of style and an elegant refined taste in all the "art" that encompassed me as a child. I also have vivid memories of visiting weavers in the mountains of Lebanon, at an early age, during one of our family vacations. The experience stayed with me and I ended up minoring in weaving during college and continued the practice for close to 20 years. 

K.K.W:  Was being a curator a call you eventually had to answer, or perhaps something you decided you had to do? 

SR: Not at all. I thought I wanted to work in the arts but I wasn't certain in which way. In graduate school, I went from various departments (craft, art education, art history) before focusing on and receiving an advanced degree in Museum Studies. I experienced work with conservators, registrars, art administrators, and curators before settling on what I do, now.

Art work by Rajie Cook
Art work by Samira Abbassy
K.K.W:  Usually much of what we do reflects some of who we are; do you feel your choices in art show aspects of your subconscious?

SR: Of course.

K.K.W:  All art communicates something, however, these days most of it is far from dealing with important social/political matters. Do you feel this should change in order to improve the art-world?

SR: Aside from social/political matters, I afraid the art world has gone far beyond its tipping point with no reversal in sight. It has become big business at its worst but that is another conversation. I have much respect for artist who stay true to themselves. I appreciate the impact art can have when its relevant. Of course, some artists happen to be much more aware of our world as a whole and they may place greater importance on history and politics than others. This becomes evident in their and intentions of exposing viewers to their views. And artists who chose not to wear their conscience on their canvas may give in other ways, so I prefer not to judge or dismiss work that does not address social/political awareness. I admire creativity and imagination that is born from political turbulence and unrest but it can become a strong ally of revolution only insofar as it remains true to itself.  
Art work by Mary Tuma [foreground], John Halaka [backround]
K.K.W: If the art work is a weapon, then the artist maybe considered dangerous.
And, are they now to be labeled soldiers? 

SR: I guess art that is used to gain a strategic, material or mental advantage over traditional mindsets could be considered a dangerous weapon of sort to other who don't share the same views. In turn, the artist delivering the message may be viewed as the soldier (or recruit or fighter) in this context.

K.K.W: Even strong statements through artistic means doesn't always 
have an impact. What then to reach the "...traditional mindset..."?

SR: Perseverance.

K.K.W:  As the curator, was your focus on effecting the "...traditional mindset...",
or leaving that to the art work itself? 

SR: Both. In tandem, there was more possibility of this occurring. 

K.K.W: Do you feel like some of the message(s) within the show was lost in translation,
given that people need to like the art [& the artist] before they will accept the message?

SR: Most don't like to be force-fed or hit over the head with information. If the message isn't obvious there is so much on the internet that one can find out if interested or confused or in need of more details. FiveMyles was generous in printing a thorough and informative brochure to acompany "Artistic Weapons of Mass Communication" and the gallery also gave the artists an opportunity to discuss their work with the public one evening. 

K.K.W: What is it about art & being involved with it that moves you?

SR: Many aspects - especially the human contact I have with the artists. It is very rare to find galleries in the art world (NYC in particular) as intrepid as Hanne Tierney. She was generous, enthusiastic, and most willing to include work of this loaded content without hesitation. It was both enlightening and refreshing to learn more about FiveMyles and the work it does to continue embracing its community. 
Art work by Ganzeer
If you would like to know more, go 'Art is the reason, art is the way'

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

@ Pianos

This months cover, by K.K.W.
Layout by Aleksandar Ares 
Female artist showcase (@ Pianos). Article & photos by K.K.W

Hours before going to Pianos on Friday for an event, I tried thinking of reasons not to go. Walking along Ludlow street I could feel the collective energy of the area, mingled with the dying light, illuminating the worn-down streets. By the end of the show, I was glad I showed up.
Melis Aker
I took a stool at the the darkly-lit bar in a medium size-room with a stage; while most of the performers mingled amongst themselves, like old friends. And as Melis Aker started her set, I slowly began to warm-up. There was certainly something pouring out of her, into the dark back-room. The lovely voice merging with poignant lyrics that obviously emanated from her passion, and some place quite private. Her compelling  rendition of "A case of you" by Joni Mitchell cemented the moment, leaving all present throughly satisfied. She's certainly as talented as she is easy on the eyes.  

Melis Aker
As soon as Anna/Kate took the stage and the first song commenced, something magical happened. The ukulele, passion of feelings through their voices, along with the rest of the band [Mark on Bass, Brian on Drums, & Melissa on Cello] made for a unique sound that could not be ignored. An upbeat, almost pop-sound quality to the music, yet never just saccharin, but from a laid-back personal source, laced with the pain of having lived. Love is a recurring theme, whether directly or indirectly, [there are a few love-songs on the EP] as is  the nature of their [Anna/Kate's] queer-sexuality - giving the feeling of raw honesty.
Lily Virginia
Lily Virginia
The wait for Lily Virginia seemed too long, but certainly worth it. Having already known her music from her self-titled EP, to see her live was a thrill. She held the crowd with the power of her sound like gentle fire, poetic lyrics that allude to something unique. The music has a california vibe, folk-rock feel; light & playful like Sara Holtzschue's "Angel (For KRS)" & "For KB". But just as easy she can change pace with a track like "Yuriko", filled with potent-verses, anguish, longing joy & regret Like Patti Rothberg.  Recently she made a cover of "Te Extrano" ["...a cheesy pop-song..." as she put's it], which she performed that night. And I have to say, it was really cool; her singing in Spanish, the vibe, the flow of the song. If its a cover of something cheesy, she made it beautiful. Her talent was flowing straight out of her, and filling up the room. 
Lily Virginia
Lily Virginia
If you would like to know more, go, or: 'Art is the reason, art is the way'

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Je Suis Shaimaa al Sabbagh?

This months cover by K.K.W,
with layout by Aleksandar Ares.
On the cover, Stephanie Cunningham. 
Shaimaa al Sabbagh: the unfortunate cost of non-violent protest. By K.K.W [of the 2 articles I read for info, one has her name as Shaimaa el Sabbagh, and Shaimaa al Sabbagh. Both by The New York & The N.Y.Times Insider]

Despite the violence that has marred the soul of, and lead to great changes in America, I think many of us [especially in NYC] take for granted what we have now. Few of us never had to put our lives at risk, for what we perceived as positive change. 

Shaimaa al Sabbagh [center]
Scrolling through Facebook on Jan 24th, I saw a post about the death Shaimaa el Sabbagh; shot by police in Cairo, Egypt while taking part in a peaceful protest. The group was headed for Tahrir Square to lay flowers in memory, of Egypt's derailed revolution [the next day was its fourth anniversary]. Apparently the police were using non-lethal pellet's instead of bullets [ironically]. She was hit in the face, chest, and possibly her back. Gallantly, she was rushed away by a young man [a friend actually - Sayed Abu Elela], only to die on the sidewalk, to the horror of bystanders. A young mother, poet, a secular socialist, she was not the first person or even female to be a victim of excessive police force in Cairo. The day before Sabbagh's death, another female protester, 17-year-old Sondos Ridha, was also killed. Ridha was associated with the Muslim Brotherhood [an organization supposedly hated by the state & secular opposition alike] and the lack of publicity over her death, and others has many just as upset.
Shaimaa al Sabbagh, photo courtesy of
The N.Y.Times Insider -
Youm Al Saabi Newspaper; Emad El-Gebaly/Agence France-Presse --
Getty Images
The deaths of both young women highlight a regime that seems, hardly any better then the last, and where the rights of the individual are to often non-existant. President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi regime is under intense scrutiny after Sabbagh's death, which is unusual and perhaps a good sign. "Deaths have accumulated slowly but steadily since the military takeover in Egypt 18 months ago." [David Kirkpatrick]. The pro-government media generally stayed away from critical coverage aimed at the Police & government, but after el Sabbagh's death even they cannot ignore the problem. The "...state newspaper, Al Ahram, published a front-page editorial expressing rare, officially sanctioned criticism of the Egyptian police." [David Kirkpatrick] 
Shaimaa al Sabbagh, photo courtesy of
The N.Y.Times Insider -
Youm Al Saabi Newspaper; Emad El-Gebaly/Agence France-Presse --
Getty Images
And yet it seems, to little, to late in an area where such incidents are now regular, however brutal and senseless they appear. The incident soon reached many parts of the world, though I got the that it was only a momentary spike, compared to "Je suis Charlie". On Facebook I saw many [mostly French & non-French] change their profiles to an image of the phrase [Je suis Charlie], firmly afraid that free-speech was in utter danger - charming in every way. But what of el sabbagh? Do we reach out towards our those who also need, deserve and should have our support? I suspect some do, while many more feel no need to give it -if they know at all.

Shaimaa al Sabbagh, photo courtesy of
The N.Y.Times Insider -
Mahmoud Taha/European Pressphoto Agency
Change is always difficult, especially when directed towards unwanted rulers and their governments. But history teaches that with time, effort, and unfortunately the deaths of many, such change will happen. "Few in Egypt expect the demonstrations or bombings to change the military-backed government any time soon. Public debate here is dominated by pro-government voices. President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has ruled by decree without a Parliament or other elected officials." [David Kirkpatrick] .  
Shaimaa al Sabbagh [center],
photo courtesy of Osama Hamamm.
Below is one of Shaimaa al Sabbagh's poems:

A letter in my purse

By Shaimaa El-Sabbagh, trans. Maged Zaher
I am not sure
Truly, she was nothing more than just a purse
But when lost, there was a problem
How to face the world without her
Because the streets remember us together
The shops know her more than me
Because she is the one who pays
She knows the smell of my sweat and she loves it
She knows the different buses
And has her own relationship with their drivers
She memorizes the ticket price
And always has the exact change
Once I bought a perfume she didn’t like
She spilled all of it and refused to let me use it
By the way
She also loves my family
And she always carried a picture
Of each one she loves
What might she be feeling right now
Maybe scared?
Or disgusted from the sweat of someone she doesn’t know
Annoyed by the new streets?
If she stopped by one of the stores we visited together
Would she like the same items?
Anyway, she has the house keys
And I am waiting for her

If you would like to know more, go, Info for this article was gathered from both of these article by David Kirkpatrick. 'Art is the reason, art is the way'

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Gertrude Bell

This months cover by K.K.W,
with layout by Aleksandar Ares.
On the cover, Stephanie Cunningham.

Al-Khatun, The desert Queen: Gertrude Bell. By K.K.W
Gertrude Bell. Image courtesy of,
You don't have to be an historian to know that few women [depending on which area of the world] had the same, or even half the freedom and rights of men - even in late 19th century Western Civilization. However, there were always some who broke on through to the other side; who's life seems the stuff of legend, or a great film. 

Gertrude Margaret Lowthian Bell, was born on July 14th 1868 in Washington Hall, County Durham, England. Her family's wealth would enable her to travel.[1] Her grandfathers liberal membership in Parliament during Benjamin Disraeli's second term would have major influence on her.[2] At the age of 3 her mother died [giving birth to a son, Maurice], which would lead to a life long relationship with her father [Sir Hugh Bell - 2nd Baronet, three times mayor of Middlesbrough, High Sheriff of Durham, Justice of the Peace, etc]. Some would write that the loss of her mother would have underlying childhood trauma, revealed through periods of depression and risky behavior. 

Gerturde Bell. Image courtesy of Wikipedia
Bell's stepmother Florence [Playwright, author of children's stories, and of a study of the family's factory workers ] would instill concepts of duty and decorum in her, while contributing to her intellectual development. Many restrictions were placed on women at the time, even what they could study - which lead Bell to study Modern History, receiving a first class honour's degree in two years [Oxford University, Lady Margaret Hall].  She never married, despite her beauty, intelligence, etc, but did have an unconsummated affair with Maj. Charles Doughty-Wylie, a married man [they exchanged love letter from 1913 - 1915].[3] When he died at Gallipoli, Bell immersed herself into her work.

In May 1892, after leaving Oxford, Bell traveled to Persia to visit her uncle, Sir Frank Lascelles [British Minister, at Tehran]. The journey is described in her book, Persian Pictures, published in 1894. The next decade would be spent traveling around the world, developing a passion for archeology and languages [she became fluent in Arabic, Persian, French, German, Italian, and Turkish]. She would again travel to the "Middle East" in 1899, visiting Palestine and Syria, later going to Jerusalem to Damascus in 1900 where she became acquainted with the Druze living in Jabal al-Druze.[4] 

Gertrude Bell, courtesy of the Gertrude Bell Archives, Newcastle University
Bell would climb and conquer a number of mountains, including the La Meije, Mont Blanc as she recorded 10 new paths or first ascents in the Bernese Alps. She almost died climbing the Finsteraarhorn in 1902, as snow, hail and lighting forced her to spend "forty eight hours on the rope" with her guides, clinging to the rock face. I doubt few men would be able to be a woman like this, even in todays world. Her book Syria: The Desert and the Sown [1907]  in which she described, photographed her trip to greater Syria, opened up the Arabian deserts to the world. 

She journeyed to the Ottoman Empire and worked with New Testament Scholar Sir William M Ramesy, excavating Binbirkilise. By 1909 she was in Mesopotamia, where in Carchemish she met T. E. Lawrence [one of the archaeologists on site]. Bell's initial request for Middle East Posting, at the outbreak of World War I was denied, which would see her volunteer for the Red Cross in France. It was only when the British needed to get their soldiers through the deserts, was she brought in by British intelligence. Her travels had gained her close relations with various tribal leaders across the Middle East, and also being able to have access to the chambers of their wives giving her another important perspective. In 1915 she was assigned to Army intelligence for war service [no official position]. She helped in processing data about the locations & disposition of tribes that could be induced to join the war-effort against the Ottoman Empire. 

Advising chief political officer Percy Cox, Bell would create the maps need to get troop's from Basra to Bagdad safely. She would receive the title of Liaison Officer, Correspondent to Cairo, and was Harry St. John Philbys field controller [instructing him on the finer arts of behind-the-scenes political maneuvering]. 

"Oriental Secretary", she was asked to attend the 1921 Cairo Conference. Throughout it, she Lawrence and Cox worked tirelessly to promote the establishment of the countries of Transjordan and Iraq to be presided of by Kings Abdullah and Faisal [sons of the instigator of the Arab Revolt - Hussein bin Ali, Sharif & Emir of Mecca]. Know as al-Khatun to the Persian's, a confidante and advisor of King Faisal of Iraq and instrumental in the creation of Iraq and an integral part of its administration through the 1920's. The more one reads of her it becomes a strange thought that perhaps she was an individual more suited for the times then most men around her.  

Gertrude Bell Photographic Archive,
Newcastle University. 
Image courtesy of the
Gertrude Bell.
Image courtesy of

Possibly the only thing more amazing then her life is her death on July 12th, 1926. Her body was discovered by her maid, an apparent overdose of sleeping pills. 
There is much debate on her death, but it is unknown whether the overdose was an intentional suicide or accidental since she had asked her maid to wake her.[5]

 David W. Del Testa, ed. (2001). "Bell, Gertrude". Government Leaders, Military Rulers, and Political Activists
#2 O'Brien, Rosemary, ed. (2000), Gertrude Bell: The Arabian Diaries, 1913–1914, Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press #3  Lukitz, 2006. pp. 14–17 #4 "Gertrude Bell and the Birth of Iraq" 15 November 2011. Retrieved6 December 2011. #5 Helen Berry: BBC History Magazine September 2013. Info for this article was gathered from 'Art is the reason, art is the way'