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The fine line between plugging and commemorating

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Wow, I had no idea there was a Samantha Stevens--"Bewitched"--statue in Salem, MA. But there is, and she was part of a campaign TV Land launched in 2000, commemorating shows they planned on continuing in re-runs; other statues included Opie & Andy in Raleigh, NC, MTM's Mary Richards in Minneapolis, and Bob Newhart's Dr. Robert Hartley in Chicago. The 8-ft bronze Samantha was erected in June of '05, to the delight of some TV Land die-hards and the chagrin of some who didn't embrace the irony. Most recently, the statue has inspired photographer Jennifer Layzer's new series, "The Salem Project," as elucidated in her statement:

I am concerned with the collective misremembering of history. My reading of first-hand accounts of the Salem witchcraft crisis informs these photographic reenactments, in which I use contemporary plastic dolls to comment on the commercialization and trivialization of horrific events. The anachronism of these scenes brings past events closer to the present, makes history more immediate.

If you're in Boston, you can catch her photos this Thursday at a Brattle Theatre silent auction. And speaking of film-and-TV reified via statues, those publicly displayed tablets of The Ten Commandments (the ones that have been the locus of separation of church & state issues)? Well, most of them were installed in 1956 to help promote Charlton Heston & co. in The Ten Commandments. Director Cecile B. DeMille was really just piggybacking on a program to implement the tablets that was spearheaded by the Fraternal Order of the Eagles. That's some really formidable publicity!

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Art
A Beached Whale Sculpture Popped Up on the Banks of Paris's Seine River
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In Paris, dozens of fish varieties live in the Seine River. Now, the Associated Press reports that the famous waterway is home to a beached whale.

Rest assured, eco-warriors: The sperm whale is actually a lifelike sculpture, installed on an embankment next to Notre Dame Cathedral by Belgian artists’ collective Captain Boomer. It’s meant to raise environmental awareness, and evoke "the child in everyone who still is puzzled about what is real and what is not,” collective member Bart Van Peel told the Associated Press.

The 65-foot sculpture has reportedly startled and confused many Parisians, thanks in part to a team of fake scientists deployed to “survey” the whale. One collective member even posted a video on social media, warning Parisians that there “may be others in the water” if they opt to take a dip in the river, The Local reported.

The whale sculpture is only temporary—but as for Captain Boomer, this isn’t their first whale-related stunt. Last summer, the collective installed a similar riverside artwork in Rennes, France, and they also once strapped a large-scale whale sculpture to the back of a truck and drove it around France.

[h/t Associated Press]

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Art
Artist Makes Colorful Prints From 1990s VHS Tapes

A collection of old VHS tapes offers endless crafting possibilities. You can use them to make bird houses, shelving units, or, if you’re London-based artist Dieter Ashton, screen prints from the physical tape itself.

As Co.Design reports, the recent London College of Communication graduate was originally intrigued by the art on the cover of old VHS and cassette tapes. He planned to digitally edit them as part of a new art project, but later realized that working with the ribbons of tape inside was much more interesting.

To make a print, Ashton unravels the film from cassettes and VHS tapes collected from his parents' home. He lets the strips fall randomly then presses them into tight, tangled arrangements with the screen. The piece is then brought to life with vibrant patterns and colors.

Ashton has started playing with ways to incorporate themes and motifs from the films he's repurposing into his artwork. If the movie behind one of his creations isn’t immediately obvious, you can always refer to its title. His pieces are named after movies like Backdraft, Under Siege, and that direct-to-video Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen classic Passport to Paris.

Screen print made from an old VHS tape.

Screen print made from an old VHS tape.

Screen print made from an old VHS tape.

Screen print made from an old VHS tape.

Screen print made from an old VHS tape.

Screen print made from an old VHS tape.

[h/t Co.Design]

All images courtesy of Dieter Ashton

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