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This is simultaneously too good to be true and possibly entirely true.
Clueless commentary on Laibach's history and intentions aside, here it is in the press.
I just hope nothing happens to the people in the DPRK who organized this - it's a bigger prank than Stephen Colbert's "in-persona" speech at the White House Correspondent's dinner, with greater consequences.

North Korea gig comes natural for Slovenian conceptual band Laibach
JULY 21, 2015 09:29 AM
LJUBLJANA, Slovenia - For a band inspired by art in totalitarian regimes, a gig in North Korea is a dream come true.
Slovenia's Laibach recently announced it will play two concerts in Pyongyang next month. The group is known for music described as a mixture of industrial rock and retro electronic, and for its use of authoritarian imagery, such as Soviet-era symbols, marches and dark uniforms.
The tour will coincide with the ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of the Korean peninsula's liberation from Japanese colonization, and will include Laibach's own music as well as popular Korean songs, one of the band's founders, producer and spokesman Ivan Novak, told The Associated Press.
"Originally, we invited ourselves and then they invited us," Novak said.
Formed in 1980, when Slovenia was still part of Communist-run Yugoslavia, Laibach immediately stirred controversy with its name — German for Slovenia's capital city Ljubljana — and because it used a black cross as one of its symbols.
This alone was enough for an official ban by the regime born out of anti-fascist struggle during World War II. Laibach were still allowed occasional concerts until, in 1983, they locked the door of a concert hall and played the sound of a dog barking extremely loudly for almost half an hour.
For the next few years, Laibach concerts moved abroad. The group's visual style included wearing military uniforms on stage and toying with socialist and populist imagery while playing almost martial-style songs, sung in a husky, deep voice.
The band has six members, but only two — including Novak, who will be 57 in August, singer Milan Fras, a couple of years younger — have been there from the early years. Fras joined in 1983 after Laibach's first singer committed suicide.
Despite being criticized as too dark, the band has always insisted that it is exploring the relation between ideology, politics and art. One of its main slogans states that "art and totalitarianism do not exclude each other."
Over the years, Laibach has gained an important place on Slovenia's art scene. The band's retrospective currently is part of an exhibition of the Neue Slowenische Kunst (New Slovenian Art) movement at the Modern Gallery in Ljubljana.
Laibach members are professional musicians, some of whom teach music or take part in various art projects. Laibach has held more than 800 concerts throughout the world, while gigs at home are usually sold out, drawing up to few thousand people in a country of 2 million.
Novak said the band has always wanted to visit North Korea and remembers clearly the visit in 1977 to the country by then Yugoslav communist leader Josip Broz Tito. Novak rejected the possibility that the trip will amount to political support for the North Korean communist regime, viewed as an isolationist dictatorship in the West.
"We never support the regime anywhere where we perform ... but we do support the people who live there," Novak said. He explained that the band has found inspiration for its art in the country, citing events where people fill stadiums and hold up colorful cards in carefully choreographed displays to create giant images.
"All Korea is practicing superb pop art. Superb," he said. "From the point of view of art history, they should actually protect the whole country, they should put it in a museum of pop art."
Laibach concerts are planned Aug. 19 and 20 for an audience of 1,000 each day. Several pop singers and bands from South Korea have performed in the north in the past, while British singer David Thomas Broughton has said he performed once for expats in North Korea. Laibach's performance, however, will mark the first encounter with a visually charged band from the West.
"We will adjust and adapt our program to the Korean situation and audience," Novak said. "We will perform a gentle version of Laibach."
Jovana Gec contributed from Belgrade, Serbia; Tong-hyung Kim and Hyung-jin Kim contributed from Seoul, South Korea.
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Leonora Carrington, just about the last of the original Surrealists, has died at age 94.
I liked her stuff.

Also, found out the Vancouver Art Gallery has a major show of Surrealist art starting on May 28:
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I think I first wrote about this back in January 2009 (
But on reading this article, it appears to be just an American copycat of this British show that aired in the fall of 2009, without any of the mentoring or development-of-a-starting-artist aspect - instead it just becomes another demented party game.

Visual art reality show set for TV debut
Last Updated: Friday, June 4, 2010 | 2:08 PM ET CBC News

The producers behind hit reality-TV competitions Top Chef and Project Runway have created a new contest pitting contemporary visual artists against one another.

Work of Art: The Next Great Artist will have its debut on U.S. cable channel Bravo on June 9 and will see 14 artists compete in weekly art challenges in a variety of media.

The grand prize is $100,000 US and a solo exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum.

Production company Magical Elves hopes its new show will do for visual art what Top Chef and Project Runway helped do for cooking and fashion: namely, take a mainstream, TV-watching audience behind the scenes to better understand what goes into artistic creation.

"When we started reaching out to the art community, we were worried that people would be against the idea of a reality show. What we found was that people were pretty receptive," Dan Cutforth, one of the executive producers, told Reuters.

More than 2,000 artists — from oil painters to conceptual artists — applied for a spot on Work of Art.

The main judging panel will include art critic Jerry Saltz and New York gallery owners Bill Powers and Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn. They will be joined by a number of guest judges that include mixed-media artist Jon Kessler, photographer Andres Serrano, painter Richard Phillips and photographer-director David LaChapelle.

Art auctioneer Simon de Pury serves as a mentor to the contestants, while the show will be hosted by actress and model China Chow, who spouts the requisite dismissal catchphrase: "Your work of art didn’t work for us."

Though the contestants may fit certain reality show archetypes (e.g., the villain, the misfit, the front-runner), the goal is to give a boost to the struggling artists and to encourage more mainstream discussion and acceptance of visual art, according to the producers — who include actress Sarah Jessica Parker's company Pretty Matches.

"I hope that people will feel more comfortable talking about their opinions about art, or wanting to have opinions about art," Magical Elves producer Jane Lipsitz told Vanity Fair.

"That's our goal."
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After finding out about Laurie Anderson coming to town as part of the "Cultural Olympiad", I thought about it for a while and decided to write her a letter.

Read more... )

Well, I'll just count this as my Futile Gesture for the month... I think I'll try one on each month this year.
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I guess this had to happen at some point...I guess it's not even that nice an idea to begin with either.

Reality show taps famed collector Saatchi to discover new art star

Last Updated: Monday, January 26, 2009 | 12:56 PM ET CBC News

Having succeeded in discovering fresh new singers, dancers and actors, reality TV is now turning its attention to the visual art world — with a new BBC series that will enlist the help of influential art collector Charles Saatchi to spot new British talent.

Former advertising mogul Saatchi will serve as a mentor to and judge of the young artist competitors in the new BBC series Saatchi's Best of British, the broadcaster has announced.
Read more... )

Installation, performance art, digital media - I suppose these are what counts today, digital media being the most prevalent (and in a sense supplanting painting, drawing and photography) and probably lucrative, but installations and performance art getting the biggest headlines (note the references to Tracey Emin). But the site for submission says,

"You can apply by uploading between 3-5 images and/or films of your artwork and by telling us a bit about yourself. The artwork you submit can be in any medium e.g. installations, digital media, painting, sculpture, printmaking, performance art and others. You can also upload a film of yourself talking about your artwork if you wish."

I wonder if there will be anything at all interesting about what comes out of this, or will the producers have the final say on what gets shown - my bet's on the latter. Something cheeky, something obvious, nothing that challenging or outrageous. And what's the point of giving these people three months of "intensive art school" - I wonder who will be picked to tutor them?

SRL 30

Nov. 25th, 2008 03:03 pm
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Survival Research Laboratories is thirty years old today!

"Survival Research Laboratories was conceived of and founded by Mark Pauline in November 1978. Since its inception SRL has operated as an organization of creative technicians dedicated to re-directing the techniques, tools, and tenets of industry, science, and the military away from their typical manifestations in practicality, product or warfare. Since 1979, SRL has staged over 45 mechanized presentations in the United States and Europe. Each performance consists of a unique set of ritualized interactions between machines, robots, and special effects devices, employed in developing themes of socio-political satire. Humans are present only as audience or operators."

Like many weirdos not indigenous to San Francisco in the 1970s, I first learned about SRL in the still incredibly entertaining "Industrial Culture Handbook" by Re/Search Publications. It wasn't until 1989 that I got to see an actual SRL performance, in Seattle. Took time off from my Army job in Ottawa (well, it was leave due me) to see it, and probably lost a good girlfriend over it, but it was worth it. I even got to shake Mark Pauline's claw afterward!

Also, here is a link to an old book from 1918 on how to grow War Vegetables in your yard ('cause you need to be ready when your neighbour's vegetables come boiling over the wire....)
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From the [ profile] altfriday5:

1. What creative things are you doing?
Right now, most of my creative energy has been going into a new game design on urban counterinsurgency called "Virtualia". See following post.

2. What motivates or enables you to get them done?
Sometimes, it's time. I had to get the game ready for the symposium, that was a definite deadline. Other times, I don't have the time pressure, and I have found these things don't come along very well if you try to force them. Every idea has its time.

3. What creative things do you want to be doing, but aren't?
Visual art - I haven't done any visual stuff in a long time. I'd like to do some artist trading cards again, or use some of that printmaking stuff I have sitting in the garage.

Casting - if it ever warms up and stops raining I want to get out and melt some metal! I promised Nadine I would make her a Buddha, and haven't been able to work on that.

Writing - I have two games being published in October and November of 2009, and I have to write 4-5,000 word lead articles on their subjects (Spanish Civil War and Sino-Japanese War) by the end of the year.

Music - I wanna do improv noise and things with [ profile] shadesofwinter, but we never seem to get it together to do that.

Game design - I've got lots of ideas for new things but no time to make them jell.

4. What stops you from doing them?
Time. Never enough, when I'm working full time. Weekend time is at a premium.

Space. Got lots of stuff, but little space in which to manipulate it.

Life. Things like cooking and cleaning and such.

Work. Eats into time available of course, and makes me tired.

Other people. Time spent dealing with other humans = less time doing creative stuff. But if I didn't do the first, I wouldn't do much of the second either.

Moods. Sometimes I feel so dull and uncreative/unmotivated, especially in the winter. Sometimes I feel that I am wasting my time making trivial stupid things.

5. Are you distressed at the thought of the things you aren't doing? Why or why not? If yes, how do you deal with this distress?
Well, I do get annoyed about it, but I try to feel good that at least I have a choice about how to spend my spare time, or that I even have spare time in the first place! If I go long periods without being able to make or do anything it bothers me more.
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From the Guardian:

'Adults are idiots'
The spiky-haired queen of avant-garde pop has some new targets: advertising, the war on terror - and her own stage sets. Laurie Anderson tells all to John O'Mahony

John O'Mahony
Monday April 7, 2008

During a recent Boston performance of Laurie Anderson's new show, Homeland, a rather extraordinary thing happened. Anderson had just launched into a catchy little number about the recruitment practices of the US army and their gory consequences on the battlefields of the Middle East. "Let me blow up your churches, let me blow up your mosques," she intoned sweetly, against a surging electronic backdrop. "All your government buildings, 'cause I'm a bad guy."

Read more... )
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Now here's an interesting thing - it was about time this issue was burped back into the spotlight anyway:

Artists oppose Tory plan to vet films before granting tax credits

Last Updated: Thursday, February 28, 2008 | 2:22 PM ET
The Canadian Press

Canada's arts community is condemning proposed changes to the Income Tax Act that would allow the federal government to pull financial help for film or television programs that it finds offensive or not in the public interest.
Read more... )

Well, yes, of course this is censorship, and the terms "offensive" or "not in the public interest" are flabby as all get-out, and potentially this does lend itself to all kinds of abuse. So what next?

I'm not sure whether this notion comes from a "fundamentalist perspective" as the man alleges above, images of the Mapplethorpe-Helms-NEA debacle running through his head. These things seem to come up every time an artist who's received public funding (at the time or in the past) does something someone else doesn't like, or whenever some politician remembers once seeing something he didn't like and realizes all over again that there's always a good percentage in going after Culture That Isn't Robert Bateman. It also seems to me that regardless of which party is in power in Canada, the Heritage Minister always seems to be someone who doesn't have much use for or personal interest in the portfolio - seems to be kind of a loser post.

I have to say I am quite ambivalent on the general issue of public funding for the arts. The fact of the matter is, whether public funding was involved or not, there will be some art - perhaps I should say "entertainment", since films and TV are what's being discussed in this case - that some people don't "get", don't like, and don't want. David Cronenberg's infamous film Shivers, one of the first to get assistance from the Canada Film Development Corporation was savaged by Reggie Fulford in Saturday Night magazine in 1975 as "an atrocity" and "the most repulsive film I have ever seen", and concluded with the statement "If using public money to produce films like this is the only way English Canada can have a film industry, then perhaps English Canada should not have a film industry."

The fact is, there is no agency, organization, board or council that should determine the artistic merit of anything. The concept has no objective reality. It cannot be anything other than a strictly individual decision, one of the few left to us. Die Gedanken as I like to say so often, sind frei.

From there it's an easy jump to the idealistic position that there should be no government funding for the arts, in any form, not no way, not no how. I never got any Canada Council grants for the numerous and minor provocations and creative atrocities I've inflicted on the world in my time, nor was I ever accountable to anyone, not even the postman who delivered my work to its unwitting recipient. But that's too much of an easy out, almost as impractical as demanding there should be unlimited public funding for anyone who wants to do anything creative.

It certainly does not work for films and TV, because these are expensive to make - and there's the important difference! It's a truism that it takes money to make money, and the only reason why there continues to be even a vestige of a cultural industry in this country is because it does make money. Shivers made money - no one expected it to, but it did. And while it was being made, people running the cameras, making sandwiches, and mopping up the fake blood and goo were putting food on their respective tables when they went home at night. Can't be all bad.

So, does "not in the public interest" necessarily mean "unsaleable or not commercially viable"? Some (but not all people) in Stephen Harper's government would take the semi-libertarian argument that the ultimate arbiter for culture is the marketplace. If people pay to look at it, there must be something in it. Others in that government wouldn't even want you to see so much as some side-boob, no matter how much you wanted to pay, because government, in their view, has to be some kind of moral enforcer.

Anyway, I am rather going in circles here because I don't have the answer - that's why I say I'm ambivalent about the issue. Would like to hear your thoughts.
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You know, I think I like this guy!

Controversial sculptor unveils latest work: Hilton as corpse

Last Updated: Wednesday, May 9, 2007 | 4:10 PM ET
CBC Arts

The provocative artist who created a sexy bust of Hillary Clinton and a nude sculpture of pop star Britney Spears giving birth has set his sights on another celebrity: Paris Hilton.

Read more... )


Apr. 12th, 2007 10:38 am
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Yes, everybody's posting about Kurt Vonnegut being dead. I think he died some time ago, he was a sad man who had lost all hope. If you've ever seen the film version of Mother Night with Nick Nolte (1996), Vonnegut has a non-speaking cameo in the middle of the film and the expression in his eyes says it all.

I had a Vonnegut phase, like many others. I'm glad I had it, and glad I moved on.

In other news, I went to my mom's house for Easter Sunday dinner and made a small centrepiece for the table!

I know, it's a bad picture but you are supposed to see he's hiding a big ball of cotton behind his back...well, I thought it was funny.
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From the news summary "ThisisTrue" (the story's about a month old):

Commuters stuck in traffic on a Los Angeles, Calif., freeway saw something unusual when they passed the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels: a gigantic advertisement projected on the steeple. "Your Ad Here" alternated with "Your Corporate Logo Here". Officials at the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles were as perplexed as motorists, since they didn't authorize the advertisement. "A church tower is different from a billboard," said an archdiocese spokesman. "If it wasn't, we would have been selling ad space 2,000 years ago."

Rather, it was a piece of performance art by 28-year-old graphic artist James Cui. While the church was reasonably amused, bureaucrats weren't. "What he put up is the equivalent to an advertising sign and not a work of art," said city code enforcement head Dave Keim, noting illegal ad signs are punishable as a misdemeanor with fines up to $1,000 and six months in jail. "To us, anything that attracts the attention of the public is a 'sign' and you need a permit." (Los Angeles Times)

From this week's Onion:


Child-Safety Experts Call For Restrictions On Childhood Imagination
February 20, 2007 | Issue 43•08

WASHINGTON, DC—The Department of Health and Human Services issued a series of guidelines Monday designed to help parents curtail their children's boundless imaginations, which child-safety advocates say have the potential to rival motor vehicle accidents and congenital diseases as a leading cause of disability and death among youths ages 3 to 14.

"Defuse the ticking time-bomb known as your child's imagination before it explodes and destroys her completely," said child-safety expert Kenneth McMillan, who advised the HHS in composing the guidelines. "New data shows a disturbing correlation between serious accidents and the ability of children to envision a world full of exciting possibility."

The guidelines, titled "Boundless Imagination, Boundless Hazards: Ways To Keep Your Kids Safe From A World Of Wonder," are posted on the HHS website, and will also be available in brochure form in pediatricians' offices across the country.

According to McMillan, children can suffer broken bones, head trauma, and even fatal injuries from unsupervised exposure to childlike awe. "If your children are allowed to unlock their imaginations, anything from a backyard swing set to a child's own bedroom can be transformed into a dangerous undersea castle or dragon's lair," McMillan said. "But by encouraging your kids to think linearly and literally, and constantly reminding them they can never be anything but human children with no extraordinary characteristics, you can better ensure that they will lead prolonged lives."

Although the exact number of child fatalities connected to an active imagination is unknown, experts say the danger is very real. According to a 2006 estimate, children who regularly engage in imagination are 10 times more likely to suffer injuries such as skinned knees from mythical quests, or bruises and serious falls from the peak of Bookcase Mountain.

One of the HHS recommendations emphasizes increased communication between parents and children about the truths behind outlandish fantasies. "Speak with your children about the absolute impossibility of time travel, magical powers, and animals and toys that talk when adults are not around," reads one excerpt. "If this fails to quell their imaginations, encourage them to stare at household objects and think clearly and objectively about their actual, physical characteristics."

The HHS also discourages aimless playtime activities that lack a rigid, repetitive structure: "Opt instead for safe activities like untying knots, sticking and unsticking two pieces of Velcro, drawing straight lines of successively longer lengths, and quietly humming a single note for two to three hours."

But even these relatively safe activities can become imaginative, experts warn, without proper precautions. "Do not let children know that, for example, sailors and pirates untie knots," McMillan said.

Although no cure has yet been developed for childhood imagination, preventative measures can deter children from potentially hazardous bouts of make-believe.

"Many of the suggestions are really quite simple, like breaking down cardboard boxes or sewing cushions to couches so they cannot be converted into forts or playhouses," McMillan said. "Blank pieces of paper, which can inspire non-reality-based drawings, should be discarded unless they are used in one of our recommended diagonal folding and unfolding activities. And all loose sticks left lying in the yard should be carefully labeled 'Not a Sword.'"

Unfortunately, removing everything from a child's field of view that could stimulate his active young mind is extremely time-consuming, and infeasible as a long-term solution, McMillan acknowledges. "To truly protect your children, you must go to great lengths to completely eliminate their curiosity, crush their spirit of amazement, and eradicate their childlike glee. Watch for the danger signs: faraway expressions, giggle fits, and a general air of carefree contentment."

Added McMillan: "Remember, if you see a single sparkle of excitement in their eyes, you haven't done enough."
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Yeah, posting a lot today...

Question: What distinguishes "art" from "craft"?
Who would judge, and how, whether a created object would be eligible for one or the other series of awards?
Is it utility vs. inutility?
Gary, would you care to comment?
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X Marks the Spot
Istvan Kantor: two decades of bloodletting
By Julia Dault
January 24, 2005

Read more... )

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New Years was OK, Lianne and I spent it at my Dad's fortified compound on Pender Island. We saw a procession and show down by Magic Lake put on by local people that featured giant puppets, stilt walkers, fire spinners, and a giant glowing dragon floating around on the lake steered by darkened kayaks. It was pretty impressive! I'm sure there were a couple of Burners in the crowd.

[EDIT: It's called the Magic Lake Lantern Festival, and these are the people who put the event on each year:}

I liked the giant owl best: he looked just like Craig Oliver the CBC correspondent.

The next day there was a windstorm and the power went out for almost nine hours. It went off halfway through cooking a turkey in the oven, so we cooked it the rest of the way in the barbecue outside, and cooked up vegetables and gravy on a Coleman propane stove inside. It was all really good, then we sat around drinking by candlelight and talking over each other really loudly until midnight, when the power suddenly came back on. So we went to bed.

My New Year's resolutions, such as they are:

- cut out sugar
- eat the same food, but less of it
- try to be more productive in all things, even "meaningless" arty ones
- have some worthwhile fun, dammit!
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Complete with corny audio soundtrack!
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In two weeks time, comrades, my friend Gary is having a grand studio party and opening!

Everyone must come and see! Way weird art, and good music, and interesting people - much better than the losers you usually hang out with (unless they come too, and they should).

Also features the unveiling of a motorized statue I commissioned Gary to make for me, incorporating two steel rods that served me as shinbones when I got run over...out of my body and into art.

Saturday, April 23, noon until late
6445 Gliddon Road

(Drive up the Pat Bay Highway, a bit past Tanner Road you will see the new Co-op gas station on the right - Gliddon Road is there, make a right and 6445 is about the third house down.)
(or take the #75 Sidney bus - leaves every hour - and get off just where the bus turns off the highway onto Tanner Road. Cross the highway, and the gas station is a few hundred yards down the road.)

Natty PDF file with a sample of Gary's art:

And another:

And looka here:

See you there!
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Well, this was actually a pretty good weekend! Friday night was the Huun-Huur-Tu concert, held in an old United Church. Great acoustics and a performance at least as good as the last (and first) time I saw them in Vancouver in the summer of 2003. Throat-singing as good as it gets, played to a packed house.

Saturday I took Aki to the monthly Artist Trading Card session at Xchanges Gallery. He had made lots and lots of little ATCs and traded quite a few of them. I hope he will keep this up. I took him back to downtown, popped him on the bus with Mxo, and then went to see the last two films of the Festival (that I was interested in): Robot Stories and Breakfast with Hunter.

tedious descriptions follow )

Sunday I went looking for a floor lamp at Canadian Tire and ended up with a lot of paper products instead. In the afternoon Aki and I played the Settlers of Catan card game, which we are really enjoying.

Obligatory survey )
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Sitting here eating my sandwich early and I want to tell you what I did before I came here to sit and eat my sandwich.
Read more... )
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On a perfect Sunday, after breakfast and shopping with Gary and Betty, we paid a visit to sculptor friend Gary's studio. And I came away with this wonderful little fellow as a Christmas present:

piccies here )

I love this kind of thing, and the little guy has the place of honour on my mantelpiece right now. Small metal statues of old spider-men with canes screaming silent abuse at you are always welcome in my house. I think Gary captured the Inner Me with this piece, though I don't think he meant it to be a portrait of me.

Thank you Gary, you're a freakin' genius!


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