Powell: Pointed Presentation

Pablo Picasso's Guernica; a tapestry version greets the UN Security Council.  Except when the subject is Iraq. image: pbs.org
Guernica, Pablo Picasso's painting of the horrors of war

At the UN today, Colin Powell's PowerPoint deck is expected to pull back the curtain, not on the alleged threat Iraq poses, but on Iraq's defiance of various Security Council resolutions. One thing you won't see, however: the tapestry version of Picasso's Guernica, which hangs at the entrance to the Security Council's chamber. A gift of Nelson Rockefeller (who also donated the land for the UN headquarters), the paintings iconic protest imagery says "Abandon war all ye who enter here" to UN participants. According to the Washington Times, when Iraq is being discussed, Guernica is covered by a UN-blue curtain and clusters of flags. [Thanks to BoingBoing, who reads the WT for me. The NYTimes has a brief report, too. For pinkos.]

Not Afraid of Love, Maurizio Cattelan, image: artnet.com Not Afraid of Love, 2000, Maurizio Cattelan, image: artnet.com

Of course, simply throwing a sheet over it doesn't make it go away; the message can still come through loud and clear. Picasso captured public outrage at the beta-test of the Nazi's then-new concept, aerial bombing, which destroyed a Basque village in a three-hour rain of terror. From that v0.9, we've moved to "shock and awe," the Windows XP of aerial bombing tactics, which, according to Pentagon leaks, would shower 3,000+ missiles on Iraq in the first 48 hours of war. The elephant is still in the room, no matter what it's covered with.

As it turns out, UN spokesmen in both Times reports say they're covering Guernica, for logistical, not political reasons, no. According to the WT, when Colin Powell faces the throng of cameras outside the chamber, it appears there's a horse's ass behind him when he talks.

[update: If you wonder why your day went badly, check and see if you wrote the same thing as Maureen Dowd. If she didn't include references to Maurizio Cattelan, there's still hope for your night. (via Travelers Diagram)]

Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting greg.org that time.

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first published: February 5, 2003.

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