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‘Cairo 6, 7, 8’ exposes sexual violence in a changing Egypt

The actress Boshra portrays one of three women facing sexual harassment in Egypt in Mohamed Diab's "Cairo 6 ,7, 8."

When hundreds of women recently protested against dictatorships in Tunisia, Yemen and Egypt, it seemed that an era of oppressive governments with sexist traditions might be coming to an end.

The excitement was short-lived.

On March 9, International Women’s Day, a group of women were groped and harassed in Cairo’s Tahrir Square after marching for social justice. Last week, Amnesty International reported that another group of 18 women who were arrested during protests in Tahrir Square were taken by the military, tortured by electric shocks, subjected to strip searches and given “virginity tests.”

According to an Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights study in 2008, 83 percent of women have been sexually harassed in Egypt, as well as an astounding 98 percent of foreign women living in Cairo. (The study defines sexual harassment as unwanted sexual conduct that results in physical or psychological abuse.) Yet, due to a lack of cultural and legal support, only a small percentage of cases are taken to the police.

Director Mohamed Diab captures this grim reality in his new feature, “Cairo 6,7,8,” showcased in this year’s New Directors/New Films series at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The film is based on real-life experiences of sexual harassment faced by three Egyptian women.

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‘A History of the Future’: Capturing the world to come

In just 50 years Qin Tu Hu Lake in China has become a desert. Photo: Susannah Sayler, Canary Project

Five years ago, photographer Susannah Sayler set out to artistically render the future. Specifically, the environmental warnings against what could become our future.

Nearly all of her photos capture quiet, empty landscapes. At first glance, they seem normal, like any glossy, colorful National Geographic image of a place you may someday — but really, probably won’t ever — visit.

Then you look at them for a few seconds. If you’re like a lot of the viewers who find themselves drawn to “A History of the Future,” you will notice that there is something ominous about many of these images. Something is just a little bit off.

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‘Spider-Man’ on Broadway

Photo: Jacob Cohl

A disclaimer before I give you my opinion of Julie Taymor‘s much-hyped “Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark”: I don’t, in any way shape or form, fancy myself a professional theater critic; rather, I speak as a devoted fan of Broadway. Growing up, I saw “A Chorus Line” six times, “Pacific Overtures” three times and “The Wiz” at least three times. I’ve sat through “Evita,” “Nine” and “Sweeney Todd.” (This was the 70s — tickets were a lot cheaper!) My only credential is that I love musicals.

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iSpy New York City

Recently, we stumbled across Greg Schmigel’s beautiful collection of NYC-based black-and-white photos taken with his humble iPhone. These photos are not staged, posed or belabored. In fact, they work precisely because their charming insouciance is the ultimate expression of “point and shoot.”

In a photo-blog-heavy world, it is refreshing to see someone so baldly present artwork that isn’t fussy or artificially lit, and doesn’t require the use of an expensive DSLR camera. Sure, many of these remarkable shots were taken with the admittedly impressive iPhone 4 lens, but not a few date back to 2008, when Schmigel was armed only with a lowly 3G. Scrolling through these photos, it is nearly impossible not to be inspired — after all, if all the photographer needed was his eye and a cameraphone … could I do this?

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Running toward danger, and finding it

Joao Silva in February 2000 while on assignment in Madagascar. Photo: AP/Jerome Delay

In a blog post written this past weekend in response to the news of Joao Silva’s injury in Afghanistan, Nick Kristof explains why he never accepts a ride from a war photographer in a conflict zone – “if they hear gunfire, they’ll rush toward it.” This impulse to run toward danger is, of course, a prerequisite for war correspondents, but Kristof singles out the particular heroism of photographers in the field:

[T]he truth is that it’s the photographers who usually end up taking the biggest risks of all. A reporter can get information from a distance, but a photographer or cameraman has to be right in the middle of the action.

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Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon’s history of rap

During a promotional pit-stop for his latest film “The Social Network,” Justin Timberlake took a break from his role as Facebook President Sean Parker and reverted to his musical roots. On “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” Timberlake and Fallon stormed the stage and took the audience through a history of rap. Starting with Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight,” the duo covered such artists as Snoop Dogg, Tupac, Eminem, and MIA. The pair even put on their dancing shoes to do the Soulja Boy “Superman” dance. The piece ended with the two engaging the audience in a sing-a-long rendition of Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind.” For those who grew up in the ’80s and ’90s, this rap recap allows you to relive your high school and college years in four quick minutes, Roger Rabbit dance and all.  [via NYMag]

Tabula rasa

At some point in the last decade PowerPoint developed a toxic reputation. The military is obsessed (and concerned) about it, business people grumble about it, and its tendency towards simplification has been shown to be dangerous. But online they’ve become downright passé. We are now living in the age of the online whiteboard presentation.

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The Mexican Suitcase

Gerda Taro in Spain, July 1937

She is not a household name, but she was a pioneer. Gerda Taro is often called the first female wartime photojournalist and was the first female journalist to die during battle at just 26 years of age (some say 27). In 1937 she was in a fatal tank accident while covering the Spanish civil war. Her work is part of a striking new photo exhibit at the International Center for Photography called the Mexican Suitcase. It is the story of 4,500 images of the Spanish Civil War that went missing. After many twists and turns, they were donated to ICP. The photos were taken by photographers David Seymour (who went by the moniker ‘Chim),’ Taro, and her lover, the famous photographer Robert Capa, whose pictures of D-Day are iconic. And while Capa’s images are more well known, Taro’s are equally dramatic.

Blasts from the propaganda past

Children cowering under desks! Cartoon atoms! Tricked-out shelters! The awesome power of the nuclear bomb, the towering promise of the nuclear reactor — in researching tonight’s report on radioactive waste storage, we came across some blasts from the propaganda past:

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