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Edel Rodriguez, the anti-Trump artist: ‘I never draw anything that isn’t true’ | USA

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A reproduction of Edel Rodriguez’s infamous illustration of Donald Trump holding the Statue of Liberty’s head on display at the Carme Center of Contemporary Culture in Valencia.
A reproduction of Edel Rodriguez’s infamous illustration of Donald Trump holding the Statue of Liberty’s head on display at the Carme Center of Contemporary Culture in Valencia.Mònica Torres

Valencia’s Carme Center of Contemporary Culture (CCCC) is currently displaying the work of one of the best-known illustrators of his generation, a status Edel Rodriguez has gained largely through eye-catching magazine covers against former US president Donald Trump, which have been published over the last five years in international media such as Time and Der Spiegel. But the origin of this exhibition is not so much the foreign press, but rather an old Valencian satirical magazine called La Traca, which ceased publication in 1938. During the filming of a documentary called Carceller, el Hombre que Murió Dos Veces (or Carceller, the Man who Died Twice), based on the lives of the former editor of the Republican magazine, Vicent Miquel Carceller, and one of its main contributing artists, Carlos Gómez – both of whom were shot by the Francisco Franco regime in 1940 – the filmmakers sought out Rodriguez for the Cuban-American artist’s views on caricature and the historical role of the authorities in attempting to stifle creative freedom.

Rodriguez has become a reference point in the profession for his political non-conformism and his bold illustrations, such as the one of a melting Donald Trump published in Time in August 2016 or his drawing of the former president holding the decapitated head of the Statue of Liberty in Der Spiegel in February 2017. During the recent US presidential elections, he also produced work for EL PAÍS. He agreed to contribute to the documentary after hearing the story of the weekly La Traca, which had a circulation of almost 500,000 copies and whose editors faced the firing squad for dedicating themselves to “insulting the highest-ranking representatives of Spanish Nationalism, the dignity of the Catholic Church and the founding principles of the Francoist regime in the basest, rudest and most vulgar way possible, using the popularity it had gained over the years for the benefit of Marxist subversion.”

Edel Rodriguez’s Goya-inspired illustration for ‘The Nation.’
Edel Rodriguez’s Goya-inspired illustration for ‘The Nation.’

From that collaboration, during the Trump administration’s mandate, a relationship blossomed that resulted in the Valencia exhibition, where 124 of Rodriguez’s works have been reproduced in different forms with a special focus on his illustrations of the former president and his tenure in the Oval Office. The austerity of the Gothic cloister of what was the convent of El Carmen contrasts starkly with the huge black and red images depicting an unhinged Trump. Rodriguez’s work featured on around 20 front pages during Trump’s presidency, generating enormous impact and being reproduced on a large scale worldwide. With that came an increase in threats on social media.

“Well, things have calmed down a bit,” says Rodriguez from his studio near New York during a Zoom interview with EL PAÍS in March. “It was very noticeable what influence a president can have and what he can cause, the mood he can generate among his supporters. I’ve been working since 1994 but it’s only since what happened with Trump that I’ve become well-known. When I started doing those front pages with him, I got calls from television producers and newspapers and although I have US citizenship, I am still an immigrant and it was a risk to take him on, with everything that he was doing.”

Edel Rodriguez‘s covers for the German magazine ‘Der Spiegel’ featuring Donald Trump and Joe Biden.
Edel Rodriguez‘s covers for the German magazine ‘Der Spiegel’ featuring Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

Rodriguez came full circle last November after the presidential elections when he drew the illustrations for another magazine cover, this one featuring President-elect Joe Biden putting the head back on the Statue of Liberty.

“Now we have a normal presidency. We aren’t aware of what the president is doing every hour of every day. With Trump, when you woke up he was already awake and firing off tweets and the press was publishing that instead of covering other things. The media is to blame for giving Trump so much coverage back in 2016. Even in the New York Times, it was all Trump. You put his name in a headline as clickbait and web traffic goes up. The media went a little bit crazy,” he says. “These days it’s all about attention. Magazines and newspapers have to get people’s attention. It’s the only way to make money.” His work, he adds, is focused on getting an idea across to people from all walks of life, “not just a university professor.”

“Drawing is a way to reach people in a simpler way, it allows people to understand things in the moment. I grew up with people who didn’t go to school, people who worked the land, and I want to communicate with these people, with my father,” Rodriguez says.

Edel Rodriguez’s exhibition at the Carme Center of Contemporary Culture in Valencia.
Edel Rodriguez’s exhibition at the Carme Center of Contemporary Culture in Valencia.Mònica Torres

In the exhibition at the CCCC, called Edel Rodriguez. Agent Orange (which runs until September 12), the artist’s inclination toward the use of bold colors and the influence of his origins can be appreciated. “Cuban art, the poster, comes from the roots of the country,” explains Rodriguez. “Every house is painted in four or five colors, the cars… there is no black or white. These are things that you absorb through your eyes when you are there. When I came to New York, the teachers couldn’t understand why we used stronger colors like red. I couldn’t bring myself to use white, and yellow is yellow. I think in a way it’s just how Cuban people think.” Rodriguez’s exhibition, his first in Spain, was commissioned by Nacho Navarro, who is also an executive producer on the Carceller documentary. The documentary is about to start on a cycle of film festivals and Rodriguez’s show is also working in collaboration with a local festival, Docs de Valencia.

“I’m a peaceful man but if you hit me, I have to defend myself. And the way I have to defend myself against a fascist is through the strength of my work,” says Rodriguez, who also rejects “the two populisms of left and right, both of Fidel Castro and of Donald Trump.”

“I never draw anything that isn’t true; I comment on what is happening, what I think. Propaganda comes when someone decides to lie or when the state tells someone what to draw or what to write.”

A caricature of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco published in ‘La Traca.’
A caricature of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco published in ‘La Traca.’

An admirer of painters such as Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Paul Klee, the political art of Francisco Goya and Marcel Duchamp’s way of thinking, Rodriguez is currently working on a graphic novel based on his life: his traumatic departure from Cuba in 1980, his spell in a camp for exiles, his life in the US and how his teachers were able to nurture his talent.

The possibilities the genre is opening up excites Rodriguez. “It connects with many age groups. Companies are aware there is a lot of interest, everybody wants to attract young people and it’s a very direct way of communicating,” he explains. “The visual form is special, unique; text won’t reach people who have no interest in reading a book or a newspaper article, but they see something and understand immediately. Visual art and imagery invade people’s inner space, it connects immediately with people in a way that writing can’t. You may have no interest in writing but a drawing can grab your attention in half a second. Even if you don’t like what I want to say, you’ve seen it, and it’s already in your head.”

English version by Rob Train.

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Census 2022 – what difference does it make?

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Next Sunday, April 3rd, is Census night. Millions of people in homes countrywide will fill in page after page of questions, some of which are deeply personal and many of which might be unfamiliar.

But what it is it all about?

At a basic level, Census 2022 will be used to inform planning of public policy and services in the years ahead, according to the Central Statistics Office.

The questions will cover a range of environmental, employment and lifestyle issues, including the use of renewable energy sources in homes.

The questions will help inform policy development in the areas of energy and climate action, and the prevalence of internet access, to understand the availability of and need for internet connections and range of devices used to access the internet.

Questions also focus on changes in work patterns and will include the trend of working from home and childcare issues, while questions are also asked about the times individuals usually leave work, education or childcare, to help identify and plan for transport pattern needs locally and nationally.

Other topics covered include volunteering and the type of organisations volunteers choose to support, tobacco usage and the prevalence of smoke alarms in the home.

And of course there is a time capsule – the chance to write something which will be sealed for the next 100 years.

In this episode of In The News, the head of census administration Eileen Murphy and statistician Kevin Cunningham about what it all means for us.

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Oscars 2022: Will Smith makes Oscar history after slapping Chris Rock over joke about wife Jada Pinkett Smith | Culture

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Will Smith took the Oscar for Best Actor at last night’s 94th Academy Awards, but he also became the protagonist of the ceremony for other reasons. The night was following the script, until Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock on the stage after the latter made a joke about the shaved head of the former’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Rock had quipped that he was “looking forward to GI Jane 2,” in reference to her look. Pinkett Smith has revealed publicly that she has alopecia. It looked as if the moment had been planned, until Smith went back to his seat and shouted: “Get my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.”

The moment, which immediately became Oscar history but for all the wrong reasons, left the attendees with frozen smiles, and asking themselves whether it was possible that a veteran such as Smith could have lost his cool in front of tens of millions of people. After taking the prize for Best Actor, the superstar actor made a tearful apology, saying that he hoped the Academy “will invite me back.” Later on, actor Anthony Hopkins called for “peace and love,” but it was already too late. The incident overshadowed the success of CODA, which took the Oscar for Best Picture. Just like the time when Warren Beatty mistakenly named La La Land as the big winner of the night, no one will speak about anything else from last night’s awards.

At first sight, Smith’s actions looked as if they were scripted. When he first heard Rock’s joke, he laughed. But his wife was seen on camera rolling her eyes, and it was then that the actor got up onto the stage and hit Rock. When he returned to his seat he raised his voice twice to shout “Get my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth,” sending a wave of unease and shock through the attending audience. The fact that he used the f-word, which is prohibited on US television, set alarm bells ringing that this was real and not a planned moment. In fact, the curse word was censored by the broadcaster, ABC, in the United States.

During a break, Smith’s PR manager approached him to speak. In the press room, which the actor skipped after collecting his prize, instructions were given to the journalists not to ask questions about the incident, Luis Pablo Beauregard reports. The next presenter, Sean “Diddy” Combs, tried to calm the situation. “Will and Chris, we’re going to solve this – but right now we’re moving on with love,” the rapper said.

When Smith took to the stage to collect his Best Actor award for his role as Richard Williams – the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena – in King Richard, he referred to the character as “a fierce defender of his family.” He continued: “I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people. I know to do what we do you’ve got to be able to take abuse, and have people talk crazy about you and have people disrespecting you and you’ve got to smile and pretend it’s OK.”

He explained that fellow actor Denzel Washington, who also spoke to Smith during a break, had told him: “At your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you.”

“I want to be a vessel for love,” Smith continued. “I want to be an ambassador of that kind of love and care and concern. I want to apologize to the Academy and all my fellow nominees. […] I look like the crazy father just like they said about Richard Williams, but love will make you do crazy things,” he said. He then joked about his mother, who had not wanted to come to the ceremony because she had a date with her crochet group.

The Los Angeles Police Department released a statement last night saying that Chris Rock would not be filing any charges for assault against Smith. “LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program,” the statement read. “The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report. If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report.”

On December 28, Pinkett Smith spoke on social media about her problems with alopecia. She stated that she would be keeping her head shaved and would be dealing with the condition with humor. “Me and this alopecia are going to be friends… Period!” she wrote on Instagram.



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House-price inflation set to stay double digit for much of 2022

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House-price inflation is expected to remain at double-digit levels for much of 2022 as the mismatch between what is for sale and what buyers want continues.

Two new reports on the housing market paint a picture of a sector under strain due to a lack of supply and increased demand driven by Covid-related factors such as remote working.

The two quarterly reports, one each from rival property websites myhome.ie and daft.ie, suggest asking prices accelerated again in the first quarter of 2022 as the stock of homes available for sale slumped to a new record low.

Myhome, which is owned by The Irish Times, said annual asking-price inflation was now running at 12.3 per cent.

Price

This put the median or typical asking price for a home nationally at €295,000, and at €385,000 in Dublin.

MyHome said the number of available properties for sale on its website fell to a record low of 11,200 in March, down from a pre-pandemic level of 19,000. The squeeze on supply, it said, was most acute outside Dublin, with the number of properties listed for sale down almost 50 per cent compared with pre-pandemic levels.

It said impaired supply and robust demand meant double-digit inflation is likely until at least mid-2022.

“Housing market conditions have continued to tighten,” said author of the myhome report, Davy chief economist Conall Mac Coille.

“The broad picture of the market in early 2022 remains similar to last year: impaired supply coupled with robust demand due to Ireland’s strong labour market,” he said.

Soure: MyHome.ie

“One chink of light is that new instructions to sell of 7,500 in the first 11 weeks of 2022 are well up from 4,800 in 2021, albeit still below the 9,250 in 2019. The flow of new properties therefore remains impaired,” said Mr Mac Coille.

“Whatever new supply is emerging is being met by more than ample demand. Hence, transaction volumes in January and February were up 13 per cent on the year but pushed the market into ever tighter territory,” he said.

He said Davy was now predicting property-price inflation to average 7 per cent this year, up from a previous forecast of 4.5 per cent, buoyed strong employment growth.

Homes

Daft, meanwhile, said house asking prices indicated the average listed price nationwide in the first quarter of 2022 was €299,093, up 8.4 per cent on the same period in 2021 and and just 19 per cent below the Celtic Tiger peak, while noting increases remain smaller in urban areas, compared to rural.

Just 10,000 homes were listed for sale on its website as of March 1st, an all-time low. In Dublin, Cork and Galway cities, prices in the first quarter of 2022 were roughly 4 per cent higher on average than a year previously, while in Limerick and Waterford cities the increases were 7.6 per cent and 9.3 per cent respectively.

The report’s author, Trinity College Dublin economist Ronan Lyons, said: “Inflation in housing prices remains stubbornly high – with Covid-19 disturbing an equilibrium of sorts that had emerged, with prices largely stable in 2019 but increasing since.

“As has been the case consistently over the last decade, increasing prices – initially in Dublin and then elsewhere – reflect a combination of strong demand and very weak supply.”


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