Animals enmeshed in art

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Here's a selection of captivating images from the week gone by (May 1 ~ 7, 2016) that tells a story of how our instinctive urges need to give way to rational understanding and escaping tunnel vision.



No, these aren't mutated human beings with a fashion sense or any such thing. They are Foxes. Rather, die-hard fans of Leicester City Football Club. Leicestershire, known for its foxes and fox-hunting, has the cunning animal form part of its emblem. Above, Foxes outside the stadium before the game.

Leicester City Football Club pulled off a stupendous feat on May 2, by winning the Premier League 2015-16 for the first time with the tallest odds. Bookmakers Ladbrokes and William Hall had offered odds of upto 5,000-1 for it at the start of the season. £25 million is what was paid out, the highest amount in the history of any British sport. Superb performance, it was, by the Foxes.

Speaking of performing animals...

... here, elephants perform during Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus' "Circus Extreme" show at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

To rise above our mundane existence, we often need to channel a different — often more animalistic — aspect of our nature. Changing out of our colourless skin, and donning attire that transforms us, we begin to entertain and delight...

... like this member of the Star Wars fan club, dressed as a Stormtrooper, who is talking to a girl outside a hospital's emergency ward during Star Wars Day celebrations in Monterrey, Mexico, on May 4.

But beware. This transformation of the mundane into something delightful comes with a consequence. When you weave a tale, you bereave yourself of a grip on reality. Nothing delights more than art. And by the same token...

... nothing disorients like a piece of art. Here cascades Impenetrable (2009), a work of art by Lebanese-born Palestinian installation artist Mona Hatoun at a preview of an exhibition of her work at the Tate Modern in London, Britain, on May 3. Impenetrable is a curtain formed by strands of barbed wire, and seems to offer the viewer a hint of tunnel vision from the point where they are standing, the rest of their view blurred by the haze of the mesh. Mona Hatoun has admitted that the intent behind her works is to transform mundane materials into objects that disturb and threaten the viewer. Hazy vision disorients one, and yet is a steretype for epiphanic spiritual experience. Odd thing, no?



^ A Sadhu or a Hindu holy man covers his face as an earthen pot with burning "Upale" (or dried cow dung cakes) rests on his head during a prayer ceremony at the Simhastha Kumbh Mela in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, on May 2.



The air at the Kumbh mela, for instance, is perpetually hazy, from the cold and smoke. The Simhastha Kumbh is one of the four Kumbhs — held among the largest spiritual gatherings in the world. The final dip is taken in the Kshipra river in Ujjain. Such a potent spiritual activity is considered to wash your sins away and reorient you towards the path of liberation. Hundreds of millions attend the festival. If you think that's a crowd with a single purpose, then feast your eyes on...

... these scribbles on a postcard? A ball of yarn spilt into the sky? No, it's a conglomeration of carrier pigeons attached with LED lights as part of an art installation by Duke Riley, titled “Fly By Night”. Above, light trails adorn the horizon as the pigeons fly above the Brooklyn borough of New York, on May 5.

The project required the training of around two-thousand pigeons of different breeds. The installation, which is set in motion every weekend at sunset up to June 12, is best viewed with a ticketed seat in a pigeon coup on a historic aircraft carrier docked at Brooklyn Navy Yard. Organised randomness is the source of such beauty and art. But sometimes, organised randomness has led to humanitarian crises.



^ Above, military cadets take part in a ceremony to mark the 71st anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany, outside the World War II museum in Kiev, Ukraine, on May 6.



Such as the Second War War — among the most horrible examples of organised randomness. Victory Day is held on May 9 as a holiday, to commemmorate the signing of the unconditional German surrender to the Soviet forces. The holiday is observed throughout the Baltic countries. The East-German region of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern celebrates this day as “the day of liberation from National Socialism and the end of the Second World War”.

That might have been the end of World War II. But the development of nuclear armament in that era led to persisting international antipathy, which remains a core bone of contention in world diplomacy today. The sheer volatility and mortal danger of nuclear power has made its shunning a no-brainer. This is one issue that world leaders would be right in seeing as black and white. A giant problem either way.

Mother giant panda Aibang is seen with her newborn cub at a giant panda breeding centre in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China, May 6, 2016. China Daily/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. CHINA OUT. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY



^ Here, a mother giant panda — nine-year-old Ai Bang — is seen with her newborn cub — weighing in at 145 grams — at a giant panda breeding centre in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China, on May 6.

The birth of the panda at the Chengdu Research Base was viewed in a live stream by around 620,000 people around the world. The birth was such big news because Ai Bang had suffered a phantom pregnancy in 2014.



A giant black-and-white problem is not always apparent at the outset. Like this giant panda cub, born so very tiny and innocent and destined to grow to weigh around 120 kg. This cub is a perfect analogy for the seeming innocuousness of nuclear power, which is encapsulated in a microscopic point but can explode into catastrophically gigantic proportions...

... A burst of pretty coloured lights seen from space.



^ Members of the Prizma Ensemble wear full solid-coloured bodysuits and take part in the 6th Jane's Walk in Jerusalem on May 6.



And space can make anything look pretty. Like Jane's Walks can transform neighbourhoods with stale clouds of history into colourful havens of activity. Organised in the name of urban activist and writer Jane Jacobs, Jane's Walk is a series of neighbourhood walking tours to shed light on the history tucked away inside the folds of urban progress.

Because underneath the cosmetic veneer of urban progress, which is thought to be affecting modern-day youth with its spiritual imbalance and patina of shallow consumerism, the real work and lives are performed and lived by...



^ Above, a farmer displays his dirty calloussed hand as he harvests wheat on Qalyub farm in the El-Kalubia governorate, northeast of Cairo, Egypt on May 1.



... those who farm the earth, cultivate it and extract its bounty for the continued sustencance of humanity. And their lives are often left as blackened as their hands. And it's only by engaging with our world, by metamorphosing from foxes into farmers, and taking a stroll through these unvisited and untrespassed spaces in our world and minds can we hope to keep in touch with what is true.

(All images courtesy Reuters)

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