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Beirut Art Film Festival Brings Contemporary Art in China to Screens

We started with a small festival for amateurs. We weren't expecting people to respond so well, said Alice Mogabgab, one of the founders

Representational image. VOA

Beirut, November 3, 2016: When Uli Sigg began looking for contemporary art in China nearly three decades ago, he was surprised nobody was collecting it systematically. So he decided to do it himself.

The Chinese Lives of Uli Sigg, a documentary to be screened alongside 44 others at this month’s Beirut Art Film Festival tells how Sigg became the world’s largest collector of Chinese contemporary art, gathering more than 2000 pieces. In 2012, he donated around 1,400 of them to the M+ Museum for Visual Design, set to open in Hong Kong in 2019.

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“I thought it’s very weird, the biggest culture space in the world and nobody’s paying attention to the contemporary artists,” said the Swiss diplomat and businessman during a visit to Lebanon last month.

He described the film festival, which is run in partnership with the Lebanese ministry of culture, and the British, Swiss and other embassies, as “an interesting initiative to cover documentaries about art so extensively.”

FILE - Uli Sigg in a former metallurgic factory, Beijing, China. VOA
FILE – Uli Sigg in a former metallurgic factory, Beijing, China. VOA

Sigg began visiting China in the late 1970s, as former leader Deng Xiaoping ushered in landmark economic reforms that eventually opened up the country to the outside world.

Working for Swiss manufacturer Schindler, he helped negotiate the first industrial joint venture between China and Europe. “Nobody was willing to do it at the time,” Sigg recalled. “People thought we were crazy.”

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In the turbulent period following the death of the founder of modern China, Mao Zedong, Sigg – Swiss ambassador to Beijing in the late 1990s – says he looked for art that could give insights into the country’s transformations.

“I hoped the artists would be another source of information. But there was nothing to see, because they had been totally isolated,” Sigg said. “When they found their language, it became much more interesting,” he added. “I thought I would collect the way a national institution should but didn’t.”

In 1997, Sigg created the Chinese Contemporary Art Award (CCAA) to encourage artists who then worked largely underground.

Now in its second year, the Beirut Art Film Festival will showcase films from around the world, including a selection dedicated to Lebanese producers.

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Screening locations will take the festival outside the capital, to a cafe on a former frontline in the northern city of Tripoli, and a theater in the south that is reopening after a two-decade shutdown.

“We started with a small festival for amateurs. We weren’t expecting people to respond so well,” said Alice Mogabgab, one of the founders. “This year, it has become national.” (VOA)

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Aadhaar Helpline Mystery: French Security Expert Tweets of doing a Full Disclosure Tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App

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Google comes up with a new feature

Google’s admission that it had in 2014 inadvertently coded the 112 distress number and the UIDAI helpline number into its setup wizard for Android devices triggered another controversy on Saturday as India’s telecom regulator had only recommended the use of 112 as an emergency number in April 2015.

After a large section of smartphone users in India saw a toll-free helpline number of UIDAI saved in their phone-books by default, Google issued a statement, saying its “internal review revealed that in 2014, the then UIDAI helpline number and the 112 distress helpline number were inadvertently coded into the SetUp wizard of the Android release given to OEMs for use in India and has remained there since”.

Aadhaar Helpline Number Mystery: French security expert tweets of doing a full disclosure tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App, Image: Wikimedia Commons.

However, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended only in April 2015 that the number 112 be adopted as the single emergency number for the country.

According to Google, “since the numbers get listed on a user’s contact list, these get  transferred accordingly to the contacts on any new device”.

Google was yet to comment on the new development.

Meanwhile, French security expert that goes by the name of Elliot Alderson and has been at the core of the entire Aadhaar controversy, tweeted on Saturday: “I just found something interesting. I will probably do full disclosure tomorrow”.

“I’m digging into the code of the @Google SetupWizard app and I found that”.

“As far as I can see this object is not used in the current code, so there is no implications. This is just a poor coding practice in term of security,” he further tweeted.

On Friday, both the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) as well as the telecom operators washed their hand of the issue.

While the telecom industry denied any role in the strange incident, the UIDAI said that he strange incident, the UIDAI said that some vested interests were trying to create “unwarranted confusion” in the public and clarified that it had not asked any manufacturer or telecom service provider to provide any such facility.

Twitter was abuzz with the new development after a huge uproar due to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman R.S. Sharma’s open Aadhaar challenge to critics and hackers.

Ethical hackers exposed at least 14 personal details of the TRAI Chairman, including mobile numbers, home address, date of birth, PAN number and voter ID among others. (IANS)

Also Read: Why India Is Still Nowhere Near Securing Its Citizens’ Data?