By Jake Kivanc
November 30, 2015
We need this painting. Photo via Kijiji
The infamous nude painting of former prime minister Stephen Harper that sparked a bidding war when it was listed on Kijiji last week has been sold, and the buyer is kind of a legend.
Frederick Ghahramani, a BC-based technology entrepreneur who made headlines in October for his million-dollar contribution in the fight against repealing Bill C-51, is now the owner of the only nude painting of the former Conservative Party leader, according to an email received by VICE from previous owner Danielle Potvin.
The painting was previously listed for $8,800, but news about the painting prompted a bidding war among a myriad of buyers across the globe that included countries like the US and China.
Today, Ghahramani finalized the deal with Potvin for an unspecified amount. We spoke to him over the phone to figure out why he’d want a thing like this.
VICE: I did a little bit of research on you, but maybe in your own words, tell me a little bit about yourself and what you do.
Fred: Technically the word is entrepreneur, but I’m an engineer who’s based in Vancouver, BC, and for 15 years or so I’ve been building companies. Mostly unsuccessfully, but occasionally with some success. I’ve been in the telecom and software industry in the last 15 years. Probably my biggest company is called AirG. I’m also an angel investor—I invest in various smaller tech companies, and some of them have actually become bigger than AirG.
I’m not a politician, I’m not a politically-involved person, but recently, I’ve reached I guess what you say is a midlife crisis, and in the last six months I’ve been paying more attention to the federal political level and I did get involved recently in the C-51 campaign. And I’m continuing to help various groups that are working to repeal that law because it is a pretty draconian non-Canadian law.
I definitely want to touch on C-51 in a little bit, but I first want to ask how you found out about the painting.
I think it was on VICE, actually! (Editor’s note: We really wanted someone to buy this for us.) The first time I heard about it was a couple years ago when it made news, and then it kind of disappeared. But when I saw it was for sale, I had to jump at it. I’m actually very delighted that I won the bidding process and you know we beat out groups from China and the US and various parts of the world, and we did promise to keep the painting in Canada for at least the next 10 years. I don’t see it leaving the country anytime soon. I’d like to spread it as far and wide as possible and share it at universities and schools or any gallery that wants to take it, because I’d be happy to share it with them. (Editor’s note, part two: We have an open wall.)
This guy! Photo via Frederick Ghahramani
That’s pretty awesome. What was your reaction when you saw the listing for the painting.
I couldn’t believe it, I thought it was a scam. You can’t trust anything you find on the internet, right? Anyway, I got in touch with [Potvin] and asked her why she didn’t put it up for general auction, and she had her reasons—I think she didn’t want it to go into the wrong hands. I’m sure a lot of people would love to buy it and burn or buy it and give it as a gift to Harper. To me, it’s an emotive piece and therefore it’s worth any amount of money. It has a very deep meaning.
Do you mind me asking how much you paid for it?
I’d prefer not to, y’know, bastardize the process by making it look like a commercial transaction, so I’d rather not share. I’m not buying it to resell it, I’m buying it to share it. I guess if I go bankrupt or become destitute, then maybe it will be for sale, but I don’t see this as a wallet transaction. It’s a heart transaction and a brain transaction.
Fair enough. What are you going to do it with it?
I’m open to suggestions, I don’t physically have it yet. I have reached out to some friends who work in this industry and am looking to see if any galleries are looking to take it. I’m happy to share it with universities and schools at no cost. My thinking is that it is a very important vignette and tells a very important story about people’s feelings in the last ten years. There are so many feelings in this painting and the artist, Margaret Sutherland, has done a brilliant political satire and she’s really a genius amongst us to be able to capture so many different things in one simple image.
I think there’s also a lesson for the Conservative Party as they try to regroup now. Like, historically, I’m a business owner, and I come from the group that like low taxes, I come more from the right side of the spectrum. I think the Preston Manning political Reform Party spoke to a lot of people out here on the west. It was time to go to Ottawa, clean things up, make things transparent, bust up this old boys network, do things a different way. The net result was unfortunately where we suffered through ten years of government officials, scientists, environmentalists, fishing and oceans scientists being intimidated and not being allowed to speak—[organizations that were] being made headless. This picture has an allegory because it has those headless civil servants in the background not being allowed to speak. Maybe I’m being [dramatic] here but I love this piece because it inspires, it offends, and it’s overall genius. I’d like everybody, from all sides the political spectrum to be able to appreciate this.
It’s really interesting that you identify as right-wing. When Harper was just coming into power ten years ago, were you a fan of him?
Again, I wasn’t too politically inclined, but if I look at the things that are important to me: lower my taxes, bust up this scam network, get rid of the way things were being done, then yeah, I think a lot of people were, and that’s how he eventually swept himself into a majority position. But none of those things came to fruition. There was absolutely no transparency—the pendulum swung the other way.
You’d have these laws like C-51, non-stop government spying, these are the tactics of intimidation and this centralized only one person speaks for the government style of ruling. This painting holds lessons for Stephen Harper, for Jason Kenney, for all sitting politicians that power corrupts. On one hand, I burst out and laugh every time I look at the painting, but on the other hand, I see how the artist was in a dark place and created this to express her frustration. I can relate with that.
Let’s talk about C-51. You made that $1-million donation. What was it about the bill that struck a chord with you.
Well, I haven’t been hidden about the fact that I grew up in Iran. As an ethnic minority in Iran, we were always told, “Be careful what you say on the phone because the secret police are always listening.” The Canada my parents came to didn’t have any of that, but all of the sudden, we’re in a scenario where, doesn’t matter if you’re left or right, the government isn’t listening to its own experts or its citizens.
After I did that initial donation, I had refugee friends from all over the world—from Bulgaria, from Syria—telling me, “I know exactly what you’re talking about. We went through that same thing with totalitarian laws that allowed us to listen to everything we did.” I should also note that just because the government has changed, doesn’t mean that’s where we are now.
I was just going to touch on the fact that the Liberals faced great criticism for their support of Bill C-51. How do you feel now that they’re in power and what do you expect of them?
I didn’t think Trudeau would actually win, but I think everyone on the civil society side has been caught a bit flat-footed because [the Liberals] have signalled that they want change but they haven’t been very clear about how they’re going to do that. I’m watching very carefully, I’m watching my pennies to see how we can allocate resources to make the government move, and obviously, it’s too early to tell, but I’m an impatient guy and we need results soon.
I don’t like when I see intonation toward things like [changes because of] the recent attacks in Paris. The Paris attacks aren’t a demonstration that we need C-51 because France has mass data collection similar to C-51, and it didn’t stop the terrorist attacks. We need better policing, we need all these things can work, and we also need to revisit our foreign policy because of big part of what’s happening in Syria and with ISIS is due to what we support. It’s too early to pass judgment on Justin Trudeau, but time’s ticking, so we’ll see.
Maybe, ending on a light-hearted note—
This hasn’t been fun?
Oh it’s been fun, but I’m curious: do you think Harper looks better or worse in the real life nude?
[laughs] I’m not really sure. It’s funny because, well, let’s just say my wife won’t let me put on the wall, but all of my friends say he’s not pudgy, he’s swell! At the end of the day though, it’s not about the way he looks. You have to move beyond just the literal. It’s not about just throwing stones at Harper, I’m sure Harper’s a great guy in person, but once he becomes prime minister and starts crossing the line by affecting policy that affects people, it’s fair game to make political satire of him.
I think the key thing here is the context issue and I want to stress it. There’s been some criticism that it’s not nice, or, “Oh, well, it’s disrespectful.” There’s always these people that can never see beyond the lines of obedience-level morality. Like, to some people, the Tiananmen Square guy walking in front of a tank was a jaywalking violation. To some people, they didn’t get the bigger context. This scenario, it only works for Harper in this painting, because he’s the one who silenced scientists, he’s the one who told ministers not to talk. He focused the light on himself, and that’s why it shines so bright in this painting.
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As we tediously while away our days down here on Earth, satellites are zooming through space, snapping incredible pictures of Earth, the solar system and outer space. Here are the highlights from November.
As we tediously while away our days down here on Earth, satellites are zooming through space, snapping incredible pictures of Earth, the solar system and outer space. Here are the highlights from November.
Pluto’s day is 6.4 Earth days long. The images were taken by the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) and the Ralph/Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera as the distance between New Horizons and Pluto decreased from 5 million miles (8 million kilometers) on July 7 to 400,000 miles (about 645,000 kilometers) on July 13.
The spiral arms of MCG+01-02-015 seem to wrap around one another, cocooning the galaxy. The scene suggests an abundance of galactic companionship for MCG+01-02-015, but this is a cruel trick of perspective. Instead, MCG+01-02-015’s unsentimental naming befits its position within the cosmos: it is a void galaxy, the loneliest of galaxies.
Although Enceladus and Saturn’s rings are largely made up of water ice, they show very different characteristics. The small ring particles are too tiny to retain internal heat and have no way to get warm, so they are frozen and geologically dead.
New Horizons scientists made this false color image of Pluto using a technique called principal component analysis to highlight the many subtle color differences between Pluto’s distinct regions.
November 30, 2015
For the Brandalism project, 82 artists from 19 countries joined forced to protest the corporate takeover of COP 21.
Just days before the launch of the UN Climate Conference in Paris, 82 artists from 19 different countries collaborated on a project to protest the corporate takeover of COP 21 and urge the public to care about climate change.
The activists replaced 600 advertisements throughout the city with artwork that calls out heads of state and corporations that have been complicit in the destruction of the Earth’s climate, reports AddictingInfo.
Their aim was to reveal the connections between advertising, the promotion of consumerism and climate change. One might say they succeeded.
It wasn’t coincidence the activism took place on Black Friday, the day the group refers to as the “annual day of consumerist frenzy.”
The group said in a statement:
“Despite the state of emergency banning any gathering, following the attacks of 13 November in Paris, [the] Brandalism project, conducted with Parisian activists, has placed throughout the city hundreds of unauthorized artwork[s]. These posters emphasize the links between advertising, consumerism, dependence on fossil fuels and climate change.
We take possession advertising space because we want to denounce the role that advertising plays in promoting a consumerism unsustainable. The advertising industry feeds our desires for products based on the exploitation of fossil fuels, which have a direct impact on climate change. As for the climate negotiations and side events sponsored by large companies, the outdoor advertising allows more rich to ensure that their voice is heard beyond all others. “
“By sponsoring the negotiations climate, major polluters such as Air France and Engie can promote themselves as if they were part of the solution, when they are actually part of the problem .” – Joe Elan
The Russian Defense Ministry held a major briefing on new findings concerning IS funding in Moscow on Wednesday.
According to Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov, Russia is aware of three main oil smuggling routes to Turkey.
“Today, we are presenting only some of the facts that confirm that a whole team of bandits and Turkish elites stealing oil from their neighbors is operating in the region,” Antonov said, adding that this oil “in large quantities” enters the territory of Turkey via “live oil pipelines,” consisting of thousands of oil trucks.
Antonov added that Turkey is the main buyer of smuggled oil coming from Iraq and Syria.
“According to our data, the top political leadership of the country – President Erdogan and his family – is involved in this criminal business.”
However, since the start of Russia’s anti-terrorist operation in Syria on September 30, the income of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) militants from illegal oil smuggling has been significantly reduced, the ministry said.
“The income of this terrorist organization was about $3 million per day. After two months of Russian airstrikes their income was about $1.5 million a day,” Lieutenant-General Sergey Rudskoy said.
At the briefing the ministry presented photos of oil trucks, videos of airstrikes on IS oil storage facilities and maps detailing the movement of smuggled oil. More evidence is to be published on the ministry’s website in the coming says, Rudskoy said.
The US-led coalition is not bombing IS oil trucks, Rudskoy said.
For the past two months, Russia’s airstrikes hit 32 oil complexes, 11 refineries, 23 oil pumping stations, Rudskoy said, adding that the Russian military had also destroyed 1,080 trucks carrying oil products.
“These [airstrikes] helped reduce the trade of the oil illegally extracted on the Syrian territory by almost 50 percent.”
The following five videos will challenge things you once believed to be true and may send you on a path of spiritual enlightenment as you venture deeper into the rabbit hole.
It is very important to view these videos with an open mind because once our belief system has been challenged, it’s easy to become defensive of the same beliefs that have entrapped humanity for millennium, such as the need for money, government, or even religion.
Do you want to go down the rabbit hole? If so, then watch this! Amanda, a divorced photographer, has a fantastic experience when life begins to unravel around her, revealing the cellular, molecular and quantum worlds that lie beneath everything.
This is one of the most powerful and influential videos I have ever seen, mainly because the Law of Attraction REALLY WORKS!!!
An amazing and uplifting video by Ben Stewart that not only shows what is wrong with this world, but provides solutions as well.
The first time I heard this, religion FINALLY made sense to me and what it’s all about (subservience, control, and conformity as well as astrotheology). Zeitgeist will rock the foundations of most fundamental Christians, but for those with an open mind who truly want ANSWERS, you’ll find them in this video!
Imagine living in a world without money… this is ENTIRELY possible, according to The Venus Project founder, Jacque Fresco.
BONUS VIDEO: A little more about Jacque Fresco:
Click here for more articles by Gregg Prescott!
About the Author:
Gregg Prescott, M.S. is the founder and editor of In5D and BodyMindSoulSpirit. He hosts a weekly spiritual show on In5D Radio and promotes spiritual, metaphysical and esoteric conferences in the United States through In5dEvents. His love and faith for humanity motivates him to work relentlessly in humanity’s best interests 12-15+ hours a day, 365 days a year. Please like and follow In5D on Facebook as well as BodyMindSoulSpirit on Facebook!
Most of us haven’t quite realized there is something extraordinary happening.
A few months ago I freed myself from standard-procedure society, I broke the chains of fear that kept me locked up into the system. Since then, I see the world from a different perspective: the one that everything is going through change and that most of us are unaware of that.
Why is the world changing? In this post I’ll point out the 8 reasons that lead me to believe it.
We are reaching our limits. People working with big corporations can’t stand their jobs. The lack of purpose knocks on your door as if it came from inside you like a yell of despair.
People want out. They want to drop everything. Take a look on how many people are willing to risk entrepreneurship, people leaving on sabbaticals, people with work-related depression, people in burnout.
Over the past few years, with the explosion of startups, thousands of entrepreneurs turned their garages in offices to bring their billion dollar ideas to life. The vortex of entrepreneurship was to find an investor and get funded. To be funded was like winning the World Cup, or the Super Bowl.
But what happens after you get funded?
You get back to being an employee. You may have brought in people not sharing your dream, not in agreement with your purpose and soon it’s all about the money. The financial end becomes the main driver of your business.
People are suffering with it. Excellent startups began to tumble because the money seeking model is endless.
A new way to endeavor is needed. Good people are doing it already.
Many people have figured out that it doesn’t make any sense to go on by yourself. Many people have awakened from the “each man for himself” mad mentality.
Stop, take a step back and think. Isn’t it absurd that we, 7 billion of us living in the same planet, have grown further apart from each other? What sense does it make to turn your back on the thousands, maybe millions, of people living around you in the same city? Every time it crosses my mind, I feel blue.
Fortunately, things are changing. Sharing, collaborative economy concepts are being implemented, and it points towards a new direction. The direction of collaborating, of sharing, of helping, of togetherness.
This is beautiful to watch. It touches me.
The internet is an incredibly spectacular thing and only now, after so many years, we are understanding its power. With the internet the world is opened, the barriers fall, the separation ends, the togetherness starts, the collaboration explodes, the helping emerges.
Some nations saw true revolutions that used the internet as the primary catalyst, such as the Arab Spring. Here in Brazil we are just starting to make a better use out of this amazing tool.
Internet is taking down mass control. The big media groups controlling news by how it suits best what they want the message to be and what they want us to read are no longer the sole owners of information. You go after what you want. You bond to whomever you want. You explore whatever you may want to.
With the advent of the internet, the small is no longer speechless, there is a voice. The anonymous become acknowledged. The world comes together. And then the system may fall.
For too long, we’ve been manipulated to consume as much as we possibly can. To buy every new product launched, the newest car, the latest iPhone, the top brands, lots of clothes, shoes, lots and lots and lots of pretty much anything we could our hands on.
Going against the crowd, many people have understood that this of way off. Lowsumerism, slow life and slow food are a few excerpts of actions being taken as we speak, pointing out by contradiction how absurdly we have come to organize ourselves.
Fewer people are using cars, fewer people are overspending, and more people are swapping clothes, buying used goods, sharing assets, cars, apartments, offices.
We don’t need all of that they told us we needed. And this consciousness of new consumerism can take down any company living of the exaggerated end of it.
We were so crazy we even accepted eating anything! It only needed to taste good, and everything would be alright.
We were so disconnected that companies started to poison our food and we didn’t say anything!
But then some people started waking up, enabling and strengthening healthy and organic eating.
This is only to get stronger.
But what has this got to do with economy and work? Just about everything, I’d say.
Food production is one of the basic fundamentals of our society. If we change our mindset, our eating habit and our way of consuming, corporations will have to respond and adapt to a new market.
The small farmer is getting back to being relevant to the whole chain of production. Even people are growing plants and seeds inside their homes as well.
And that reshapes the whole economy.
Spirituality, for too long, was for esoteric folks, those weird-like and mystic people.
But fortunately, this is also changing. We’ve come to the edge of reason and rationality. We were able to realize that, with only our conscious mind, we can’t figure out everything that goes by here. There is something else going on and I’m sure you want to get hold of that as well.
You want to understand how these things work. How life operates, what happens after death, what is this energy thing people talk about so much, what is quantum physics, how thoughts can be materialized and create our sense of reality, what is coincidence and synchronicity, why meditation works, how it’s possible to cure using nothing but bear hands, how those alternative therapies not approved by regular medicine can actually work.
Companies are providing meditation to their employees. Even schools are teaching the young how to meditate. Think about it.
Who created this teaching model? Who chose the classes you have to take? Who chose the lessons we learn in history classes? Why didn’t they teach us the truth about other ancient civilizations?
Why should kids follow a certain set of rules? Why should they watch everything in silence? Why should they wear a uniform? What about taking a test to prove that you actually learned?
We developed a model that perpetuates and replicates followers of the system. That breed people into ordinary human beings.
Fortunately, a lot of people are working to rethink that though concepts such as unschooling, hackschooling, homeschooling.
Maybe you’ve never thought of that and even may be in shock. But it’s happening.
Silently, people are being woken up and are realizing how crazy it is to live in this society.
Look at all these new actions and try to think everything is normal we were taught so far is normal. I don’t think it is.
There is something extraordinary happening.
About the author:
Gustavo Tanaka — Brazilian author and entrepreneur, trying to create with my friends a new model, a new system and maybe helping to create a new economy.