Tag Archives: contemporary

Our Collective War Story In 185 Photographs


July 15, 201312:21 PM

War/Photography is a genre-defining exhibition currently on view at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington. And also the last place I wanted to find myself on a sunny midweek morning.

As a photojournalist and picture editor, I’ve consumed my fair share of conflict photography, essays and films. How could this exhibition possibly be any different from all the other shows I’ve seen in this vein?

  • Training on the beach outside Barcelona, Spain, 1936
    Gerda Taro/International Center of Photography
  • A U.S. Marine Corps drill instructor delivers a severe reprimand to a recruit, Parris Island, S.C., 1970.
    Thomas Hoepker/Magnum Photos
  • Boarding of the transport ship Ajana, Melbourne, Australia, 1916
    Josiah Barnes
  • Muchachos await counterattack by the National Guard, Matagalpa, Nicaragua, 1978
    Susan Meiselas/Magnum Photos
  • A U.S. Marine of the 1st Division carries a GI Joe mascot as a good luck charm as his unit pushes farther into the western part of Fallujah, Iraq, 2004.
    Anja Niedringhaus/AP
  • An attack on the Eastern Front, WWII, 1941
    Dmitri Baltermants/Russian Photo Association
  • Sgt. William Olas Bee, a U.S. Marine from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, has a close call as Taliban fighters open fire near Garmsir in Helmand province, Afghanistan, 2008.
    Goran Tomasevic/Reuters
  • Death of a Marine at Dyala Bridge, near Baghdad, Iraq, 2003
    Gary Knight/VII
  • An American soldier reads a letter from home while taking a break from repairing a tank tread in Lang Vei, Vietnam, 1971.
    David Burnett/Contact Press Images
  • Navy Chaplain Lt. Commander Tom Webber baptizes Cpl. Albert Martinez in a sandbag-lined pool during a ceremony at Camp Inchon, Kuwait, 2003.
    Hayne Palmour IV/U-T San Diego
  • Washington, 1967
    Marc Riboud/Magnum Photos
  • Danh Son Huol, an ethnic Khmer guerrilla, is treated by a medical unit in a swamp in U Minh Forest, Ca Mau peninsula, Vietnam, 1970.
    Vo An Khanh
  • Dying infant found by American soldiers in Saipan, 1944
    W. Eugene Smith/Black Star
  • A Bosnian soldier stands on what is believed to be a mass grave outside his destroyed home. He was the sole survivor of a massacre that left 69 people dead, including his family, 1995.
    Ron Haviv/VII
  • Congolese women flee to Goma, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 2008.
    Walter Astrada
  • Valentine with her daughters, Amelie and Inez, Rwanda, 2006
    Jonathan Torgovnik
  • Darien, Wis., 2007
    Peter van Agtmael/Magnum Photos

After all, it has the usual array of iconic war photographs: the falling soldier during the Spanish Civil War, Marines raising the flag at Iwo Jima and the Vietnamese general executing a suspected Viet Cong member.

And the catalog boasts an impressive list of legendary conflict photographers, going as far back to Roger Fenton and Alexander Gardner in the 1800s to more contemporary names like Don McCullin, James Nachtwey and Carolyn Cole.

The strength of the exhibition, however, lies not in the specifics, but in the presentation of our collective war story. Forgoing the obvious inclination to present photos chronologically, Anne Tucker, curator of photography for the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, where the exhibition originated, forced a team of curators to step back from individual moments and see what patterns emerged.

“War/Photography” connects more than 185 photographs from 25 nationalities with conflicts spanning 165 years. “It’s organized in the order of war,” says Tucker, whose team took 10 years to cull images from more than 1 million photographs — after visiting private collections, museums, military archives and photographic agencies in more than 17 countries.

Walking through the galleries, you experience the images by themes and aspects of war — like recruitment, the wait, the fight, the rescue, aftermath, medicine, civilians, children, faith and homecoming.

On one wall titled “Aftermath: Shell Shock and Exhaustion,” Don McCullin‘s image of a shell-shocked soldier made in 1968 hangs six frames away from Luis Sinco‘s 2004 image titled “Marlboro Marine.” Taken nearly four decades apart, the men share a strikingly similar gaze, suggesting the horrors witnessed during conflict. Individually the images made an impact during their respective publications, but seen together they nod to a greater reality.

“Wars don’t end,” says Tucker. “You carry them with you. Our fathers’ wars are our wars and our wars are our children’s wars.”

And as war reaches beyond the front line so does the exhibition. It also includes images from photographers you’d never associate with conflict — like Weegee, Diane Arbus and Richard Avedon.

“For me it’s about the impact of war as it relates on a very basic human everyday life,” says New York-based photographer Nina Berman, who has been photographing wounded veterans since 2003. Her image titled “Marine Wedding,” made in 2006, captures a moment between Marine Sgt. Ty Ziegel and his bride on their wedding day. Ziegel was seriously wounded by a suicide car bomber in Iraq and spent 19 months in recovery.

Marine Sgt. Ty Ziegel, wounded in Iraq, pictured with Renee Kline, on their wedding day, Metamora, Il.

Marine Sgt. Ty Ziegel, wounded in Iraq, pictured with Renee Kline, on their wedding day, Metamora, Il.

Courtesy of Nina Berman/NOOR


“In that moment I saw a shellshocked couple,” says Berman. “That is what war does. It disturbs, distresses and changes the normal lovely course of life.”

The image itself has had a life of its own, garnering Berman aWorld Press Photo Award and launching Ziegel into the national spotlight to discuss the failures of veteran care.

Years later, Berman sees the image as less about the couple and more of a symbol of the impact of war.

“I think that people can be taken aback by how [Ziegel] looks,” she says, “but there are a lot of people that look like him. He wasn’t a freak, an anomaly; that’s what this war has done. People who would have died are surviving. That is the reality.”

Berman’s voice shuddered as she spoke about Ziegel’s passing late last year. She says she often wonders: What does it all amount to?

If you strip war of its historical and political context, what you are left with is simply to wonder: Why has war been a constant throughout human history?

“Our main goal was to open up the discussion,” says Tucker. “To put out in a coherent way a massively different approach to the subject — and let people parse it for themselves.”

In the last room titled “Reflection,” visitors can write their thoughts on a note card and pin it to the wall. One by Oliver, 7, read, “I want to go to college and not the war.”

War/Photography runs through Sept. 29 at the Corcoran Gallery of Art and will finish its tour at The Brooklyn Museum from Nov. 8 through Feb. 2.”


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by | July 16, 2013 · 11:25 am

Imperfectionism — why the cult of Jennifer Lawrence matters

Man, I wish this article was around when I was writing my thesis, “Contemporary Post-postmodernism: Transfiguring the Imperfect Human Body.” It would have perfectly encapsulated the popular culture aspect of my argument. 
Jennifer Lawrence has a real moment at the Oscars. ( Chris Pizzello/Invision/Associated Press).







Jennifer Lawrence has a real moment at the Oscars. ( Chris Pizzello/Invision/Associated Press).


Posted by Alexandra Petri on March 11, 2013 at 12:28 pm

“Imperfectionism is something of a cult these days.

I noticed this when I was in my pajamas, perched atop the washing machine in my apartment building’s laundry room, waving my laptop vaguely in the direction of the only unlocked WiFi signal, and instead of being mortified, I was overcome by the urge to tweet about it. “The Internet will understand,” I thought.

The story of the Internet has always been the search for an echo.

It is where you seek refuge after you have been stuck flailing in the mirror while the entire rest of the room of yoga students flawlessly executes a series of pirouettes. “That’s not even a yoga move!” you muttered. “What are you doing?”

The Internet gets it. The Internet is where you go because you suspect that no one else on the earth feels the same way about something. And then it turns out that Everybody does.

If you believe the accounts of our lives, we are always posting online, Everything Is The Worst. We cook like Phyllis Diller. We look like Phyllis Diller. In the morning we resemble damp bathmats. Until we’ve had coffee, we shamble around grunting and hissing like volcanic rocks on a bad day.

If you glance at the popular tumblrs that seek to express how we are feeling, we are all complete messes at all times, shambling from disaster to disaster. All the behaviors that in romantic comedies indicate that the main character has hit rock bottom, comprise our morning routines. We lie on the couch eating found cereals and muttering to ourselves.

Incompetence is the new competence.

We love bacon. We love drinking. We love sleeping. We are the people in the mirror at exercise sessions who look like fools. Everyone else in the class is neat and coordinated and comes twice a week, and we stagger in five minutes late, feeling scrambled and keep falling out of tree position.

If we are to be judged by our memes, from“What People Think I Do… What I Really Do…” (no matter how often we hope it has perished, it never seems to die) to What Should We Call Me, incompetence emerges as the one unifying theme of Everybody on the Internet. The flabby underbelly is what binds us.

You go to the grocery intending to buy food for a week and somehow you come home with a jar of marshmallow fluff, six containers of canned pumpkin and a paperback entitled “The Russian Billionaire’s Virgin Bride.” Yet you were dimly conscious, as you shopped, of people around you with actual lists, corralling their toddlers with Correct Educational Toys and chatting amiably (but not too loudly) on the phone with their spouses. It was exhausting!

Thank God for the Internet, where there were People Like Us. We read gleefully the accounts of the Mommy Bloggers who had turned their back for a few minutes to check Facebook, only to find that Little Timmy had swallowed a live coal. Everyone online is Seamy Side Out. If you want to alert us to something you did, you try to make it a humblebrag. “I just spilled red wine all over my entire body! How can I accept my Nobel Peace Prize like this? I’m not a real person.” “I just tripped in the most embarrassing place possible — on the way to accept my Academy Award.” No wonder Jennifer Lawrence is such a cult figure.

What made an old media darling is what makes Anne Hathaway. She is polished. She is classy. She rehearses her speeches and has impeccable hair and all these qualities that we used to find admirable. She speaks in thoughtful, complete sentences. She is the person at the gym who seems to know what she is doing. She smiles encouragingly at us in the mirror and we fall over.

Jennifer Lawrence is the rightful hero of the whole new I’m-Not-A-Real-Person-What-Am-I-Doing-Who-Are-These-People movement. She makes faces. She faceplants. She talks about her bodily functions. We feel that we could get along with her.

“A vice in common can be the ground of a friendship,” W. H. Auden once noted, “but not a virtue in common. X and Y may be friends because they are both drunkards or womanizers but, if they are both sober and chaste, they are friends for some other reason.” That’s the Internet in a nutshell.

I mention this because the last time I went out for drinks with my proverbial GirlFriends, we spent a full hour talking about how much we loved Jennifer Lawrence. We have never met her. We have only glimpsed her on television and in GIFsets and in interviews, which we have taken hours out of our days to seek out and watch.

There used to be a bifurcation between our lives and the places we went to become fonts of rambling insecurity. We would squirrel away our fears in diaries under lock and key. Now we post them where everyone can see. Online life bleeds into real life this way. It turns out that instead of Reading About Foreign Policy and Thinking Deeply About the Future of the Economy, we are watching videos of cats hitting walls. Our Googles, ourselves. And so all the things that everyone used to pretend to do and like are quickly falling victim to the blunt statistics. Why pretend to be classy and put-together? We live online so much that it’s difficult to create the illusion that anyone knows what she’s doing. Except the Anne Hathaways of this world. Everyone knows that one girl whose life looks perfect on Pinterest.  But we can’t stand her.

What’s sad is how much we need her. The ideal has to exist out there somewhere. Someone has to say the Right Thing and wear the Right Ensemble and Effortlessly Frost Dozens of Minicupcakes. She has to exist to give us something to aspire to — and fail, and laugh about. But it’s a thankless position. For everything else, there’s Jennifer Lawrence.

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by | March 12, 2013 · 4:50 pm

Auto Portrait Pending

Installation at Centre d'Arte Santa Monica, Barcelona 2007

On view at the Independent Art Fair over the weekend was the above work by artist Jill Magid, titled Auto Portrait Pending. According to the artist’s statement;

Jill Magid signs a contract with a company to become a diamond when she dies. The contract specifies the agreement for her transformation and the details of her eventual diamond. Upon her death, the diamond will be created from the carbon of her cremated remains. It will have a round cut, weigh one carat, and be set in a gold ring setting. Until the diamond′s creation, the empty ring setting, the corporate contract, the artist’s preamble, and the Beneficiary Contract constitute the artwork. Auto Portrait Pending awaits a Beneficiary.

This work challenges the traditional notion that artworks exist as a finished product, since it exists in the form of an idea and a set of placeholders until the “eventual diamond” is created.

In this way, the work speaks to many of the themes that our current series, “Art in the Long View at Lunchtime” explores. For example, at yesterday’s talk, “Temporality: Lived, Constructed, and Imagined,” we discussed Alighiero Boetti’s piece 11 Luglio 2023 (1966-1975), a piece in which the artist commissions craftswomen to embroider the date he projects for his own death. This piece is also a placeholder in some ways; the recorded date is only a guess or a suggestion of potential significance, which stands in for a factual commemoration.

In both cases, the artists focus on their own anticipated deaths as the source material for poetic investigations of the long-term significance and evolution of artworks. By working in this way, perhaps the artists offer not only a new way to consider artworks, but also even a new lens through which to view such a challenging topic as death.

Join us for our “Art in the Long View at Lunchtime” programs on select Mondays and Thursday to think more about artworks and concepts such as these!

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by | March 12, 2013 · 3:55 pm

Patient has 75 per cent of his skull replaced by 3DD-printed implant

  • News Limited Network
  • March 08, 2013 11:31AM

A 3D-printed bone replacement is shown here attached to a model skull. Picture: Oxford Performance Materials Source: Supplied


A 3D-printed skull replacement was inserted in a patient during surgery earlier this week. Picture: Oxford Performance Materials Source: Supplied


“A MAN has had 75 per cent of his skull replaced with a custom-made 3D-printed implant.

The un-named patient in the United States had his head imaged by a 3D scanner before the plastic prosthetic was crafted to suit his features.

Oxford Performance Materials in Connecticut then gained approval from US regulators before the printed bone replacement was inserted in his skull during a surgical procedure earlier this week.

The ground-breaking operation has only now been revealed.

The company says it can now provide the 3D printouts to replace bone damaged by disease or trauma after the US Food and Drug Administration granted approval on February 18.

The implant is more than a simple moulded plastic plate: Tiny surface details are etched into the polyetherketoneketone to encourage the growth of cells and bone.

The company says about 500 people in the US could make use of the technology each month, with recipients ranging from injured construction workers through to wounded soldiers.

It says it can produce an implant within two weeks of obtaining 3D scans of the affected area.

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by | March 8, 2013 · 8:26 pm

In a Stressful Setting, Artistic Treatment for the Traveler

March 16, 2011


“ANYONE facing a long wait at an airport in these days of heightened security and random pat-downs may want to unwind at an art exhibit in a terminal.

A growing number of airports in the United States and abroad have been working with area museums and cultural institutions to organize rotating shows of sculpture, photography, pottery, weaving and — in the case of Toronto Pearson International Airport — even dinosaur casts.

The contents of the exhibits as well as the locations vary. Some are presented in airy atriums, at baggage claims, on unused billboards, along moving sidewalks, in dedicated galleries and even hovering among plants in open-air gardens. But their goal is consistent: to provide education and entertainment in an environment typically dismissed as an anxiety-inducing no man’s land.

“Airports have replaced train stations both as destinations and as ideal sites for viewing art,” said Maxwell L. Anderson, director of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, whose alliance with the Indianapolis International Airport began in January.

Referring to “the august grandeur of wide open spaces” typically found at airports, Mr. Anderson said the Indianapolis Museum of Art planned to use some of the $100,000 it would receive this year from its contract with the Indianapolis Airport Authority to spearhead “affordable and thrilling” large-scale installations and to promote its recently acquired Miller House, a mid-century Modernist residence designed by Eero Saarinen in nearby Columbus, Ind.

“People are spending so much more time in airports,” said Mr. Anderson. “They’ve become a kind of gateway to local culture.”

About 35.7 million passengers visited Miami International Airport last year, many of them on international flights. With this in mind, Yolanda Sanchez, the airport’s director of fine arts and cultural affairs, said she deliberately teamed with local museums, cultural institutions and social outreach programs.

“We want to bring the destination to the airport,” she said.

Among the current offerings are a mural by local children, ironworks from Haiti and a show of 24 large-scale photographs by recent participants in the Everglades Park Service’s artist-in-residence program.

Ms. Sanchez said a 4,400-square-foot sculpture garden was planned for the new North Terminal.

The partnership between the airport and the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden will present “an opportunity to acquaint people with what they’re going to see on a much larger scale at Fairchild,” said Bruce Greer, president of Fairchild’s board of trustees.

Stanley Boynton, executive director of the Everglades Foundation, a nonprofit group working to restore the Everglades, sees a similar opportunity. Referring to Ms. Sanchez’s current photography show, which he hopes will expose people to the Everglades and inspire them to go there and even engage with the effort to restore them, Mr. Boynton said, “there’s no better location in Miami than the airport.”

When airports are expanded, a percentage of the cost is typically devoted to permanent installations of art. Most rotating exhibitions are financed separately. Programs at the Philadelphia International Airport and San Francisco International Airport — like those in Miami and Toronto — are run by airport staff members. In Indianapolis and Oakland, Calif., port authorities take bids from local institutions, which use their own staffs to manage changing art shows.

According to Elsa Cameron, former director of the San Francisco Airport Museum, who started one of the nation’s oldest and most comprehensive programs, unless the airport staff is already highly trained in handling museum-quality objects, “it’s usually cheaper and smarter if local museums curate exhibitions.”

Institutions are also more likely to lend valuable works from their collections if they know the airport facility has proper lighting and climate control, said Ms. Cameron, who serves as president for Community Arts International, which oversees art projects in public places and whose clients have included airports in San Diego and Toronto.

John Clark, the chief executive of the Indianapolis Airport Authority, agreed. “You hire professionals to run your airport,” he said. “You need professionals to run art programs.”

Although no official statistics connect airport passengers to museum attendance, Cherie Newell, director of professional services at the Oakland Museum of California, said that a recent exhibition her department organized for Oakland International Airport played a crucial role in promoting corresponding activities at the museum.

Midway through last summer’s show of “Pixar: 25 Years of Animation,” the museum held a satellite exhibit “Pencils to Pixels” at the Oakland airport, featuring work by four animation studios — DreamWorks, Industrial Light and Magic, Pixar Animation Studios and Tippett Studio — and six zoetropes with original artworks by Pixar. Museum attendance at the time was flat, because children were in school, Ms. Newell said. “Then, all of a sudden, it bumped back up.”

The Pixar show, which closed in January, was one of the best-attended shows in the museum’s history, according to Lori Fogarty, the museum’s director. “It was enormously popular,” she said, adding that, with Pixar based in Oakland and Pixar employees commuting back and forth to Los Angeles from the airport, “Pencils to Pixels” was a real point of pride for them.

Airport contracts can also provide nonprofit cultural institutions with some much-needed revenue. “Our current contract with the airport brings in over $400,000 a year,” said Ms. Fogarty. This fee, which comes out of earnings generated by the airport, covers the cost of developing, designing, installing and staffing changing exhibitions. “It also provides additional operating support to the museum,” she said.

While the benefits to museums may seem obvious, the airports also profit from the injection of spectacular and unexpected displays of art into an experience that typically conjures indignity, delays and unforeseen hassles, said Lisa Freiman, a senior curator of contemporary art at the Indianapolis museum.

Although the Indianapolis airport’s association with the museum is still very young, for example, Mr. Clark said he was intrigued by the museum’s focus on large-scale works — along the lines of a recent commission for the museum’s main lobby, constructed from 30 miles of colored string — that will present exciting and cost-efficient sources of cutting-edge culture.

Humanizing sterile corridors also encourages passenger spending, said Ms. Cameron. According to a 2007 survey conducted at an airport in Italy, rotating art exhibits account for increased passenger spending in boutiques and restaurants, she said, explaining that “while one family member is looking at a show, others tend to shop and eat.”

Public interest in airport art exhibits has intensified since 9/11, according to Leah Douglas, director of exhibitions at the Philadelphia International Airport. She cited comment cards from passengers stating that after waiting in line to get through security, “and feeling really stressed,” art was a wonderful diversion.

And while installing shows in corridors and atriums exposed to passengers has its drawbacks, Ms. Douglas said, “It’s also exciting for passengers to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the process and to interact with artists.”

“Of course,” she said, “We have to keep the artwork and tools close, and keep track of what we’re doing.””

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by | February 15, 2013 · 5:23 pm

The Secret Art of George W. Bush

February 8, 2013, 6:26 pm


“W. paints! Who would have thought it? Thanks to a hacker known as Guccifer who wormed into the computer of the 43rd president’s sister, the world has learned that George W. Bush is an amateur – I would say serious amateur – painter. He may be some people’s least favorite president since Hoover, but as an artist he is, well, a heck of a lot better than any number of world leaders whose names spring to mind, foremost Winston Churchill and Adolf Hitler.

Images of only three paintings made it to the Internet — where they promptly went viral — before the Secret Service started to investigate. Two are oblique self-portraits, both vertical rectangles that show Mr. Bush bathing. Needless to say, they raise all sorts of interesting questions about what’s on the former president’s mind these days, and what, if any, art he has been looking at.

One shows Mr. Bush in the shower seen from the back (upper torso only), his well-known squint caught in a white rimmed shaving mirror. The other is a Bush-eye view of the former president as he soaks in a bathtub with the water running: in the receding form of the tub only his slightly-bowed legs from the knees down, and his feet are visible, mostly covered by water.

The forms are handled with care, but awkwardly, which is the source of their appeal. Things are recognizable but just: you can detect posh details like the shower’s chrome hinge and glass door. Everything is honestly accounted for, not sharply realistic, certainly not finicky.

Equally interesting is a detail in the photograph itself. The paintings sit on fairly well-used easels. Has the president been painting since 2009 (or earlier) or did he get them second-hand?

The two paintings could be said to depict the introverted self-absorption for which Mr. Bush is known. Perhaps, he is trying to cleanse himself in a more metaphorical way, seeking a kind of redemption from his less fortuitous decisions as president.

At the same time, whatever is going on psychologically, the paintings suggest a man, a painter at ease with his body. He gets some credit for directing his gaze at himself, rather than at the more conventional female nude that is many amateur painters’ first choice. Along with landscapes: the third painting depicts a stone church in Maine, a work in progress that Mr. Bush is shown working on amid weight-lifting equipment in what may be the family work-out room in Kennebunkport, Maine.

For many these works might qualify as outsider art; they give every indication of having been made by a self-taught artist. But so do many paintings shown in the insider art world of today. These works make you wonder if Bush is familiar with Jasper Johns’s “Seasons,” where each of the four paintings is shadowed by a male, seemingly unclothed silhouette, or Pierre Bonnard’s strangely chaste, luminous paintings of his wife reclining in a bathtub. And one can imagine them being not too out of place in a group show that might include the figurative work of Dana Schutz, Karen Kilimnik, Alice Neel, Christoph Ruckhaberle and Sarah McEneaney. It’s possible that we might see more of W’s art. After all, if Larry Gagosian can put the stuff Bob Dylan currently churns out before the public, someone could certainly show these.”

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by | February 9, 2013 · 7:53 pm

Humana Festival College Days

March 22-24, 2013


College Days weekend is a three-day immersion into the world-renowned Humana Festival of New American Plays. College students and faculty are invited to explore the Festival and connect with people at the forefront of the field.

College Days attendees:

  • See astonishing world premiere plays
  • Participate in career development workshops
  • Meet Actors Theatre staff and Humana Festival creative teams
  • Audition for Acting Apprentice Company
  • Interview for Professional Internships
  • Rub elbows with the best in the field!

Only $125 per package.  Groups of 11 or more receive a FREE package valued at $125.
College Days packages include tickets to four productions, workshop participation, networking events and an opportunity to auditon for Actors Theatre’s Apprentice Company or interview for professional internships.
Contact Sarah Peters at 502-585-1210 or SPeters@ActorsTheatre.org for details.

To view the full College Days schedule, click here! 

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by | January 22, 2013 · 4:26 pm