Austrian director Johann Kresnik’s re-interpretation of the classic Verdi opera “A Masked Ball” opened for a limited engagement in Berlin in April, aimed at America’s “war and the excesses of American society today,” he said. In one scene, against a backdrop of the ruins of the World Trade Center, 35 naked senior citizens danced, wearing Mickey Mouse masks.
    “Art is no longer just a painting on the wall,” said the curator of the Museum of Bat Yam, near Tel Aviv, Israel, in April. “Art is life; life is art.” He gave that as an explanation for why he had accepted, as a live exhibit, seven young people from Berlin whose art is merely to live in the museum for three weeks with lice on their heads. The artists denied they intended a Holocaust expression based on Nazis’ references to Jews as “parasites.”
    Worth Every Penny: At an April auction in Beijing, artist Liu Xiaodong’s large (8 feet by 30 feet) oil painting, part of his Three Gorges series, brought the equivalent of about $8 million. The work, “Breeding Ground No. 1,” depicts 11 men in their underwear playing cards.
    In May in New York City, a buyer spent $15.2 million at a Sotheby’s auction to acquire sculptor Takashi Murakami’s “My Lonesome Cowboy,” which is of a naked man holding his penis and creating a long, curly lasso out of his ejaculate.

The Continuing Crisis
    In May, eighth-grader Michael Avery of Thousand Oaks, Calif., told the hometown newspaper “The Acorn,” that he was undecided which area high school he would attend next fall. This was a matter of interest in that Avery, 15, is a basketball prodigy and, though undecided on high school, he knows exactly where he will go to college because he had just accepted a full scholarship at the University of Kentucky beginning in 2012. The following week, Kentucky offered another one, to ninth-grader Jeremiah Davis III, to enroll in 2011.

Fetishes on Parade
    Martin Turner, 39, of Blackpool, England, pleaded guilty to four counts of harassment in May, specifically, pestering several workmen by telephone over a three-year period to please come by and stand on his face, his fingers and his genitals while wearing their heavy boots. [His lawyer said it had something to do with “domination.”]

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