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Cuban street artist back in police custody

Plus: Brussels museums shut down following terrorist attacks | Secrets of the Herculaneum scrolls revealed | and Sex Pistols graffiti recommended for listed status

22 March 2016

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Street artist arrested in Havana protest | With President Obama’s visit to Cuba this week, the eyes of the world are on Havana. Yet in spite of increased media scrutiny, it seems that freedom of speech is still a contentious matter on the Caribbean island. On Sunday – the day the President arrived in Havana – the dissident street artist Danilo Maldonado, AKA ‘El Sexto’, was arrested once again following a protest in the country’s capital. According to Artforum, the artist was demonstrating alongside the Ladies in White (a dissident group) and other opposition figures when regime supporters gathered nearby, and the Cuban police intervened. Maldonado was released from jail last October, having previously served 10 months behind bars for similar ‘offences.’

Brussels museums shut down following terrorist attacks | Museums and other cultural centres in Brussels have closed in the wake of this morning’s attacks, which targeted the airport and the metro system leaving many dead. The country’s terror alert has been raised to its maximum level, and museums are expected to remain closed until further notice – most likely for several days.

Secrets of the Herculaneum scrolls revealed | Researchers investigating the so-called ‘Herculaneum Scrolls’ – a library of papyrus documents that somehow survived the eruption of Vesuvius in 79AD – have made a potentially revelatory discovery. Using a powerful x-ray microscope, the academics behind the research have established that the scribes tasked with copying the texts onto the scrolls did so with iron oak-gall inks – a material thought not to have been used on parchment until at least 420AD. In the study of texts, at least, this discovery could rewrite centuries of history.

Sex Pistols graffiti gets listed status | Say what you like about Historic England, but it’s certainly open minded. According to the Times (£), the organisation has formally recommended that graffitti messages scrawled by Sex Pistols singer John Lydon onto the walls of his Soho home in the mid 1970s be granted Grade II* listed status. Lydon – who went by the name ‘Johnny Rotten’ at the time – apparently covered the walls in crude cartoons of friends and fellow musicians, as well as messages that probably don’t bear repeating here. Historic England has justified the listing on the grounds that it is one of the few surviving traces of the Denmark Street area’s musical heritage.

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