Officials at the US Department of Homeland Security have been forced to carry out an embarrassing U-turn after confiscating a number of items belonging to the Austrian artist Robert Jelinek. When Jelinek flew into Detroit Metropolitan Airport earlier this month to set up an exhibition at the city’s Contemporary Arts Centre, his luggage was searched and a number of items were removed, including 33 fake passports which were to form part of the show. However, customs officials have now decided to return Jalinek’s belongings, after admitting that they can not be classed as "immoral or harmful materials".
Eight Thai elephants have become the best-paid pachyderm painters in the world, after selling one of their canvasses to an American art lover for 1.5 million baht (20,500). The four-legged artists applied acrylic paint to a 6 x 2.4m canvas using paintbrushes held in their trunks. All the money from the sale will go to the Mae Sa Elephant Camp near the northern city of Chiang Mai, where the artists live and work.
The Ugandan premire of the Vagina Monologues has been cancelled after the group performing it refused to make alterations to the script requested by the government. The proposed changes included the removal of the word "vagina" from the title and the deletion of all references to lesbianism. Shortly before the play was due to be performed, information minister James Nsaba Buturo attacked its title as "undoubtedly indecent and tasteless" and described it’s author, the American Eve Ensler, as "a known lesbian" who "worships the female sexual organ, seeing it as her god".
The script for the sequel to the Johnny Depp movie Pirates of the Caribbean has upset the Carib Indians of Dominica, who claim that it portrays them as cannibals. Carib chief Charles Williams, who is leading the protests, claims that there is a "strong element of cannibalism" in the script. He denies that his people are descended from cannibals, and believes they were only accused of cannibalism in the first place because they stood up to early European conquerors.
Kitsch is apparently cool again - two paintings of dogs playing poker have just fetched $600,000 (316,000) at an auction in New York. Entitled Waterloo and A Bold Bluff, the pictures were among a group of 16 that the artist Cassius Marcellus Coolidge was commissioned to paint for a Minnesota-based advertising company in 1903. The pair of canine canvasses weren’t expected to fetch more than $50,000 (26,000).
A ballet that shows Tzar Nicholas II dancing in a pair of tights has opened in the town where he was killed, to a storm of protest. Worshippers from the Church of Spilled Blood, which was built on the site where the Tsar was executed in 1918, urged the Kosmos Theatre to cancel the production - the Tsar is considered a saint by the Russian Orthodox Church. But Galina Pisulina, director of the theatre, refused to bow to the protests. "If people don’t like this, they don’t have to watch," she told the newspaper Kommersant.