July 2016
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Suicide's Alan Vega Dead at 78

Photo by Jordi Vidal/Redferns
Alan Vega has died at 78. Henry Rollins broke the news via his website, with a statement from Vega's family. The singer of iconic New York proto-punk band Suicide passed away peacefully in his sleep. Rollins will dedicate his show on radio station KCRW tomorrow to Vega and his work. Find the full text of the family statement below.
With profound sadness and a stillness that only news like this can bring, we regret to inform you that the great artist and creative force, Alan Vega has passed away.
Alan passed peacefully in his sleep last night, July 16. He was 78 years of age.
Alan was not only relentlessly creative, writing music and painting until the end, he was also startlingly unique. Along with Martin Rev, in the early 1970’s, they formed the two person avant band known as Suicide. Almost immediately, their incredible and unclassifiable music went against every possible grain. Their confrontational live performances, light-years before Punk Rock, are the stuff of legend. Their first, self-titled album is one of the single most challenging and noteworthy achievements in American music.
Alan Vega was the quintessential artist on every imaginable level. His entire life was devoted to outputting what his vision commanded of him.
One of the greatest aspects of Alan Vega was his unflinching adherence to the demands of his art. He only did what he wanted. Simply put, he lived to create. After decades of constant output, the world seemed to catch up with Alan and he was acknowledged as the groundbreaking creative individual he had been from the very start.
Alan’s life is a lesson of what it is to truly live for art. The work, the incredible amount of time required, the courage to keep seeing it and the strength to bring it forth—this was Alan Vega.
Alan is survived by his amazing family, wife Liz and son Dante. His incredible body of work, spanning five decades, will be with us forever.

Hearing loss may be reversible soon

One of the most promising signs of a future without hearing loss.
Unlike birds and fish, when mammals damage the hair cells that allow the ear to hear they do not grow back. It’s why hearing loss is inevitable as we grow older and why it’s risky listening to loud music. Amazingly, multiple studies are now taking steps to reverse these losses by regrowing the inner-ear hair cells. 
According to a report by The Atlantic, Dutch company Audion Therapeutics will soon begin human trials on a drug that has successfully regrown hair cells in mice. The discovery was made in 2013 when a report on the notch inhibitor used to treat dementia showed side effects of treating deafness. 
“We thought, ‘These side effects in an Alzheimer’s patient are exactly what we’re looking for in treating deafness’,” says Audion’s Dr. Albert Edge. “So we decided to try that idea out in these mice.”
The company is currently working with pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly to develop the compounds and has received stimulus money from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 fund. What’s most exciting of all though is Audion already has competition.
US-based start-up Frequency Therapeutics has also filed patents for a notch inhibitor used to regrow hair cells using a drug administered directly to the inner ear.
Considering these are only recently discovered treatments for something thought to be untreatable, expect a long wait before anything substantial comes to light. But these promising first steps towards a future without hear loss are unprecedented and very exciting.

How Nostalgia for ‘The Adventures of Pete & Pete’ Revived Miracle Legion

Miracle Legion back in the day; photo by Michael Ackerman

Without Miracle Legion, there wouldn’t have been Polaris. Funny enough, the reverse is also true. 
Polaris was never a household name, except in a very specific kind of household—namely, the ones where weird kids devoured the ‘90s children’s TV show “The Adventures of Pete & Pete.” As the cult classic’s house band, the trio wrote the theme song “Hey Sandy,” among a dozen original tunes, during a three-season run that began in 1993 but seemed to last the whole decade via frequent reruns. Occasionally Polaris members—guitarist/singer Mark Mulcahy, bassist Dave McCaffrey, and drummer Scott Boutier—showed up in episodes to inspire Little Pete to form a band, like Nickelodeon’s answer to the Velvet Underground. They were in good company, too: Michael StipeDebbie HarryIggy Popthe B-52s’ Kate Pierson, and more made cameos throughout “Pete and Pete,” establishing the show as an unlikely bastion for alternative music.

The house band gig was supposed to have gone to Miracle Legion, the New Haven, Conn. college-rock quartet that included Polaris’ members plus guitarist Ray Neal. That’s who “Pete & Pete” co-creator Will McRobb was expecting when he asked Mulcahy to write songs for the show. But by the early ’90s, Miracle Legion was in the process of slowly falling apart. Nearly two decades later, intense nostalgia among fans of “Pete & Pete” led to Polaris playing live—a first for a band that had never really existed outside the show. Eventually Miracle Legion seemed worth reviving. They kick off a tour next week and reissued their final album, 1997’s Portrait of a Damaged Family, on vinyl this past Record Store Day.
“If someone had called up out of the blue and said, ‘Hey, how about doing some Miracle Legion gigs,’ I think everyone would have said no,” Mulcahy says now. 
Mulcahy and Neal started Miracle Legion in 1983, and within several years, the band had become a mainstay of the fertile New England college-rock scene that also included Dinosaur Jr. and the Pixies, along with the lesser-known bands like Salem 66, the Neighborhoods, Dumptruck, and the Gravel Pit. With jangling guitars and vocals slightly reminiscent of Michael Stipe’s, Miracle Legion’s 1984 debut EP The Backyard drew comparisons to R.E.M.Their music struck a rare balance between wide-eyed wonder and a wistful, wise-beyond-their-years sensibility that never got too heavy or self-serious. It’s no wonder that McRobb calls the song “The Backyard” “the single biggest influence” on “Pete & Pete.”

Most of Miracle Legion’s ’80s output, including the 1987 LP Surprise Surprise Surprise and 1989’s Me and Mr Ray, came out on Rough Trade. When financial difficulties bogged down the label in the early ’90s, Miracle Legion landed on Morgan Creek Records, a division of the movie studio behind Young GunsMajor League, and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. “It was more high-end than other labels we’d been on, where you’d fly around to places and have some money behind the record,” Mulcahy says.
And so, Miracle Legion took six weeks to make their third album, 1992’s Drenched—the longest stretch they’d spent in the studio. They were about to head to New Orleans to record a fourth album with famed producer Daniel Lanois when Morgan Creek suddenly put everything on hold, without explanation. All the momentum that Miracle Legion had so painstakingly built dissipated. 
To call it demoralizing understates the case. Though the band found money to record without the label (and without Lanois), legal entanglements with Morgan Creek prevented Miracle Legion from releasing this music. For Neal, recently married and considering having kids, it was a sign that it was time to move on. “We’d all put in 12 years and we lived in a van and we’d never given up,” he says now. “And then to have some person in Hollywood say, ‘No, you can’t do anything,’ it never made any sense.”
Then Mulcahy called with news: There was a children’s show that wanted Miracle Legion to contribute music. “I was at the Grand Canyon with my wife, and we were spending two months just driving around America in a pickup truck with a tent,” Neal says. “So I could drive back and be part of this TV show I knew nothing about. But I said, ‘You know what, Mark, go for it.’”

As “Pete & Pete” was ending in 1996, Morgan Creek let Miracle Legion out of its contract. Finally free, the band released Portrait of a Damaged Family on Mulcahy’s Mezzotint label, which he started specifically to put out the album. The title, a wry tribute to perseverance, “was based around the idea that the four of us had made it,” Mulcahy says. “It can be very difficult on your personality, on your psyche, on your health. There’s a whole host of characters who have been associated with it, other band members, roadies, publicists and managers, who couldn’t cut it anymore.”
But by the time the album came out, Miracle Legion had essentially split up. “Ray was sick of it, I had slipped into the Polaris thing, and Scott and Dave were playing with Frank Black & the Catholics,” Mulcahy says. “I asked if we could do eight or 10 shows to promote the record. I remember we did four or five around here [on the East Coast] and went to the West Coast to do three or four there. We weren’t particularly together, but we got together to do that.”
And that was it. Mulcahy began making solo albums, while Neal played with bands around New Haven and helped run a video store before a spate of family illnesses became all-consuming. A few years ago, he remarried and moved full-time to Scotland, which seemed to eliminate whatever chance there might have been for a Miracle Legion reunion. “I was off in one direction and Mark was carrying on a musical career of his own,” Neal says. “I never wanted to rule it out. I wasn’t against it, but I was quite busy with other things for a while.”  

What changed in the meantime, while Miracle Legion’s members moved on, was that kids who loved “Pete & Pete” in the ’90s had grown up but not lost their allegiance to this absurd show about two brothers named Pete and their best friend Artie, the purported “strongest man in the world.” The cast reunions began in earnest. “All those 10-year-olds were now 26, and they were nostalgic for their childhoods and a show created by 26-year-olds who were nostalgic for their childhoods,” says McRobb, who created “Pete & Pete” with Chris Viscardi. 
Mulcahy, McCaffrey, and Boutier performed as Polaris at a “Pete & Pete” reunion in 2012, and booked the band’s first-ever tour in 2014. With three-quarters of Miracle Legion already back together, a full reunion suddenly didn’t seem like such a stretch—especially after Neal expressed interest. “We always said we should get ‘never say never’ tattoos,” Mulcahy cracks. 
Whether it’s a postscript or a rebirth remains to be seen, but there’s an appealing symmetry to the whole thing. McRobb, for one, is optimistic that this could be Miracle Legion’s moment for re-evaluation, a band lost in the cracks of time and label bullshit found once again. “I was thinking about an audience that needed to take the Miracle Legion experience in baby steps,” he says of his initial inclination to cast the band. “And now they have taken the baby steps. They’ve been trained. They’re ready.”



Anti-art is a loosely used term applied to an array of concepts and attitudes that reject prior definitions of art and question art in general. Somewhat paradoxically, anti-art tends to conduct this questioning and rejection from the vantage point of art.[1] The term is associated with the Dada movement and is generally accepted as attributable to Marcel Duchamp pre-World War I around 1914, when he began to use found objects as art. It was used to describe revolutionary forms of art. The term was used later by the Conceptual artists of the 1960s to describe the work of those who claimed to have retired altogether from the practice of art, from the production of works which could be sold.[2][3]
An expression of anti-art may or may not take traditional form or meet the criteria for being defined as a work of art according to conventional standards.[4][5] Indeed, works of anti-art may express an outright rejection of having conventionally defined criteria as a means of defining what art is, and what it is not. Anti-artworks may reject conventional artistic standards altogether,[6] or focus criticism only on certain aspects of art, such as the art market and high art. Some anti-artworks may reject individualism in art.,[7][8] whereas some may reject "universality" as an accepted factor in art. Additionally, some forms of anti-art reject art entirely, or reject the idea that art is a separate realm or specialization.[9] Anti-artworks may also reject art based upon a consideration of art as being oppressive of a segment of the population.[10]
Anti-art artworks may articulate a disagreement with the generally supposed notion of there being a separation between art and life. Indeed, anti-art artworks may voice a question as to whether "art" really exists or not.[11] "Anti-art" has been referred to as a "paradoxical neologism,"[12] in that its ostensible opposition to art has been observed concurring with staples of twentieth-century art or "modern art," in particular art movements that have self-consciously sought to transgress traditions or institutions.[13] Anti-art itself is not a distinct art movement, however. This would tend to be indicated by the time it spans—longer than that usually spanned by art movements. Some art movements though, are labeled "anti-art". The Dada movement is generally considered the first anti-art movement; the term anti-art itself is said to have been coined by Dadaist Marcel Duchamp around 1914, and his readymades have been cited as early examples of anti-art objects.[14] Theodor W. Adorno in Aesthetic Theory (1970) stated that "...even the abolition of art is respectful of art because it takes the truth claim of art seriously."[15]
Anti-art has become generally accepted by the artworld to be art, although some people still reject Duchamp's readymades as art, for instance the Stuckist group of artists,[2] who are "anti-anti-art".[16][17]

Forms of anti-art[edit]

Marcel DuchampFountain,1917. Photograph by Alfred Stieglitz
Anti-art can take the form of art or not.[4][5] It is posited that anti-art need not even take the form of art, in order to embody its function as anti-art. This point is disputed. Some of the forms of anti-art which are art strive to reveal the conventional limits of art by expanding its properties.[18]
Some instances of anti-art are suggestive of a reduction to what might seem to be fundamental elements or building blocks of art. Examples of this sort of phenomenon might include monochrome paintings, empty frames, silence as musicchance art. Anti-art is also often seen to make use of highly innovative materials and techniques, and well beyond—to include hitherto unheard of elements in visual art. These types of anti-art can be readymadesfound artdétournementcombine paintingsappropriation (art)happeningsperformance art, and body art.[18]
Anti-art can involve the renouncement of making art entirely.[5] This can be accomplished through an art strike and this can also be accomplished through revolutionary activism.[5] An aim of anti-art can be to undermine or understate individual creativity. This may be accomplished through the utilization of readymades.[7] Individual creativity can be further downplayed by the use of industrial processes in the making of art. Anti-artists may seek to undermine individual creativity by producing their artworks anonymously.[19] They may refuse to show their artworks. They may refuse public recognition.[8] Anti-artists may choose to work collectively, in order to place less emphasis on individual identity and individual creativity. This can be seen in the instance of happenings. This is sometimes the case with "supertemporal" artworks, which are by design impermanent. Anti-artists will sometimes destroy their works of art.[8][20] Some artworks made by anti-artists are purposely created to be destroyed. This can be seen in auto-destructive art.
André Malraux has developed a concept of anti-art quite different from that outlined above. For Malraux, anti-art began with the 'Salon' or 'Academic' art of the nineteenth century which rejected the basic ambition of art in favour of a semi-photographic illusionism (often prettified). Of Academic painting, Malraux writes, 'All true painters, all those for whom painting is a value, were nauseated by these pictures – "Portrait of a Great Surgeon Operating" and the like – because they saw in them not a form of painting, but the negation of painting'. For Malraux, anti-art is still very much with us, though in a different form. Its descendants are commercial cinema and television, and popular music and fiction. The 'Salon', Malraux writes, 'has been expelled from painting, but elsewhere it reigns supreme'.[21]

Anti-art theory[edit]

Anti-art is also a tendency in the theoretical understanding of art and fine art.
The philosopher Roger Taylor puts forward that art is a bourgeois ideology that has its origins with capitalism in "Art, an Enemy of the People". Holding a strong anti-essentialist position he states also that art has not always existed and is not universal but peculiar to Europe.[22]
The Invention of Art: A Cultural History by Larry Shiner is an art history book which fundamentally questions our understanding of art. "The modern system of art is not an essence or a fate but something we have made. Art as we have generally understood it is a European invention barely two hundred years old." (Shiner 2003, p. 3) Shiner presents (fine) art as a social construction that has not always existed throughout human history and could also disappear in its turn.


Pre World War I[edit]

Jean-Jacques Rousseau rejected the separation between performer and spectator, life and theatre.[23] Karl Marx posited that art was a consequence of the class system and therefore concluded that, in a communist society, there would only be people who engage in the making of art and no "artists".[24]

Illustration of Le rire (1887). First shown 1883 at an "Incohérents" exhibition by Arthur Sapeck (Eugène Bataille).
Arguably the first movement that deliberately set itself in opposition to established art were the Incoherents in late 19th. century Paris. Founded by Jules Lévy in 1882, the Incoherents organized charitable art exhibitions intended to be satirical and humoristic, they presented "...drawings by people who can't draw..."[25] and held masked balls with artistic themes, all in the greater tradition of Montmartre cabaret culture. While short lived - the last Incoherent show took place in 1896 - the movement was popular for its entertainment value.[26] In their commitment to satire, irreverence and ridicule they produced a number of works that show remarkable formal similarities to creations of the avant-garde of the 20th century: ready-mades,[27] monochromes,[28] empty frames[29] and silence as music.[30]

Dada and constructivism[edit]

Beginning in Switzerland, during World War I, much of Dada, and some aspects of the art movements it inspired, such as Neo-DadaNouveau réalisme,[31] and Fluxus, is considered anti-art.[32][33] Dadaists rejected cultural and intellectual conformity in art and more broadly in society.[34]For everything that art stood for, Dada was to represent the opposite.
Where art was concerned with traditional aestheticsDada ignored aesthetics completely. If art was to appeal to sensibilities, Dada was intended to offend. Through their rejection of traditional culture and aesthetics the Dadaists hoped to destroy traditional culture and aesthetics.[35] Because they were more politicized, the Berlin dadas were the most radically anti-art within Dada.[36] In 1919, in the Berlin group, the Dadaist revolutionary central council outlined the Dadaist ideals of radical communism.[37]
Beginning in 1913 Marcel Duchamp's readymades challenged individual creativity and redefined art as a nominal rather than an intrinsic object.[38][39]
Tristan Tzara indicated: "I am against systems; the most acceptable system is on principle to have none."[40] In addition, Tzara, who once stated that "logic is always false",[41] probably approved of Walter Serner's vision of a "final dissolution".[42] A core concept in Tzara's thought was that "as long as we do things the way we think we once did them we will be unable to achieve any kind of livable society."[43]
Originating in Russia in 1919, constructivism rejected art in its entirety and as a specific activity creating a universal aesthetic[44] in favour of practices directed towards social purposes, "useful" to everyday life, such as graphic design, advertising and photography. In 1921, exhibiting at the 5x5=25 exhibitionAlexander Rodchenko created monochromes and proclaimed the end of painting.[45] For artists of the Russian Revolution, Rodchenko's radical action was full of utopian possibility. It marked the end of art along with the end of bourgeois norms and practices. It cleared the way for the beginning of a new Russian life, a new mode of production, a new culture.[46]


Beginning in the early 1920s, many Surrealist artists and writers regard their work as an expression of the philosophical movement first and foremost, with the works being an artifact. Surrealism as a political force developed unevenly around the world, in some places more emphasis being put on artistic practices, while in others political practises outweighed. In other places still, Surrealist praxis looked to overshadow both the arts and politics. Politically, Surrealism was ultra-leftist, communist, or anarchist. The split from Dada has been characterised as a split between anarchists and communists, with the Surrealists as communist. In 1925, the Bureau of Surrealist Research declared their affinity for revolutionary politics.[47] By the 1930s many Surrealists had strongly identified themselves with communism.[48][49][50] Breton and his comrades supported Leon Trotsky and his International Left Opposition for a while, though there was an openness to anarchism that manifested more fully after World War II.
Leader André Breton was explicit in his assertion that Surrealism was above all a revolutionary movement. Breton believed the tenets of Surrealism could be applied in any circumstance of life, and is not merely restricted to the artistic realm.[51] Breton's followers, along with the Communist Party, were working for the "liberation of man." However, Breton's group refused to prioritize the proletarian struggle over radical creation such that their struggles with the Party made the late 1920s a turbulent time for both. Many individuals closely associated with Breton, notably Louis Aragon, left his group to work more closely with the Communists. In 1929, Breton asked Surrealists to assess their "degree of moral competence", and theoretical refinements included in the second manifeste du surréalisme excluded anyone reluctant to commit to collective action[52]
By the end of World War II the surrealist group led by André Breton decided to explicitly embrace anarchism. In 1952 Breton wrote "It was in the black mirror of anarchism that surrealism first recognised itself."[53]

Letterism and the Situationist International[edit]

Founded in the mid-1940s in France by Isidore Isou, the Letterists utilised material appropriated from other films, a technique which would subsequently be developed (under the title of 'détournement') in Situationist films. They would also often supplement the film with live performance, or, through the 'film-debate', directly involve the audience itself in the total experience. The most radical of the Letterist films, Wolman's The Anticoncept and Debord's Howls for Sade abandoned images altogether.
In 1956, recalling the infinitesimals of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, quantities which could not actually exist except conceptually, the founder of LettrismIsidore Isou, developed the notion of a work of art which, by its very nature, could never be created in reality, but which could nevertheless provide aesthetic rewards by being contemplated intellectually. Related to this, and arising out of it, is excoördism, the current incarnation of the Isouian movement, defined as the art of the infinitely large and the infinitely small.
In 1960, Isidore Isou created supertemporal art: a device for inviting and enabling an audience to participate in the creation of a work of art. In its simplest form, this might involve nothing more than the inclusion of several blank pages in a book, for the reader to add his or her own contributions.
In Japan in the late 1950s, Group Kyushu was an edgy, experimental and rambunctious art group. They ripped and burned canvasses, stapled corrugated cardboard, nails, nuts, springs, metal drill shavings, and burlap to their works, assembled all kinds of unwieldy junk assemblages, and were best known for covering much of their work in tar. They also occasionally covered their work in urine and excrement. They tried to bring art closer to everyday life, by incorporating objects from daily life into their work, and also by exhibiting and performing their work outside on the street for everyone to see.
Other similar anti-art groups included Neo-Dada (Neo-Dadaizumu Oganaizazu), Gutai (Gutai Bijutsu Kyokai), and Hi-Red-Center. Influenced in various ways by L'Art Informel, these groups and their members worked to foreground material in their work: rather than seeing the art work as representing some remote referent, the material itself and the artists' interaction with it became the main point. The freeing up of gesture was another legacy of L'Art Informel, and the members of Group Kyushu took to it with great verve, throwing, dripping, and breaking material, sometimes destroying the work in the process.
Beginning in the 1950s in France, the Letterist International and after the Situationist International developed a dialectical viewpoint, seeing their task as superseding art, abolishing the notion of art as a separate, specialized activity and transforming it so it became part of the fabric of everyday life. From the Situationist's viewpoint, art is revolutionary or it is nothing. In this way, the Situationists saw their efforts as completing the work of both Dada and surrealism while abolishing both.[54][55] The situationists renounced the making of art entirely.[5]
The Situationist International was probably the most radical,[5][56] politicized,[5] well organized, and theoretically productive anti-art movement, reaching its apex with the student protests and general strike of May 1968 in France.
In 1959 Giuseppe Pinot-Gallizio proposed Industrial Painting as an "industrial-inflationist art"[57]

Neo-dada and later[edit]

Main article: Neo-Dada
Similar to Dada, in the 1960s, Fluxus included a strong current of anti-commercialism and an anti-art sensibility, disparaging the conventional market-driven art world in favor of an artist-centered creative practice. Fluxus artists used their minimal performances to blur the distinction between life and art.[58][59]
In 1962 Henry Flynt began to campaign for an anti-art position.[60] Flynt wanted avant-garde art to become superseded by the terms of veramusement and brend - neologisms meaning approximately pure recreation.
In 1963 George Maciunas advocated revolution, "living art, anti-art" and "non art reality to be grasped by all peoples".[61] Maciunas strived to uphold his stated aims of demonstrating the artist's 'non-professional status...his dispensability and inclusiveness' and that 'anything can be art and anyone can do it.'[62]
In the 1960s, the Dada-influenced art group Black Mask declared that revolutionary art should be "an integral part of life, as in primitive society, and not an appendage to wealth."[63]Black Mask disrupted cultural events in New York by giving made up flyers of art events to the homeless with the lure of free drinks.[64] Later, the Motherfuckers were to grow out of a combination of Black Mask and another group called Angry Arts.
The BBC aired an interview with Duchamp conducted by Joan Bakewell in 1966 which expressed some of Duchamps more explicit Anti-Art ideas. Duchamp compared art with religion, whereby he stated that he wished to do away with art the same way many have done away with religion. Duchamp goes on to explain to the interviewer that "the word art etymologically means to do", that art means activity of any kind, and that it is our society that creates "purely artificial" distinctions of being an artist.[65][66][67]
During the 1970s, King Mob was responsible for various attacks on art galleries. According to the philosopher Roger Taylor the concept of art is not universal but is an invention of bourgeois ideology helping to promote this social order. He compares it to a cancer that colonises other forms of life so that it becomes difficult to distinguish one from the other.[10]
Stewart Home called for an Art Strike between 1990 and 1993. Unlike earlier art-strike proposals such as that of Gustav Metzger in the 1970s, it was not intended as an opportunity for artists to seize control of the means of distributing their own work, but rather as an exercise in propaganda and psychic warfare aimed at smashing the entire art world rather than just the gallery system. As Black Mask had done in the 1960s, Stewart Home disrupted cultural events in London in the 1990s by giving made up flyers of literary events to the homeless with the lure of free drinks.[64]
The K Foundation was an art foundation that published a series of Situationist-inspired press adverts and extravagant subversions in the art world. Most notoriously, when their plans to use banknotes as part of a work of art fell through, they burnt a million pounds in cash.
Punk has developed anti-art positions. Some "industrial music" bands describe their work as a form of "cultural terrorism" or as a form of "anti-art". The term is also used to describe other intentionally provocative art forms, such as nonsense verse.

Anti-art becomes art[edit]

Paradoxically, most forms of anti-art have gradually been completely accepted by the art establishment as normal and conventional forms of art.[68] Even the movements which rejected art with the most virulence are now collected by the most prestigious cultural institutions.[69]
Duchamp's readymades are still regarded as anti-art by the Stuckists,[2] who also say that anti-art has become conformist, and describe themselves as anti-anti-art.[16][17]


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