Archive for July, 2017


Media captionHolly Ringsell is the proud owner of Dark Side Comics

If you believe superheroes are just for men and boys, Holly Ringsell would urge you to think again. The pioneering 26-year-old, who runs her own comic book shop, lifts the lid on what it’s like being a woman in what is traditionally a male-dominated environment.

The delivery man arrives with a large cardboard box. Following him through Dark Side Comics in Chelmsford is the fluorescent-haired Miss Ringsell.

She beckons him towards the rear of the store, where there’s enough space to put the box down on the floor.

The delivery man has to steal Miss Ringsell’s attention away from the package to get a signature.

Moments later, he’s off. And she’s in, slicing through tape and tearing open the box flaps.

Today is Wednesday. Miss Ringsell likes weekends, but she loves Wednesdays.

“Wednesdays are awesome,” she says. “It’s when all the new comics and merchandise come out.”

The scent of fresh ink, paper and cellophane wrap draws in comic lovers from across the city and beyond, eager to get their hands on the very latest output from the comic world.

“There’s a strong community feel on Wednesdays,” says Miss Ringsell. “People will talk about what they’re reading and strike up conversations.”

What is now Miss Ringsell’s career began as a youthful pastime.

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These days there are female characters for all ages, says Miss Ringsell

“My love of comics started when I was pretty young,” she says. “My dad was the one who got me into animated movies and comics.

“I used to do a lot of drawing as a kid, and comics seemed a natural thing to draw from.

“He would bring me home comics and I would read them and then draw from them.”

Her first comics were from the X-Men series before she moved on to Batman – “the coolest”, says Miss Ringsell. Her first Batman comic was the 1988 graphic novel Batman: The Killing Joke by comic book legend Alan Moore, whose other works include Watchmen and V for Vendetta.

By the age of 14, she was hooked.

But her passion for comics isn’t something that others always readily accept.

“I have had the odd comment here and there and people usually assume I either just work here or that I am someone’s wife or daughter,” she says.

“I have even had telesales people phone up and say: ‘gosh, a woman with a comic shop’, and I am like, ‘yes, a woman with a comic shop’.

“It can be a male-dominated industry, but we are fighting through.”

And the battle hasn’t simply been one of challenging the occasionally sexist attitudes of customers and callers, as Miss Ringsell explains.

“The 1990s was a terrible time for female characters in comics – a lot of them ended up chopped up into bits or put in fridges,” she says.

“Female characters were being murdered as plot devices for male protagonists, or they were there just to be looked at.

“There are some really great female characters now. Personally, my favourites are Batgirl, Squirrel Girl and Jem and the Holograms.

“There are now female characters for all ages.”

The famous and not-so-famous female comic stars

Image copyright
Reuters

  • Wonder Woman: She has superhuman strength, speed and fighting skills. Oh, and she got her very own comic title in 1942
  • Mystique: The shape-shifting, blue-skinned mutant first appeared in Ms Marvel in 1978
  • Moongirl and Devil Dinosaur: Lunella Lafayette is a young girl and super genius who wants to change the world for the better
  • Snotgirl: Published last year, this tells the story of social media star Lottie Person who has mucus issues

Olivia Hicks, a doctoral research student of British and American comics at the University of Dundee, points out there is a rich history of strong female characters.

As far back as the 1930s, there was Lois Lane who, when Superman failed to save the day, would set about sorting out whatever crisis needing dealing with.

And in the 1940s, as well as Wonder Woman, there was Miss Fury, who would don a catsuit that gave her increased speed as she fought against Nazi agents.

“She was such a fantastic character,” says Ms Hicks, whose own current favourites include Mark Waid’s Archie, Hawkeye and Jem and the Holograms.

“There have been strong female characters in British comics too, stretching back to the first girls’ comic, School Friend, and its cover stars The Silent Three – which were drawn by a woman, Evelyn Flinders – who donned robes to solve mysteries and foil bullies at their school.

“Popular characters like Bella at the Bar (Tammy) and Valda (Mandy) exhibited immense courage and strength and, in the case of Valda, often refused to listen to authority figures. It was her way or the highway.”

Miss Ringsell believes one of the biggest shifts in contemporary comic depictions relates to body diversity.

“All the women used to have the same body. It was the hourglass body only.

“There are now more body types for both men and women.

“I never understood why they made She-Hulk skinny because, surely, she should be enormous.

“And I think it is really important that women have strong role models whether on television, in films or in comics.

“If you start with someone like Batgirl or a Spider-Gwen, you have a strong female character from the off rather than women being there to be either saved or stared at.”

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Not all female characters in the comics of today bear the hourglass curves of yesteryear

But what of diversity of tone and plot dynamics?

Oxford-based comic creator Kate Brown thinks the larger publishers could be more open-minded.

“I’ve had scenarios where I’ve presented ideas that have had to be drastically changed as they were considered too gentle,” she says. “That is, I’ve focused on emotions or concepts of interpersonal drama.

“I was often told to ramp up the excitement by adding action, or high-concept ideas, that kind of thing.

“It’s frustrating… and then it’s like, do I refuse to do this? Or do I change this to something I enjoy far less so I can get a chance to work in this industry?

“While action-focused or high-concept ideas certainly don’t automatically equal ‘brainless’, it worries me that this kind of reaction from some publishers or editors means we’re losing out on work from some wonderful creators, and also losing out on potential readers, too.

“I love comics very much and I think comics can be, and should be, for everyone.”

Image copyright
Kate Brown

Image caption

Kate Brown’s comic book Fish + Chocolate is themed around motherhood

It’s a sentiment shared by Miss Ringsell, who says she has begun to notice a changing demographic in the comic book world.

“I am seeing a lot of younger girls getting into comics, largely from secondary schools,” she says.

“A lot of women in comics are making contact with each other and creating our own communities.

“We now feel we are part of a collective.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-essex-40725928

Angelina Jolie at the International Peace Support Centre in Nairobi, KenyaImage copyright
EPA

Image caption

Angelina Jolie has come under fire for her description of recruiting child actors

Angelina Jolie has fiercely denied playing tricks on Cambodian children while casting for a film.

The actress and UN special envoy recruited local children to star in her film about Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge, First They Killed My Father.

She spoke to Vanity Fair about the film and explained how they used a casting game which involved giving money to poor children then taking it away.

The interview caused outrage, with many accusing Jolie of being “exploitative”.

In it, Jolie explains how the directors looked through slums and orphanages to find actors for the film, and were “specifically seeking children who had experienced hardship”.

‘Overwhelmed with emotion’

Their casting game saw children being asked to snatch some money, and then when caught, come up with a lie for why they stole it.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Srey Moch (pictured left) eventually landed the lead role in Jolie’s Netflix movie

“Srey Moch [who was selected for the lead role] was the only child that stared at the money for a very, very long time,” Jolie told the magazine.

“When she was forced to give it back, she became overwhelmed with emotion… When she was asked later what the money was for, she said her grandfather had died, and they didn’t have enough money for a nice funeral.”

Jolie, who directed the Netflix film, said it was “false and upsetting” that people misinterpreted her description of the casting process.

“I am upset that a pretend exercise in an improvisation, from an actual scene in the film, has been written about as if it was a real scenario,” Jolie said in a statement.

She added: “The point of this film is to bring attention to the horrors children face in war and to help fight to protect them. The suggestion that real money was taken from a child during an audition is false and upsetting. I would be outraged myself if this had happened.”

“Every measure was taken to ensure the safety, comfort and well-being of the children on the film starting from the auditions through production to the present,” she said.

Media captionJolie on family, film and Cambodia

First They Killed My Father is Jolie’s directorial debut for streaming giant Netflix.

It is based on a true-life account of a survivor of the Khmer Rouge genocide and is told through the eyes of a child.

Jolie told the BBC earlier this year that she hoped the film would help Cambodians speak more openly about their period of trauma.

‘Taken out of context’

Jolie’s controversial account of casting drew outrage among many, with social media users calling it “emotionally abusive and cruel”.

“Angelina Jolie has gone too far,” wrote one woman on Facebook. “For someone who constantly declares her love for Cambodia and children, this was a sick and depraved stunt she pulled. Some philanthropist she is.”

“Child abuse” was how one Facebook user described it, slamming Jolie’s “authentic methods” of casting. “You are no longer welcome in my world. You didn’t realise you were dealing with children with post-traumatic syndrome (PTSD) and poverty?”

But some fans stood by Jolie’s defence.

“This all sounds like it was taken out of context,” said Nathalie Anderson. “She is a humanitarian and I believe she would never traumatise children like that.”

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-40772436

Vanessa Feltz

Vanessa Feltz has said she felt “extremely upset” by a Sunday Times column which suggested she and Claudia Winkleman earned high salaries because they were Jewish.

The BBC presenter described the piece by Kevin Myers as “so obviously racist it’s surprisingly hurtful”.

She also questioned how no-one at the paper appeared to spot the article.

Editor Martin Ivens said the piece, which was in the Irish edition and online, should not have been published.

Speaking on BBC Radio London where she presents the breakfast show, Feltz said: “I would have thought after all these years I’d be immune or used to it, but that’s not at all how I felt. I felt extremely upset.

“The apologies are all very well but how did it end up in the paper in the first place?” she added.

Image caption

The article has been removed following outcry at its content

The column, titled “Sorry, ladies – equal pay has to be earned”, follows criticism of the BBC, after it was revealed two-thirds of its stars earning more than £150,000 are male.

Commenting that two of the best-paid female presenters, Winkleman and Feltz, were Jewish, Mr Myers wrote: “Good for them.

“Jews are not generally noted for their insistence on selling their talent for the lowest possible price, which is the most useful measure there is of inveterate, lost-with-all-hands stupidity.”

Times readers – who must pay a subscription to access online content – commented on the original article to express their disgust.

“The proud anti-Semitism in this column is nothing short of disgraceful. Myers must go and so must the editor who approved this piece,” Alan Simpson wrote.

‘Unacceptable’

The article was taken down following anger on social media and a formal complaint from the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism to press regulator Ipso.

Mr Ivens offered the paper’s “sincere apology, both for the remarks and the error of judgement that led to publication”.

Frank Fitzgibbon, editor of the Sunday Times Ireland, said he took “full responsibility”, adding: “This newspaper abhors anti-Semitism and did not intend to cause offence to Jewish people.”

A News UK spokesman said the column included “unacceptable comments both to Jewish people and to women in the workplace”.

The newspaper has said Mr Myers “will not write again” for the Sunday Times.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-40773710

Media captionThe blaze happened at the Tomorrowland Unite festival near Barcelona

More than 22,000 people had to be evacuated from a music festival in Spain after a huge fire engulfed part of the main stage.

Pictures posted on social media showed the left-hand side of the stage at the Tomorrowland Unite festival near Barcelona going up in flames.

No injuries have been reported.

Organisers said on the festival’s website that “a technical malfunction” had caused the blaze but gave no further details.

The electronic music festival was taking place at Can Zam Park in Santa Coloma de Gramenet when the drama unfolded.

Top DJ Steve Aoki had been due to perform on stage when the one-day festival was cancelled. The line-up also included DJs Ingrosso and Afrojack.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-40766843

Vanessa Feltz and Claudia WinklemanImage copyright
Reuters

Image caption

Vanessa Feltz and Claudia Winkleman are among the BBC’s highest paid female stars

A Sunday Times columnist “will not write again” for the newspaper after one of his articles was branded “anti-Semitic” and “disgraceful”.

In the piece, Kevin Myers suggested BBC presenters Claudia Winkleman and Vanessa Feltz earned high salaries because they were Jewish.

Editor Martin Ivens said the piece, which appeared in the Irish edition and online, should not have been published.

Mr Ivens has also apologised personally to the two women.

A News UK spokesman said the column included “unacceptable comments both to Jewish people and to women in the workplace”.

News UK later clarified that the decision was an editorial one taken by the Sunday Times, not a corporate decision taken by its parent company.

An apology will also be printed in next week’s paper.

The column, titled “Sorry, ladies – equal pay has to be earned”, follows criticism of the BBC, after it was revealed two-thirds of its stars earning more than £150,000 are male.

Commenting that two of the best-paid presenters, Winkleman and Feltz, were Jewish, Mr Myers wrote: “Good for them.

“Jews are not generally noted for their insistence on selling their talent for the lowest possible price, which is the most useful measure there is of inveterate, lost-with-all-hands stupidity.”

Image caption

The article has been removed following outcry at its content

In the article, Mr Myers also argued that male presenters may earn more because they “work harder, get sick less frequently and seldom get pregnant”.

It was taken down following anger on social media and a formal complaint from the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism to press regulator Ipso.

The campaign said the removal of the article and apology from editors within hours was “proof that the decision to include the column was irrefutably wrong”.

The group – which had earlier called for Mr Myers’ sacking – also said he should “no longer work as a journalist at any decent publication”.

Times readers – who must pay a subscription to access online content – commented on the original article to express their disgust, and called for both the writer and editor to resign.

“The proud anti-Semitism in this column is nothing short of disgraceful. Myers must go and so must the editor who approved this piece,” Alan Simpson wrote.

“I think I have to cancel my subscription if the Sunday Times continues to employ this sexist anti-Semite. I hope lots of others do the same,” another reader, Andrew Gilbert, said.

Skip Twitter post by @Graceddy

End of Twitter post by @Graceddy

Mr Ivens offered the paper’s “sincere apology, both for the remarks and the error of judgement that led to publication”.

Frank Fitzgibbon, editor of the Sunday Times Ireland, said he took “full responsibility”, adding: “This newspaper abhors anti-Semitism and did not intend to cause offence to Jewish people.”

In 2009, Mr Myers wrote a column for the Irish Independent newspaper denying the Holocaust happened. It was removed following the criticism of his latest article.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-40768352

Julia MichaelsImage copyright
Republic Records

Chances are, you’ve heard Julia Michaels’ music whether you know it or not.

The songs she’s written for other artists, including Justin Bieber’s Sorry, Ed Sheeran’s Dive and Selena Gomez’s Hands To Myself, have clocked up more than 8 billion streams worldwide.

They’re all songs that feel deeply personal – even when the artist doesn’t get a writing credit. And that’s Julia’s secret: She persuades pop stars to open up and spill their guts like a packet of Cornflakes.

For years, she was content working behind the scenes, until she wrote a song she just couldn’t give away.

Issues, released in January, is as catchy as it is tender – with Michaels rejecting pop’s prevailing narrative of the strong, independent woman to admit her vulnerabilities.

“When I’m down, I get real down / When I’m high, I don’t come down,” she sings over a crisp, pizzicato backing. “Yeah, I got issues… and one of them is how bad I need you.”

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

The singer’s second live performance was at the closing ceremony of the 2016 Olympics in Rio

“I’m content with saying I have jealousy problems,” the 23-year-old tells the BBC. “I’m emotional. Sometimes I cry, just because – and I don’t think anybody should have to hide that side of themselves.

“If people aren’t going to be accepting of that, they don’t deserve to be around you.”

Michaels has found plenty of people who’ve accepted it. Issues has been viewed on YouTube more than 134 million times, and her next single, Uh Huh, is already catching up.

“It’s insane,” she marvels. “I never expected that.”

The day after her debut UK performance – at last month’s Capital Summertime Ball – the Iowa-born singer chatted to the BBC about going solo; her lonely childhood; and having “eureka moments” in the studio.

Your real name is Julia Cavassos – why choose Julia Michaels as a stage name?

My dad is Puerto Rican and when he moved to LA to be an actor, he was advised to change his last name to something more American, so he could go up for roles that were Italian, for example – because a lot of times they see the names before they see the photos.

So of course he picked the most American name he could find: My dad was born Juan Manuel Cavassos and he changed it to John Michaels.

When I was a kid, my mom tried to get me to act, too, so we just took my dad’s stage name and I’ve had it ever since.

Did you get any parts?

No, that was definitely not on my cards. Writing was the thing I always wanted to do.

Image copyright
Republic Records

Image caption

The star has written her biggest hits with British composer Justin Tranter

When did you realise you were good at writing?

I’ve written for as long as I can remember but I guess it was when I won a poetry contest in fourth grade.

What was the poem?

I think it was something about love – and of course when you’re in fourth grade you have no idea what that means.

But I’ve always loved words. Growing up, it was my way of feeling less alone.

Why did you feel that?

My parents divorced when I was quite young and I wasn’t super close to my siblings and I was kind of an awkward kid. So I always felt like words were kind of my best friend. That was my way of getting my emotions out.

Were you an avid reader?

No, it’s funny. I’ve never been much of a reader. I can read poetry but I can’t read books. I don’t know if it’s my attention span, or if it’s because I equate it to songwriting. When you write songs, you have to create an impression in three minutes; and that impression has to be fun or heartbreaking or something super messed up.

It’s the same with poetry. You have, like, 15 lines and there’s your sentiment. Boom, it just hits you.

So you’re not reading Beowulf, then?

No, no, no!

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

The singer says she has a “ready-made” fanbase, after Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez fans sought her out on social media

When you’re writing a lyric, how much editing and redrafting do you do?

I kind of self-edit as I go. I’m not the kind of person to write a song then revisit it a week later. Usually, if it doesn’t feel right we fix it in the moment.

There’s a line in the Selena Gomez song Hands To Myself that’s been called one of the best pop lyrics of recent times – but she told me you improvised it. Is that true?

I tend to do a lot of things spontaneously, just singing into the mic. So I was doing the bridge – “can’t keep my hands to myself” – and when we stopped, I said, “wait, guys, I have an idea. It could be really dumb but let’s roll with it”.

And then I just sang, “I mean I could – but why would I want to” and they just went, “Ooooooh!”

Sometimes it just pops into your head. Like a little light bulb going off.

You said “this might be dumb” – but I guess it’s important to be vulnerable in the studio…

Shelly Peiken, who’s a really incredible songwriter, used to say “dare to suck”. You never know what people’s reactions are going to be, so you’ve got to take chances.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Michaels is still writing for other projects, including Selena Gomez’s forthcoming album

What made you want to step into the limelight and sing your own songs?

It was when I wrote Issues. I’d always written personal songs, but this one was very, very personal.

I’d had a fight with my boyfriend – who’s my ex-boyfriend now, we broke up last week. Anyway, we’d gotten in a stupid fight and I wrote the song that day, and there were a couple of artists that really wanted to sing it. But because I’d written about me and him so specifically, in that relationship, I just felt uncomfortable having somebody else sing something so personal.

So that was the point where I emailed Charlie Walk (head of Republic Records) and said, “I think I’m ready to do this”.

So people had been asking before?

Oh yeah. And I was like, “No, guys, stop! I’m a songwriter. Leave me alone!”

Was it hard to move from singing backing vocals to being the lead?

No. I’ve sung every template vocal of every song I’ve written, so I’m used to performing it the way the artist would sing it. So that’s never been a problem for me.

Issues is about having strength in vulnerability. Why did you choose that message for your first single?

I feel like nowadays, women feel like they have to suppress their emotions because they don’t want to be the stereotype “emotional girl”. There’s nothing more annoying than a guy saying, “You’re too sensitive”. I hate that.

Not everybody is unicorns and rainbows all the time. And if people can’t stick around for the hardship then, no, they don’t deserve to be around you.

But the song’s not just for women. Men suppress their emotions all the time and it’s really sad because there’s so much power in being OK with who you are.

Image copyright
Republic Records

Image caption

The singer’s second ever live performance was at the closing ceremony of the 2016 Olympics

Uh-Huh is perhaps more straightforward, in that it’s about fancying the pants off someone.

Definitely. That song came from an experience I had with somebody, where I really wanted him to make the move. Like, desperate for it. And we were both so nervous.

So what happened with this guy? Did one of you make the move?

It’s still pending!

You’ve got to ask him out, now that you’ve confessed everything in a song!

I know. I know! I totally do.

You’re about to release your first EP. What can we expect?

Well, I tend to only know two sides of myself at this moment, as a 23-year-old woman. I know my emotional side, and I know my playful, more sexual side. And because I know those things, those are the things I tend to write about.

So a lot of it is going to be touching on those situations and, in lieu of recent events, there will be a lot of heartbreak situations.

So you’re replacing some of the songs right now?

Yes. There is no silver lining to a breakup but the writing.

But wait – doesn’t that mean you can ask the other guy out now?

Yes! Yes I can! [High fives]

Julia Michaels’ mini-album, Nervous System, is out now.

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-40704643

Jennifer Aniston and Reese WitherspoonImage copyright
EPA / Getty

Image caption

Reese Witherspoon is set to star alongside Aniston in the HBO show

Jennifer Aniston is set to return to TV screens for her first series since Friends wrapped in 2004.

She’s set to star alongside Reese Witherspoon in a new HBO drama about breakfast TV shows, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Jennifer has been busy appearing in films since Friends ended, but has made the occasional guest appearance in shows like 30 Rock and Cougar Town.

This currently-untitled show would be her first role in a full series.

The project is at the very early stages and hasn’t started filming yet, or even been bought by a network.

It is being led by former HBO head of drama Michael Ellenberg and his newly launched film and TV production company Media Res.

Image copyright
Reuters

Image caption

Olivia Munn starred in HBO’s The Newsroom, written by Aaron Sorkin

Jennifer and Reese will be credited as executive producers – but it’s not clear how much involvement that will actually involve behind the scenes.

The pair have of course been seen on the small screen together before, when Reese played Rachel’s self-centred younger sister in Friends.

Jennifer has been concentrating on her movie career in recent years – starring in films like We’re The Millers, Cake, Horrible Bosses and Marley Me.

This new series is far from the first fictionalised account of what goes on behind the scenes in TV studios.

Recent movies to tackle the subject include Morning Glory, starring Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton, while Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom depicted a nightly cable news programme.

More recently, Vanessa Williams has been seen playing the creator and executive producer of the lunchtime talk show in VH1′s Daytime Divas.


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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-40751489

George Clooney is threatening to sue a French magazine for publishing photos of his twins.

The actor said in a statement: “Over the last week photographers from Voici magazine scaled our fence, climbed our tree and illegally took pictures of our infants inside our home.”

Voici printed the pictures on Friday, claiming they were the first images of Ella and Alexander .

The magazine says there was “public demand” for the photos.

George and Amal Clooney

Amal Clooney gave birth to the children in London in June. The couple haven’t released photos of them.

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They were at their home in Lake Como, Italy, when the Voici photos were taken.

George Clooney released a statement condemning the magazine for publishing the grainy shots on its front cover.

“Make no mistake, the photographers, the agency and the magazine will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. The safety of our children demands it,” he said.

George Clooney

Voici argued that publishing the photos was in the public interest.

“People love George Clooney and have been following his life story for years now,” a statement from the magazine says.

“The birth of their twins, Ella and Alexander, has also been commented a lot, by themselves and their families.

“Those pictures do not put in danger Mr Clooney, his wife or their kids.”

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Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/articles/40763216

Rob AnkerImage copyright
@robanker90

Robert Anker, a former member of dance group Diversity, who won Britain’s Got Talent in 2009, has died in a car crash in Canada.

The 27-year-old was killed when his car collided with a pick-up truck in Ontario, local media reports say.

Mr Anker, who was born in Essex, moved to Canada last year and married his girlfriend, Cyndi.

The group said in a Twitter post that he “inspired so many with his talent and was taken far too soon”.

Skip Twitter post by @Diversity_Tweet

The final episode of the 31st series, to be aired tonight, was shot entirely in a single take on one camera. Director Jon Sen tells us how it was done.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-40760382