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Ala Ebtekar creating a major space for himself in the contemporary art world
Written by Rachel Ralph   
Thursday, 08 August 2013 11:17

Working with concepts surrounding narrative, crews, pattern, and mythology, Ala Ebtekar is creating a major space for himself in the contemporary art world. We featured Ebtekar in an interview back in 2007 and we wanted to see what he's been up to since then. With his participation in three major exhibitions right now (Migrating Identities at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Proximities: What Time is it There? at The Asian Art Museum, and Faux Real at The Laguna Art Museum) there's clearly an interest in his work, and we're intrigued.

Written by Rachel Ralph - rachel(at)fecalface.com

I was fortunate to meet with Ebtekar at YBCA a few weeks ago, where he walked me through his work with great detail. (We also talked extensively about his personal background, but much of that can be found in our previous interview).

He and his work are very genuine and he takes as much care in his discussion of it as in its creation. Beginning in the first gallery of the exhibition, we talked about his large-scale, muted, figurative Absent Arrival paintings. These works are so subtle that you have to see them in person, and you have to get close to do so. The paintings emphasize his interest in the "crew" as they juxtapose crews of Iranian wrestlers with hip-hop b-boy crews. He has a personal archive of photographs of crews, but the purpose of the poses here is not to emphasize the similarities between the two cultures, but rather to explore their symmetry and the temporal and physical spaces they open up. These spaces become a portal to something else; through a combination of history and presence, these works open to an undefined reality beyond. Later reflecting on his work, Ebtekar noticed the similarity here to the Indian Sri Yantra, a symbol that combines triangles and guides meditation through its center. Like the Sri Yantra, Ebtekar's wrestlers and b-boys create shapes that provide transcendence to viewers, and allows them to look beyond the surface of the paintings to provide them with a cultural meditation.

Absent Arrival series

Absent Arrival series

The creation of these paintings is unique, as although they look like simple lines planned-out and executed on a canvas, upon closer inspection, the ghosts of other figures seem to emerge as being covered, but not totally hidden. Much like the figures within them, Ebtekar brings time in and out of the work by both drawing and erasing his acrylic ink lines with a process of sanding. It is interesting to note that Ebtekar's background as a graffiti writer makes him familiar with the process of buffing, and because he does this to his own work, the connection can't be ignored. Like the traces of history, the ghost-like lines can't be completely covered, and instead hold their presence, no matter how subtle, in the larger composition. However, Ebtekar isn't focused on the complexity of this process, and instead embraces the basis of these works and the nakedness of the line when he said, "It's just ink and a brush, there's nothing fancy about it."

Absent Arrival series

Much like his large-scale paintings remove context to open space for viewers, his cut manuscripts literally open space for endless interpretation. By removing all text from these manuscripts, viewers are forced to look instead upon the space of the text and are prevented from making any literal readings of it. This sculptural approach leaves the aura of the text, reminiscent of the feeling of a book after you set it down. You are no longer physically reading the words but the narrative nevertheless stays with you. This feeling is what the poetry, which was originally on the page, was meant to provide and the removal of the text doesn't prevent it, but encourages a personal approach to the work, making it accessible beyond any language barriers. By removing and simultaneously constructing his work, Ebtekar again opens spaces for himself and viewers within it.

As wall space was unexpectedly left open, Ebtekar was asked to install the last group of works in this exhibition with his Tunnel in the Sky series. These works are monoprints over a first-edition copy of Robert Heinlein's 1955 science fiction book, Tunnel in the Sky and again provide a transcendental space for viewers. Displayed in large frames and concealed by mat boards with cut-out archways, the pieces reference his focus on shape and emphasize the presence of the archway in his work. Throughout all of his pieces in this exhibition, an archway can be seen, whether in the poses of the wrestlers or in the spaces of the manuscripts, but all are meant to be spaces that span time, the earthly, and the divine. Ebtekar told me that the eyebrows are like the archway of the soul, allowing you to enter your lover's soul through the eyes. This romantic notion spreads throughout his work, connecting personal and cosmic psyches and seeing beyond the limitations of a physical reality.

Tunnel in the Sky Series

Tunnel in the Sky Series

Tunnel in the Sky Series

Pushing his own physical limitations, Ebtekar is now in Sharjah (a small city outside of Dubai where most of its workforce lives) creating a huge mural on an outdoor wall. Returning to his roots as a graffiti writer, as of when we last spoke, he wasn't sure what he was going to actually do with the wall. Instead, like with his studio practice, his surroundings will talk to each other and tell him what to do. His background, the heat, and the wall itself will dictate what happens, but I'm sure it won't disappoint. He says that when he was writing graffiti, he always preferred the quickie line pieces, and it doesn't seem like he strays too far from that desire. If he chooses to create a linear, figurative piece for the mural, I have a feeling it won't be done in haste, no matter how quickly it is executed, but it probably helps slow the process when he isn't worried about being chased by cops.

Work in process at the Maraya Art Centre, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

Alison Blickle @NYC's Kravets Wehby Gallery

Los Angeles based Alison Blickle who showed here in San Francisco at Eleanor Harwood last year (PHOTOS) recently showed new paintings in New York at Kravets Wehby Gallery. Lovely works.


Interview w/ Kevin Earl Taylor

We haven't been featuring many interviews as of late. Let's change that up as we check in with a few local San Francisco artists like Kevin Earl Taylor here whom we studio visited back in 2009 (PHOTOS & VIDEO). It's been awhile, Kevin...


Peter Gronquist @The Shooting Gallery

If you like guns and boobs, head on over to the Shooting Gallery; just don't expect the work to be all cheap ploys and hot chicks. With Make Stuff by Peter Gronquist (Portland) in the main space and Morgan Slade's Snake in the Eagle's Shadow in the project space, there is plenty spectacle to be had, but if you look just beyond it, you might actually get something out of the shows.


Jay Bo at Hamburg's Circle Culture

Berlin based Jay Bo recently held a solo show at Hamburg's Circle Culture featuring some of his most recent paintings. We lvoe his work.


NYCHOS @Fifty24SF

Fifty24SF opened Street Anatomy, a new solo show by Austrian artist Nychos a week ago last Friday night. He's been steadily filling our city with murals over the last year, with one downtown on Geary St. last summer, and new ones both in the Haight and in Oakland within the last few weeks, but it was really great to see his work up close and in such detail.


Gator Skater +video

Nate Milton emailed over this great short Gator Skater which is a follow-up to his Dog Skateboard he emailed to us back in 2011... Any relation to this Gator Skater?


Ferris Plock Online Show Now Online as of April 25th

5 new wonderful large-scale paintings on wood panel are available. visit: www.ffdg.net


ClipODay II: Needles & Pens 11 Years!!

Congrats on our buddies at Needles and Pens on being open and rad for 11 years now. Mission Local did this little short video featuring Breezy giving a little heads up on what Needles and Pens is all about.


BANDES DE PUB / STRIP BOX

In a filmmaker's thinking, we wish more videos were done in this style. Too much editing and music with a lacking in actual content. Just because you can doesn't mean you should.


AJ Fosik in Tokyo at The Hellion Gallery

Matt Wagner recently emailed over some photos from The Hellion Gallery in Tokyo, who recently put together a show with AJ Fosik (Portland) called Beast From a Foreign Land. The gallery gave twelve of Fosik's sculptures to twelve Japanese artists (including Hiro Kurata who is currently showing in our group show Salt the Skies) to paint, burn, or build upon.


Ferris Plock - Online Show, April 25th

FFDG is pleased to announce an exclusive online show with San Francisco based Ferris Plock opening on Friday, April 25th (12pm Pacific Time) featuring 5 new medium sized acrylic paintings on wood.


GOLD BLOOD, MAGIC WEIRDOS

Backwoods Gallery in Melbourne played host to a huge group exhibition a couple of weeks back, with "Gold Blood, Magic Weirdos" Curated by Melbourne artist Sean Morris. Gold Blood brought together 25 talented painters, illustrators and comic artists from Australia, the US, Singapore, England, France and Spain - and marked the end of the Magic Weirdos trilogy, following shows in Perth in 2012 and London in 2013.


Jeremy Fish at LA's Mark Moore Gallery

San Francisco based Fecal Pal Jeremy Fish opened his latest solo show Hunting Trophies at LA's Mark Moore Gallery last week to massive crowds and cabin walls lined with imagery pertaining to modern conquest and obsession.


John Felix Arnold III on the Road to NYC

Well, John Felix Arnold III is at it again. This time, he and Carolyn LeBourgios packed an entire show into the back of a Prius and drove across the country to install it at Superchief Gallery in NYC. I met with him last week as he told me about the trip over delicious burritos at Taqueria Cancun (which is right across the street from FFDG and serves what I think is the best burrito in the city) as the self proclaimed "Only overweight artist in the game" spilled all the details.


FRENCH in Melbourne

London based illustrator FRENCH recently held a show of new works at the Melbourne based Mild Manners


Henry Gunderson at Ever Gold, SF

Ever Gold opened a new solo show by NYC based Henry Gunderson a couple Saturday nights ago and it was literally packed. So packed I couldn't actually see most of the art - but a big crowd doesn't seem like a problem. I got a good laugh at what I would call the 'cock climbing wall' as it was one of the few pieces I could see over the crowd. I haven't gotten a chance to go back and check it all out again, but I'm definitely going to as the paintings that I could get a peek at were really high quality and intruiguing. You should do the same.


Mario Wagner @Hashimoto

Mario Wagner (Berkeley) opened his new solo show A Glow that Transfers Creativity last Saturday night at Hashimoto Contemporary in San Francisco.


Serge Gay Jr. @Spoke Art

The paintings in the show are each influenced by a musician, ranging from Freddy Mercury, to Madonna, to A Tribe Called Quest and they are so stylistically consistent with each musician's persona that they read as a cohesive body of work with incredible variation. If you told me they were each painted by a different person, I would not hesitate to believe you and it's really great to see a solo show with so much variety. The show is fun, poppy, very well done, and absolutely worth a look and maybe even a listen.


NYCHOS Mural on Ashbury and Haight

NYCHOS completed this great new mural on the corner of Haight and Ashbury in San Francisco on Tuesday. Looks Amazing.


Sun Milk in Vienna

With rising rent in SF and knowing mostly other young artists without capitol, I desired a way to live rent free, have a space to do my craft, and get to see more of the world. Inspired by the many historical artists who have longed similar longings I discovered the beauty of artist residencies. Lilo runs Adhoc Collective in Vienna which not only has a fully equipped artists creative studio, but an indoor halfpipe, and private artist quarters. It was like a modern day castle or skate cathedral. It exists in almost a utopic state, totally free to those that apply and come with a real passion for both art and skateboarding


"How To Lose Yourself Completely" by Bryan Schnelle

I just wanted to share with you a piece I recently finished which took me 4 years to complete. Titled "How To Lose Yourself Completely (The September Issue)", it consists of a copy of the September 2007 issue of Vogue magazine (the issue they made the documentary about) with all faces masked with a sharpie, and everything else entirely whited out. 840 pages of fun. -Bryan Schnelle


Tyler Bewley ~ Recent Works

Some great work from San Francisco based Tyler Bewley.


Kirk Maxson and Alexis Mackenzie at Eleanor Harwood Gallery

While walking our way across San Francisco on Saturday we swung through the opening receptions for Kirk Maxson and Alexis Mackenzie at Eleanor Harwood Gallery in the Mission.


Jeremy Fish Solo Show in Los Angeles

Jeremy Fish opens Hunting Trophies tonight, Saturday April 5th, at the Los Angeles based Mark Moore Gallery. The show features new work from Fish inside the "hunting lodge" where viewers climb inside the head of the hunter and explore the history of all the animals he's killed.


The Albatross and the Shipping Container

Beautiful piece entitled "The Albatross and the Shipping Container", Ink on Paper, Mounted to Panel, 47" Diameter, by San Francisco based Martin Machado now on display at FFDG. Stop in Saturday (1-6pm) to view the group show "Salt the Skies" now running through April 19th. 2277 Mission St. at 19th.


The Marsh Barge - Traveling the Mississippi River from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico

For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to quit my job, move out of my house, leave everything and travel again. So on August 21, 2013 I pushed a canoe packed full of gear into the headwaters of the Mississippi River in Lake Itasca, Minnesota, along with four of my best friends. Exactly 100 days later, I arrived at a marina near the Gulf of Mexico in a sailboat.



contact FF

SF Giants' World Series Trophy & DLX
Wednesday, 04 March 2015 17:21

I'm not sure how many people are lucky enough to have The San Francisco Giants 3 World Series trophies put on display at their work for the company's employees to enjoy during their lunch break, but that's what happened the other day at Deluxe. So great.

IMG_9585_sm

SF skateboarding icons Jake Phelps, Mickey Reyes, and Tommy Guerrero with the 3 SF Giants World Series Trophies


 

Alexis Anne Mackenzie - 2/28
Wednesday, 25 February 2015 10:21

SAN FRANCISCO --- Alexis Anne Mackenzie opens Multiverse at Eleanor Harwood in the Mission on Saturday, Feb 28th. -details

a_m


 

The Death of the Artist—and the Birth of the Creative Entrepreneur
Wednesday, 21 January 2015 10:34

When works of art become commodities and nothing else, when every endeavor becomes “creative” and everybody “a creative,” then art sinks back to craft and artists back to artisans—a word that, in its adjectival form, at least, is newly popular again. Artisanal pickles, artisanal poems: what’s the difference, after all? So “art” itself may disappear: art as Art, that old high thing. Which—unless, like me, you think we need a vessel for our inner life—is nothing much to mourn.

lead

Hard-working artisan, solitary genius, credentialed professional—the image of the artist has changed radically over the centuries. What if the latest model to emerge means the end of art as we have known it? --continue reading

 

"Six Degrees" @FFDG
Friday, 16 January 2015 09:30

"Six Degrees" opens tonight, Friday Jan 16th (7-10pm) at FFDG in San Francisco. ~Group show featuring: Brett Amory, John Felix Arnold III, Mario Ayala, Mariel Bayona, Ryan Beavers, Jud Bergeron, Chris Burch, Ryan De La Hoz, Martin Machado, Jess Mudgett, Meryl Pataky, Lucien Shapiro, Mike Shine, Minka Sicklinger, Nicomi Nix Turner, and Alex Ziv.

17_ms

Work by Meryl Pataky

 

In Wake of Attack, Comix Legend Says Satire Must Stay Offensive
Friday, 09 January 2015 09:59

Ron-Turner

Ron Turner of Last Gasp

"[Satire] is important because it brings out the flaws we all have and throws them up on the screen of another person," said Turner. “How they react sort of shows how important that really is.” Later, he added, "Charlie took a hit for everybody." -read on

 

Solidarity
Thursday, 08 January 2015 09:36

charlie

 

SF Bay Area: What Might Have Been
Tuesday, 06 January 2015 09:36

tiburonbridge

The San Francisco Bay Area is renowned for its tens of thousands of acres of beautiful parks and public open spaces.

What many people don't know is that these lands were almost lost to large-scale development. link

 

1/5/14 - Going Back
Monday, 05 January 2015 10:49

As we work on our changes, we're leaving Squarespace and coming back to the old server. Updates are en route.

The content that was on the site between May '14 and today is history... Whatever, wasn't interesting anyway. All the good stuff from the last 10 years is here anyway.

###########
 

Jacob Mcgraw-Mikelson & Rachell Sumpter @Park Life (5/23)
Friday, 23 May 2014 09:22

Opening tonight, Friday May 23rd (7-10pm) at Park Life in the Inner Richmond (220 Clement St) is Again Home Again featuring works from the duo Jacob Mcgraw-Mikelson & Rachell Sumpter who split time living in Sacramento and a tiny island at the top of Pudget Sound with their children.

Jacob Magraw will be showing embroidery pieces on cloth along with painted, gouache works on paper --- Rachell Sumpter paints scenes of colored splendor dropped into scenes of desolate wilderness. ~show details

park_life

 

NYPD told to carry spray paint to cover graffiti
Wednesday, 21 May 2014 10:37

nyc_graffitiNYC --- A new graffiti abatement program put forth by the police commissioner has beat cops carrying cans of spray paint to fill in and cover graffiti artists work in an effort to clean up the city --> Many cops are thinking it's a waste of resources, but we're waiting to see someone make a project of it. Maybe instructions for the cops on where to fill-in?

The NYPD is arming its cops with cans of spray paint and giving them art-class-style lessons to tackle the scourge of urban graffiti, The Post has learned.

Shootings are on the rise across the city, but the directive from Police Headquarters is to hunt down street art and cover it with black, red and white spray paint, sources said... READ ON

 

//////////
Wednesday, 16 June 2010 17:39


Headlands Center Fundraiser -6/4/14
Tuesday, 20 May 2014 07:54

SAN FRANCISCO --- The Headlands Center for the Arts is preparing for their largest fundraiser of the year set to go down on June 4th at SOMArts here in the city. Art auction, food, drinks, live music, etc and all for helping to support a great institution up in the Marin Headlands. ~details

ABOUT HEADLANDS
Headlands Center for the Arts provides an unparalleled environment for the creative process and the development of new work and ideas. Through a range of programs for artists and the public, we offer opportunities for reflection, dialogue, and exchange that build understanding and appreciation for the role of art in society.

headlands

 

 

 


 

 

 

Alison Blickle @NYC's Kravets Wehby Gallery

Los Angeles based Alison Blickle who showed here in San Francisco at Eleanor Harwood last year (PHOTOS) recently showed new paintings in New York at Kravets Wehby Gallery. Lovely works.


Interview w/ Kevin Earl Taylor

We haven't been featuring many interviews as of late. Let's change that up as we check in with a few local San Francisco artists like Kevin Earl Taylor here whom we studio visited back in 2009 (PHOTOS & VIDEO). It's been awhile, Kevin...


Peter Gronquist @The Shooting Gallery

If you like guns and boobs, head on over to the Shooting Gallery; just don't expect the work to be all cheap ploys and hot chicks. With Make Stuff by Peter Gronquist (Portland) in the main space and Morgan Slade's Snake in the Eagle's Shadow in the project space, there is plenty spectacle to be had, but if you look just beyond it, you might actually get something out of the shows.


Jay Bo at Hamburg's Circle Culture

Berlin based Jay Bo recently held a solo show at Hamburg's Circle Culture featuring some of his most recent paintings. We lvoe his work.


NYCHOS @Fifty24SF

Fifty24SF opened Street Anatomy, a new solo show by Austrian artist Nychos a week ago last Friday night. He's been steadily filling our city with murals over the last year, with one downtown on Geary St. last summer, and new ones both in the Haight and in Oakland within the last few weeks, but it was really great to see his work up close and in such detail.


Gator Skater +video

Nate Milton emailed over this great short Gator Skater which is a follow-up to his Dog Skateboard he emailed to us back in 2011... Any relation to this Gator Skater?


Ferris Plock Online Show Now Online as of April 25th

5 new wonderful large-scale paintings on wood panel are available. visit: www.ffdg.net


ClipODay II: Needles & Pens 11 Years!!

Congrats on our buddies at Needles and Pens on being open and rad for 11 years now. Mission Local did this little short video featuring Breezy giving a little heads up on what Needles and Pens is all about.


BANDES DE PUB / STRIP BOX

In a filmmaker's thinking, we wish more videos were done in this style. Too much editing and music with a lacking in actual content. Just because you can doesn't mean you should.


AJ Fosik in Tokyo at The Hellion Gallery

Matt Wagner recently emailed over some photos from The Hellion Gallery in Tokyo, who recently put together a show with AJ Fosik (Portland) called Beast From a Foreign Land. The gallery gave twelve of Fosik's sculptures to twelve Japanese artists (including Hiro Kurata who is currently showing in our group show Salt the Skies) to paint, burn, or build upon.


Ferris Plock - Online Show, April 25th

FFDG is pleased to announce an exclusive online show with San Francisco based Ferris Plock opening on Friday, April 25th (12pm Pacific Time) featuring 5 new medium sized acrylic paintings on wood.


GOLD BLOOD, MAGIC WEIRDOS

Backwoods Gallery in Melbourne played host to a huge group exhibition a couple of weeks back, with "Gold Blood, Magic Weirdos" Curated by Melbourne artist Sean Morris. Gold Blood brought together 25 talented painters, illustrators and comic artists from Australia, the US, Singapore, England, France and Spain - and marked the end of the Magic Weirdos trilogy, following shows in Perth in 2012 and London in 2013.


Jeremy Fish at LA's Mark Moore Gallery

San Francisco based Fecal Pal Jeremy Fish opened his latest solo show Hunting Trophies at LA's Mark Moore Gallery last week to massive crowds and cabin walls lined with imagery pertaining to modern conquest and obsession.


John Felix Arnold III on the Road to NYC

Well, John Felix Arnold III is at it again. This time, he and Carolyn LeBourgios packed an entire show into the back of a Prius and drove across the country to install it at Superchief Gallery in NYC. I met with him last week as he told me about the trip over delicious burritos at Taqueria Cancun (which is right across the street from FFDG and serves what I think is the best burrito in the city) as the self proclaimed "Only overweight artist in the game" spilled all the details.


FRENCH in Melbourne

London based illustrator FRENCH recently held a show of new works at the Melbourne based Mild Manners


Henry Gunderson at Ever Gold, SF

Ever Gold opened a new solo show by NYC based Henry Gunderson a couple Saturday nights ago and it was literally packed. So packed I couldn't actually see most of the art - but a big crowd doesn't seem like a problem. I got a good laugh at what I would call the 'cock climbing wall' as it was one of the few pieces I could see over the crowd. I haven't gotten a chance to go back and check it all out again, but I'm definitely going to as the paintings that I could get a peek at were really high quality and intruiguing. You should do the same.


Mario Wagner @Hashimoto

Mario Wagner (Berkeley) opened his new solo show A Glow that Transfers Creativity last Saturday night at Hashimoto Contemporary in San Francisco.


Serge Gay Jr. @Spoke Art

The paintings in the show are each influenced by a musician, ranging from Freddy Mercury, to Madonna, to A Tribe Called Quest and they are so stylistically consistent with each musician's persona that they read as a cohesive body of work with incredible variation. If you told me they were each painted by a different person, I would not hesitate to believe you and it's really great to see a solo show with so much variety. The show is fun, poppy, very well done, and absolutely worth a look and maybe even a listen.


NYCHOS Mural on Ashbury and Haight

NYCHOS completed this great new mural on the corner of Haight and Ashbury in San Francisco on Tuesday. Looks Amazing.


Sun Milk in Vienna

With rising rent in SF and knowing mostly other young artists without capitol, I desired a way to live rent free, have a space to do my craft, and get to see more of the world. Inspired by the many historical artists who have longed similar longings I discovered the beauty of artist residencies. Lilo runs Adhoc Collective in Vienna which not only has a fully equipped artists creative studio, but an indoor halfpipe, and private artist quarters. It was like a modern day castle or skate cathedral. It exists in almost a utopic state, totally free to those that apply and come with a real passion for both art and skateboarding


"How To Lose Yourself Completely" by Bryan Schnelle

I just wanted to share with you a piece I recently finished which took me 4 years to complete. Titled "How To Lose Yourself Completely (The September Issue)", it consists of a copy of the September 2007 issue of Vogue magazine (the issue they made the documentary about) with all faces masked with a sharpie, and everything else entirely whited out. 840 pages of fun. -Bryan Schnelle


Tyler Bewley ~ Recent Works

Some great work from San Francisco based Tyler Bewley.


Kirk Maxson and Alexis Mackenzie at Eleanor Harwood Gallery

While walking our way across San Francisco on Saturday we swung through the opening receptions for Kirk Maxson and Alexis Mackenzie at Eleanor Harwood Gallery in the Mission.


Jeremy Fish Solo Show in Los Angeles

Jeremy Fish opens Hunting Trophies tonight, Saturday April 5th, at the Los Angeles based Mark Moore Gallery. The show features new work from Fish inside the "hunting lodge" where viewers climb inside the head of the hunter and explore the history of all the animals he's killed.


The Albatross and the Shipping Container

Beautiful piece entitled "The Albatross and the Shipping Container", Ink on Paper, Mounted to Panel, 47" Diameter, by San Francisco based Martin Machado now on display at FFDG. Stop in Saturday (1-6pm) to view the group show "Salt the Skies" now running through April 19th. 2277 Mission St. at 19th.


The Marsh Barge - Traveling the Mississippi River from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico

For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to quit my job, move out of my house, leave everything and travel again. So on August 21, 2013 I pushed a canoe packed full of gear into the headwaters of the Mississippi River in Lake Itasca, Minnesota, along with four of my best friends. Exactly 100 days later, I arrived at a marina near the Gulf of Mexico in a sailboat.


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