Fatata te Miti

Hot and natural.

Fatata te Miti (By the Sea)  was the first Paul Gauguin painting Woodrich and Hafspajen selected for Featured Pictures status.  Hafspajen prepared the article for it.

On our C1cada page, our editor Marinka described Hafspajen's article  as  "fatuous, immature, barely literate, and wholly misconceived and inaccurate". We go along with that.

On this page we detail Hafspajen's start to illustrate her modus operandi. We also discuss the gallery she provides. The article was eventually rescued by C1cada, no doubt pissing off Doug Weller, who had also edited at the article.

We can begin by looking at Hafspajen's start, snapshot below:

The first thing to notice about this is that this has been placed directly in Article space. This is what a reader would have seen if she had searched Wikipedia for this painting at 20:14 on 6 October 2014. Over the next hour or so, Hafspajen made some 36 edits developing the article before Weller stepped in to tidy up Hafspajen's lamentably inadequate English. Effectively Hafspajen uses Wikipedia as her own personal sandbox. We commented on this on our Niagara Falls  page. We think Hafspajen does this to increase her edit count in article space, possibly to conceal the disproportionate time she spends on Talk pages (4,630 interactions alone on Aaij's page before apparently stopping editing) and possibly in preparation for an eventual Request for Adminiship (RfA).

As for her indeed lamentable English, Hafspajen is on record as saying she tries her best and it's up to others to correct it. Fair enough. Why she doesn't edit in her native language (computer says Spanish) is a worrying conundrum. Just to be on the safe side, we have alerted Interpol about the Spanish connection as a public duty. For all we know she could very well be one of those travelling folk who wander around Europe stealing babies to use as pet food. You can never be too careful. Better safe than sorry we say, whatever Doug might argue (fuck sakes Doug, you can pick up a big pack of Pedigree from ASDA for just a fiver, play fair).

As for her start, it's more essay like than encyclopaedic, and that's one of the things Wikipedia is supposed not to be. A sensible way to start an article is to begin citing your sources (an often tedious task to format and best got out of the way right from the start, but as we shall see Hafspajen doesn't bother with that) and then structure and write your article around those. But that's not Hafspajen's way. In her philosophy the point of a citation is to support what she knows already, even if so far there don't seem to be any reliable sources to support it (in which case she just makes one up; we shall see examples of that directly).

Regarding her start, there are some issues already. The "natural untouched life" she says Gauguin recorded, she makes sound as still in place when Gauguin visited. But all the sources stress that had already disappeared by the time of his visit. It's possible that Hafspajen's inadequate English is responsible for giving the impression it was still in place, but Weller who copy edited her English didn't correct and clarify. What is more she puts down the disappearance that did take place to just "colonialism", whereas all the sources cite the the influence of missionaries as well. The missionaries had of course long since banned nude bathing, and replaced the pareos with missionary dress. Gauguin himself was to be arrested and fined for nude bathing after a complaint from a missionary priest. This proved to be eventful some years later, as the fining magistrate was appointed to the Marquesas Islands where Gauguin had finally settled and essentially persecuted him.

That Hafspajen ignores the missionary involvement might be down to her being some sort of a nun, a possibility we are alert to although on the whole we are more inclined to put her down for a (shall we say) more venerable profession (although of course the two aren't by any means necessarily mutually exclusive).  SO FAR WE HAVEN'T ALERTED THE PANCHEN LAMA.

As can be seen, there's not much in the way of new material. We'll look at that in a moment after examining the citations.

Regarding those, the first thing that can be said is that Hafspajen simply isn't interested in providing properly formatted citations and not even prepared to correct errors in them. Whether this is slipshod or merely indolent we can't judge, but it's a constant of her editing. Perhaps she thinks it's something, like her English, that lesser editors should do. But the truth is it's tedious formatting citations. It is important if the full potential of Wikipedia as a database of knowledge is to be fully exploited and a so-called "master" editor should be doing better.

The first citations [1] and [3] she provides were sourced from the Web Gallery of Art. This is an award winning database of art images, but its text descriptions of the works is unreferenced and not always wholly correct, or at least in need of amplification, although we are happy to concede that for the most part they are valuable. Its status as a Reliable Source (RS) is thus a question, although it is widely cited in Wikipedia articles.

[1] is used to source the opening definition:

This is certainly useful and valuable, but it is  essay like and its content itself in need of citation. Hafspajen didn't think it worth researching and including any of it, although the Ondine  image is iconic and certainly worth reproducing. 

[3] is WGA's biography of Gauguin used to cite the opening sentence of the Painting section. The relevant section is snapshot below:

This is not really adequate sourcing for "natural untouched life" or "innocent paradise" while WGA's qualification "some" [of his finest paintings] is omitted in Hafspajen's Tahitian period section. WGA's later reference to Noa Noa  describes it as an autobiographical novel and doesn't support Hafspajen's assertion that it describes Tahiti as an innocent paradise.

The real problem is that "natural untouched life" and "innocent paradise" are stale metaphors unikely to be repeated in a modern source. Hafspajen's facility in English is too limited to appreciate this and her intellectual curiousity or capacity in turn too limited to explain what she really means by these nowaday rather vague terms. It's good enough for (shall we say) bedtime conversation, but not for an encyclopaedic entry. 

The opening definition of the lede is also sourced [2] with a link to an archive of articles about Gauguin published by the New York Times. This simply shouldn't be there. Wholly irrelevant citations are another constant of Hafspajen's editing, as we show in our Houses at Auvers  page. Sometimes these are fictions designed to support nonsense, as was the case in The Lute Player, other times it appears to be a question of Hafspajen finding a home for sources she has found that caught her attention. This would seem to be the case for source [9], an account of Western fantasy and sexual politics in the South Pacific, that finds its way in for no better apparent reason than Hafspajen's interest in (shall we say) natural human sexuality.

The holding museum, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, is used to source [4] the second paragraph of the Painting section, referring to the natural unspoiled life Gauguin found on the island (the implication of the grammar used) and the vivid colors he had developed in Arles. We snapshot the relevant portion below:

Hot, hot hot.

Hafspajen's lack of insight into her failings in English stems from her lack of English. She's simply not aware of how poor it is and imagines it's a trivial task to correct it. In a similar way, her evident lack of knowledge about painting and art history (although she claims expertise, whereas we do not), exacerbated it seems by the lack of acess to a decent library we note later, means she's simply unaware of how wrong she can be.

It's instructive to work through Hafspajen's subsequent edits sourcing her starting remarks. It's clear she is really at pains merely to verify what she had written. Interesting new material is for the most part ignored. We'll snapshot the article as she left it the following day, the cartel completing their initial edits, and as it remained until C1cada introduced some degree of encyclopaedic rigor:

Pretty hot too.

Once again Hafspajen is disinterested in incorporating interesting additional material. A good image of Parau na te Varua ino  is available at Commons and it could have been usefully added to the article, certainly more usefully than any of the gallery images she subsequently provides. Note that the source doesn't support the remark about developing brighter colors in Arles (Provence) and it makes it quite clear, as all sources do, that Gauguin was disappointed in his expectation of an unspoiled life on the islands. Moreover it makes it clear that western missionaries were involved in that. Hafspajen doesn't adjust any of her copy to reflect the source. The citation is in fact a fiction for her material and this unfortunately is another constant of Hafspajen's editing.

Hafspajen's starts her Tahitian period section with the remarks "In 1891 Paul Gauguin was tired with the western way of life. Looking for a society more elemental and simplistic than that of his native France ...". We shall deal with the first bit of that in a moment, but it's worth glancing at "Looking for a society ..." first.

It's a mark of Hafspajen's incompetence in English that she's unaware that passages like these instantly flag themselves as copy paste, simply because she's incapable of writing English at that standard. And indeed a simple search shows that it comes from the Wikipedia article on Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?, Gauguin's monumental masterwork that re-established his reputation and which certainly should have featured in Hafspajen's gallery, but doesn't. Now, it's not against Wikipedia policy to quote articles like this, but mining articles in this way is another constant of Hafspajen's editing she probably has to resort to do given her incompetence in English. She did that in Niagara Falls in her efforts to wikiplain Romanticism to us. The difference here is that whereas Where Do We Come From?  offers good sources from biographies and standard works, Hafspajen does not. One could have hoped as well that she might have corrected "simplistic" (which is wrong) to "simple" when she did copy-paste it.

The trouble is the internet is very far from a complete repository of information. Any article on Fatata  should certainly include a reference to its companion piece Arearea no varua ino  painted later on Gauguin's return to Paris . The point is that a comparision of the two shows how Gauguin moved on from straightforward genre scenes to complex symbolist depictions. But searching on Fatata doesn't lead you to Arearea. You do need to refer to a catalogue. It is a lack in Hafspajen's editing. When you look at the Talk page of the successful visual arts editors on Wikipedia, there is constant discussion (as indeed there should be) about sources and their availability. And it's not as if it's terribly expensive to set up yourself up second-hand from Amazon. Right now the catalogue of the National Gallery of Art (Washington) 1988 Gauguin retrospective, with detailed notes on more than 200 objects and comprehensive text by leading curators and experts, can be had secondhand in the UK for £0.01 (i.e. for the postage). As far as we can tell Hafspajen has never thought to equip herself with an adequate library to support her editing.

All these sources come from the internet. Not once does Hafspajen cite a book, other than extracts from Google or Gutenberg  books. In particular she didn't consult any of the standard biogaphies. This is also a constant of Hafspajen's editing. Presumably her holding institution (whether sacred or profane) lets her out from time to time, but she appears never to have thought to consult a library of which there are several adequate in Lund (her abode), a university city.

Not so hot, but a lot stranger.

The trouble with "In 1891 Paul Gauguin was tired with the western way of life" is that it's just flat out  wrong. If Hafspajen had troubled herself to consult any of the standard biographies, she would have known that Gauguin set out forTahiti in search of the "primitive" to further his career. He fully intended to return and take his place as leader of the Symbolist painters. He wrote as much to his long-suffering wife Mette. As  luck would have it, he might as well have set up his easel in the reading rooms of the Louvre as far as authentic Tahitian culture was concerned. That he did eventually return to Tahiti after his first visit was because his marriage had collapsed irrevocably and he had failed to establish himself in the Parisian avant garde. Needless to say none of the sources cited by Hafspajen verify "tired of the western way of life".

Regarding Hafspajen's remarks on Noa Noa  in this section, she does this time accurately record her source [8] both on "travel journal" and "now very fragrant", but she otherwise researched the title poorly.  In fact Noa Noa  is understood to mean "Fragrant Island" as the Catalan Wikipedia's expert and enthusiastic editors correctly record. Unfortunately she once again misunderstands her source when she says it was published as a companion to the 1893 Durand-Ruel exhibition. It was conceived as such but in the event not published in time. In fact its subsequent history was somewhat convoluted and since Hafspajen's source goes to some length to explain it, it's hard to understand how she could have made the error.

Finally her final remark about Gauguin's finest paintings dating from his Tahiti period needs the qualifier "some" we noted above. No source say they all come from Tahiti..

There is also a problem with "vivid colors". What Hafspajen is implying is that Gauguin's palette brightened as a result of his stay in Arles (Provence) in the south of France. This of course is certainly true for Vincent van Gogh, but not for Gauguin whose two month sojourn with Vincent in Arles was trivial as far as the development of Gauguin's art was concerned. It's true that in paintings like Fatata  we are looking at here, Gauguin used intense colors, but these were designed to evoke sensual delight and not all of his early Tahiti paintings used them by any means. What characterizes Gauguin most regarding his use of colors is his use of pure (unmixed)  color applied in bold and flat forms delineated by dark counters, evident in Fatata. This was a technique he derived from his work in ceramics and which was dubbed cloisonnism. He began to develop the technique in Britanny long before his visit to Arles. His Vision after the Sermon, which Hafspajen must have seen when she visited the National Gallery of Scotland, as we know she has, is an early example of the technique, and was painted a few months before Gauguin's stay in Arles. Hafspajen might very well have been misled as well by the Spirit of the Dead  article, which at that time still carried the ludicrous neon image you see on the right on the linked page.

Finally we can have a look at Hafspajen's gallery. She sets herself the task, no less, of showcasing all  of Gauguin's Tahitian paintings, taking as her source [10] the Web Gallery of Art's collection. But it's rather plain from what has gone before that Hafspajen knows very little about Gauguin's paintings and her source doesn't offer an overview to help her. So what we are looking at is essentially eye-candy as selected by Hafspajen. She sees nothing wrong with that, unaware of course that her selection is far from representative (rather heavily biased to young ladies for a start, of which the second from the left, Anna the Javanese, is in fact a Paris painting). Gauguin's  beautiful and mysterious later work isn't represented at all. And, as one might expect, it's directly contrary to Wikipedia policy on such galleries, which discourages repositories of images. When C1cada replaced it with a gallery showing the paintings Gauguin managed to send out via a helpful sea captain for an exhibition in Copenhagen towards the end of his first visit to Tahiti, Hafspajen replaced it with the comment (which went into Article space) "not only from Copenhagen exhibition, thanks. Not representative of his works of the period". Well hardly: we are talking about Gauguin's first Tahitian period and this was Gauguin's personal choice from some 70 paintings he had completed over the two years. Hafspajen would have been much better occupied providing a gallery of related paintings such as the ones we point out above, but for whatever reason she was not interested in doing that.

In fact Hafspajen is a serial and persistent creator of such galleries, which she has placed or expanded in dozens and dozens (quite possibly running into the hundreds) of articles on painters and paintings, all of them her personal choice and equally unconstrained  we dare say by the incovenience of gaining any real familiarity, let alone expertise  (whatever she might claim), with the work of the artist concerned.

And when editors such as Coat and C1cada beg to demur, they are blocked by Aaij and Weller.