Holiday Spotlight: Jennifer Huang and Danielle Schlunegger

Jennifer Chen-Su Huang

​​As many of you may know, Venison Magazine was established by an art collective known as Weeknight Rodeo, which was comprised of UC Berkeley graduates which Jennifer was invited to be part of. The collective evolved into Venison Magazine, allowing her to continue contributing to conversations on contemporary art, but this time as a Freelance Journalist.
She received her BA in Practice of Art with Honors from University of California, Berkeley and is currently an MFA student at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, studying Fiber and Materials. Jennifer creates installations using various materials that discuss the role of art and how it is perceived differently, depending on whether it has been created by a man or a woman.

Here’s a look into her work:

​Has writing for Venison influenced your art in any way?

I’m not sure that it has especially influenced my art making, but being a part of Venison has shown me the importance of staying connected with other artists and encouraging one another to further their practice — because it’s easy to be disheartened in this field.
Your focus is primarily on the process and why women’s works are considered craft and men’s, art. What have you discovered along the way?
My interest in dismantling the hierarchy between craft and art are connected to conversations in feminism. I’m currently studying both Western and Eastern cultural definitions of “feminine” and how contemporary literary and visual artists have reclaimed these terms. I’ve been referring to cultural theorists and feminists, Luce Irigaray and Julia Kristeva. I’m discovering that my art making is motivated by lived experience and is autobiographical in the sense that I am reconsidering the heavily patriarchal Christian and Confucian values I was raised in.
When you take a look at her work, you can’t help but notice the color palette immediately, which I asked her about.
“I often gravitate towards muted pastel colors because I find them to be non-threatening, humble, childish, and playful. I also tend to use flesh tones in general, I think, because of my interest in the body and its futility. I’m drawn to the human body as a humble organism.More recently, I’ve been using bright pinks as well because it is associated with being low brow or overly saccharine. It’s unsophisticated and also maybe a bit repulsive, like pepto-bismol. I see a relationship between my use of pink and my interest in socially ascribed feminine traits — wet, dark, fragmented, negative, etc. I want to uplift pink’s status by subverting the negative implications associated with femininity.”
I really enjoy reading what Jennifer contributes as one of our writers and even more so, enjoy seeing how she translates such an incredible study into a work of art. Her work is always so in depth, which I know we can all appreciate. You can get a closer look into her practice, on our blog, The secretions we keep secret.

Danielle Schlunegger

Danielle Schlunegger has taken fine art to a whole new level. She has studied naturalist Marcus Kelli and has taken it upon herself to recreate his own studies, turning science and history into art so we can better understand his research. She grew up amongst the shell shops and sand dunes of Ventura, CA. Currently working and living in Oakland CA, her artwork is strongly influenced by 18th century Cabinets of Curiosity and early explorers. Danielle graduated from California College of Arts in 2010 with distinction, receiving the All College Honors award for her work on The Marcus Kelli Collection. 
When did you decide to join Venison?
I wanted to get involved with Venison after Amber and I became friends and I got to know all the people working on the magazine. Everyone involved creates such a supportive community for each other and I wanted to help contribute and be involved in that support system.You were interviewed by Amber in the Autumn of 2014. What is it like going from being interviewee to interviewer?
Being interviewed by Venison was a huge confidence boost. The idea that someone liked my work enough to want to put the time into promoting me was very validating and it opened a lot of doors for me. Getting to interview other artists has been a really valuable networking tool and a way for me to promote the artwork I admire while giving other artists the same kind of validation.
I asked Danielle if she was a full time artist. It surely seems so with all the work she’s been producing.
I work with my hands pretty much all day, even though I do have to have a day job. I work in a wood shop making panels and stretcher bars for other artists. My day job has opened up a lot of great connections and friendships. I like to think of my self as a full time artist, just with many different jobs: Having day job to pay for my studio/supplies/ groceries etc, making the actual art, promoting my art and upcoming shows, looking and applying for opportunities, and maintaining a good family and friend life outside of making art.
Do you have any advice or tips for emerging artists?
I think having a group of friends who are artists who push each other to keep making art is really something to hold on to. Have a good website that is easy to navigate–more people will see an image of your work online than they will in person. I’m also always a fan of keeping business cards on you all the time. You never know when you’ll need them.
You can read Danielle’s interview with Amber in the Autumn 2014 issue of Venison to get an in depth look into her art.

Holiday Spotlight: Amber Imrie-Situnayake & Adriana Villagran

In light of the Holiday Season, a time for friends and family to come together, we thought it was important for our readers to get to know who we are. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be introducing to you the creators and contributors of Venison Magazine: the art publication run by artists for artists.

Amber Imrie-Situnayake

Amber grew up in the Ozark Mountains and it has undeniably had a significant influence on her work. She uses “historically craft based and domestically ripe materials,” such as wool, as mentioned in her artist statement, “to bring comfort to things that are in all honesty, not as pleasant as they initially seem.” Here, we touch basis with the artist and founder on her motivation for starting Venison Magazine.

What inspired you to launch Venison Magazine?
So this answer comes in a few parts. This is where I was coming from mentally: As a beginning artist, I had just left undergrad and I was finding it incredibly hard to “get out there and meet people.” I was part of an art collective that I founded while still in school, but I was finding it difficult to meet new artists and bring more people on board. I just felt awkward and insincere in all my actions. I was intimidated by art openings. I grew up really poor and uncultured, so the gallery scene was about as far removed from a BBQ in Arkansas as you could get. Simply, I felt out of my element.
But then the Ah ha! moment: 
I was in the UK at a gallery space in Birmingham with my in-laws when I went into the gift shop area to find a magazine I could read on the plane home and I couldn’t find anything that I was willing to buy. Most of the magazines were 70-90% advertising, and most of the work was outdated and safe. I couldn’t find anything that was showing the kind of work that was even similar to the space I was standing in. So I thought, let’s start a magazine!
There are definitely some wonderful online magazines that are doing very similar things as Venison now, which is fantastic! I never started the company with dollar signs in my eyes, but I started it to build community and give a platform for emerging and pre-emerging artists who were making unusual, compelling, or risky work.
And then I thought, how does an artist dedicate themselves to their own work and the works of others?
​What kind of affect does writing about art have on your own creative processes?
This is such a great question, because it has a huge impact on my own work. It connects me with larger dialog about art, themes, and movements. Writing about art has made my work more relatable to others and less (directly) personal. Since I work as a scout for the magazine. I look at A LOT of artist websites, so my own site has vastly improved and become more user friendly. It’s also given me a whole new perspective on the jurying process which has made my own rejections easier to swallow. The writing and editing aspect has improved my own writing. If you told my high school english teacher that I was working as an editor–she would bark with laughter. After I dropped out of high school, I asked her for a letter of recommendation for a job at McDonalds, she said “I’ll have to tell them that you are bad at writing.” Her opinion of me was astoundingly low.

As a self-promoter, I like having the magazine; it relaxes the situation and allows us to have a real connection. Some of the relationships I’ve developed have grown into shows of my own work, while others haven’t, but I have good relationships with a lot of spaces which is most important. ​I’ve also gained great interpersonal skills. Gallery openings and meeting curators and directors has become fun. Instead of freezing up and having no idea what to say, I have a million questions and am able to show the genuine interest I’ve always had. Now people don’t assume I’m just another artist out to promote myself. Instead, I can be a person of press who is interested in what the organization is doing. That way there isn’t so much pressure to promote myself. I also find that if I introduce myself as both an editor and artist, it puts the curator or gallery owner at ease. You can sense them tense up when they think they are being hunted down by an artist interested in their space.

As a fiber and installation artist, you create large scaled, interactive works. Your most recent project, “Nature Suit” falls within that realm but brings new light to installation art. What were your driving forces for this project?

The Nature Suit is about how nature is sold to us as an idolized holy experience we must prepare for through products and technology.

So, I grew up off-the-grid in Newton County Arkansas. We lived over an hour’s drive from the closest town. I didn’t go to school, we didn’t have much money, and I spent most my time in the woods by myself. Bugs and bug bites were a normal everyday aspect of life. I have large scars on both my knees from skinning them, and countless “marks of adventure” across my body. I never thought that my life was in anyway “cool” but rather, I was made fun of for being tomboyish and dirty. Now, I live in the Bay Area, where it is trendy to go hiking and be outdoors. Here, Hipsters & Yippies take hikes in their 200 dollar boots and Northface pants holding their hiking poles.

They walk along groomed trails that wind through groves not 30 yards from civilization. Marine county, one of the wealthiest places, is also leading in outdoor living. The products marketed to them: sweat wicking ultra-light weight jackets, hiking poles, ‘Fresh’ scent bug sprays,  1,000 dollars a night “rustic glamping trip.”

​It’s so ridiculous how idolized an “authentic” interaction with nature has become and how far from “authentic” these trips and products make us from the reality of actually being in nature. So, that is the Nature Suit—-the next step to making a product substitute for the “authentic adventure.” A way to look like you’ve had adventures in nature without the hassle of going outdoors. It also highlights the aspects of being in nature that people try to avoid through buying all these products. As if bug bites and scars are the cool factor in our outdoor living trend.

Adriana Villagran

Adriana, currently based in San Francisco, CA, is a visual artist who creates images that are very inviting and dare I say, delicious? Don’t mistake me though, her works are not to be taken lightly. As you read on, you’ll see why.

My initial question is often, why and do you enjoy it? When I asked Adriana this, she mentioned she loved being introduced to artists. Artists she may not have been able to meet if it weren’t for the Venison connection–or community—being built. She stated, “The most exciting part is finding artists across the globe struggling with the same existential questions that I am. It’s very comforting, and quite an inspiration to keep moving forward. “

As Lead editor, I can imagine you’ve reviewed a ton of art! What do you find most important when it comes to interacting with fellow artists?
I would say the mode of dialogue is most important. That is, how I am interacting with the artist: is it a digital or face-to-face conversation. The personal in-studio conversations are joyfully awkward and ultimately richer than a digital conversation.

That is of course to be expected. You tend to get more of a grasp of what the artist’s work is about because you can see it and smell it and you can ask questions right on the spot. Most of the interactions I have through Venison are digital though. We live in digital world now, that is the reality.

What’s great about these type of interactions is that the artist has the time to reflect and put their best foot forward. They can take a breath and not stress out about saying the right thing at the right moment. It gives them an opportunity to really reflect and see things through another artist’s eyes. I think that is a good moment for them, a moment for growth. So ultimately the mode of conversation decides the kind of interaction I have with each artist.

​I think podcasts are going to be a thing in the near future which is a whole other beast. I’m excited to see how that turns out

Both your paintings and sculptures entail great detail to depict a heavy message revolving around how women are perceived. When did you realize this was a subject to cover in your art?
It’s actually a very clear moment that I started focusing on this subject matter. It was in late 2013 that I started working in a not-so-nice part of San Francisco that I really started to feel the burden of being a women in an urban environment. Burden is really not the right word for it. It is a much more complicated feeling than a single word can describe. But at that moment in my life, which was (and is) smack in the middle of my young naive adulthood, burden is the best word to describe what I was feeling. Here I was 23 years old and I became aware that a lot of my identity as a women had been force-fed to me by an overwhelmingly male perspective. This realization started to permeate into my art because it seemed like it was the only thing I had going that was really worth investigating. Two years later and my work is barely scratching the surface on such complex perceptions  of women. Recently I have begun to really delve into women’s magazines as a source of inspiration as they are so brilliantly laid out to manipulate the reader. They are jewels of inspiration for my work, the question now is how do I manipulate the imagery to say something more meaningful and bite back a bit. That is the really
difficult part.
The goals of Venison Magazine are apparent: to build a foundation where artists can meet, discuss and expose themselves to one another. Stop by next week to read about more of the artists contributing to Venison!

Laura Bernard – #venmag Feature/ Find

Venison Magazine finally has it’s own Instagram!!! For the last two year all of us behind the scenes: found and searched for artists through our own instagram accounts. (@amberimrie, @adrimakesart, @zishery) Now, we have one hub @ven.mag , for finding and featuring artists. This long over due move has led us to an exciting new “competition/ application”- #venmag and Laura Bernard was our first pick! If your an maker, creator, art space, collective, and you feel like you fit the Venison mission, #venmag to enter to grab our attention to the awesomeness that you do.

​Tell me a little about your work and how you got started as an illustrator?

So I’ve always been an illustrator really. I was the kid at the back of the classroom doodling on the fronts, backs and insides of my Math book. Its been a thing that I’ve felt I’ve always had to do. Although through school I kept my creativity to myself until I discovered illustration in my final two years at high school and fell in love with the art world.

Did you attend university, if so where and what did you major in?

I have just completed my third year specializing in Illustration at Massey University in Wellington and plan to finish my degree in the near future at at a University in Melbourne. I have also done 6 months in Textile Design which is something else I am interested in.

What are some of the recurring themes or imagery and their significants?

Some recurring imagery in my works are motifs of nature; the outdoors, flora, bugs, animals and floral patterns – there are a lots of water related pieces, even though I hate the water!

I like to paint a lot of conceptual/ surreal themes and most of the time they evolve around things like intra-personal connections, or I suppose being alone too. Not loneliness, I don’t like that word, but just being by yourself. Being a creative introvert myself, I’ve dealt with lots of misconceptions and assumptions surrounding the word ‘introvert’ from the people around me. I think this is something that definitely seems to come through in my work.

Why do you hate water?
I hate water because my dad loves it. He made me go on many boat trips when I just wanted to be on land! Solid reliable ground. To make things worse, when he realized that I wasn’t so keen on water, he signed me up to a week long sailing course because “I must try it myself before I made up my mind” (even though my mind was made up!). I hated it more than almost anything. I do love underwater sea life and visual concepts including water but its not my thing (sorry Dad!).

Tell me about the titles for your work?
All of my personal works do have titles, although commissions are usually just “Commission for ____”
The title always relates to the works, even if conceptually or personally.

Your pieces seem like part of a story, do you see them as little series or interconnected in some way?

​I think that all of my pieces do have a connection, as I do like them to be consistent and coherent as one body of work or like a storybook. I also love the idea of creating works that women can relate to and connect with, one way or another. I like the pieces to show emotion, which usually comes across as Melancholic, so I’ve been told!

Can you tell me about the significants/ meaning of the titles for Lucidity and Prickly head?

Lucidity is actually hanging in my mums living room, she fell in love with it, it reminds her of me! The name’s meaning is primarily explaining the transparency of being up in your own head, and how clear things are up there! Almost like a lucid dream.

Prickly head imagery signifies the barrier that everyone naturally puts up. almost like a mental defence system. Prick them before you get pricked!


Can you tell me a bit about the dialog and connective-ness that you hope your work makes with women? Or your experiences so far?

We all have deeper side; those aspects of ourselves that we don’t share. My work exposes these by connecting women to their inner-selves. It’s providing a vehicle for them to have their internal dialogue illustrated. So they can feel fine about feeling how they do, and ultimately be themselves. Being able to create work that connects and resonates with woman is what I try to accomplish, although it is tricky to illustrate emotions and things that aren’t tangible. I feel the best way I can do this is conceptually, with hidden motifs and symbolism, or even an illustration open to interpretation; where what it means or meant to mean is interpreted differently to each person.


What other things do you do beyond illustration work? (Day job, hobbies?)

Other than Illustration, which to be honest is what most of my spare time goes towards, I will bake, play some video games or do yoga. My illustration has been my part time job for the past few months, so since I am not studying any longer, I’ll be looking for full time work to help save for my move to Melbourne.

What is your studio space like/ where you make work? What is your current studio “jam” (what you are watching or listening to while you work?

My current studio space is a corner in my bedroom. I’ve created a little nook near a large window. When I move to Melbourne next year, I will be getting a proper studio space though! Other than working there, I enjoy to sit outside in my back garden and sketch in the sun.

When I work, I do it in three different ways. I either listen to very very loud music (that I usually sing to). Quiet, mellow music that helps me focus on any tiny details, or I will watch a tv show/ movie for background noise. Ive always loved Radiohead, and they are fantastic to listen to; upbeat or Mellow!

I see that you have a furry studio assistant, what is his/her name and tell me a little about him?
Haha my cat is amazing! His name is Balto, he’s a bit chubby and he loves cuddles, licking, sleeping and sitting on my work. He accompanies me every day, and is good company! I will be flying him over to Melbourne once myself and my partner have found a place!

Thanks again for this opportunity, and hopefully I’ve answered everything!Thanks Amber,

Iconic Visions- Felicia Gabaldon @Campfire gallery

While working as a panel and stretcher-bar maker at Faultline Artspace, I run into Felicia Gabaldon pretty often. I’ve been noticing her in the studio more often gearing up for her upcoming 2 person show, Blue Skies, opening June 13th at Campfire Gallery.  Gabaldon’s work draws from the imagination, both a mythical and mystic part of human experience in the natural world. Her work is experienced through cultural and folkloric content, expressing the wonders of nature realized through iconic symbols and tradition.
“Iconic Visions” is a series of paintings that call to mind a nostalgic illustration of the natural beauty and patterns of the American Southwest. These paintings narrate Felicia Gabaldon’s story of her identity as an American Indian with both Spanish and Mexican heritage. Informed by utopian visions and typical representations of her homeland, Gabaldon’s work represents a distant reverence of self-discovery, culture, and historical elements through romanticized desert landscapes and mythic figures.
Be sure to catch Felicia at her two person show, Blue Skies, with Larissa Grant at Campfire Gallery this Month.
The opening of the show with a reception for the artists will be held on Saturday, June 13, 7-10 pm and the show runs June 10th through July 5th.Gabaldon is from Santa Fe, NM. She currently resides in Berkeley, CA and is a resident artist at Faultline Artspace in Oakland, CA.

the secretions we keep secret: on liquid language and female consciousness in contemporary art

I was in fifth grade when I got my first period. I came home from school, cracked open my textbook, grabbed chips from the pantry, and started simultaneously munching and working on problems #8-24, even only. As my mechanical pencil scratched away, my focus was interrupted by a quiet warm moistness in between my legs. I put down my pencil and walked over to the bathroom, where lo and behold, I found a red poppy emblazoned in the lining of my underwear. I peered between my thighs into the toilet bowl where a drop of blood began to flower in the crystal clear water. Entranced, I watched my blood taint the pristine toilet water in soft silky ribbons. Finally I wiped, pulled up my pants, and waddled to my mom’s study. “I think my butt is having a nosebleed,” I said in Taiwanese. We walked to the bathroom together and I showed her the poppy flower stain on the seat of my underpants. She pulled out a baby pantiliner from the medicine cabinet and gave it to me. “Sorry,” she said, as she rustled the top of my head.

Eight years later, in art school, I would find a rising grin on my face whenever someone labeled my work as “visceral.” I aimed for visceral because I was searching for something to identify with, something that speaks of shame and base humanity. At the time, I didn’t quite know it, but I was beginning to embrace these buried subjects and uncommon conceptions of femininity.

As a female artist, my work is linked to my experiences – as a daughter whose gender disappointed her grandparents, as a subordinate whose sexuality is shamed and silenced. These experiences are not personal, rather they are continually perpetuated upon the female sex. Since ancient Greece, we’ve seen female genitals erased to Barbie-like blanks whereas their male counterparts are accentuated with detail and accuracy. In our patriarchal culture, female sexuality has become symbols of shame, synonymous with irrationality and chaos. [1] At the same time however, an unrealistic sense of female sexuality is also desired and objectified – women are no longer human but clean and smooth commodities made ready for consumption, much like the ancient Greek vulva-less statues. When held to such ideals, women are driven to wax, to bleach, to surgically alter, but what is gained by submitting to patriarchal paragons? [2]

I’m interested in artists who subvert these perverse ideals of feminine beauty and virtue, who wholly accept their femininity, who accept that as daughters and mothers, we bleed, we lactate, we get wet. We’re taught to be ashamed of our bodily fluids, but our fluids sustain life.

Having read the art criticisms of Chris Kraus, I became immersed in the recent article written by Leslie Jamison on the author, published in the New Yorker. The article includes a review on one of Kraus’ books, I Love Dick, where the art critic, David Rimanelli, describes the book as “not so much written as secreted.” Secretion, Jamison states, “evokes the book’s bodily admissions… as well as the liquid language often applied to female writing about the self: gushing, vomiting, purging, bleeding.” As I read this sentence, I realized female visual artists also create works in the same liquid language. This repeating fluid imagery made clear to me why I felt such an urge to create “visceral” work in college and why I was drawn to certain female artists.

There’s an unapologetic quality to the works of Marlene Dumas, Tracey Emin, Louise Bourgeois, and Jeanne Dunning. They readily embrace the bodily and are unafraid of the fluids that society is uncomfortable confronting.

In Marlene Dumas’ Head Rest (2001), the female figure embodied in watered-down pigment is soft and suggestive. The same words can be used to describe depictions of Rococo women. Unlike them, however, Dumas’ female is not rendered realistically, though she feels much more real than the women in Boucher and Fragonard’s paintings. [3] While their women’s rosy cheeks and plush lips are carefully manicured onto the canvas, Dumas’ figure simply exists, she is secreted by brush, birthed from water and pigment. She feels loose and viscous, but her stance is rooted and unashamed, her being a collision of gray and pink ink.

Similarly, Tracey Emin takes the female form and simplifies it to the most honest and essential strokes. Hers is not perfected – a quick movement of the brush to outline the woman. In Untitled (Purple Virgin Sketch) (2004), Emin draws a mysterious female figure, who is both flimsy yet bold, fluid yet straightforward. The darkest point in the picture lies in between her legs, and only from there does the viewer make out the most defined stroke on the page – her leg and foot. It is from this dark purple epicenter that one sees the woman. From the soft individual hairs to the larger scribble of unidentifiable pigment, perhaps either shadow or bodily fluid, the densest parts of the minimal picture reveal and highlight the subject’s gender. Here the figure is presented unabashed by her what society deems her darkness, by her fluidity and her fluids.

Like Dumas and Emin, Louise Bourgeois creates watercolors in a liquid language. Her paintings freely bleed between lines. They are not confined nor restricted by feminine idealizations, but rather they wholly embody the feminine in form and technique. The Good Mother (2007) features matronly breasts that envelop the page. Rendered in a deep red, they drip and bleed into the damp paper. Her nipples barely graze the child below. The child shares the same blood red pigment; it is an extension of the mother. Arms and legs outstretched, the child’s wavy limbs bleed into the wetness of the paper and the wetness of the mother that embraces it. The picture is neither polished nor pretty, but its depiction of mother and child speaks to a truth that is tucked behind doors. This is the “good mother,” an image frequently occupied by the clean and pure, Virgin Mary, [4] but unlike the common icons of mother and child that saturate our society, Bourgeois’ mother is essentialized to breasts and blood. The liquid element of female bodies, of bleeding and lactating mothers, is not hidden but celebrated in The Good Mother.
Using the same liquid language, Jeanne Dunning photographs subjects that both draw and disgust. In The Blob 3 (1999), the female subject lies on white sheets embracing the oozing viscous blob that extends from her body. She lies with her eyes closed, seemingly tranquil, even as the viewers’ initial reaction may be one of recoil. As viewers, perhaps we’ve been conditioned to react with repulsion at bodily fluids, especially those that are distinctly feminine. Dunning’s photograph, however, has the viewer questioning the flesh-colored substance that extends from the subject’s body. We become entranced by both its familiarity and its foreignness – familiar because we understand it as a fluid that we may secret and keep secret and foreign because we have never seen it publicized outside our private realms. Are we uncomfortable? And if so, why is the female being photographed so at ease compared to us, the viewer who recoils in disgust? These questions raised by the secreted fluid direct our attention to our source of shame. The image becomes unsettling when the woman whose fluids we see is not embarrassed like we expect. Rather, Dunning’s subject is calm – calm because she accepts her liquid extension, calm because she is comfortable in her skin.
The natural secretions of female bodies are often kept secret because they are identified with dishonor and disgust. But by embracing and re-appropriating these symbols of shame and repugnance, the artists, Marlene Dumas, Tracey Emin, Louise Bourgeois, and photographer, Jeanne Dunning, celebrate the female body in all its forms. Inspired by the artists who came before me, I sought to create work that felt honest and bodily. I yearned for the visceral because it represented to me my femininity that society saw as ugliness. Finally I understand, I was fighting the reaction of shame and sorrow and embracing the initial awe and fascination that I encountered when my blood first hit the water.
[1] By our patriarchal culture, I am referring to both Western culture at large and Eastern Confucian culture.
[2] These thoughts were inspired by Syreeta McFadden’s reflections upon visiting the Greek and Roman Galleries in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, published in the Guardian.
[3] I’m thinking of Francois Boucher’s Diana Leaving the Bath (1742) and Jean-Honore Fragonard’s The Swing (1767).
[4] I’m picturing Italian Renaissance painter, Raphael’s Madonna and Child (1503).

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