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  • LIEBERMAN TO TESTIFY: US vice-presidential candidate Joe Lieberman will testify as early as Sept. 13 about a Federal Trade Commission report that reportedly claims "that film, record and video game producers are pushing their wares on children while pretending not to." The Gore campaign is unfazed: "I think he's brought to the ticket some real credibility on this issue. And it's an issue that's real important to people, especially to families. And where you find this level of concern is with working families - families where both parents are working, and the kids have a lot of time on their own where they're unsupervised." Salon 08/29/00

  • WILL THE REAL MOSCOW PHILHARMONIC PLEASE STAND UP: A miracle has been reported in Hong Kong: apparently the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra was in two places at the same time - Asia and Europe! Either that or a group of Russian musicians masquerading as the MPO sold tens of thousands of dollars in tickets to unknowing Hong Kong music-lovers...who may begin demanding their money back. South China Morning Post 09/01/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • BOLSHOI SHAKEUP: Fed up with perceived mismanagement and stalled rebuilding plans for the critically dilapidated theater, Russian president Vladimir Putin on Monday summarily fired the Bolshoi Ballet’s top management staff, including its controversial general director Vladimir Vasilyev. The Guardian (London) 08/29/00

    • WHY BOLSHOI LEADER HAD TO GO: While some were surprised by Russian president Vladimir Putin's dismissal of Bolshoi director Vladimir Vasilyev this week, others were not. "While critics could forgive Mr. Vasilyev his shortcomings as an administrator, they were angry about his failure to revive the Bolshoi artistically. His staging of 'Swan Lake' was deemed a flop, but what critics found even more dismaying was his inability to introduce the new ideas he had promised when appointed." New York Times 08/31/00

    • THE BOLSHOI'S HARD TIMES: Its theatre is crumbling, its artistic reputation has been battered, and its subsidies from the Russian government have fallen off. It's probably not much of a surprise that the Bolshoi's regime was sacked this week. The Times (London) 09/01/00

  • AUSTRALIAN BALLET PICKS ARTISTIC DIRECTOR: Six months after Australian Ballet artistic director Ross Stretton announced his departure, the company fills his position: 36 year-old David McAllister, a principal dancer in the company for 11 years. While lacking the managerial experience and international contacts of his predecessor, McAllister is said to be well-liked by the dancers and intends to focus his energies on re-connecting with contacts abroad. The Age 08/31/00

    • SOMETHING OF A SURPRISE: "Some expressed concern about his lack of management experience and that he had not danced for any length of time with any other company." The Australian's Melbourne dance critic said he was "absolutely gobsmacked by the appointment, having rated McAllister as an outside chance". The Australian 08/31/00

  • HONG KONG'S NEW REALITY: The Chinese government seized a shipment of books heading to the US after being bound in Hong Kong. The book is by a former White House official, and "the publisher and printer said the book, 'The Clinton Years,' was seized because among its 227 black-and-white photographs was a picture of President Clinton clasping hands and chatting at the White House with the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism." New York Times 08/27/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

    • KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT: The Chinese government has cracked down on Taiwanese book publishers at a mainland book exhibition; in addition to warning one publisher not to speak to the mass media about lack of Beijing's lack of freedom of speech, they have also stuck labels saying "Don't violate the one China policy" on Taiwanese books. China Times (Taiwan) 08/31/00

    • UNFAVORABLE REVIEWS NOT WELCOMED: Surprise, surprise - the Chinese government also banned one of Hong Kong's leading political commentators, whose books criticize communism and advocate Taiwanese independence. China Times (Taiwan) 08/31/00

  • UK REGIONAL MUSEUMS IN CRISIS: "Hundreds of museums could close without investment from the government and the local authorities that are largely responsible for regional collections. Funding from central government to the museum service has fallen by 15% in real terms since 1997, and hundreds of museums around the country are sacking staff, cutting opening hours and seeing treasures kept in inadequate storage crumble because of a lack of funding." The Guardian 08/29/00

  • MEXICAN POLITICAL TURN HAS ARTISTS WONDERING: "No matter how we voted, for many of us in the arts and letters the election of the charismatic Mr. Fox is as bracing as a cold shower. No one really expected the plain-spoken rancher from Guanajuato to win, and we're flummoxed by a world turned suddenly inside out: a political right that has promised to reject its traditional religious, censorious, and invasively straight-laced stances, and a left adrift without a compass. Artists and intellectuals dependent on government largesse are at a loss as to how to court the unknown." Christian Science Monitor 08/30/00

  • SPEAKING OUT IN SALZBURG: Since he resigned and then unresigned, Salzburg Festival director Gerard Mortier has been uncharacteristically quiet about the new ultra-right-wing elements in the Austrian government. Until last week. "When I go out of my office and I see members of the right-wing party in the office next-door, I feel it in my stomach, like a pain." Los Angeles Times 09/01/00

    • DECLARING YOUR SYMPATHIES: Under pressure, Austrian state governor Jorg Haider is having Nazi artwork removed from the state parliament buildings. But instead of painting over the fresco, he's having a new museum built for it so it can be restored to its former glory. Ananova 08/30/00

  • RAISING MONEY FOR POLITICS: Seventy American artists including Chuck Close, Robert Rauschenberg and Roy Lichtenstein have donated artwork to raise money for the Democratic National Committee. Some 1,500 works will be put up for sale on a web art auction. 08/30/00

PLUS:  New York billionaire announces plans for new $40 million performing arts center on original Woodstock Festival grounds ~ The British Museum debates how to solve the "wrong stone" problem in new portico ~ Interpol scours the world for plundered Turkish mosaics ~ Confidential minutes from meeting reveal how Britain's culture secretary secured record amount of funding for the arts ~ Broadway theatre ticket sales up 21 percent this summer over the same period last year ~ Heritage preservationists and music lovers fight over replacing Hollywood Bowl's outdoor orchestra shell ~ BBC chief proposes “revolutionary transformation of the BBC channels” that would include more arts programming and educational content; some say plan is doomed to failure ~ UK's Film Council cuts off funding to "social realist art films" ~ Big publishers show increased interest in African-American writers ~ Manhattan art dealer Crispo sentenced to seven years in prison for threatening to kidnap lawyer's daughter ~ One of Britain's top music administrators launches ad hominem attack on violinist Kennedy ~ Two ancient mirrors discovered in burial site in Japan ~ Dallas Symphony's instruments damaged in airplane trip to Europe. 



  • DIVING FOR THE PAST: Shipwrecks are a rich source of history and our artistic past. There are thousands of wrecks in international waters that have yet to be found. "Archaeologists warn that with no international legal barriers, highly-sophisticated and well-funded multinational corporations seeking specific shipwrecks for the booty they may contain, will turn the high seas into the Wild West." The Art Newspaper 08/00

  • MYSTERIOUS MASTER: "Nijinsky left a rich yet enigmatic legacy that still eludes full understanding.” Yet, more than a half-century after his death, the dance world is still endlessly fascinated with the dancer and choreographer’s work and bizarre life. New York Times 08/27/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • FILMING FRIDA KAHLO: "No Mexican cultural figure has ever been as sought after by Hollywood. For years, filmmakers here have tried to make a movie based on Kahlo's gripping and tragic life story, but they have found their projects derailed by bickering parties, mediocre scripts, lack of financing and controversy about casting decisions.The latest chapter in the making-of-the-Frida-Kahlo-movie saga is the fierce competition between three bio-pics rushing to be the first in production. They involve some of the biggest Latino names in filmmaking." Los Angeles Times 08/30/00

  • BASTARDIZING BEETHOVEN: Gustav Mahler was always after the bigger better thing. So when he rewrote Beethoven's symphonies, he really believed he was making them better. "In the years since Mahler's death in 1911, the 'painted-over' Beethoven editions have been largely ignored and so, for the most part, his acts of barbarism could only be read about and imagined. Starting Thursday, though, audiences at the Kennedy Center will have a rare opportunity to hear for themselves what all the fuss once was about." Baltimore Sun 09/03/00 

  • THE ART OF NOT KNOWING: An interview with Robert Rauschenberg who, at age 74, is still creating, improvising, and expounding freely on “the way a serendipitist works.” “For me, art shouldn't be a fixed idea that I have before I start making it. I want it to include all the fragility and doubt that I go through the day with. Sometimes I'll take a walk just to forget whatever good idea I had that day because I like to go into the studio not having any ideas. I want the insecurity of not knowing.” New York Times 08/27/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • FOLLOWING THE BREADCRUMBS OF THE PAST: We seem to be perpetually fascinated with the past; trying to figure out how Stonehenge was built, whether or not the Romans and Greeks read out loud or silently to themselves, how King Tut died. The only way historians and archeologists have back into the past is the order on which things were built and the clues left behind. What kind of trail are we leaving for our successors? The Atlantic 09/00

  • US AGAINST THEM: Norman Jewison says "The Hurricane" is the best film he ever made. "It seemed to have Best Picture written all over it," wrote the Washington Post. But the movie sank w/o much of a ripple. Jewison is angry at the way directors are treated by studios. Globe and Mail (Toronto) 08/31/00

  • ART BEHIND THE POLITICS: "News stories are almost never about the art itself; they're almost always about the people that make art happen, or try to take it down. That's why I had my doubts about the artistic interest of the stuff I was likely to see in Dust on the Road, the show of Indian art activism now on at Toronto's York Quay Gallery; despite its very modest scale and ambitions, it has sparked a widespread controversy over the last few weeks. Many of the pictures on display were no great shakes, but the issues that they raised are so important to how art works these days that the stuff is worth a good close look." Globe and Mail (Toronto) 08/30/00

PLUS: The beneficiaries of JFK's 1964 "Art in Embassies" Program ~ Susan Sontag: Alzheimer's as cultural metaphor ~ The many artistic attractions of Maine ~ The skyscraper's back and big egos love big buildings ~ Asian art at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art: sinophiliatic ~ Why do kitsch oil painters have to be so bad? ~ Pure genius or just noise: the music of  Steve Reich 


  • BASIC SERVICES: "Whether in the complexes built by labor unions, radical fellowships or the city's Housing Authority, New York - uniquely among American cities - has for more than 80 years insisted upon culture as a part of the social compact, something as essential to the working class as affordable rent and medical care. Such ventures have proved essential to New York's prominence as a cultural capital, while remaining oddly invisible - because few New Yorkers realize the vast extent of union developments or recognize that public housing here defies the stereotype of fetid, crime-ridden projects." New York Times 09/03/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • WHEN SHOCK BECOMES SHLOCK: Shock, disgust, and horror are common themes at the heart of numerous contemporary artists’ work. Relying on the grotesque to shake viewers from the complacency of modern life’s distractions and luxuries may be an honorable goal, but is it succeeding? “Disgust is a drug whose effects quickly abate with overdosing. If art aspires to disgust and nothing more, then disgust will rapidly become the pallid salon style of the day - and that is exactly what has happened. Disgusting is now simply what art is; it has lost its shock value." Sunday Times (London) 08/27/00



  • WHAT THE FALK? An Argentine actor/director goes to the Falklands with a crew posing as tourists and without permission and films a movie covertly in nine days. The movie "tells the story of an Argentine man visiting the islands with the aim of... umm ... impregnating as many British women as possible, thereby achieving the takeover that 72 days of fighting at a combined cost of 891 lives and $2 billion could not." 09/01/00

  • “PERFORMANCE” ART? Austria’s annual digital arts festival, Ars Electronica, this year includes what might be the world’s most bizarre arts festival activity - “sperm racing.” “The idea of Ars Electronica is always to deal with areas where new technologies are starting to have an impact on culture and society." Wired 08/29/00

  • ELVISH SPOKEN HERE: Tolkein fans can breathe a sigh of relief if their “elvish” isn’t up to snuff: the hotly anticipated “Lord of the Rings” trilogy will have subtitles when the elves speak in their own language - according to Ian McKellan (who plays the wizard Gandalf ). He divulged a few secrets on his website. The Age (Melbourne) (NZPA) 08/29/00