“The arts are an expression of the human condition, and the county is missing out on the voices that make up a significant part of who we are in Los Angeles. In an effort to remedy this, the Los Angeles County Arts Commission has come out with a landmark report on the Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative (CEII), an 18-month public process that led to the development of 13 recommendations to the LA County Board of Supervisors to improve cultural equity and inclusion for the staffs, boards, artists, programming and audiences in our region.”
“Young people’s brains aren’t experiencing a backward evolution. Their ability to articulate points of rhythm, melody and the flow of words in musical genres they have made or developed themselves prove that, as human beings, our urge for musical expression and facility lies deep. Young people are not afraid of things that need to be worked through. Complexity, curiosity and adventure is the new counter-culture.”
Germany has a long history of political theater. But the influx of refugees since 2015 – what some have called the greatest humanitarian catastrophe of our era – has created new challenges for depicting crisis on stage, from striking the right balance between political activism and artistic creation, to figuring out the best way to reflect events as they unfold. The result has been a German theater scene that has doubled as a platform for political action – one that blurs the lines between social work, radical activism and art.
“We used to be okay with literary types asserting independent, fortified egos. Poets and novelists were almost expected to be aloof, even anti-social. But today, we’re too savvy to indulge such a romantic myth. The aloof rebel is nothing more than an affectation, we tell ourselves, a pair of Ray-Bans you slip on. When Bob Dylan was slow to acknowledge his Nobel Prize for Literature, many were scandalized. “It’s impolite and arrogant,” huffed a member of the Swedish Academy. What, then, has displaced the idiosyncratic recluse?”
“I finally clued in to how problematic this policy is a couple weeks ago when one of my authors emailed me to inform me that her book was no longer being listed on Amazon—at all—as available from her publisher, in this case SparkPress, one of my company’s two imprints. When you typed in the title of her book, the only listings that came up were from third-party sellers. Amazon’s policy states that “eligible sellers will be able to compete for the buy box,” but in this case, we had been completely wiped off of Amazon as an eligible seller in any capacity, without being notified.”
“We are in a market phase where galleries are mere cogs in an overarching global fair machine, which has become the predominant platform to showcase and direct-market art (with Instagram as the unwitting media partner). And, undeniably, the fact that fairs are now the art world’s supply chain has had a Darwinian impact on the art.”
A critical consensus forms and then is eventually replaced by a new one. What matters in the end is whether you are moved by something or not – it’s the only mark of quality that you can be sure of. To argue for the binning of established canons to make way for the lionisation of, say, Dumb and Dumber and 90210 would be absurd, yet it is just as daft to deny that “low” culture can have a powerful, and therefore equally valid, effect on us.
“Most [evolutionary biologists] see outrageous sexual traits” – say, beautiful plumage and elaborate mating rituals in birds – “as reliable advertisements. The logic goes that only the fittest manakins could coordinate their movements just so. Only the healthiest peacocks could afford to carry such a cumbersome tail. Their displays and dances hint at their good genes, allowing females to make adaptive decisions. But [ornithologist Richard] Prum says that view is poorly supported by years of research, and plainly makes no sense when you actually look at what birds do.”
“As an actor-producer [Mat Fraser] has been responsible for such deliberately provocative projects as Thalidomide!! A Musical and the first ‘cripsploitation’ action-movie Kung Fu Flid: Unarmed but Dangerous.” Richard III would seem an ideal role for him, but after he moved to New York and got a role on American Horror Story: Freak Show, he thought it was a role he’d never play: “To be honest I’d begun to feel a bit like yesterday’s cripple. I wasn’t sure if I’d be offered a straight acting role in England again.” (He was.)
Reporter Laya Maheshwari: “I travelled to North Korea in September last year [and] attended the state’s showpiece film festival in Pyongyang, and visited a pizzeria, a water park and a pub, as well as other destinations in and around the capital. In many societies, lights going out in an auditorium induces a sense of anonymity and spontaneity. Sure enough, the hours I spent in a North Korean cinema provided my most natural encounters with locals.”
Responding to the latest study to find that people can’t hear the difference between million-dollar Strads and top-line new violins, columnist Richard Ball suggests that – well, as a cynical DC operative might put it, perception is reality.
With the appointment of Katori Hall – author of The Mountaintop (about the last night of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life) and now working on a bio-musical of Tina Turner – as artistic director as well as a new stage and headquarters, the Hattiloo Theatre “is making a shift to be a main if not the main player in black theater in the country,” says company founder and CEO Ekundayo Bandele, who relinquished his artistic director title in order to hire Hall.
“To be sure, the inmates of these levitating dungeons believe they are being pampered. They have room to stretch, plenty to eat, and access to round-the-clock cable TV. But the psychological impact of life in such extreme conditions is hard to fathom. On sunny days, sunlight pounds blindingly through glass walls, ricocheting off white-oak floors and glossy white surfaces, and making the closets seem invitingly shaded. In gray weather, fog shrouds the living quarters, confronting residents with the blankness of a near-death experience.”
“Facts don’t speak for themselves. People like stories, whether they are factual doesn’t really matter, but scientists can make stories about science, including evidence and uncertainties… If there’s a weather disaster, public opinion swings. The 2003 heatwave convinced many Europeans that climate change is real. In the wake of those events people are receptive, and they want to know what happened.”
Whether the player was performing solo or with an orchestra, “Listeners found that new violins projected significantly better than those by Stradivari. Moreover, listeners preferred new violins over old by a significant margin.” In addition, Paris audiences were asked “to guess whether each of seven violins was old or new. In all, just 122 of 273 (or 44.7 percent) of the guesses were correct.”
He studied and then taught with Morton Feldman; he sang with both Meredith Monk and the New York Philharmonic; at the premiere of one of his pieces, he put on a dress and served the audience soup. (The description in the headline, by the way, is by his little brother.) David Patrick Stearns has a look at this singular figure, the subject of a festival now underway in Philadelphia.
Pyotr Pavlensky – the man who sewed his lips shut in solidarity with Pussy Riot, nailed his scrotum to Red Square, and set fire to the headquarters of the successor to the KGB – fled Russia earlier this year following sexual assault charges that may or may not have been trumped up.
The beloved Russian baritone, undergoing long-term treatment for brain cancer, has cancelled all future staged opera performances and recently had to call off a recital tour. So when Peter Gelb had the idea to invite him to sing at the gala, he kept the plan secret, in case Hvorostovsky was too ill to make it. But make it he did, and sang up a storm. (video)
The last major published study asked ten well-known soloists to play a selection of Strads and new violins, and the players solidly preferred the new ones. The latest test happened in Paris, just after the previous one, and was repeated in New York; it focused on the impressions of listeners in the concert hall. And once again …
The fact that the new president-elect chose to give his victory speech in front of the Louvre has been taken as a hopeful sign of his attitude toward culture (and its funding), as has the fact that he studied piano for ten years in his youth. There may be a bit of wishful thinking going on, however.
Monday Recommendation: Fay Claassen
Fay Claassen, Luck Child (Challenge)
With exceptions, the Dutch singer departs from her incomparable interpretations of standard songs to explore contemporary pieces. They include the title tune written by guitarist Leni Stern, … read more
AJBlog: RiffTides Published 2017-05-08
Public media is service. This is complicated, because the obvious next question is: Who is served? And that raises the really hard questions: What is the role of public media today? Is public media today serving the needs of communities outside of its audiences? What do people need and want from a public media in the United States?
Try mysteries, especially police procedurals. “The fiction author has to do what a journalist cannot. The novel isn’t just a work of fiction; it is ‘alternative facts.’ Readers expect novelists to tell them the stories that aren’t printed in newspapers; the ‘real’ saga they’ve heard about on WhatsApp.”
It’s worrisome for large organizations like the Met Museum and all of the residents of Lincoln Center – but the boroughs are excited: “Mayor Bill de Blasio and his lieutenants are deep into a re-examination of the city’s $178 million arts budget and other cultural resources to try to give a higher profile — and perhaps more taxpayer money — to smaller institutions in disadvantaged neighborhoods.”