“There’s no happy ending in sight for any of these situations. One can only hope that everyone has learned from the bitterness of other recent disputes to try to minimize the collateral damage and work hard for a swift resolution. Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are two of the country’s leading orchestras, and while they are out, there is a lot of great music not being made.”
Archives for September 2016
“Friday night, a crowd of about 1,000 sat in Verizon Hall waiting for the orchestra to appear for the scheduled start of the Opening Night Gala. But no Philadelphia Orchestra appeared on stage. Unbeknownst to most in the audience, the 96 musicians and two librarians belonging to American Federation of Musicians Local 77 had decided to go out on strike about an hour before curtain time.”
“Museum directors are grappling with how technology has changed the ways people engage with exhibits. But instead of fighting it, some institutions are using technology to convince the public that, far from becoming obsolete, museums are more vital than ever before. Here’s what those efforts look like.”
Deborah de Robertis: “Traditionally the body of the model is objectified to serve the message of the artist. My work suggests the opposite – the viewer is subjugated by the gaze of the model. … When I inhabit the role of the models – whether it’s Olympia or Barbie – it’s not about reproducing them but reconceiving them. When I invite myself into an exhibition, this exhibition becomes mine.”
At several points during the symphony, the code spells out her name over and over again; the variations are intended to make up “a kind of physical portrait of her,” Rouse says. “It’s a way of setting myself kind of an artificial challenge and then seeing if I can fulfill it successfully, if I can make music out of it,” he says.
“On the one hand, we have been encouraged to believe that we are no longer the sum of our products (as we were when we were still an industrial economy) but the sum of our experiences. On the other, we lack the ritual structures that once served to organize, integrate and preserve the stream of these experiences, so they inevitably feel both scattershot and evanescent. We worry that photographs or journal entries keep us at a remove from life, but we also worry that without an inventory of these documents … we’ll disintegrate. Furthermore, that inventory has to fulfill two slightly different functions: It must define us as at once part of a tribe (‘people who go to Paris’) and independent of it (‘people who go to Paris and don’t photograph the Eiffel Tower’).”
“If consciousness is, as it should be, an organized state of matter, we seem to be lacking an essential component to describe it. For comparison, a building has bricks and pumps and electrical currents controlled by on-off switches flowing through countless wires. It is a mechanical contraption, working firmly within a set of physical laws. We understand buildings, and can build and fix them because we know the underlying physical principles under which they operate. Likewise, it is plausible that we can build brain-like systems having different kinds of experiential awareness like seeing or hearing, and that respond to such stimuli with certain actions. Many robots already do this.”
“As [dramaturg Ruth Little] and Khan explored their own ideas about Giselle, they realised that the ballet’s apparently formulaic simplicity was actually its strength … Most fruitful to them was exploring the underlying issue of power – the gulf of money and class that separates the aristocrats from the peasants in the ballet, and that dooms Albrecht and Giselle’s love to tragedy.”
“Hire anybody that shows skill and talent and give people the chance to surprise us. They would never have thought I would end up one day playing Romeo in the Royal Ballet, so the same thing has to be done for others – give them the chance to see what Romeo lies inside of them.”
African-American artist Damon Davis on the work of Kelley Walker: “I sat in the audience listening to this man meander on and on to the crowd, interjecting the occasional art term like ‘form’ or ‘color,’ but never once giving the slightest explanation for why he used over-sexualized images of Black women and traumatic images of Black men being brutalized by police and dogs. … Now, what if I took pictures from the Holocaust and smeared cream cheese on them and threw them in a frame, and then told you it was a critique of capitalism and an exercise in color and the form of the contemporary modernist landscape?”
“Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra musicians are on strike after unanimously rejecting calls for a 15-percent pay cuts, pension changes and staffing cuts they say are proposed by management. Musicians are actively protesting in front of Heinz Hall in downtown Pittsburgh. As a result of this strike, all performances scheduled to occur this weekend, including the John Williams event have been cancelled.”
Players: If Pittsburgh Symphony Management’s proposed cuts were realized, “many of the PSO’s finest Musicians will leave. The Orchestra will be unable to attract replacements of the same caliber. The reputation and stature of the Pittsburgh Symphony would forever be diminished.”
“Recent excavations at Petra have revealed a startlingly advanced irrigation system and water storage system that enabled the desert city’s people to survive – and to maintain a magnificent garden featuring fountains, ponds and a huge swimming pool. The engineering feats and other luxuries attest to the ancient Nabatean capital’s former splendor and wealth some 2,000 years ago.”
“After a 10-month run on Broadway in 1927, the play was deemed by a grand jury to be such ‘obscene, indecent, immoral, and impure drama’ that it might corrupt ‘the morals of youth’. West was sentenced to 10 days in jail for obscenity, and travelled there in style – garlanded in roses, wearing silk underwear and riding in a limousine.” Who’s reviving it? A troupe called the Dirty Blondes.
“On 22 September, three dealers who operate the Metropolitan Fine Arts and Antiques store in New York were arrested for selling ivory works of art without a license – a felony in a state under a law passed in 2014 to limit the ivory trade. Officials with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation raided the shop and found 126 objects totaling $4.5m – including two pairs of elephant tusks, one of which was seven feet long.”
“New York is set to become the first city in the country with a major municipal program geared toward helping female filmmakers and theater-makers. The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment is to announce on Thursday a new five-part initiative to promote equality behind and in front of the camera, in film and television, as well as onstage.”
“The relatively confined space in that crowded part of the city [just south of Times Square] meant that the old Met had a glorious auditorium with excellent acoustics and sightlines that often made it easier to see other audience members than the stage. It had very little space surrounding the stage, meaning that scenery sometimes had to be put out on the street. … Things were so tight that the chorus often rehearsed in Sherry’s, the restaurant in the old opera house.”
“The initiative of the nonprofit New Orleans Airlift started back in 2011, and its assemblage of musical architecture, in which every structure is a playable instrument, has evolved into a large-scale experiment in reuse and collaboration. A cacophonous water tower, sonic telephone box, and shack of chimes are a few of the structures [musicians can play].”
“Art Is Good?” Not Much Of An Argument For Art Is It?
I suggested in a post this week that, based on the lack of any arts business before the 114th US Congress, that it appears that lobbying for the arts seems to be failing. … read more
AJBlog: diacritical | Douglas McLennan Published 2016-09-29
Tech Crash at Metropolitan Museum: “Digital Underground” Buried?
While I’ve been distracted from blogging by mainstream-media assignments, I’ve been itching to weigh in on several important museum developments. Let’s start with Metropolitan Museum President Daniel Weiss‘ tough-love strategies … read more
AJBlog: CultureGrrl Published 2016-09-29
Not so good planning
Let’s agree, first, on one thing. A gala that opens a symphony orchestra’s season should feel like a gala. Should be fun and lively, with some glamour and glitz. But to create a gala like that, you have to do some planning. … read more
AJBlog: Sandow Published 2016-09-29
Pam Tanowitz Dance kicks off “NY Quadrille,” a two-week season masterminded by Lar Lubovitch. … read more
AJBlog: Dancebeat Published 2016-09-29
Hands and Brains
Unless orchestras change, ‘diversifying the stage’ means that orchestras will have more Black and Latino bodies, but not necessarily Black and Latino minds. … read more
AJBlog: SongWorking Published 2016-09-29