The arzuhalciler, petition writers or public scribes who set up shop in the streets, go back to the early years of the Ottoman Empire, composing and writing legal documents for citizens to submit to courts and government offices. There are still a very few of them left (despite the efforts of Turkey’s legal profession to get rid of them), and reporter Joshua Allen meets two of them.
“I also think that he was a playwright who was very confident in his interpretation of the play. I once heard him say, ‘No actor or director has ever shown me anything in one of my plays that I didn’t intend to be there.’ I think what he meant by that was not that he had all the answers, but that if you found it, on some unconscious level he meant it to be there. I found that statement – there was something very sad about that statement to me. Because one of things I like most about rehearsal is when somebody brings something to it that I’ve never thought of.”
It was, in her words, “a fucking compulsion,” says Tommy, a mixed-race native of Cape Town who came to Massachusetts with her family at age 15. “I believed the lie that the reason that there weren’t more of us [directors of color] working was because they didn’t believe we were qualified. So I was like, ‘Here I am! Here are the reviews, here’s the sales, here’s the work.'”
“Jewish Italian musicologist and pianist Francesco Lotoro has devoted his life to unearthing thousands of songs and scores written during the Holocaust. … Lotoro has catalogued symphonies, operas, scores and songs written on everything from coal sacks to toilet paper and by anyone who composed it in the captivity of a concentration camp: Jews, gypsies, prisoners-of-war. He has collected more than 8,000 pieces of music, with the goal of both preserving them for posterity and repairing a ‘gap’ in music history, a time when innumerable composers were murdered in the Holocaust.”
“Jean-François Sudre, a music teacher in 19th-century France, … [had a] vision of a universal language [that] transcended linguistic boundaries. From written and spoken word to melody, gesture, number, and even color, there are few ways that one can’t express Solresol, the language that Sudre spent more than three decades developing. But after his death in 1862, it was largely forgotten. Fittingly, the global connections made possible by the digital age have forged a 21st-century life for Solresol.”
Call them potters, ceramicists, or clay sculptors, but there are getting to be more of them, amateur and professional – and their work is fetching higher prices. Reporter Amy Fleming looks at how the trend has developed and the reasons for it.
“The Tate briefly flirted with the idea of splitting in two and setting up an entirely separate Museum of Modern Art, inspired by the success of MoMA in New York. This was in the early 1990s, before the gallery decided to remain a single institution with two London venues: Tate Britain and Tate Modern. The behind-the-scenes efforts of Nicholas Serota, the Tate’s director from 1988 and 2017, to create Tate Modern are revealed in the gallery’s trustee minutes for 1991-92.”
“For Saddam, the ruined city of Babylon had always held a special fascination. He ordered an ambitious reconstruction of the city’s walls, costing millions of dollars at the height of the Iran-Iraq War. … When archaeologists told him that ancient kings like Nebuchadnezzar had stamped their names on Babylon’s bricks, Saddam insisted that his own name be stamped on the modern bricks used in the reconstruction. … In 1981, Babylon was where celebrations took place to commemorate the first anniversary of the Iraqi invasion of Iran, with officials using the slogan, Nebuchadnasar al-ams Saddam Hussein al-yawm (yesterday Nebuchadnezzar, today Saddam Hussein).”
“By the mid-1960s, it was assumed in some circles that all of the possibilities for painting were exhausted – that the medium had, more or less, died. But some painters pushed back against that idea, arguing that painting could reset itself, and one was Marcia Hafif. … [She] was overlooked by many art institutions for much of her career, only to be recently rediscovered and hailed as one of the essential painters working during a time when her chosen medium was considered highly unfashionable.”
Nineteen-year-old Allan Monga, who arrived (legally) in Portland last year as a refugee from Zambia, won the Maine state finals of the NEA’s Poetry Out Loud contest last month. All state champions are supposed to get an all-expenses-paid trip to the national finals in DC next week – but the NEA says its rules permit only US citizens to compete. Monga and Portland Public Schools have filed suit; reporter Ray Routhier looks at the legal issues involved.
Pia Catton: “For non-profits, misconduct can pose a real threat to funding. Foundations don’t want molesters and predators operating with those they fund. Why should individual donors give to theatres turning a blind eye? If people act that way, a new level of board involvement in hiring and oversight is needed. One path to that is more direct input from artists about what’s happening in the company and during the hiring process. … There is no shortage of knowledge among artists and their peers about who’s handsy, manipulative or abusive.”
“The reaction to Matilda represents, in microcosm, many of the contradictions of contemporary Russian culture. It should have been a flagship Russian movie, … [and] originally had Oscar ambitions. Instead, the film’s reception was derailed by religious purists. Part of Vladimir Putin’s narrative is that he, too, is part of Russia’s imperial legacy. Some think that he believes he has been divinely ordained to play his role. In some ways, this has been an embarrassment for the government: they part-funded the film. But they couldn’t defend it, as the protesters were articulating one of the key tenets of Putin’s presidency: Russia needs to return to the greatness of the tsars and to its Orthodox church roots.”
The director of Moscow’s acclaimed Gogol Center theater, Serebrennikov has been under house arrest since last August, awaiting trial on embezzlement charges that his allies call absurd and trumped-up. Seemingly in response to the news that Serebrennikov’s latest film, Summer, will be screened in competition at the Cannes Festival next month, authorities in Moscow extended his house arrest into July.
“Both the creators of the ballet and its performers have been nominated for the Benois de la Danse, nicknamed the ballet’s Oscars, in four professional categories: Ilya Demutskiy for Best Composer, Yuri Possokhov for Best Choreographer, Kirill Serebrennikov for Best Stage Design, and dancer Vladislav Lantratov for Best Performance in the title role of the ballet Nureyev.” Serebrennikov, whose recent film Summer will be in competition at Cannes next month under house arrest in a case many observers consider trumped-up, just had his detention extended into July.
“Five years ago, Haifaa al-Mansour made history with her moving and critically-acclaimed drama Wadjda, making her not just the first female Saudi filmmaker, but the first director to have shot a feature film in the kingdom. At the time, the idea of Wadjda being released on home soil was ludicrous: its cinema and theaters had long since been closed following the country’s adoption of strict ultra-conservative Islam in the early ’80s. On April 18, 2018, however, a new cinematic dawn broke over the kingdom with the opening of Saudi Arabia’s first cinema since the movie theater ban was lifted in December … [Al-Mansour] wrote to The Hollywood Reporter with her thoughts on the cinema opening, the “seismic shift” now sweeping over her home nation and why nothing will be the same again.
Breasting the Wave
The Lar Lubovitch Dance Company Celebrates its 50th Anniversary Season … read more
AJBlog: Dancebeat Published 2018-04-19
Deaccession Dejection: La Salle’s Sales Slide at Christie’s
This is an I-told-you-so post. Some six of 16 old masters deaccessioned by the La Salle University Art Museum were left stranded on the auction block at Christie’s this afternoon. … read more
AJBlog: CultureGrrl Published 2018-04-19
A shock from the wider world
About Kendrick Lamar winning the Pulitzer Prize – of course it’s a great moment for the evolution of music as an art. Or rather for the recognition of how music long ago evolved. But then there are … read more
AJBlog: Sandow Published 2018-04-19
A fond look at the life and career of the mathematician-turned-satirical-songwriter-turned-mathematician of whom The New York Times wrote, “Mr. Lehrer’s muse [is] not fettered by such inhibiting factors as taste.” He’s released no new songs in more than 40 years; as he said in 2002, “Things I once thought were funny are scary now. I often feel like a resident of Pompeii who has been asked for some humorous comments on lava.”
“Stories have been circulating for nearly 400 years about the apparently strange compulsion that led otherwise sensible merchants, nobles and artisan weavers to spend all they had and more on tulips, only to land in bankruptcy and ruin” – and pulling the entire country’s economy down with them – “when the bottom fell out of the market in February 1637.” Historian Anne Goldgar argues that this narrative is a moralistic Victorian invention and that primary documents from the late 1630s tell a somewhat different story.
One of the reasons the 17-movement work is so rarely performed, despite Zappa’s celebrity, is the fiendishly tricky rhythm in some spots. (You know how triplets are three-notes-in-two? One spot has 23-notes-in-18.) And then there are the movement titles, which range from “Outrage at Valdez” (about the Exxon oil-tanker spill) and “Food Gathering in Post-Industrial America 1992” to “Dog Breath Variations” and “The Girl in the Magnesium Dress.”
Matt Zoller Seitz: “Shonda Rhimes’s Scandal, which ends its seven-season run Thursday night, is a rare revolutionary TV drama that never became full of itself. It dealt in controversy on the regular, tackling everything from racial politics and sexual power dynamics in a workplace to PTSD, executive privilege, and the efficacy of torture, even letting its heroine have a rare TV abortion that was entirely elective and presented as no huge deal. … Scandal was also a little miracle of genre fusion, somehow managing to be several seemingly incompatible shows at the same time.”
“‘Justin,’ yelled the ballet master Patrice Hemsworth. ‘Move your arms. Good, good, good. Boys, you look beautiful. Go girls. Use your shoulders.’ She watched silently for another few beats and then, as the recorded music stopped, yelled out: ‘The feet were good but, the arms have to work with it. And you’re rushing like crazy.'” A reporter visits Ballet Tech, a city academy for middle- and high-schoolers founded by choreographer Eliot Feld.
“A 2017 European Parliament report floated the idea of granting special legal status, or ‘electronic personalities,’ to smart robots, specifically those which (or should that be who?) can learn, adapt, and act for themselves. This legal personhood would be similar to that already assigned to corporations around the world, and would make robots, rather than people, liable for their self-determined actions, including for any harm they might cause.”
“Cell phones in theatres may no longer be taboo. Well, at least in this case, where 12 Broadway theatres now offer GalaPro, a new app that expands accessibility services by providing audio description, captioning, and dubbing to audiences at every performance.”
Billionaire Steve Cohen is donating Chris Ofili’s The Holy Virgin Mary to New York’s Museum of Modern Art. “The canvas stirred controversy at the Brooklyn Museum during the 1999 ‘Sensation’ exhibition of works by the Young British Artists from the collection of advertising mogul Charles Saatchi. Giuliani criticized Ofili’s painting as an affront to Catholics. The work remained on display for the show’s duration, amid a First Amendment legal battle, and Giuliani ultimately abandoned his efforts to evict the museum and cut its city financing.”
Ousted editor James Marcus says that his dispute with publisher Rick MacArthur was over Katie Roiphe’s “The Other Whisper Network: How Twitter feminism is bad for women,” the magazine’s March cover story. The essay attracted attention – including a brief boycott of Harper’s by writers – following reports that Roiphe planned to use it to out the creator of the crowdsourced list of “Shitty Media Men” who had engaged in predatory behavior toward female colleagues.
“The new initiative – [called the National Alliance for Audition Support and] created by the Sphinx Organization, the New World Symphony and the League of American Orchestras – will train musicians for auditions, pair them with mentors, showcase their work in concerts and give them stipends to travel to auditions. It is the latest effort to diversify American classical music, which has lagged behind other fields.”
“Long before dealer Clyde Beswick established CB1 Gallery in Los Angeles, he spent 13 months in prison for embezzlement. Now, more than 20 years later, a group of artists is accusing the gallerist of breaking the law again. In an open letter published on Tuesday, nine artists claim that the dealer, along with partner Jason Chang, stiffed them repeatedly and engaged in a pattern of ‘systematic and unfailing’ abuse.”
The 64-year-old conductor will step down from the music directorship of the Norfolk-based orchestra at the end of its centennial season, 2019-20. (She is evidently staying on with her other orchestra, the Buffalo Philharmonic, where her current contract expires in 2021.)
“The book, which was believed to have been written by [Alex] Malarkey with his father, Kevin, was pulled from print in 2015 after Malarkey, still a minor, recanted his story. Today, at 20-years-old, Malarkey alleges that his father was the sole author of the book, and he is suing Tyndale [House Publishers] for defamation, deceptive trade practices, and five other charges.”
“A play based on Adolf Hitler’s youth is sparking controversy for an unusual opening-night deal: Audience members willing to wear a swastika (provided by the theater) during the performance get in free. Those who prefer to pay full price are asked to wear the Star of David. … Producers of the play at the theater in Konstanz, a picturesque city in the south of Germany, say the action is part of an attempt to reinvigorate the national conversation about the dangers of fascism.”