“The very day [in 2013] that Sophie Makariou took over as the director of Paris’s Musée Guimet, she met a young Indian doctor on a train. ‘I would love to see some Indian art while I am here,’ he said. ‘Go to the Guimet,’ responded Makariou, to which he replied: What is that?’ The fact that he had not even heard of the venerable institution, founded in 1889 by Emile Guimet and holding one of the world’s top collections of Asian art, showed Makariou the extent of the task ahead of her.”
“Depending on the institution, curators will go back-and-forth with artists, colleagues, advisers and, more frequently now, marketing and public relations staff. The case of [the abandoned title] Going Native also signals the stakes involved – the curatorial pitfalls and political landmines that may linger in words. But museums stress that the process is not algorithmic but the occasionally serendipitous pursuit of a magic phrase.” (And is it even possible to title an exhibition without using a colon?)
The Louvre, as usual, had the highest attendance, although the National Museum of China is a very close second, with the Met a distant third. The two most popular shows – which comes first depends on which way you count – were of Impressionist and Modern paintings in Paris and of late 12th-century Buddhist sculptures in Tokyo.
Bill Marx (in a pan of Jesse Green’s New York Times apologia for negative reviews): “Because they reflect an eternal truth: all the blurbs in the universe will not eradicate the fact that much in the arts is mediocre. Pans also provide the means for the reader to evaluate the critic: we learn as much about someone from why they dislike something then why they like something. And negative reviews prove that the critic takes the arts seriously enough to risk defining success and failure, to draw an aesthetic red line, to proclaim to the Parrotheads that the emperor has no clothes.”
American artist Michael Rakowitz, whose family were Iraqi Jewish refugees, made a replica of the lamassu (a winged bull with a human head) which stood at the ruins of the ancient city of Nineveh until ISIS destroyed it in 2015. (The material: thousands of empty cans of date syrup, once a major Iraqi export.)
The city of Hamburg extended has extended the choreographer’s contract for four more years, to 2023. He is already the world’s longest-serving ballet company head, and at the end of this contract extension he’ll have been with Hamburg Ballet for a half-century. (in German; Google Translate version here)
“Facing an uncertain future with the departure of its longtime artistic director” – W. Earle Smith, who’s been at the helm since 1999, leading the company’s transition from community-based to professional and adding a ballet school – “Madison Ballet plans to cut its company of dancers by more than half and drastically trim its season for 2018-19. But its leaders insist the company – part of the city’s artistic landscape for decades – will keep dancing.”
A new tourist attraction in Bandung, Indonesia, called Rabbit Town features installations that bear extraordinary resemblances to Chris Burden’s Urban Light (at the entrance to LACMA), Yayoi Kusama’s Obliteration Room (where visitors put polka dots on the walls), and the Museum of Ice Cream.
Creative industries employment is predicted to increase by 5.3% over the next six years, double that of the average rate of employment, which will rise by 2.5%. Creative jobs will also grow faster than employment in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) by 2024, which has a projected increase of 5.1%.
In light of recent high-profile controversies, questions have been raised in the industry about what boards and their trustees actually do – and whether the current model is suited to the challenges presented by the modern theatre industry. What is clear is that in Britain’s subsidised theatres and theatre companies they are absolutely pivotal in defining the shape of the sector.
Who appoints artistic directors, and how? How does regime change work, behind the scenes? How do you turn a struggling institution around, or (even more daunting) live up to your predecessor’s apparently faultless reputation? And what happens when – one thinks of Emma Rice’s brief, ill-starred tenure at the Globe – pretty much everything seems to go wrong?
Films with women or minorities in lead roles have led the box office 11 out of 12 weekends this year, according to data from Box Office Mojo, a site that tracks box office revenue. In the same 12-week period in 2017, only five weekends were dominated by films with women or minorities in the lead. “Hidden Figures” led for two weeks, “Get Out” for one and “Beauty and the Beast” for two.
Matt Trueman: “A few years ago, I learned how birds fly in flocks. It’s a complex science. When they murmur, seemingly so completely in sync, starlings are in fact steering themselves independently: each to its own. There’s no leader, no one follows, but the flock falls into line because each bird reacts to those around it. … If one flinches, those next to it follow suit; climb and the whole flock climbs with you. Every individual impulse ripples through the group and it grows as it goes. Audiences are the same.”
“For decades, visitors to the world-famous tomb of King Tutankhamen in Egypt have noticed ugly brown spots covering the wall paintings lining the burial chamber. And for years the Egyptian authorities worried that these blotches might be microorganisms fueled by humidity and the sweaty bodies of tourists. Now, scientists from the Getty Conservation Institute in Los Angeles have completed an analysis – determining that the spots are not alive and not a threat to any of the tomb’s illustrious attractions.”
“Whether a person portrayed in one of these expressive works is a world-renowned film star – ‘a living legend’ – or a person no one knows, she or he does not own history,” said the unanimous ruling from a three-judge panel. “Nor does she or he have the legal right to control, dictate, approve, disapprove, or veto the creator’ portrayal of actual people.”
“Entertainment union BECTU has warned of a ‘simmering unrest’ within English National Opera that can only be addressed by ‘real improvements to working conditions’. The warning comes as BECTU members voted by a narrow margin – 51% in favour to 49% against – to accept a pay offer for 2018 to 2019.”
“The decision to relieve [Kenneth] Greve of his managerial role followed accusations by some dancers that Greve had engaged in inappropriate conduct, including comments about their appearance or on matters relating to their private lives. … Greve will continue as a director until the end of his contract on 31 July.”
Stephen Petronio: Honoring His Heritage, Moving On
The Stephen Petronio Company performs new and historic works. … read more
AJBlog: Dancebeat Published 2018-03-25
Other people’s stories: art by parents
We all have a strong inclination to view ourselves as the protagonists of our own stories. People in committed relationships have an increased incentive to view themselves as serving supporting roles in someone else’s narrative. Parents have an even stronger incentive to see themselves in supporting roles, and even as backdrop. What does this mean for artists? … read more
AJBlog: Infinite Curves Published 2018-03-26
Shostakovich and the Fool: Boris Godunov and King Lear
The most galvanizing Shakespeare experience I know is the 1971 Soviet film version of King Lear directed by Grigory Kozintsev with music by Dmitri Shostakovich. Its dimensions are such that … read more
AJBlog: Unanswered Question Published 2018-03-25
Monday Recommendation: DIVA At 25
The DIVA Jazz Orchestra 25th Anniversary Project (ArtistShare)
It has been a quarter of a century since Buddy Rich’s manager and relief drummer Stanley Kay found himself conducting a band whose drummer was young Sherrie Maricle. Intrigued by her playing, Kay set out to find whether there were other women jazz musicians of comparable talent. There were. DIVA was soon born and … read more
AJBlog: RiffTides Published 2018-03-26
Since he took power from the Muslim Brotherhood in a coup in 2013, the number of journalists and activists in jail has spiked as dissent against his regime has been roundly crushed; many of Sisi’s would-be presidential challengers are now in detention or awaiting trial. But the president hasn’t stopped at stamping out voices critical of him—he’s gone after apolitical liberal expression, too. Egypt has witnessed a crackdown on the arts, including dance, music, comedy, and theater.
Heck, it’s even hard to critique science and scientific studies without looking like someone possessed by a perfection genie. “Sometimes, though, this is the only way to effect change. It will look a bit obsessive, because it takes a lot of effort to pursue this sort of case. … Once you start on a project, you have to keep going on it. This is characteristic of science in general: You work on a project that you feel has some importance and some interest to you, and then you pursue it in depth.”
The book, published in 2016 by an Indian publishing house, contained biographies of 11 “amazing leaders.” “According to Pegasus’s description of the book, which also featured Napoleon Bonaparte, India’s prime minister Narendra Modi and Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi, ‘some are famous, others little known, but all of them energise their followers and try to make the world better.’ Hitler was also included on the book’s cover.”