Dispelling the notion of the autonomous realm of art means acknowledging that cultural institutions function within the system of inequality in the U.S. and that there has undoubtedly been inherent bias in what museums acquire and how they display it. Aruna D’Souza thinks mid-size institutions, like the Worcester Art Museum, are in a position to lead this kind of re-framing, as opposed to larger, legacy institutions with more corporate structures.
For instance, the text by a portrait of Russell Sturgis has changed: “A conventional sign next to the piece informs us that Gilbert Stuart, mostly known for painting George Washington’s portrait, painted Sturgis in 1822. A new sign above that, informs us that Sturgis’ relatives established a business in present-day Haiti that trafficked in flour, horses and enslaved persons.”
Brian Allen: “Two defenestration of top people in a few weeks is a rarity in most museums, yet this is the latest sign of dysfunction at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) in Los Angeles. … As a museum, it prides itself as being founded by artists; lots of great museums were. The problem is that artist-driven boards almost always fail. And they take their museums with them, drowned in a sea of ego, hissy fits, door-slamming, free-spiriting, and self-promotion, seasoned with a legendary aversion to opening wallets.”
“Three months ago, I was a normal person. Now all I think about 24-7 is the dinkus. Did you know that dinkuses is an anagram of unkissed? I did. For the uninitiated, the dinkus is a line of three asterisks (* * *) used as a section break in a text.” Daisy Alioto offers some reasons to love it.
The Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, a collaboration between the NEA and the Census Bureau, found that 11.7 percent of the U.S. adult population in 2017 — or about 28 million people — had read poetry in the last year. Which admittedly may not seem like much on the surface — until it’s compared with the 6.7 percent found during the last survey period, in 2012.
Total National Lottery sales for the 2017/18 financial year increased by £26.4m to £6.95bn. Returns to National Lottery Good Causes were up £27m to £1.66bn, translating into a £331m return to the arts – a 1.7% increase on the year before. But the upswing is not strong enough to return to the highs of 2015/16, when £380m in lottery funding was directed to the arts.
“The question for arts journalism is, what is the role of the critic in contemporary society?” Charles Whitaker said. “Critics are no longer the influential arbiters of taste that they once were. People are turning to Facebook and their friends to determine where to spend their arts dollars. The role of the critic has been democratized by the fact that everyone has an opportunity to be an influencer, via their own media channels.”
“I sometimes wonder why New York still has a new music scene at all, now that composers can go hunting for influences by meandering through YouTube and form a social circle on Twitter. And yet they continue to rely on the happenstance and physical proximity that only a major city can provide. Many do what they must to live here, others pay the electric bill in other states or countries but keep converging here. In music, New York is finally living up to its reputation for globalism, transience, and cosmopolitanism.”
While he takes responsibility for certain actions that preceded his firing as the chair of the University of British Columbia’s creative writing department, the acclaimed author also believes that what happened to him is unconscionable – not just the abysmal, ham-fisted way in which he believes the university handled the allegations levelled against him, but also the fact that charges he’s insisted all along were groundless have left his reputation in ruins.
Playwrights Mikhail Ugarov and Elena Gremina were unhappy with the state of Russian theatre in the early 2000s. Then they went to London. There, “they learned about documentary theater — the use of interviews, oral history and journalistic sources to create works for the stage. Ms. Gremina and Mr. Ugarov embraced the technique, brought it to Moscow and in 2002 established Teatr.doc, a theater company that presented shockingly raw accounts of life in post-Soviet Russia.”
James Whiteside, who’s also a pop singer, creates the podcast The Stage Rightside. It’s “one of the most unabashed glimpses behind the curtain of a major American ballet company. During the American Ballet Theatre’s spring performances at the Metropolitan Opera House, Whiteside took listeners backstage as he dove into the ballet season, training an equal spotlight on dancers and those who do not necessarily perform, but are in the dance company.”
Duncan, who had lived near Cannes since the 1960s, “became close to Picasso, gaining rare access and capturing the Spanish artist in relaxed and playful poses at his home and studio, with one of the most emblematic showing him eating a fish clean off the bone in his kitchen.”
What a ridiculous idea. “These hoary hand-wringings are a cumulative canard bigger than the worldwide branding of Donald Duck (you knew I’d get to Disney eventually). They betray a lack of perspective for Broadway history and, most disconcerting to me, a bias against children and their predilections.”
“A conductor’s first reaction to being offered an outdoor summer concert with an orchestra is often, well, no. The repertory is usually boring; the weather tends to be sweltering; no one in the audience pays attention, anyway. There are more prestigious gigs. Unless!”
What? Er, yes. It’s all about technology. “Auctions have become a public forum for private transactions.”
“I don’t know why they allow it,” he says. “The things that are on social media are so disgusting that there has to be action taken by the people that own these companies.”
Chicago artist Nick Cave has made it official now, at the Park Avenue Armory in New York: He wants to use massive art/dance projects to inspire and encourage those feeling pretty down these days. “‘Empowerment’ is the word that performers have been using to describe their take on the project, and what they want to convey to the audience, [a dancer said]. In an onslaught of negativity, ‘you have two choices,’ he said. You can be discouraged and tormented, ‘or have the audacity to say, ‘I’m not going to let this break me.’'”
Stella Abrera has played a townswoman, a harlot, Rosaline, and Lady Capulet in American Ballet Theatre’s productions of Romeo and Juliet. Now, she is finally getting to play the titular role. Her Romeo says, “She has an ability to show that arc that I have rarely seen.”
Well, it’s Olafur Eliasson, of course – and, also of course, he describes the new Fjordenhus like this: “We were able to turn years of experiments in physical movement, light, nature, perception and the experience of space into a building that is a Gesamtkunstwerk [a total work of art] as well as a fully functioning architectural structure.”
“Mr. Lasseter said in November that he would take a ‘six-month sabbatical’ after unspecified ‘missteps’ that made some staff members feel ‘disrespected or uncomfortable.’ He made the announcement in a lengthy email to employees apologizing ‘to anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of an unwanted hug or any other gesture they felt crossed the line in any way, shape or form.'”
One gallery wants all of its fee, not 10 percent of it, refunded. Frieze: “We made a commitment during the fair to give something back to every exhibitor, and since then we have consulted a number of galleries, including those on our committee. … We are now following through on this promise.”
Opera (not among its fans, of course) has a reputation for being overwrought and definitely misogynistic. These contemporary composers are working to change that reputation and the world of opera in general. Composer Emily Howard: “I like history and tradition. I just don’t think that opera should be a historic genre. I like to look forward.”
Berlin persistently wrote about slavery’s varied effects across the years, but he never lost sight of the cruelty. “In books like Slaves Without Masters: The Free Negro in the Antebellum South (1974) and Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America (1998), Dr. Berlin, a longtime professor at the University of Maryland, upended simplistic notions of how slavery was practiced and what happened after it ended.”
Production resources abound on the small island, which is connected by air to many major European cities. Malta is particularly known for its production water tank – one of the world’s largest – which many films use for shooting water and underwater scenes. Plus, a long history of filmmaking has endowed Malta with a deep and experienced crew base.
The orchestra members have gathered at Stanford’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics to rehearse a new kind of musical composition. Together, sitting on meditation pillows in front of MacBooks, they create songs that stretch the definition of music. The orchestra plays laptops like accordions, turns video games into musical scores, and harnesses face-tracking software to turn webcams into instruments. But at this rehearsal, the Stanford Laptop Orchestra (SLOrk) looks less like the symphony of the future and more like an overworked IT department.
Gates appears on the inside cover, calling it “one of the most important books I’ve ever read – an indispensable guide to thinking clearly about the world”. And now he has invited the 4 million students due to graduate in 2018 to download a free digital copy of the book from his website.
Last month in London, DACS, Britain’s leading artists’ rights management organization, unveiled “The Art Market 2.0” to lawmakers in the House of Commons. A report by academics at the Alan Turing Institute in London and Oxford University, it envisioned how blockchain technology might “change the balance of economic power in the art market” and “integrate art into the financial sector.” A financialized Art Market 2.0 would lead to an “explosion of liquidity and value,” according to the report.
For the first time in modern ballet history, a male dancer is performing as part of the female ensemble at an international ballet company, signaling an important moment in an art form that often celebrates a particular ideal of femininity. Or, as the great choreographer George Balanchine said, “ballet is woman.” But in a world with a heightened awareness of gender fluidity, and with transgender people increasingly accepted in a variety of professions, including acting and modeling, ballet is taking its own brave leap.
“For the first time in modern ballet history, a male dancer is performing as part of the female ensemble at an international ballet company, signaling an important moment in an art form that often celebrates a particular ideal of femininity. … ‘I want to be seen as a ballerina,’ said Mr. Johnsey, who identifies as gender fluid but uses male pronouns. ‘My hair is up, I wear makeup, female attire. I am able to do female roles and look the part, so that is artistically what I do.'” In January, he left Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo after 14 years, claiming that the famous drag company had been harassing him for being too feminine.
“The travel host Anthony Bourdain, whose memoir Kitchen Confidential about the dark corners of New York’s restaurants started a career in television, died on Friday at 61. For the past several years, Mr. Bourdain hosted the show Parts Unknown on CNN and was working on an episode in Strasbourg, France, when he died.”