It makes no sense, says novelist Tibor Fischer, and it hurts British writers. “British writers aren’t eligible for the big American awards. The stipulation that American writers have to be published in the UK doesn’t help much as, by definition, the strongest and most successful American authors are the ones that cross over.”
Lidia Yuknavitch: “If he had not whispered into my ear the words that he did the first time I met him, ‘I know what happened to you. Death’s a motherfucker,’ bonding us in a single second with two dead children between us, my beautiful tiny girl infant and his beautifully strong wrestler son, second selves, hovering between our bodies, I don’t know if I would have trusted anyone or anything in the world again.”
Schlesinger, who was saw the Kennedy White House up close during her husband Arthur’s time as JFK’s “resident intellectual,” was 8 when women got the vote in the U.S. – and she immediately canvassed, with her mother, for a woman mayoral candidate. She published a memoir in 2011, when she was merely 99.
One would think that in an era of immersive realities, opera would have tried to aim for higher levels of verisimilitude, would have become grittier and true to life, but in the age of cinema, the opposite happened. Twentieth-century opera became more amorphous, less plot-driven. Watch something like Nixon In China, with its listless, meandering scenes and droning, repetitive music, and you will start yearning for a king disguised as a peasant and a letter given to the wrong princess. Opera does not attempt real social commentary or naturalism well: it is a heightened reality, a dream. Opera is crazy and intense like dreaming, another heightened reality, and we often wake from dreams wishing we could enter them again.
“Community policing officers will carry books while they are making their rounds on the city’s North and South sides. They’ll still respond to certain emergencies, but won’t be dispatched to calls for help, freeing them up to visit neighborhoods without libraries and give away books to anyone who wants them. The program is the first of its kind in the country, organizers say.”
“If, in any given year, somewhere up and down the UK, you can see a starry production of Hamlet being staged with Big-Name Acclaimed Actors showing off their Big-Name Acclaimed Acting Chops, then the cachet of that role is reduced. No question. It’s the basic economics of scarcity: when every Tom (Hiddleston), Dick (Burton) and Jude Law has had a crack at moodily wafting on stage, like a Smiths fan in search of legitimate melancholy, then theatre’s great and good might consider that it is time to call a moratorium on more Hamlets.
“No other modern-day leader has used the myth-making power of architecture to construct a sense of national identity like Nazarbayev,” says Frank Albo, author of a new book on the Kazakh capital, Astana: Architecture, Myth and Destiny. “What you see here is a blend of postmodernism, Central Asian art, Islamic decor, Russian baroque, neoclassicism, orientalism, all melded into something that looks like Las Vegas meets Disneyland on nationalist steroids.” In a bid to cast off the shackles of the Soviet era, the president has embraced practically everything else.
“The real problem is much bigger than Rotten Tomatoes—it’s that so much of Hollywood is now fixated on capturing the widest audience possible with every film. Blockbuster action movies, superhero franchises, jolty horror pictures, and animated family films that can draw large crowds are the order of the day. Even mother!, which was light on actual scares but heavy on mood and allegory, was marketed as a horror movie in an attempt to pull viewers; theatergoers who felt misled by the advertising may have contributed to the F CinemaScore rating.”
Why make art when buyers treat works as an alternative currency, hiding them away like bullion bars in storage facilities? Can anything be done about questionable corporations and oppressive regimes using contemporary art to generate a spot of positive PR for themselves? And what links can be made between fuzzy surveillance images and abstract art?
“This weekend, Chicago dance artists and venues are opening their doors and inviting the public to stages all over the city to witness excerpts, works-in-progress and studio processes from our rich community of independent artists and small to midsize dance companies. Called Elevate Chicago Dance, the Chicago Dancemakers Forum (CDF) is the presenter of the multiday, multivenue, mostly free festival aimed at highlighting Chicago dance and increasing the visibility of established dance artists across a range of genres and disciplines.”
“Today, the technical ability to produce a robot that truly looks and moves and speaks like a human remains well beyond our reach. Even further beyond our grasp is the capacity to imbue such a machine with humanness—that ineffable presence the Japanese call sonzai-kan. Because to re-create human presence we need to know more about ourselves than we do—about the accumulation of cues and micromovements that trigger our empathy, put us at ease, and earn our trust. Someday we may crack the problem of creating artificial general intelligence—a machine brain that can intuitively perform any human intellectual task—but why would we choose to interact with it?”
“A last gasp of the old west duly became the first movie western. But from there, the task quickly became mythmaking. The western turned inexorably towards the past – or a version of it. Soon came the movies that defined the genre, tales of heroes in stetsons and dastardly “injuns” somewhere between propaganda and mass hypnosis. The west had to be won, most westerns said, to save innocence from savagery. There were exceptions, and some of those were fantastic films – but the racism stuck. Eventually, there was a reckoning – an apology even.”
“Nielsen announced the initiative on Wednesday morning, but it has been collecting Netflix viewership data over the last two months in a kind of test run. The company said it was able to determine how many viewers were streaming Netflix content through audio recognition software in the 44,000 Nielsen-rated homes across the United States.”
“In the 1960s he transformed Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, from a colonial backwater into one of the most beautiful and innovative of south-east Asian cities. Drawing inspiration from the ancient bas-reliefs and designs of the Angkor Wat temple complex, Vann’s style, which came to be known as New Khmer architecture, blended Khmer tradition with the modernist principles he had mastered during studies in Paris.”
25 years ago this month, the choreographer suffered a fatal heart attack backstage at the Royal Opera House during a performance of his ballet Mayerling. Crisp, who was there, remembers the fateful evening and pays tribute to MacMillan’s “fascination with the psyche rather than the fouetté … [his] interest in movement’s capacity to convey psychological complexity.”
As part of “Secret Stans”, a series about the cities of the little-known former Soviet republics of Central Asia, Oliver Wainwright visits Astana, Kazakhstan, where president-for-life Nursultan Nazarbayev brought in the likes of Norman Foster and Santiago Calatrava to create a futuristic capital city from scratch.
Other good news from last season includes new contracts with the musicians and stagehands, the engagement of Stéphane Denève to succeed David Robertson as music director, and an uptick in box office revenue, with a third of attendees at core classical concerts being new to the orchestra’s home concert hall.
“[The character Song Liling’s] true gender was the meant-to-shock big reveal of the original Broadway production … [But] by now, the play has been in the repertory for nearly 30 years. As [actor B.D.] Wong said by phone recently, ‘The cat is out of the bag.’ Yet here’s the thing, as I saw when I bought a ticket and went to an early preview: [David Henry] Hwang has made a new cat, and [Julie] Taymor has put it in a very different bag.” The playwright talks with Laura Collins-Hughes about that brand new bag.
“Saunders is the second American in a row to win the Booker prize, after last year’s winner Paul Beatty. Saunders’ win falls four years after eligibility rules were changed to allow writers of any nationality writing in the English language and published in the UK. There has been fierce criticism of the rule change.”
Up to last year, the company was based in a cramped building with three studios and a leaky roof. In February they acquired a former fitness center, which has now been renovated into a spacious, light-filled, multi-studio headquarters. To celebrate, the family of the company’s founding donor has made a major new gift.
Excellence and Engagement: II
Last time I began a discussion of excellence in community engagement … This time I continue with a consideration of three potential categories of excellence that are often not part of our discussions in the arts. … read more
>AJBlog: Engaging Matters Published 2017-10-17
Warhol Effect: Can Leonardo’s Strange Bedfellow Make Christie’s Bidders Salivate for Salvator Mundi?
It seems Christie’s couldn’t resist the chance to pair Leonardo da Vinci‘s Jesus with one (or, more accurately, 60) by art-market megastar Andy Warhol, whose 32-foot-long Sixty Last Suppers (riffing on the Italian Renaissance master’s … read more
AJBlog: CultureGrrl Published 2017-10-17
Not just for rich white people
In which I tell orchestras in the US — or at least the National Symphony — that maybe they should stop taking so much time to thank donors (and other upper-crust supporters) — at their opening galas. They should greet the community instead. … read more
AJBlog: Sandow Published 2017-10-17
A Song as Halloween Approaches
Like many of our holidays, Halloween has morphed into something far from its origins. Now it is a time for children to dress up as just about anything, and ask for candy, and for adults to put on masks and behave very badly. … read more
AJBlog: OtherWorldly Published 2017-10-17
“Taking inspiration from the rotoscope – an early filmmaking device that allowed animators to trace over live-action – the Japanese design group EUPHRATES used an innovative computer algorithm to capture outlines and extract other information from a video of a ballerina, Kurimu Urabe of the Bolshoi, dancing in a ballet studio.”
According to a statement issued by the museum, Beatrix Ruf resigned because of “the speculation in the media in recent weeks which may have an impact on the reputation of the museum.” Her duties will be taken over by the current management team, along with a short-term interim business director.
“A concert hall that was simply too cavernous: hard to sell out and leaving audiences feeling distant from the music. Lobbies that have grown shabby over time. A fortresslike presence, somewhat isolated from the city just outside its doors. These are all problems that Lincoln Center and the New York Philharmonic have been trying to fix for nearly two decades at the theater now known as David Geffen Hall – and still hope to, after their announcement earlier this month that they had scrapped a $500 million gut renovation in favor of a more modest approach. But Cincinnati faced these issues too – and went ahead and did something about them.”