“All of us, to some extent, borrow from others, from the culture around us. Ideas are in the air, and we may appropriate, often without realizing, the phrases and language of the times. We borrow language itself; we did not invent it. We found it, we grew up into it, though we may use it, interpret it, in very individual ways. What is at issue is not the fact of “borrowing” or “imitating,” of being “derivative,” being “influenced,” but what one does with what is borrowed or imitated or derived; how deeply one assimilates it, takes it into oneself, compounds it with one’s own experiences and thoughts and feelings, places it in relation to oneself, and expresses it in a new way, one’s own.”
We gained a lot when albums went fully digital, but we also lost a bunch of stuff along the way. Among the things we lost: Record sleeves, media towers, and Tower Records. We have digital equivalents of all these things, so it’s not like we necessarily miss them. But perhaps the one thing we lost that we’ll never get back is the hidden track. It was one of the few things about an album that couldn’t easily be converted to MP3 or Spotify. … Today’s Tedium analyzes the artform of the hidden track.”
Tom MacMaster did some real damage with the blog where he pretended to be Amina Arraf, a young Syrian-American lesbian caught in Damascus when the Arab Spring arrived – especially when, about to be exposed, MacMaster posted that “Arraf” had been kidnapped. Kevin Young considers the hurt that the hoax caused to MacMaster himself, other individuals, and even the early rebellion against Bashar al-Assad.
Hrag Vartanian: “Our conversation took place soon after the organization announced plans to open an office in Detroit, a city it had left in 1953. We spoke about the public’s interest in scrutinizing institutional authority, Walker’s own love of art, and the renovations at the Foundation’s building, and also discussed Agnes Gund’s new Art for Justice fund, the role of the arts for marginalized communities, and the importance of public education.” (podcast)
“Merely a generation ago, the unaffiliated or the ‘freelance’ composer was a more common phenomenon in new music. With a more reasonable cost of living in culturally active cities such as New York City or San Francisco, composers could more easily build their lives around the pursuit of their craft, while earning a modest living doing a part-time side job.” No longer. So what do they do?
Says the editor of a new anthology about women whose lives were changed by the women of country, “What’s amazing about these women is the way they were phoenixes without the fire: They rose up because it was their music, their family, their way out. I think almost every woman written about has had those moments where they had to face demons as they created such deeply personal music; but they all got there.”
“There have been no major productions with female Othellos in recent times, but they were not unknown in the 19th Century. At the Queen’s Theatre in London in 1833, a Mrs Selby “enacted the part of the valiant Moor to the satisfaction of a numerous audience”, according to the London Courier and Evening Gazette.”
“Nonprofits were more likely to form in the communities with the gravest problems. But they also sprang up for reasons that had little to do with local crime trends, such as an expansion in philanthropic funding. A spike in nonprofits addressing subjects like the arts and medical research occurred in this same era. Comparing the growth of other kinds of nonprofits, the researchers believe they were able to identify the causal effect of these community groups: Every 10 additional organizations in a city with 100,000 residents, they estimate, led to a 9 percent drop in the murder rate and a 6 percent drop in violent crime.”
“Either everything’s dirty or everything’s clean. Caravaggio was a murderer but his paintings are sublime. David Bowie slept with underage girls. Ezra Pound and TS Eliot were both antisemites. Does admiring their poems make us condoners of hate-speech? Or do we cut this Gordian knot and view the work in isolation?”
“Many of those surveyed reported incidents where younger, more junior colleagues were harassed by men in more senior roles. Sixty-six percent of publicists, who often work closely with authors outside the office while on promotional tours, reported harassment, with 61% of booksellers reporting abusive behaviour from customers, colleagues or visiting authors.”
“For the year leading up to the 100th anniversary of its first concert on Oct. 24, 1919, the [Los Angeles Philharmonic] has hired Frank Gehry to design a permanent home for music director Gustavo Dudamel’s YOLA youth education project. The L.A. Phil also will premiere an unheard-of 50 new works that it has commissioned. It will reach out to community groups to distribute 10,000 free tickets to concerts and events, and it will partner with dozens of local and international arts organizations, from the organizers of Hollywood’s Academy Awards to London’s Royal Ballet.
Tiffany Wai-Ying Beres took over the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum from its founder last year and racked up success after success. Then she was sacked by the board, whose attorney says, “She was fired because she was a destructive, uncaring insensitive employee who has retaliated with false allegations against the longtime management of the museum.” Beres maintains that she was fired for blowing the whistle on several unethical practices by the board, and she’s suing.
Yes, staid old Philadelphia – where just 12 years ago poor Michael Hersch had a major premiere booed; where, as recently as 1986, fully half the audience walked out of Pelléas et Mélisande, for Pete’s sake – has started embracing contemporary classical. There’s Opera Philly’s O17 festival, the new October Revolution fest, a daring series at the Barnes Foundation, plus now-established outfits like The Crossing and FringeArts; next spring there’s even going to be Stockhausen’s 14-hour chamber-music cycle Klang. There are four serious new-music events in just the next week. David Patrick Stearns explains how the change happened and talks to some of the key players involved.
Well over 17,000 works from the USSR’s artistic underground, collected by the late economist Norton Dodge and his wife, Nancy, are going to the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University. The trove, worth an estimated $34 million and accompanied by $10 million to support maintenance, is the largest gift of any kind in the university’s history.
“Mana Fine Arts, an art storage complex in New Jersey, has been ordered by a New York judge to turn over the Mugrabi family’s entire 1,400-piece art collection, including works by Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Tom Wesselmann and Damien Hirst.” The Mugrabis say Mana “is holding the collection hostage over disputed back storage fees, bringing their business to a standstill and preventing them from either selling or showing the art.”
“Now, after years of unsubstantiated rumors about [the star comedian]masturbating in front of associates, women are coming forward to describe what they experienced. Even amid the current burst of sexual misconduct accusations against powerful men, the stories about Louis C.K. stand out because he has so few equals in comedy. … And [he] built a reputation as the unlikely conscience of the comedy scene, by making audiences laugh about hypocrisy – especially male hypocrisy.”
From Lebanon to Sweden to England to Indonesia to Turkey (President Erdoğan is a fan), 36-year-old Maher Zain draws enormous, cheering crowds and 100 million YouTube views every month. All this with music that’s as wholesome, in its Muslim way, as Donny Osmond or Amy Grant. “I don’t want to live this life, basically. I really don’t,” he says. “I believe I’m on a mission and you cannot turn it down, you know what I mean? I’ve been chosen.”
The Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum in Xi’an has signed a formal partnership agreement with the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, where an exhibition of the terracotta figures is currently running. The director of the Xi’an museum and colleagues were especially impressed with the Institute’s educational programs and its focus on culture and technology.
Arts Funding, US vs. UK, and Chamber Music
One of the key issues which underlies this blog and the book which inspired it is the role of public funding in the arts. I hate to give the end away, but … read more
AJBlog: CultureCrash Published 2017-11-09
Who is the greatest living publisher of cookery books? Read on
As I am a regular contributor to The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography,and still earn a bit of my keep by writing obituaries for the British national newspapers, it is a rare delight to … read more
AJBlog: Plain English Published 2017-11-09
Marilynne Robinson: “There is an impulse behind the recent assaults on great institutions that is historically expressed as social engineering. The ideal worker will not have a head full of poetry, say the neo-Benthamites. It is assumed, of course, that he or she will be potentially omnicompetent in service to the ever-changing needs and demands of the new economy—highly trained, that is, to acquire some undescribed skill set that will be proof against obsolescence. We await particulars. But the object is clear — to create a virtual army out of the general population who will compete successfully against whomever for whatever into an endless future, at profound cost to themselves.”