Sunday, March 28, 2010

Confronting The Vitriol of The Fringe Right // Theological Aesthetics & The American Culture Wars

Back on January 11th, New Creation riffed off of conservative columnist David Brooks' excellent op/ed piece "The Tea Party Teens" by asking, "Is there a role for the arts to play in mediating the American culture wars?

Today we raise the question/issue again in relation to this Sunday's Op/Ed from Frank Rich entitled "The Rage is Not About Health-Care Reform." More precisely, the point put on the question/issue via Rich's op/ed moves one to ask in what ways a theological engagement with the arts, both in churches (rural and urban) and in the academy, can help assuage the inevitable changes in America's demographics and national identity which Rich views to be at the heart of the white-hot anger of the Tea Party.

As pastors across the country struggle to confront the vitriol spewed by the fringe right, they'll need every tool at their disposal to soothe and appropriately reframe the fear and anger that many members of their congregations now feel. While Theological Aesthetics certainly has a role to play here, exactly what that looks like is an urgent and practical question which could help determine the future of the church in America.

Contemplate these questions and others while reading Rich's column, excerpted below, and linked in full here.

// Excerpt //

The historic Obama-Pelosi health care victory is a big deal, all right, so much so it doesn’t need Joe Biden’s adjective to hype it. But the bill does not erect a huge New Deal-Great Society-style government program. In lieu of a public option, it delivers 32 million newly insured Americans to private insurers. As no less a conservative authority than The Wall Street Journal editorial page observed last week, the bill’s prototype is the health care legislation Mitt Romney signed into law in Massachusetts. It contains what used to be considered Republican ideas.

Yet it’s this bill that inspired G.O.P. congressmen on the House floor to egg on disruptive protesters even as they were being evicted from the gallery by the Capitol Police last Sunday. It’s this bill that prompted a congressman to shout “baby killer” at Bart Stupak, a staunch anti-abortion Democrat. It’s this bill that drove a demonstrator to spit on Emanuel Cleaver, a black representative from Missouri. And it’s this “middle-of-the-road” bill, as Obama accurately calls it, that has incited an unglued firestorm of homicidal rhetoric, from “Kill the bill!” to Sarah Palin’s cry for her followers to “reload.” At least four of the House members hit with death threats or vandalism are among the 20 political targets Palin marks with rifle crosshairs on a map on her Facebook page.

When Social Security was passed by Congress in 1935 and Medicare in 1965, there was indeed heated opposition. As Dana Milbank wrote in The Washington Post, Alf Landon built his catastrophic 1936 presidential campaign on a call for repealing Social Security. (Democrats can only pray that the G.O.P. will “go for it” again in 2010, as Obama goaded them on Thursday, and keep demanding repeal of a bill that by September will shower benefits on the elderly and children alike.) When L.B.J. scored his Medicare coup, there were the inevitable cries of “socialism” along with ultimately empty rumblings of a boycottfrom the American Medical Association.

But there was nothing like this. To find a prototype for the overheated reaction to the health care bill, you have to look a year before Medicare, to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Both laws passed by similar majorities in Congress; the Civil Rights Act received even more votes in the Senate (73) than Medicare (70). But it was only the civil rights bill that made some Americans run off the rails. That’s because it was the one that signaled an inexorable and immutable change in the very identity of America, not just its governance.

Continue Reading

In Austin // SXSW Stand-Outs in print and video

Below is an excerpt of The Moment's take on the recent South by SouthWest (SXSW) music festival in Austin. You can listen to a few tracks on the house from festival luminaries Here We Go Magic by following this link to their MySpace page. Vocally, Magic frontman Luke Temple's debt to Radiohead's Thom Yorke is evident throughout, especially on tracks such as "Tunnelvision." One can also hear the influence of New Wave & Post-Punk in the atmospheric and effects-tinged guitars (think Talking Heads, U2, Brian Eno, even David Bowie during his "Berlin Trilogy" years in the late 70s) . Lastly, you can watch high quality free videos of other SXSW acts by following this link to VEVO.

Full Article Here // Excerpt Below

South by Southwest turns all of downtown Austin into one big live-music venue, with bands blaring away from every available nook, cranny and street corner. That’s right up the Ferocious Few’s alley. The guitar-and-drums duo first gained notice busking on the street in their hometown of San Francisco, and they set up shop in Austin one evening in front of a hot dog stand several blocks north of the Sixth Street main drag. For a two-man band playing outside, the Ferocious Few manufactured a surprising depth of sound. The left-handed singer-guitarist Francisco Fernandez deployed a cheap amplifier to get a distorted ambience, while Daniel Aguilar bashed away on his drum kit with brushes, his hands and even a tambourine. But the group’s best asset was Fernandez’s voice, a shellshocked croon that conveyed the sort of wide-eyed fear of the almighty that the Band used to conjure 40 years ago. Not that you’d mistake the Ferocious Few for anything but modern, however. “We’re the Ferocious Few,” Fernandez said. “Google our name on your smart phone for all our shows this weekend. This next one’s called ‘Me and the Devil.’

South By Southwest has become a popular spring-break destination, Mardi Gras for collegiate hipsters. And a great deal of them were gathered at a showcase sponsored by the überhip Brooklyn Vegan blog to see a deeply appreciative Here We Go Magic. “Thank you very much,” the frontman Luke Temple told the crowd. “We’re Here We Go Magic, and you are all very beautiful.” So was the music, a series of crescendos that rose and fell like waves crashing onto a reef. But the music had more of a rhythmic pulse than most psychedelia, underpinning hypnotic keyboard drones with tribal drums in a swirling maze of sound you could get lost in. The group’s next album, due out this summer, should be a show-stopper.

A Descent Into Hell That Misses The Mark

Recently an ambitious video game adaptation of Dante's Inferno appeared from Electronic Arts (EA). Upon release, numerous critics dismissed the effort as unrealized at best, and profoundly cliche and juvenile at worst. And while the poor reviews are certainly not of interest in and of themselves,this recently appearing analysis from The New York Times as to why that is the case is. Why? Well, as The Times article notes, "A dud of a video game stands as further evidence that religious literature is difficult to adapt, especially for the screen." Thus, we bring you this post in relation to just the problem outlined above - regarding the difficulty of adapting religious literature (to the stage, screen, etc.).

Full Article Here // Excerpt Below

And now that the game is out — and, creatively speaking, is a bit of a dud — it stands as further evidence that religious literature is difficult to adapt, especially for the screen. Spend five minutes with a video-game console in hand, playing Dante’s Inferno as reinterpreted by its producer, Jonathan Knight, and you’ll want to stay away from Western Lit forever. And that’s a shame.

“The Inferno,” written 700 years ago by the Florentine poet Dante Alighieri, is not a work of Scripture or church doctrine. While the Roman Catholic Church takes the stories of the Bible to be true (if not always literally), it takes no position on Dante’s poetic descent through nine circles of hell. But “The Inferno” — as well as its companion poems, “Purgatorio” and “Paradiso” — has in a sense become canonical.

Over centuries, millions of readers have imagined hell in Dante’s terms: concentric circles of increasing wickedness, from lust to gluttony all the way to betrayal. In part because the Bible scarcely describes hell — Mark’s description of it as “the fire that never shall be quenched” is as close as we get — Dante’s gory portrait of maimed, tortured souls helped define it for Christendom, just as John Milton’s “Paradise Lost” defines the Garden of Eden.

“Both poets gave theological abstractions not only a form, but also, as it were, an address,” says Seth Lobis, who teaches Renaissance literature at Claremont McKenna College. “Hell, even sin itself, became hauntingly graphic.”

Despite their extraordinarily juicy plots, neither work has ever been made into a feature-length live-action movie. (Both titles have been co-opted often, and in 1935 the playwright Clifford Odets wrote “Paradise Lost” about a family struggling during the Great Depression.) Perhaps that is because artists recognize that religious portraits, handled clumsily, can quickly lose their power, becoming trite or kitschy instead of awesome.

The risk is particularly acute when portraying divinity. Steven Spielberg’s dinosaurs are pretty scary, but have we ever seen a believable God on film?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

On View at Nasher // "Displacement: The Three Gorges Dam and Contemporary Chinese Art"

This past week saw the opening of the much anticipated exhibit Diplacement: The Three Gorges Dam and Contemporary Chinese Art at Duke University's Nasher Museum of Art. You can view a photo-gallery of the paintings in the exhibit by following this link, and you can read the Nasher's full press release below.

// Excerpted //

Diplacement: The Three Gorges Dam and Contemporary Chinese Art

March 25 - July 25, 2010

Four leading contemporary Chinese artists-Liu Xiaodong, Yun-fei Ji, Zhuang Hui, and Chen Qiulin-respond to the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangzi River in China.

The Three Gorges Dam on the Yangzi River in China is the world's largest generator of hydro-electric power. When it was built, it displaced more than one million people and submerged more than 1,200 towns. This spring, the Nasher Museum presents "Displacement: The Three Gorges Dam and Contemporary Chinese Art," in which four leading contemporary Chinese artists—Chen Qiulin, Yun-Fei Ji, Liu Xiaodong and Zhuang Hui—respond to the dam project.

March 25 Exhibition Opens to the public, 10 AM. Curator Conversation, 7 PM with exhibition curator Wu Hung, Smart Museum Consulting Curator, Harrie A. Vanderstappen Distinguished Service Professor of Art History, and Director of the Center for the Art of East Asia, University of Chicago. Reception to follow.

April 1 Artist Talk, 7 PM Chen Qiulin
April 7 "Displacement" Roundtable on the Three Gorges Dam, 7 PM with Duke faculty across disciplines:
Ralph Litzinger, associate professor, cultural anthropology
Erika Weinthal, associate professor, NSOE, Environmental Policy
Peter G. McCornick, director of water policy, Nicholas Institute
April 18 Free Family Day, 12-4 PM
April 22 "Sounds. Distant" 7 PM musical performance with violin and guzheng

Displacement Film Series, co-sponsored by Duke's Program in the Arts of the Moving Image and Duke University Libraries, Thursdays, 7 PM

April 15 "Rainclouds Over Wushan" (Wushan Yunyu), (Zhang Ming, 1996, 96 minutes)
April 29 "Still Life (Sanzia Haoren)" (Jia Zhangke, 2006, 108 minutes)
May 13 "Bing Ai" (Feng Yan, 2007, 114 minutes)
May 27 "Up the Yangtze" (Yung Chang, 2007, 93 minutes)

Every Thursday night the museum is free and open to the public, 5-9 PM, courtesy of SunTrust Bank and The Independent Weekly.

On View in Boston // Salinger writes to Hemingway

Just up yesterday is the news that the JFK Presidential Library and Museum in Boston is putting on display a short 1946 letter from J.D. Salinger to Ernest Hemingway. You can read the entire blog post from The New York Times below.

Choice Line: "I am a jerk, but the wrong people mustn't know it." No doubt there are at least a couple of sermons in this sentence!


// Excerpt //


Not every fan letter written to Ernest Hemingway merits its own display in a museum, but when its author is J. D. Salinger a little pomp and circumstance is understandable. On Sunday, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston will put on display a note from Salinger to Hemingway, written in 1946, that recounts a meeting between the authors and possibly hints at the coming publication of “The Catcher in the Rye,” The Associated Press reported.

In the letter (which can be seen here in its entirety), a young Salinger writes to “Dear Poppa” that he is in a hospital in Nuremberg, Germany, and says “the talks I had with you here were the only hopeful minutes of the whole business.” There are flashes of Salinger’s sardonic wit throughout: He asks Hemingway how his latest novel is coming along and warns him not to option it to Hollywood. (“You’re a rich guy,” he writes. “As Chairman of your many fan clubs, I know I speak for all the members when I say Down with Gary Cooper.”) Salinger also writes that he has “a very sensitive novel in mind, and I won’t have the author called a jerk in 1950.” (“I am a jerk,” he continues, “but the wrong people musn’t know it.”) Thomas Putnam, the director of library, told The A.P. there was no indication whether Hemingway ever wrote back.

America's Artistic Appetite // Rural vs. Urban

Just like our previous post below, we ran into this important piece while exploring
The National Endowment for the Arts' excellent blog ArtWorks.

// Full Post Excerpted Below //

If you think that there are a larger number of traditional arts venues and institutions in the big cities than in rural areas, you would be right. But if you think that more art happens in big cities than in rural areas, then think again. The NEA’s new Research Note #100: Come As You Are: Informal Arts Participation in Urban and Rural Communities shows that “informal” arts activities—such as creating your own art or attending community art events such as outdoor performing arts festivals or events at local schools or places of worship—are enjoyed in equal measure by urban and rural residents. This suggests that the desire for art isn’t determined by geography—people want the arts whether they live in Western New York or New York City. Read the full note here.

This new note uses data from the 2008 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, which for the first time asked questions about attending outdoor performing arts festivals and arts events at schools and places of worship. As we continue to refine how we ask Americans about their participation in the arts, the more we will find out—and since the survey uses information from the U.S. Census, be sure to complete your Census form.

The Actor's Life // NEA interview with Christina Augello

As The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) chairman Rocco Landesmen toured the country over the past few months, the blog at the NEA's site kept up with him documenting his encounters with artists across the country. One of the many gems off their blog is this short interview with Christina Augello, actor and director of EXIT Theatre Company. Full interview excerpted below. Visit the NEA arts blog by following this link.


The Actor’s Life: A Q&A with Christina Augello of EXIT Theatre
March 19, 2010
Washington, DC

[Photo at above right: Christina Augello as pirate queen Grace O’Malley in A Most Notorious Woman, a one-woman show by Maggie Cronin. Photo by Laurie Gallant]

As Rocco heads back from his Art Works trip to California, we’re taking a closer look at a few of the state’s artists and arts organizations. Christina Augello, founder and artistic director of San Francisco’s EXIT Theatre, chatted with us via e-mail about life as a working actor.

NEA: What led you to start EXIT Theatre?

CHRISTINA AUGELLO: I love theater in intimate venues and realized as an actor I could create my own opportunities in my own theater and choose the work I do.

NEA: Why is theater important?

AUGELLO: Theater is live performance, entertaining in an engaged way. It’s a communal experience for both artists and audience, which offers [a rare] intimacy. A room full of people laughing, crying, enjoying together is good magic.

NEA: What do you think makes a great performance?

AUGELLO: Truth, commitment, passion, imagination, trust, collaboration, and an audience.

NEA: Your theater is based in San Francisco. What do you think of the city’s audiences?

AUGELLO: San Francisco audiences are very open to new experimental work and are willing to support the smaller venues.

NEA: What do you love about being an actor?

AUGELLO: The playfulness, the passion, the magic, the high when all energies merge.

NEA: What’s the hardest thing about being an actor?

AUGELLO: Learning lines and having a day job.

NEA: Do you have a favorite line you’ve had to deliver?

CHRISTINA: “I need to pee.”

NEA: What do you think would surprise people about life as an actor?

AUGELLO: It’s a way of changing the world.

NEA: Overall, why are the arts important to you?

AUGELLO: The arts are a creative force that infuse life into ideas and emotions allowing our imaginations to flourish. I think this energy is necessary to balance the destructive forces that humanity struggles with.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

New Creation presents "The End of Words"

New Creation is very proud to announce the opening of The Second Annual Duke Divinity School Juried Visual Arts Exhibit, curated under the theme The End of Words. Read the Duke Divinity School press release below to learn more:


The Second Annual Duke Divinity School Juried Arts Exhibit, “The End of Words,” will be on display through May 2 in the 0 Level of Westbrook and Gray buildings of the school. The exhibit spans three locations: the corridor connecting the two buildings, the Divinity Student Council Office, and the student lounge.

A detail from
“Tongues, as of Fire” entry
by student Bonnie Scott

The exhibit is based on the book, "The End of Words: The Language of Reconciliation in a Culture of Violence," by Richard Lischer, professor of preaching at the Divinity School. The art, which is in a variety of media, was created by Divinity School students, faculty, staff, alumni, and/or their immediate families.

There also will be an artists’ reception and open house April 13 from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. on the outdoor terrace of the Divinity School. The rain location is the York Reading Room. The free reception is open to the public.

The exhibit is directed and curated by Th.D. student Laura Levens in association with the New Creation Arts Group. The winners of the juried art show will be announced at the Broadway Revue Benefit Concert on April 21.

The juror for this year’s exhibit is Courtney Reid-Eaton, exhibitions director of the Duke University Center for Documentary Studies. She is a photographer, book and mixed media artist, and the former photo editor of Guideposts magazine and director of the Vis-à-vis Gallery at St. Clement’s Episcopal Church in New York City.

The exhibit as well as the artists’ reception are sponsored by Fred and Jami Moss Wise, the Duke Center for Reconciliation, Academic Affairs Office, Office of the Dean, Office of Student Life and Formation, Professor Jeremy Begbie and the Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts, Divinity Arts Committee, Divinity Student Council, Office of Field Education, and Office of Admissions.

Saturday @ Duke // New Creation presents "Leaps and Bounds"

New Creation is excited to announce an original and exciting performance going up this Saturday (March 27) on Duke's East Campus. Read the press release below to learn all about the special performance of Leaps and Bounds.

Leaps and Bounds is a one woman show which explores the intersection of faith, ecology, and the global economy. The show is developed and performed by Tevyn East and written by Ched Myers, Carl Magruder, and Grace Tea. On tour Spring 2010 only.

Using a number of creative tools including storytelling, song, poetry, prayer, movement, and film, this work of theater sheds light on the driving factors of our ecological crisis while awakening the imagination to a new way of living with and relating to Earth. Grounded in theological reflection, Leaps and Bounds, embodies an adventure, searching for the values that would support an economic system that promotes human well-being and ecological health.

The Affording Hope Project accesses the transformative power of art to inspire the Christian church to be a prophetic witness to alternative economic systems of sufficiency andsolidarity.
Date: Sat., March 27
Time: 8:00pm
Location: The Ark on Duke's East Campus
Cost: Admission is free, donations are encouraged
Sponsored by Creation Matters, New Creation Arts Group, & The Women's Center DDS
*If you can't attend on Sat, you can see the show on Thurs March 25, 6:30pm, First Presbyterian Church, 305 E. Main St.

This Friday // NEA Chairman reaches out with live webcast

The LA Times reports the following:

Full Article Here // Excerpt Below

National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Rocco Landesman was in L.A. this month as part of a six-month Art Works tour in which he is trying to see how art works in communities across the country.

Now, Landesman is back in Washington, D.C., and if you want to find out what he thought of his trip, log on Friday and watch a live webcast of the next meeting of the NEA's advisory body, the National Council on the Arts. (The proceedings start at 9 a.m. in the East, which means 6 out here, so you may need to set your alarm. Go to and select the Art Works blog.)

The council's sessions are open to the public, but this will be the first one that is viewable online. The webcast as well as Landesman's cross-country travels are part of an effort to "connect the NEA with Americans wherever they are," says an agency spokeswoman.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Art, Architecture & The Desert // Nouvel unveils design for the National Museum of Qatar

Just up this evening, a wonderful architectural article on Jean Nouvel's new design for the National Museum of Qatar, to be unveiled Tuesday (March 23).

Full Article Here // Excerpt Below

Few architects have invested more time trying to bridge the gap between the high-tech aesthetics of the West and the traditions of the Middle East than Jean Nouvel.

His design for the Arab World Institute in Paris in 1987 was dominated by mechanical, light-regulating apertures arranged in a pattern that evoked Islamic motifs. A planned branch of the Louvre Museum in Abu Dhabi will be shaded by a gigantic dome that turns its grounds into a kind of oasis. And workers are putting the final touches on an office tower in Doha, Qatar, that is sheathed in aluminum latticework and capped by a filigreed, mosquelike dome.

But Mr. Nouvel’s design for the National Museum of Qatar, scheduled to be unveiled on Tuesday at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, may be that French architect’s most overtly poetic act of cultural synthesis yet.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Tueday At Duke // "The Dhamma Brothers"

Duke's Kenan Institute for Ethics invites you to a free screening of a The Dhamma Brothers this Tuesday evening at 7pm in the Griffith Film Theater, Bryan Center. Read all about it below via the Institute's press release:

// Film & Even Description //

An overcrowded Alabama maximum-security prison is dramatically changed by the influence of an ancient meditation program. Post-film discussion led by Ron Cavanaugh (treatment director at the Alabama Dept. of Corrections), Jenny Phillips (the film’s writer and producer), and Gary Hetzel (the Donaldson Correctional Facility’s warden).

See the trailer

The screening and post-film discussion is free and open to the public. Free parking provided in the Bryan Center parking deck (you’ll be provided with a validated parking pass at the screening).

Film Synopsis:

(Andrew Kukura, Jenny Phillips, & Anne Marie Stein, 2008, 76 min, USA, in English, Color, 35mm)

An overcrowded maximum-security prison, the end of the line in Alabama’s prison system, is dramatically changed by the influence of an ancient meditation program. Behind high security towers and a double row of barbed wire and electrical fence dwells a host of convicts who may never again know life in the outside world. But for some of these men, a spark is ignited when theirs becomes the first maximum-security prison in North America to hold an extended Vipassana retreat, an emotionally and physically demanding program of silent meditation lasting ten days.

The Dhamma Brothers tells a dramatic tale of human potential and transformation as it closely follows and documents the stories of the prison inmates at Donaldson Correctional Facility as they enter into this arduous and intensive program.

Post-film discussion led by Ron Cavanaugh, Jenny Phillips, and Gary Hetzel. Cavanaugh is the treatment director at the Alabama Dept. of Corrections. He has been an advocate for the meditation program and he worked at the Donaldson Correctional Facility. Phillips is the film’s writer and producer. Gary Hetzel is the warden at the Donaldson Correctional Facility.

The 2010 Ethics Film Series is cosponsored by the Arts of the Moving Image Program and the Center for Documentary Studies.

Her Horses Remain Wild // Patti Smith, Punk Rocker & Fashionista

Just up this morning from The New York Times, an article chronicling the multifaceted artistic life spanning both music and fashion (and more) of legendary punk rocker Patti Smith.

Full Article Here // Excerpt Below

NECKS craned for a glimpse of Patti Smith as she settled at her customary corner table at Da Silvano in Greenwich Village, a favorite afternoon haunt, earlier this month. The wonder was that the patrons, silver haired and sleekly buffed, could pick her out at all. Ms. Smith was understated, even self-effacing in her mannish jacket, boater shirt and beat-up jeans. Watching her sip hot water and lemon, you could easily have mistaken her for one of any number of androgynous downtown hipsters adopting skinny jeans and boyfriend coats as a low-key urban armor.

Was she trying to merge with the scenery? Ms. Smith shrugged, noncommittal. “My style says ‘Look at me, don’t look at me,’ ” she said, a hint of testiness ruffling her easy composure. “It’s, ‘I don’t care what you think.’ ”

An Actor's Sense of Calling // "All Your Options Disappear"

The LA Times has a nice (and short) piece up on the artistic journy of actor Alfred Molina in the critically praised (and soon to be on Broadway) new play Red, which centers upon the life of the painter Mark Rothko.

Full Article Here // Excerpt Below

Soon after actor Alfred Molina started reading John Logan’s new play, “Red,” he was hooked. “By Page 21, I knew I had to do it,” Molina recalls. “I often tell people that when you read a play, the moment when you know you have to do it is not a punching the air moment. It’s actually a sinking feeling because all your options disappear. Everything narrows down to this one thing you know you have to do.”

Out of the Ruins // Haiti's Visionaries

Another article from The New York Times special on-going "State of the Museums" report, that also includes "The New Guard of Museum Curators" (linked here) which New Creation reported on last week.

Read an excerpt from this article below or take in the entirety of it by following this link.

// Excerpt Below //

In a disaster, you focus on lives first, all else later. When the earthquake hit Haiti in January, the news was about the dead and missing, miraculous survivals, towns smashed to bits.

Behind this news came other news. One of Haiti’s proudest cultural monuments, the Episcopal cathedral of the Holy Trinity in the capital city of Port-au-Prince, had collapsed, destroying murals painted in the late 1940s by some of the great artists of what is often called the Haitian Renaissance: Philomé Obin, Castera Basile, Rigaud Benoit, Wilson Bigaud, Prefete Duffaut. Their images of verdant, fruit-colored tropical heavens had helped turn a politically volatile nation into a tourist destination, and art itself into an export industry.

The Centre d’Art, where these artists once met with André Breton, Aimé Césaire and Wifredo Lam, was seriously damaged, as was the Musée d’Art Haitien. Catastrophically, many of the 12,000 Haitian works, accumulated over half a century, in the Musée/Galerie d’art Nader were lost when the building that housed them, a family home, disintegrated.

Objects retrieved from the Centre d’Art and the Musée d’Art Haitien have been locked in containers. Nearly everything recovered will need conservation.

Far more difficult to assess is the survival of art produced outside the fragile museum and gallery network, though some of this work has relatively high visibility through commercial connections with the United States and Europe. A funky downtown section of Port-au-Prince called the Grand Rue was the scene, in December, of a first-time art event called the “Ghetto Biennial.” Based on international models but operating on a tiny budget, it brought in a few artists from abroad but was basically a showcase for a collective of Haitian sculptors who call themselves Atis Rezistans.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Dostoevsky and Me // A grad student's improbable journey through Russian language and literature

Back on February 8th,
New Creation highlighted a piece in The Chronicle of Higher Education by Elif Bautman (Between Art & Criticism) that offered a window into her upcoming book The Possessed, which tells the true tale of her improbable and fascinating journey through graduate school studying Russian language and literature. Read an excerpt of the euphoric New York Times review of Bautman's recently released book below, or follow this link to read it in full.

// Excerpt //

To study first-year French is to enter a world of savoir-faire, beauty and romance. Instructive filmstrips show master chefs whisking halos of caramelized sugar; or Versailles woodworkers restoring antique marquetry; or Gallic lovers in deux chevaux, illustrating how “to go” and “to be” while tooting off for a weekend in Marseille. But this is not the world of Russian 101. In Russian 101, you get grainy black-and-white photos of concert halls “closed for repairs,” and you learn bitter dialogues like this one:

Sasha: “How are you doing?”

Anton: “Don’t even ask.”

Sasha: “What’s that you’re reading?”

Anton: “Dostoyevsky.”

Sasha: “That’s why you’re upset.”

Anton: “Thanks for the information.”

Like Sasha and Anton, you and your fellow Russian students are moody, intense and ill clad. Yet for those whom the Russia bug bites, it can set off a passion more tumultuous and enduring than any French infatuation.

Elif Batuman is one of the bitten. A first-generation Turkish-American from New Jersey, she had “no real academic aspirations” until the fateful day when she stepped into a beginning Russian class. In “The Possessed,” her fantastically entertaining memoir-cum-travelogue of her education in Russian (and Uzbek!) language and literature — in Hungary, Turkey, Russia, Uzbekistan and suburban California — she explains why Russian class struck her as so “profoundly human.”

Friday, March 19, 2010

At Duke // A Special Performance of "The Holy Sonnets of John Donne by Benjamin Britten"

This Saturday will see a special performance of The Holy Sonnets of John Done by Benjamin Britten on Duke's East Campus! It's yet another exciting event organized and produced by DITA (Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts) and will be taking place Saturday, March 20, 2010 at 4:00pm. Read the press release below from Duke Divinity School for more information!


Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts and Duke University Department of Music present Benjamin Britten’s Holy Sonnets of John Donne, with Jeremy Begbie (piano) and Elizabeth Linnartz (soprano), with an introduction by Richard Hays.

The recital will be held on Saturday March 20, 2010 at 4:00 p.m. in the Nelson Music Room, East Duke Building.

All are welcome and admission is free.

Linnartz Begbie Hays

Elizabeth Linnartz is Lecturer in Voice at Duke University Department of Music
Jeremy Begbie is Thomas A. Langford Research Professor of Theology at Duke Divinity School and director of Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts
Richard Hays is George Washington Ivey Professor of New Testament at Duke Divinity School

This cycle by Benjamin Britten sets the text of nine of the sonnets penned by John Donne:

  1. Oh my blacke Soule
  2. Batter my Heart
  3. Might those Sighes and Teares
  4. Oh, to vex me
  5. What if this present
  6. Since she whom I loved
  7. At the round Earth’s imagined corners
  8. Thou hast made me
  9. Death, be not proud

Want to be happy? Encounters with the Arts might be the answer

With a headline like this, I've got some explaining to do.

How exactly might encounters with the arts make you happier? Since meaningful encounters with the arts almost always provoke further reflections which lead to substantial conversations (a fact for which the Arts are sometimes derided) this leads directly to findings reported this past week from The New York Times regarding the phenonemon that (somewhat counter to public assumption) those who have deep and substantial conversations are indeed happier. Why is that? Well, as The Times reports, "Matthias Mehl, a psychologist at the University of Arizona (who published a study on the subject) proposes substantive conversation seem to hold the key to happiness for two main reasons: both because human beings are driven to find and create meaning in their lives, and because we are social animals who want and need to connect with other people."

Full Article Here // Excerpt Below

Would you be happier if you spent more time discussing the state of the world and the meaning of life — and less time talking about the weather?

It may sound counterintuitive, but people who spend more of their day having deep discussions and less time engaging in small talk seem to be happier, said Matthias Mehl, a psychologist at the University of Arizona who published a study on the subject.

“We found this so interesting, because it could have gone the other way — it could have been, ‘Don’t worry, be happy’ — as long as you surf on the shallow level of life you’re happy, and if you go into the existential depths you’ll be unhappy,” Dr. Mehl said.

But, he proposed, substantive conversation seemed to hold the key to happiness for two main reasons: both because human beings are driven to find and create meaning in their lives, and because we are social animals who want and need to connect with other people.

“By engaging in meaningful conversations, we manage to impose meaning on an otherwise pretty chaotic world,” Dr. Mehl said. “And interpersonally, as you find this meaning, you bond with your interactive partner, and we know that interpersonal connection and integration is a core fundamental foundation of happiness.”

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Future of Museums // A New Guard of Curators Steps Up

A fascinating piece that went up this past weekend from The New York Times regarding "a new guard of museum curators."

Full Article Here // Excerpt Below

The mouth of a giant monster, its razor-sharp teeth glaring overhead and its tongue forming a long red carpet, ushers visitors into the Tim Burton retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art. Although the intentionally lighthearted chronicle of the filmmaker’s work received only mixed reviews when it opened in November, Mr. Burton’s fans don’t seem to care. More than 450,000 people have already attended the show, and by the time it closes on April 26, attendance is expected to exceed that of recent blockbusters like the museum’s “Van Gogh: The Colors of the Night” last year and “Dali: Painting and Film,” in 2008.

Visitors to the show are relatively young, somewhere in their 30s on average, which makes them a decade younger than usual for MoMA, recent surveys showed. And a surprising one-third of this audience had never stepped foot in the museum before.

“We’d never done anything like this,” said Rajendra Roy, the museum’s chief curator of film, who was one of the show’s organizers. “There’s always a learning curve. Would I have done things differently? I don’t think so.”

For a 37-year-old curator, Mr. Roy seems pretty cool about it all, considering that only a few years ago he started his professional life selling tickets at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Yet as museum directors have come to realize, younger minds attract younger audiences. And Mr. Roy is just one of a growing group of rising curatorial stars cutting quite a different figure from the age-old image of museum curator as a fusty academic.