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Known for her hauntingly beautiful explorations of Islamic and gender relations, Iranian-born visual artist Shirin Neshatis perhaps the most famous contemporary artist to emerge from the country of Iran. Women Without Men is Shirin’s feature-film debut, this film was the winner of the Silver Lion for the best director at the 2009 Venice Film Festival. As a devotee of her work, she exquisitely frames women in a world where they are normally shielded from public view. For more on her work check out, Gladstone Gallery .
Sarah (Saartjie) Baartman, also known as the “Hottentot Venus,” a South African woman who was placed on exhibit in England and France beginning in 1810 and has been described by her protagonists as animal-like and exotic will be the subject of Venus 2010: They Called Her “Hottentot” an Interdisciplinary Symposium. The event, co-hosted by the Department of Photography & Imaging in the Kanbar Institute of Film and Television at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts with NYU’s Africana Studies and the Institute for African American Affairs, will take place at the Tisch School of the Arts at 721 Broadway (at Waverly Place) on Saturday, March 27, 2010.
721 Broadway, Riese Lounge
9:00 – check in 9:30 –Welcome: Deb Willis, Manthia Diawara 9:45 – Keynote: Elizabeth Alexander 10:15 –11:15: Sarah Baartman in Context
Presenters: Charmaine Nelson, Zine Magubane, and Carole Boyce Davies. Moderator: Cheryl Finley
11:45-12:45: Sarah Baartman’s Legacy in Art and Art History Presenters: Lisa Gail Collins,
Cheryl Finley and Fo Wilson. 1:00 – 2:00: break, book signing
2:00-3:30: The “Hottentot Venus” in Art and Film
Performance: Holly Bass
Presenters: Renee Cox, Lyle Ashton Harris, Ada Pinkston and Carla Williams. 3:45-4:45: Iconic Women in the Twentieth Century
Poet: Linda Susan Jackson Presenters: J. Yolande Daniels, Michaela Angela Davis, Terri Francis and Michael Harris.
Moderator: Carla Williams
5:00: film screening and book signing (to end)
Visual Artist Sofia Maldonado was commissioned by the Times Square Alliance to create a mural on 42nd Streetis creating a big hoopla over her choice of artistic vision. Apparently, some feminist (both white and black) along with Black professional groups are not in thrilled of her street style art depicting young Latina and Black Women in scantily style dresses which viewers are calling hoochie mama’s. Some passers byer fear her work is a throw back to the bygone days of the old Times Square when prostitutes and pimps roamed the neighborhood made it an undesirable place to visit. Despite all of the controversy Sofia stands behind her work as does the Time Square Alliance. I visited the mural a few days ago and while the style might be construed as suggestive to some, as a Black woman I didn’t find her work offensive. For me her work is full of colorful lively figures with a touch of the fantasy of female hip-hop performance we often see in hip-hop and NeoSoul music videos.
In the areas of fiber arts and performance art, one name reins supreme: Nick Cave. Not to be confused with the musician, Nick Cave, the fiber/performance artist creates“sound suits” from found objects, including beads connected like tiny seeds of creativity, glass or plastic pieces strung together to form intricate patterns that suggest Brazilian or Caribbean carnival themes. These suits might also be layered with twigs and flowing hair, which from a distance looks like trees dancing in the woods, from some weird fairy tale.
This Cranbrook Design school graduate—who also serves as chair of the Fashion Design Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago—has created new artistic boundaries as he adapts old with new art techniques. With a unique mix of fibers and other materials, he has produced furniture, clothing and much more. This new relationship between contemporary art, crafts, and fashion was evident in the 2007 “Radical Lace and Subversive Knitting” exhibition mounted by the Museum of Art and Design.
Soundsuit: This funky style is made of a diverse collection of found objects.
But this movement of sorts almost didn’t happen.
Sometime in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, the interest in knitting started to fade, followed closely by the dwindling number of yarns shops throughout New York City. Today, knitting has emerged as a viable fiber art form, with a different twist that leans towards free-form, stylized garments, or products that are a combination of materials. These materials feature a mix of fibers with varied textures, as well as found objects from nature, even buttons or beads.
Cave’s work has forced other fiber artists and artists in other disciplines to reexamine their own material references. Whether you have the experience of witnessing Cave’s suits in performances, or as immobile figures in a gallery, you can still experience the sound and visual dialogue his pieces provoke. His work speaks to viewers with a cacophony of sounds heard over and over again.
Nick Cave's "Soundsuits" at Jack Shainman Gallery in New York City
Cave had previously danced with the Alvin Ailey Dance Company. One day he began to pay attention to the cacophony of sounds that came form his costume, which was mostly made of twigs. As he moved his body, each twig bushed against another and produced barely audible but regular sounds. Similar sounds came from other dancers who were gyrating to the beat of accompanying drums.
He had found a muse who would inspire his new art form—himself.
His canvases of his own or other dancers’ bodies expanded to include skintight leotards, to loose fitting garments with deep hoods. His materials now include beads, bangles, and sequins. No objects are off-limits; nor any subject. He has pulled together references from the social and political issues of the day, using for example, his own state of blackness as a silhouette; and in a nod to the Rodney King trial, a piece that expresses the freedom—or lack thereof—of the black male body, this time tied with materials that look like rope. The most ornate work can resemble over-sized deities, similar to spiritual figures from the African Yoruba tradition, or the BrazilianCandomble.
Nick Cave is represented by theJack Shainman Gallery in New York City.
This video was launched in February 2010 by The Asian American Arts Allianceto promote greater cultural awareness of the art happenings in New York City’s Chinatown community. The program is part of the Chinatown Arts Marketing Program, the video was shot and edited by David Hou. Amy Chin, an Arts Management Consultant, who also serves on the Mayor’s Cultural Advisory Committee is one of the many cultural ambassadors featured in this short video which leads you through an exciting glimpse into the artistic endeavors that makes Manhattan’s Chinatown a gem among many other Chinatowns in cities throughout the United States.
Chin, states that New York’s Chinatown has a living culture beyond storefronts. This Chinese community is booming with an influx of younger people, where as the Chinatowns of other cities tend to be populated with first immigrants or seniors.
Did you ever finish a meal, then found yourself running your fingers around the rim of the plate to pick up the last remaining “juices” of your meal? This was my experience after Scott and I dined on Peking Duck.
Liu Ye, our Hotel concierge suggested the best restaurant for Peking Duck, and it was a worth while 20 minute walk away in the cold. Located in a glitzy mall on the fifth floor, this hyper-stylized restaurant was much like those I frequent in NYC. The three or four women hostesses gave us the once over, then politely escorted us into the dining area to a table in view of the raised gazebos glass shaped kitchen. Inside, about 10 chefs were busily prepping the ducks, and more leathery Peking ducks were hanging from overhead hooks. I counted four wooden stoves. Other utensils included long carving knives, and sharpening stones, in addition to the hanging poles. At one point I got closer to the glass kitchen to take photos of the cooking technique used. I noticed that each chef wore a surgical mask as they worked. I later learned that this was a common practice throughout China of chefs who worked closely with food preparation. The setting looked like a stage for some ritualistic practice.
We could not stop looking. One chef took a duck out of the oven, then broke off its beak, then sanded the skin to remove any excess hair and ashes. Our curiosity prompted us to take turns grilling the waitress about the preparation.
My recent trip to China was another benefit of my relationship with my partner Scott Barton, who was granted a fellowship, for an intensive 2-1/2 week program that focused on the culture, history and ritual practices of eating of the people of Hong Kong. Who lives for all things food, Scott is a PhD candidate in the Food Study program at New York University. For the past 25 years he has worked as a chef and restaurant consultant all over the United States and in several European cities.
The Cultural Boundaries blog is devoted to everything about pop culture design, the culture of food, urbanism, product design, street fashion and other hipness that intrigues me. By the way if you happen to have some exciting ideas or news to share send me an email: hi [at] culturalboundaries [dot] com. Otherwise sit back, grab a cup of freshly brewed tea, and enjoy some funky happenings.