Europe: the art history you haven't learned
The Rape of Europa takes it to the next level.
The Rape of Europa tells the epic story of the systematic theft, deliberate destruction and miraculous survival of Europe's art treasures during the Third Reich and the Second World War.
In a journey through seven countries, the film takes the audience into the violent whirlwind of fanaticism, greed, and warfare that threatened to wipe out the artistic heritage of Europe. For twelve long years, the Nazis looted and destroyed art on a scale unprecedented in history. But young art professionals as well as ordinary heroes, from truck drivers to department store clerks, fought back with an extraordinary effort to safeguard, rescue and return the millions of lost, hidden and stolen treasures.
The Rape of Europa begins and ends with the story of artist Gustav Klimt's famed Gold Portrait, stolen from Viennese Jews in 1938 and now the most expensive painting ever sold.
Today, more than sixty years later, the legacy of this tragic history continues to play out as families of looted collectors recover major works of art, conservators repair battle damage, and nations fight over the fate of ill-gotten spoils of war.
Joan Allen narrates this breathtaking chronicle about the battle over the very survival of centuries of western culture.
If a documentary isn't your thing, perhaps you will want to consult the book that started it all: The Rape of Europa by Lynn H. Nicholas. Introduction: NEH Chairman William R. Ferris interviews the author >>
Learn more about the film and watch the trailer at therapeofeuropa.com >>
Spain: the offical trailer for "Hola, Flamenco"
We can't wait to see the whole thing.
Texas: The Ghost Wolves haunt us, and we love it
Vegans by nutritional diet, carnivores by blood, rockin' in spirit: The Ghost Wolves may be a small pack in numbers, but they make up for it in sight and sound. The Austin-based duo reminds many of The White Stripes, but perhaps only in energy, gender and eccentricity. Their charming-mysterious style is uniquely their own, musically and visually. Carley Carazy Wolf and Jonathan Konya "Little Hammer" have an urban edge to them - we wouldn't blink an eye to find them strutting their stuff on concrete, but the fierceness of their musical soul is clearly based in Texas, in a land that historically has been a haven for both spiritual leaders and outlaws. They are soulful but gritty; black and white but explosively colorful, broodingly dark but joyfully energetic.
If you can catch them on tour, the harmony of such contradictions will register fully; their live performance is a crucial aspect to their craft, perhaps the only way to truly experience such a dramatic art. "Their live show is a bit of a spectacle," says the Austin Chronicle. It is an explosion of sound and emotion, as well as a lively dramatic performance, complete with costumes - Wolf in all white, Konya often in black and props galore. They share musical responsibility, swapping roles as lead or backup vocalist, even switching guitar for drums.
The energy that fuels their identity comes from a unique kind of wolf: an elegant and highly-coveted white creature bred by Wolf's family. This wild-but-domesticated animal is, indeed, the perfect summation of The Ghost Wolves' breed of primal music: hot with instinct and desire, elevated by humor and wisdom. They are two gentle and endearing individuals with great love between them - loyal as the wolf, you might say; but they are not afraid to explore the more brutal aspects of surviving in rugged Earth.
Listen for yourself. Here is "Gonna Live," from their latest EP In Ya Neck!:
Listen to more and purchase In Ya Neck! on their bandcamp page >>
View The Ghost Wolves' official website >>
The Maya: where there are ends, there are beginnings
The Mayan calendar—so wildly discussed these days in relation to prophecy and doomsday—technically ends one year from this date: the 21st of December, 2012.
For many, it's a calendar full of intrigue; others, one of fear; and perhaps to the majority of people: an old stone block carved by someone who clearly ran out of space to include all of time.
Border hopping is about crossing boundaries, physical. But it is mostly about where our minds take us in that process. We cross borders so frequently that we aren't even aware we are doing it—every moment possesses opportunity, and we are on the threshold of boundaries in each one. And so this curious rock full of symbols is not a mere archaic relic. It exists in the present as much as it was created in the past, and though we pride ourselves on our modernity, we can't help but admit the entire thing is rather enigmatic to us. Dismissal is the usual human reaction to the inexplicable.
Here at Border Hopping, we welcome 2012 and its long-awaited date with the eagerness of any mind anticipating the crossing of a border. We may come to that boundary and find it as dramatic as our imaginations can conspire. Or, it may be such a subtle transition that we continue on, ever as before, without a thought or care, though certainly changed in ways that we will come to appreciate at some other time, when we are perhaps more aware, more in tune with the silent energies of our universe.
Either way, let us embrace this year, whatever it may bring, knowing that's all we really can do, eh?
Florida: Sarasota Chalk Festival
To see the artwork yourself, you'll find photos online. Or, for a better look: order the Sarasota Chalk Magazine 2011, which includes information about the chalk artists as well as the street performers and musicians from the event.
Last year (and according to the event website), the festival was intended to last several weeks as the artwork would fade naturally, though the plug was pulled after just one week as the artwork was power washed away. Apparently this was planned for ahead of time, though many locals were unaware and dismayed at losing a chance to see the art for the first time, or for a second time to see the works completed rather then in progress. Reported by the Herald-Tribune, this decision was in reaction to last year's event, when "an artist... used paint that proved nearly indelible. The city-issued permit for 2011 required that the art be entirely removed by the time the street was reopened at 7 a.m. Tuesday."
“It’s an ephemeral art form,” commented Denise Kowal, festival director. “It’s a fleeting moment, and that’s part of the charm. The artists are OK with it and so am I.”
The Herald-Tribune covered this topic in an article as well as this video:
London: "lifting" creative spirits
But we can't pretend to know. Aliens hidden in the mists of time, creative stories, or a magic lost to modern civilization (no doubt thriving in remote corners of the Himalayan Mountains)... why can't we enjoy the romance of our legends? Other reports of flying carpets in the life of Solomon involve a glorious green and gold piece, studded with precious stones, sent from Queen Sheba as a token of love. Her alchemist was apparently quite skilled with this sort of thing. Too busy to accept the gift, Solomon transferred it to his courtiers. Queen Sheba was heartbroken and gave up on flying carpets.
Others did not give up on so-called magic carpets. The history of these flying vessels is strange and interesting. And though there are few alchemists left in this world who can prove these tales right or wrong, there is this.
Magic Carpet Storytelling Sundays at The National Gallery. Every Sunday, this carpet flies to another painting and another tale is unveiled. The storytelling is aptly designed for children 5 years or younger, which is a bit of a shame. Must adults tire of stories told on special carpets?
The alien theory is interesting, certainly. But let's not allow our "knowledge" to dampen our spirits...
Learn more about these events >>
Magic Carpet Storytelling Sundays at
The National Gallery in
The Education Foyer
Sundays 10:30 - 11:00am and 11:30am - 12pm
Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN
The World: "Victrola Favorites: Artifacts From Bygone Days"
The material coming from Dust-to-Digital is very special. For music and history lovers, it's a fantasy; for anyone, it's a treat to experience such peculiar treasures in so glorious a packaging.
Today we are introducing to you:
This beautiful cloth-bound book is a catalog of vintage music - two CDs - and artwork.
Care is given to every detail. The visuals are beautiful. As are the colors, vibrantly mixed throughout the thick pages.
...the bulk of this handsome book is made up of gorgeous archival images, 78 labels, old record tins, posters, pamphlets, old greyed photographs, mailing labels, instruction booklets, all sort of Victrola ephemera. It would be well worth it just as an art book. Makes you dread the oncoming MP3 takeover, what will future generations discover of our music, old busted hard drives? None of these cool old sleeves, decaying from years of moisture and insects, gorgeous little visual artifacts offering clues as to the music contained inside... So absolutely recommended.
The recordings were compiled by Rob Millis and Jeffery Taylor, and span the 1920s-50s. To our border hopping taste, they also span the globe. Chinese opera, Burmese guitars, Persian folk songs and Blues are just a small smattering of the eclectic and worldly playlist.
Victrola Favorites features a bewildering array of exotica, religious chanting and barroom bawls from an equally bewildering array of countries — India, USA, bamboo flutes in Korea, Chinese Buddhist monks chanting in Hong Kong circa 1915, Thailand, bamboo xylophones from Japan circa 1910, Zulus, Persia... We’re talking about field recordings and beyond from the dawn of recorded music, pretty much. And yes, it totally is the s**t... you get a sensation of what the original recordings sounded like...
Some of the material is just strange, "like a midway point between Yazoo's Secret Museum of Mankind and Sublime Frequencies," as Brian Turner puts it.
Brew a cup of coffee; settle into your favorite chair. Turn on the stereo and get lost in this collection's sights and sounds.
As it turns out, we are not the only folks to fall for this curious collection and share our joy with the world wide web. To titillate the senses of audio and motion, here is a film introduction:
For more information on this collection, visit Dust-to-Digital's website >>
You can purchase Vitrola Favorites on amazon.com >>
[images of Vitrola Favorites material © Dust-to-Digital]
Spain: "Hola, Flamenco"
Currently he is in Spain wrapping up the filming of his upcoming documentary, Hola, Flamenco. In his company's words:
Flamenco is Spain's national art form, and a UNESCO-sanctioned 'Intangible World Heritage.' However, despite its continued prominence on the world music scene, few people know of Flamenco's wide range of influences, or the various forms it takes throughout the country.
"Hola, Flamenco" seeks greater understanding about the origins and evolution of Flamenco. We will be traveling through Andalusia this summer to film performances and interviews with some of Spain's top performers and personalities--along with musicologists, historians and ordinary Spaniards. All demonstrations will emphasize the more subtle aspects of Flamenco, including guitar strum patterns, dance postures and gestures, as well as song lyrics.
The film will present Flamenco as an ever-changing art form with, and will include differing opinions about its "true" style. It will also include a survey of Spain's colonial history, as well as its Muslim, Jewish, Catholic and (Roma) Gypsy influences.
Your generous funding will help our film crew with travel expenses, equipment rental (lighting & sound in particular), as well as post-production costs and promotional expenditures.
For a sneak peak of the action:
View more video footage on Hola Flamenco's YouTube channel >>
You can support this project by heading to Hola, Flamenco's Kickstarter page >>
BH.net: a close look at two wondrous shimas
The remedy: a careful concoction we are now supplying, in two hearty doses. Take two parts culture + one part history + one part architecture + one part human ingenuity, mix thoroughly. Add one large dash of curiosity and a satsuma slice for garnish. (Vitamin C, of course!)
1. Hiroshima's Genbaku: Story of a Skeleton by Brent Katte
Everybody knows about Hiroshima. A lot of people visit. And everybody who goes there, goes there; the genbaku, or A-Bomb Dome. An international icon and World Heritage site, the Dome commands a steady stream of visitors day in and out, regardless of weather or season. Many people have seen it, stark and haunting. Most will remember. But not many know much about the building itself, the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall; its brief, colorful history overshadowed by the bomb it takes its nickname from.
2. Kagoshima: Japan's Forgotten Father by Brent Katte
The Shiroyama observatory, perched 100 meters above Terukuni shrine, provides a stunning panorama of southeastern Kyushu, birthplace of so much of Japan. Just past the towering concrete tori lies downtown Kagoshima, prefectural capital; five kilometers offshore the giant sleeping in her midst. The ridge isn’t the mountain its name implies, but the western edge of a huge volcanic caldera 20 kilometers across. Sakurajima, one of the world’s most active volcanoes and symbol of the city, though formidable and looming, is just a fraction of the geological maelstrom that formed much of the region 22,000 years ago and continues to do so today.
Iran: surrendering to Esmaeil Rashvand
But regardless, is it not the task of art to request our attention, at minimum? Or perhaps our interest. Slight or great - just some is enough.
When we come across work like Iran-based calligraphy artist Esmaeil Rashvand's, the word that comes to mind is "surrender."
His work does not ask or demand; it invokes.
It may have something to do with his tendency towards sensations, as he puts it...
I think by using calligraphy formations I can better express my sensations in paintings...when I painting I do not know what really happens to work... my sensations which form my painting works. While painting I surrender by thought and senses.
Do we understand his sensations to be his feelings? emotions? intuitions? Whatever the semantics, we know this to be true: those sensations by which he surrenders, help us surrender.
And it's mighty powerful.
Names of God
This painting consists of 99 imperium names for God in Quran. Green color that is religious color of Islam world expresses the Islamic essence in painting. God names are calligraphed in Nastaliqh and show the Persian nature in painting. Gold colors also induct viewers to glory and magnificence of God names. Calligraphed words and ground is worked in green and only shades separate words and ground. The mono green tones of color in this work also perform the unity and oneness that reveal the unification in creation. Names are calligraphed by small and big font, in order to perspective the work.
The First Day of Creation
This works created immediate and sensually. Dark space and azure ground induct viewer to vacuum of space, the space which is so far from history and earth then calligraphy formations come fast and warp as if it perform the first day of creation. God is alone in this work and there is no man while the existence is created.
Marrakech: hints of bygone eras at Riad Laksiba
Hawkesley contacted us afterward and informed us that Hannah is his daughter. A lovely image began to emerge in our minds. You know how the brain works - an intriguing detail here, another there, and the imagination takes flight. Morocco is, of course, one of the more mysterious lands on this earth.
A stunning blond. An English photographer father with a penchant for vintage fashion photography. A fabulous home in Marrakech.
We began to thoroughly envy Hannah.
Hawkesley also sent images from his most recent photoshoot of Hannah, this time accompanied by her brother, Sam (below, left).
We began to thoroughly envy Sam.
A recreation of Patrick Lichfield's 1969 shot of Paul and Talitha Getty (above, right).
Lucky for us, these photos were shot in Riad Laksiba, offering five bedrooms. A sensational Moroccan photoshoot is just a plane ride away.
With so many foreigners plucking up real estate in Marrakech, and each with their own alluring eccentricities, a speculative riad property is all about location, location, location. (And perhaps search engine optimization.) Such was the dialogue in Hawkesley's mind when looking for property. "It dawned on me that I always chose hotels in the Kasbah district of the Medina, to set up Base Camp, whilst exploring.... The answer, for 'Where to Buy'?, had been staring me in the face from outset.... The Imperial Kasbah. First Citadel of the Sultans of Morocco!" he divulges in Laksiba's story on the riad's blog.
We were already tossing about the theme of "location" x3 in Marrakech when stumbling upon this story. "Location… location .. location…. is the thing we 'bang on about' in the UK," Hawkesley echoed. But location in Marrakech is not just about proximity, he suggests. Given the labyrinthine quality of the Medina, it's also about easy access. Quite literally, the "moral to the story" is: "Don’t buy a Riad that you cannot find again. If you can’t find it then don’t expect your friends to either."
After much deliberation and testing, Hawkesley determined the most convenient location: the Bab Ksiba, an entrance to the Medina with which everyone in Marrakech is familiar. Choosing the road before the riad might seem counter-intuitive. But after reading Hawkesley's story - which, by the way, you really ought to read for yourself (it's in several parts) - we are reminded of the act of giving in to fate.
photo by Simon Hawkesley
Once inside Bab Ksiba, the first right leads to Derb Kadi (Street of the Judge). "Derb Kadi was historically the Royal Stables," Hawkesley explains. "The remaining stable is directly opposite Riad Laksiba’s front door and stands testament to a bygone age."
Bygone age begins to sum up our impression of this riad. But we get the sense that one must see it with their own eyes.
photo by Simon Hawkesley
For it's all in the details.
photo by Simon Hawkesley
And the art.
right: the Courtyard viewed from the Office at Riad Laksbi
photos by Simon Hawkesley
Even the riad's logo gives us the sense that we ought to pull up a pouffe, light the shisha and listen to a tale...
16, bis5. Derb Kadi
+212 (0) 524 38 37 04 (from Morocco)
+212 (0) 654 51 56 34 (mobile from Morocco)
+44 (0) 7850 39 01 07 (mobile from UK)
Wiesbaden: The Art of Writing
"I believe that Asian art has given us decisive impetus since the middle of the last century, the 20th century, impetus to the complete art of painting, basically, for the Americans and the Europeans, how paintings are being composed," explains Heinz Kroehl. Kroehl is best-known for his work in corporate identity, chiefly with the 1987 publication of Communication Design 2000: A Handbook for All Who Are Concerned With Communication, Advertising and Design (perhaps ahead of its time).
The Art of Writing accompaniment text refers to writing as "the mother of all arts."
What’s surprising is that artists in the Middle and Far East are only today finally casting off the constraints of prescribed written characters and are now creating a new abstract form of art in the course of their search for an individual identity. This presentation shows works of the highest quality, but also aspires to be more than just a showcase of top artwork. The goal is to instead illustrate and introduce to the viewer a very specific phenomenon. The artistic tangencies, overlaps and cross-fertilization between the cultures show that there is a world language of written art. This is the first juxtaposition of its kind ever to be attempted. The publication accompanying the exhibition demonstrates the power this art form derives from its origins and its development over the course of time.
The transformation of calligraphy-as-art is well-observed in Al-Saai's paintings, in which he shows a mastery of ancient techniques of writing, embedded into abstract landscapes of a personal nature. "I'm happy to deal just with Arabic letters because... it has its own richness... it has a great potential of playing more," says Al-Saai. "...Anything in words could be written in Arabic in more than 3,000 different ways. Imagine..."
After wrapping up in Wiesbaden, the exhibition will move to Boston, then Beijing.
"The Art of Writing"
Wiesbaden ArtForum in der Kurhaus Kolonnade
29 April – 6 June 2011 open daily 10am - 8pm
You can view the euronews video article "Writing on the wall" here >>
Paris: another female voice overwhelmed by men
Our readers well-know our love affair with fine and performance artist, Amir Baradaran. He is a border hopper speaking on the topic of borders - how can we resist?
And yet so many strong and violent words are flooding European networks in reaction to his most recent work, Frenchising Mona Lisa. Words like defaced, unthinkable, raped and anti-colonialist swine (our personal favorite). Oh, the power of art!
Baradaran began his 52-second performance on January 27, 2011 which, using an Augmented Reality iPhone application, alters any image of the Mona Lisa - original or reproduction. Changing the time-honored and cherished Mona Lisa ruffles feathers, period. But to thoroughly "infiltrate" our minds (as an "infiltration artist" ought to do), Baradaran has swapped Mona Lisa's garments with a hijab. Worn by women of Islamic faith, the hijab covers the head and shoulders, but does not necessarily cover the face as the more controversial niqab (covering the face but not always the eyes) and burqa (covering the entire face & body).
Many people are crying of national identity. Immigrants to France from Middle Eastern countries have sparked a wide debate concerning the freedom of Islamic French residents to sport their religious garbs. Watching the news footage on Baradaran's work, we suddenly began to wonder: what does Mona Lisa think about all this? A man painted her. Men installed her into the Louvre and have worshiped her ever since. A male artist is digitally redressing her. Men are squawking and punching each other over her fate, her meaning, her freedom. If only paintings could talk. And yet, in a curious way, Baradaran is giving her a voice.
Her voice will not be heard simply by watching his installation. More importantly - and we wonder how many people are bothering to do this? - reading his artist statement on the subject suggests that he cares more for Mona Lisa than do the defenders of French democracy:
My fascination with Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa stems from the historical process of her “naturalization,” whereby a representation of an Italian noblewoman became an icon of France. She was the decor of a despot, a refugee of war, an object of nationalist lust and locus of public protest. The painting has become a bellwether and a site of cultural projection, essentially disconnected from its own story.
In its own way, so is the hijab. Roughly translated as “modesty,” its ancient origins transcend Muslim norms. Whether intended as a sign of freedom for some or seen as a sign of repression for others, the cultures of the hijab are as complex as the contexts in which they are practiced. In contemporary France, the hijab has become a lightning rod about “Frenchness,” a visual threat to the ideals of the so-called secular state.
You can - and should - read more of the statement here >>
Frenchising Mona Lisa is adding fuel to the fire of an existing debate. It suggest why Mona Lisa has smiled at us so suggestively throughout the centuries; as if her painter somehow knew her fate, he lent her enigmatic nature as a perfect complement to her silence. We wonder where is her voice now, ever - perhaps she hasn't one at all, and that is all right. Because then we might recognize how desperate we are as humans to erect monuments and inscribe our own voices upon them. Baradaran invites us to look more closely, more deeply at the meaning and origin of our words, symbols and practices. He speaks to the transient nature of reality and existence, and warns against the misconception of stasis. This goes over most people's heads, unfortunately. The artist's fate. Nationalism and belief in freedom from oppressive religion are powerful forces working against him.
Others are repulsed by his seemingly flagrant self-promotional tactics (see: Forbes). Whether or not Baradaran is angling for self-promotion? We could care less. As fellow artists and believers in art as expression, expression as communication, communication as a means to change and change as a means to improvement - we feel we're on the same page. Self-promotion is only an issue when a person is not putting forth valuable ideas; this is hardly the case with Frenchising Mona Lisa.
Learn more about this installation and Amir Baradaran's works on amirbaradaran.com.
Watch BBC footage on Frenchising Mona Lisa >>
View related posts on Baradaran's work:
The Other Artist Is Present
Japan: and Ruben Ireland's sunset for salvation
Read about it.
You can visit Ruben Ireland's website at rubenireland.co.uk to learn more, purchase a print and donate.
Marrakech: Woman in Palace
"Woman in Palace" Lisa Fonssagrives photographed by Irving Penn, taken in Marrekech, Morocco.
"Hannah" posing as Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn at Riad Laksiba, photographed by Simon Hawkesley in Marrakech, Morocco.
Uxmal, Giza, Rome, Paris, Vilnius, Sydney to NYC: a slideshow of pyramids, past to present
Maya Pyramid of the Magician at Uxmal, Mexico:
Pyramid of Khafre at Giza, Egypt:
Pyramid of Caius Cestius at Rome, Italy:
Pyramide du Louvre at Paris, France:
Pyramid of Light at Vilnius, Lithuania:
a greenhouse pyramid at Sydney, Australia:
Architect Bjarke Ingels scheme for West 57th Street and the West Side Highway, NYC:
- More posts: