Wednesday, 30 September 2015

A Rape On Campus

A Rape On Campus
Rolling Stone magazine is currently facing two lawsuits over an investigative article it published last year. Sabrina Erdely's nine-page feature A Rape On Campus appeared in the 4th December 2014 issue. It alleges a culture of sexual assault on American college campuses, and profiles a student who claims she was gang-raped during a fraternity party at the University of Virginia: "at UVA, rapes are kept quiet, both by students... and by an administration that critics say is less concerned with protecting students than it is with protecting its own reputation from scandal."

The rape victim, identified only as Jackie (a pseudonym), recounts her ordeal in graphic detail: "seven men took turns raping her, while two more - her date, Drew, and another man - gave instruction and encouragement." She also describes her friends' reactions following the attack, explaining how they discouraged her from reporting it: "The three friends launched into a heated discussion about the social price of reporting Jackie's rape".

After the article was published, a police investigation found no evidence that a rape or assault had taken place. In fact, many of the details Jackie provided turned out to be incorrect. For instance, she said that her attacker was a Phi Pappa Psi member who worked as a lifeguard, though no members of that fraternity were employed as lifeguards at the time. There was also no party or social function on the date Jackie claimed to have been raped.

Jackie's story was discredited, and Rolling Stone retracted the article, deleting it from its website. The magazine also commissioned an investigation by the Columbia University School of Journalism, which it published on 23rd April. That report, titled What Went Wrong?, found that Erdely had relied on Jackie as her only source for the rape story, and had not attempted to verify the information Jackie gave her: "the problem was that she relied on what Jackie told her without vetting its accuracy."

Jackie's three friends launched the first legal action in relation to the article, though their case was dismissed earlier this year. Lawsuits issued by the University and Phi Kappa Psi are still in progress. Rolling Stone's managing editor, Will Dana, left the magazine last month.

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Thursday, 24 September 2015

Filmvirus In Weimar Germany

In Weimar Germany
The Joyless Street
The Holy Mountain
This weekend, the Filmvirus group will begin an extensive season of German silent films from the Weimar era. Filmvirus In Weimar Germany opens on 27th September and runs until 27th December, at the Pridi Banomyong Library at Thammasat University's Tha Prachan campus in Bangkok.

GW Pabst's The Joyless Street (1925) will be shown on 15th November. Pabst's film, starring Greta Garbo, was one of the first cinematic examples of Neue Sachlichkeit ('New Objectivity'), a movement which also influenced German painting and photography in the 1920s, favouring realism over Expressionism. The Joyless Street is also the most famous of the Strassenfilme ('street films') depicting poverty-stricken life on the city streets.

Arnold Fanck's The Holy Mountain (1926) is being shown on 29th November. This is one of a series of Bergefilme ('mountain films'), a genre pioneered by Fanck, and it stars Leni Riefenstahl, who would later become notorious as the director of Triumph Of The Will.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Japanned Papier Mache & Tinware

Japanned Papier Mache & Tinware c.1740-1940
Japanned Papier Mache & Tinware c.1740-1940, by Yvonne Jones, is the first comprehensive study of the 'japanning' industry, a Western imitation of the Japanese lacquerware that was imported into Europe in the seventeenth century. Jones focuses on the English Midlands (which became the epicentre of the japanning trade), though the book also covers japanning elsewhere in the UK, France, Germany, Holland, Austria, Russia, and America.

Japanese lacquer was produced from the sap of trees native to South-East Asia, and Western craftsmen "began a long search to formulate a suitable substitute. Their enquiries show that the meeting of art and science was very characteristic of the time and ran parallel, for example, to the similar search for a European ceramic body that would equal that of Oriental porcelain." (Western ceramicists attempted to replicate the translucence of the kaolin found at Jingdezhen in China.)

The book includes introductory chapters on tinware, papier mache, and the origins of japanning. The main focus is on the manufacturers of japanned items, and the detailed profiles of each company and decorator are unprecedented. Most fascinating are the extensive chapters on the various techniques of japanning decoration and the wide range of japanned products. The bibliography is limited (reflecting the lack of previous literature on the subject), though there are thorough notes and hundreds of beautifully-reproduced colour photographs.

Lacquer: An International History & Illustrated Survey (1984), a global survey of lacquerware, contains several pages on English and American japanning. The Penguin Dictionary Of Decorative Arts (John Fleming and Hugh Honour, revised in 1989) and World Furniture: An Illustrated History (edited by Helena Hayward, 1965) both include brief descriptions of japanning.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Elle Men Film Festival 2015

Elle Men Film Festival 2015
Nymphomaniac
The Elle Men Film Festival 2015 opens on 24th September, and runs until 30th September at the EmQuartier CineArt cinema in Bangkok. The films have been selected by members of the Thai film industry, including director Pen-Ek Ratananruang and critic Kong Rithdee.

The Festival's theme is '18+', and this is most clearly demonstrated by Lars von Trier's film Nymphomaniac, which (like his previous films Antichrist and The Idiots) contains hardcore sex scenes. Nymphomaniac will be shown in an extended director's cut, in two parts: part one on 27th and 28th September, and part two on 27th and 29th September.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

International Arts & Crafts

International Arts & Crafts
The Victoria & Albert Museum's International Arts & Crafts exhibition was held in London in 2005 and transferred to Indianapolis and San Francisco in 2006. It was the first Arts & Crafts exhibition to include artefacts not only from Britain (where this "first truly modern artistic movement" was founded), Europe, and America, but also Russia and even Japan (the Mingei movement).

The exhibition catalogue, edited by Karen Livingstone and Linda Parry, includes multiple chapters on British, American, and Japanese Arts & Crafts, and essays on several other countries: Germany, the Netherlands, Russia, Finland, Sweden, and Norway. The final chapter is by Edmund de Waal, author of The Pot Book. There is also an extensive bibliography. The V&A has also organised other international decorative arts exhibitions, including Baroque 1620-1800, Art Nouveau 1890-1914, and Art Deco 1910-1939.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Nokta

Nokta
Photo Op
Police in Istanbul raided the editorial offices of the Turkish weekly magazine Nokta yesteday. All copies of the 14th September issue were seized before distribution, and the magazine was banned for insulting President Erdogan. Nokta's cover shows a Photoshopped picture of Erdogan smiling while taking a selfie in front of a Turkish soldier's coffin. The photograph is an adaption of Photo Op, the 2005 image of Tony Blair created by Peter Kennard and Cat Phillipps.

Erdogan has a long history of suppressing any criticisms of his leadership, both as Prime Minister and President. He filed lawusits against Cumhuriyet newspaper in 2004 and the magazine Penguen in 2005. Artist Matthew Dickinson was charged with insulting Erdogan in 2006; he was charged again shortly afterwards, though was later acquitted. Two Penguen cartoonists received jail sentences earlier this year, after caricaturing Erdogan in a 2014 magazine cover.

Cameron At 10

Cameron At 10
Cameron At 10, by Anthony Seldon and Peter Snowdon, profiles David Cameron's first term as UK Prime Minister. (Matthew d'Ancona's In It Together covered the progress of Cameron's coalition government during the same period.) More than 600 pages long, and based on 300 first-hand sources, including interviews with Cameron, this is another of Seldon's exhaustive political biographies.

In fact, according to the blurb, it is "the most intimate account of a serving prime minister that has ever been published", though Seldon's previous Tony Blair biographies are equally revealing. Written in the historical present tense, it is divided into forty chapters, each focusing on a different event or policy. The subtitle, The Inside Story 2010-2015, echoes those of In It Together (The Inside Story Of The Coalition Government) and Andrew Rawnsley's Servants Of The People (The Inside Story Of New Labour).

Cameron is a relatively bland subject in comparison to his predecessors Blair and Gordon Brown, though the book does have a headline-grabbing quote from an SMS he sent to Boris Johnson: "The next PM will be [Ed] Miliband if you don't fucking shut up." More ominous is his comment on the European Union referendum during a private meeting with Angela Merkel: "I need to make a pitch to the country. If there is no acceptable deal, it's not the end of the world; I'll walk away from the EU."

The World Of Tattoo

The World Of Tattoo
The World Of Tattoo, by Maarten Hesselt van Dinter, is an attempt to write a modern, illustrated equivalent to Wilfred Dyson Hambly's The History Of Tattooing (1925). The author praises Hambly's book for its "brief descriptions of all known tattooing cultures", though he also notes that it "contains little illustrative material to fire the reader's imagination." The World Of Tattoo is subtitled An Illustrated History, and the key word is 'Illustrated', as it contains many more photographs and drawings than Hambly's book.

Whereas Hambly focused on the magico-religious meanings of tattoos, The World Of Tattoo highlights variations in tattoo design. Also, of course, it contains more recent findings, such as the mummified body of the tattooed man known as Otzi. In his preface, the author claims that he gave up his job, his girlfriend, and half his furniture during the eight-year writing process; the result isn't quite the definitive tome that such sacrifices would suggest, though it is a comprehensive history of tattooing in every continent, with an extensive bibliography.

Monday, 14 September 2015

เสาร์... สะดวก

เสาร์... สะดวก
The Holy Mountain
42nd Street
An American In Paris
Singin' In The Rain
Thammasat University's regular film season (เสาร์... สะดวก) continues this year, on Thursdays and Saturdays at Tha Prachan in Bangkok. There will be screenings of three classic Hollywood musicals: Busby Berkeley's 42nd Street (17th September), and a Gene Kelly double bill of An American In Paris and Singin' In The Rain (17th October). Alejandro Jodorowsky's cult classic The Holy Mountain (29th October) is another highlight.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

International Pop

International Pop
International Pop, the extensive catalogue for an exhibition held in the US this year and in 2016, is the first book to explore the influence of Pop Art around the globe. The exhibition "focuses on five key developments that unfolded over the course of about ten years worldwide: in Britain, the Independent Group and the New Scene; in Brazil, the New Consciousness; in Germany, Capitalist Realism; in Argentina, the Instituto Torcuato Di Tella and Pop-lunfardo; and in Japan, the Sogetsu Art Center and Tokyo Pop." The catalogue contains chapters on Britain (where Pop began), Italy, Hungary, Japan, Brazil, and Argentina, and begins with a detailed international chronology.

While the catalogue breaks new ground in its coverage of Asian and South American Pop, some more familiar works - notably Richard Hamilton's collage Just What Is It That Makes Today's Homes So Different, So Appealing? - are missing. Movements influenced by Pop, such as German Capitalist Realism and French Nouveau Realisme, are represented in the illustrations, though they don't have their own chapters. (Lucy Lippard's Pop Art, published in 1966, has more on American and European Pop.)

Friday, 11 September 2015

Rebel Heart Tour

Rebel Heart Tour
Rebel Heart Tour
Madonna's latest world tour began on 9th September in Montreal. The Rebel Heart Tour, featuring material from the album Rebel Heart, will continue to America and Europe until the end of this year, moving to Asia and Australasia next year. She will perform in Thailand on 9th and 10th February, at Impact Arena, Muang Thong Thani.

The show contains no tracks from her previous MDNA album, though it does feature songs such as Who's That Girl, True Blue, and Love Don't Live Here Anymore that she hasn't performed for more than twenty-five years. Holiday returns to its traditional position as the encore. Madonna's previous tours are: The MDNA Tour, the Sticky & Sweet Tour, the Confessions Tour, the Reinvention World Tour, the Drowned World Tour, The Girlie Show, the Blond Ambition World Tour, the Who's That Girl World Tour, and The Virgin Tour.

The set list is: Iconic; Bitch I'm Madonna; Burning Up; Holy Water; Vogue; Devil Pray; Messiah (accompanied by the Ghosttown video); Body Shop; True Blue; Deeper & Deeper; HeartBreakCity; Love Don't Live Here Anymore; Like A Virgin; S.E.X. (preceded by lines from Justify My Love, and accompanied by the Erotica video); Living For Love; La Isla Bonita; a medley of Into The Groove, Everybody, Lucky Star, and Dress You Up; Who's That Girl; Rebel Heart; Illuminati; Music; Candy Shop; Material Girl; La Vie En Rose (performed in French); Unapologetic Bitch; and Holiday. Ghosttown was added to the set list after the first few shows, and she also performed Frozen, Fever, Secret, Take A Bow, Crazy For You, and Like A Prayer at some concerts.

The Art Of The Album Cover

The Art Of The Album Cover
Elvis Presley
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
The Dark Side Of The Moon
The Art Of The Album Cover (subtitled A History & A How To on the dust jacket), by Richard Evans, is a guide to the design of vinyl album sleeves. Classics such as Elvis Presley's first eponymous record are included, though Evans singles out two covers in particular: "The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band ranks alongside Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon as the best-known album cover of all time."

Though it's less than 200 pages long, the book is almost unique in its coverage of early album covers from the 1940s. Organised chronologically by decade, it covers seventy years of cover art, starting with the very first illustrated sleeve, Smash Hit Songs, released in 1940: "a collection of four, ten-inch 78rpm singles in a book-format package with its own unique design on the front." Nick de Ville's Album: Classic Sleeve Designs is less glossy, though it covers album artwork since 1878.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Dada

Dada: Zurich, Berlin, Hannover, Cologne, New York, & Paris
Dada: Zurich, Berlin, Hannover, Cologne, New York, Paris, edited by Leah Dickerman, is the catalogue for an exhibition held in Paris, Washington, and New York in 2006. Over 500 pages long, it's also the most comprehensive history of the Dada movement. One indication of its attention to detail is that "[i]f the original title could be established, it is provided in the original language, followed by an English translation."

Like other histories of Dada, each chapter is devoted to a particular city (Zurich, Berlin, Hannover, Cologne, New York, and Paris, though Japanese Dada events in Tokyo are not covered). Each city essay is followed by a series of colour plates, and there are more than 600 illustrations. The appendices are also extensive: artist biographies, a chapter on Dada films, a chronology, and a bibliography.

Drawing In Silver & Gold

Drawing In Silver & Gold
Drawing In Silver & Gold: Leonardo To Jasper Johns opens today at the British Museum in London, and will close on 6th December. The exhibition, curated by Stacey Sell and Hugo Chapman, has transferred from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, where it was held earlier this year.

The first exhibition devoted to the history of metalpoint and silverpoint, Drawing In Silver & Gold includes 100 drawings dating from the Middle Ages onwards, an extraordinary collection of works by masters such as Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Durer, and Rembrandt. The exhibition catalogue is the first comprehensive study of metalpoint.

Drawing In Silver & Gold

Drawing In Silver & Gold
Bust Of A Warrior
Drawing In Silver & Gold: Leonardo To Jasper Johns, an exhibition of metalpoint drawings, opened today at the British Museum in London, where it will be on show until 6th December. The exhibition catalogue, the first comprehensive study of metalpoint, "will serve as the most authoritative reference on metalpoints for years to come."

The catalogue, edited by Barbara Cristen, includes essays on Renaissance metalpoint throughout Europe, the Victorian revival of silverpoint in Britain, and modern metalpoint. Each essay is followed by full-page plates illustrating the 100 drawings featured in the exhibition, most notably Leonardo da Vinci's Bust Of A Warrior, which curator Stacey Sell describes as "one of the most widely admired drawings in the history of art."

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Push › Start

Push › Start
Push › Start
Space Invaders
Push › Start: The Art Of Video Games, by Stephan Gunzel, features screenshots from over 200 classic video games. Many of the games (especially arcade games, such as Space Invaders) have low-resolution graphics, producing a kaleidoscopic effect. The book itself is lavishly designed, with full-page, colour illustrations throughout, embossed front and back covers, and even a 10" coloured vinyl EP featuring remixes of video game theme tunes (including the iconic Super Mario Bros theme) by Big Twice.

The games are classified broadly chronologically according to their technology (8-bit, 16-bit, 3D, and HD), providing "a comprehensive exposition of video games from their inception to the present day." Steven Poole's Trigger Happy (2000) has more analysis of video game aesthetics, Leonard Herman's Phoenix (1994) is a more detailed history of the gaming industry, and Tristan Donovan's Replay (2010) has more international coverage, though Push › Start is unrivalled as a visual celebration of more than forty years of video games.

Friday, 4 September 2015

The Independent

The Independent
Nick Ut
Kevin Carter
Photographs of Alan Kurdi, a three-year-old boy who drowned in the Mediterranean Sea on 2nd September, have led to overwhelming public support for refugees entering Europe. Kurdi and his family, who were Syrian refugees, were attempting to travel from Turkey to Greece in an inflatable boat. (Due to the Syrian civil war, thousands of refugees have travelled to Europe in overcrowded boats without lifejackets, and many have died in the attempt.)

Kurdi's body was washed up on a Turkish beach, and photographed there by Nilufer Demir. Yesterday, her images of Kurdi appeared on the front pages of every UK national newspaper. While most UK national newspapers used photographs of a policeman carrying the toddler's body away (an image resembling the Pieta), The Independent was the only one to print an even more disturbing image of Kurdi on its front page.

The photograph used by The Independent shows the dead boy lying face-down at the edge of the water, before his body was moved by the police. Some other UK newspapers included this image on their inside pages yesterday, and the Scottish title The National used it on its front page. It appears on the front page of French newspaper Le Monde today.

The images of Kurdi have immediately come to epitomise the desperate plight of refugees seeking asylum in Europe. In this sense, they are as significant as two other distressing photographs of children, both of which won the Pulitzer Prize: Nick Ut's picture of Kim Phuc after a napalm attack during the Vietnam War (printed by The New York Times on 9th June 1972), and Kevin Carter's photograph of a vulture following a starving girl in Sudan (also printed by The New York Times, on 26th March 1993).

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Forking Paths Month

Jam
Rashomon
8½
8½
Forking Paths Month
Bangkok's Jam Cafe is hosting a Forking Paths season this month, as part of its regular Cult Movie Night event. The season (named after the Jorge Luis Borges story The Garden Of Forking Paths) features films with non-linear narratives, and includes screenings of Akira Kurosawa's masterpiece Rashomon (on 9th September) and Federico Fellini's 8½ (on 23rd September).

Jam Cafe organised a Resizing Month season earlier this year. Their previous seasons have included Banned Month, Doppelganger Month, American Independent Month, Anime Month, 'So Bad It's Good' Month, Philip Seymour Hoffman Month, and Noir Month.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

The Victoria & Albert Museum

The Victoria & Albert Museum
The Victoria & Albert Museum: The World's Leading Museum Of Art & Design, by Lucy Trench, is a concise guide to the V&A's galleries and collections. The V&A has the world's largest ceramics collection, and has held numerous exceptional exhibitions of international decorative arts, including International Arts & Crafts, Baroque 1620-1800, Art Nouveau 1890-1914, and Art Deco 1910-1939.