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ARTS, Sciences & Co.

The photo on the upper banner shows a band of "guapos" (literally "good looking guys") dancing the milonga or the tango, around the first World War. These erotic dances (of bad reputation as other performing arts have been earlier in the view of hypocrite social classes) were danced among men during Borges' childhood and adolescence having thus nourished his imaginary.

'Art is not a nice extra – it is the umbilical cord which connects us to the Divine, it guarantees our being human.'
Nikolaus Harnoncourt




In this page you will find, from around the world, a collection of articles and essays on different Arts.
Please if the text is not published in one of your reading languages, please use a free translators available on line, or contact us to see if we could provide a translation in your language.
If you know of any other that you would like to see highlight here, please let us know.


HM The Queen Elizabeth II by Lucian Freud

2009

How restorers ruined the last portrait of Shakespeare: When art conservators joined hands to restore two rare portraits of Shakespeare they thought they were removing paint daubed on the canvases more than 100 years after the Bard's death to reveal "authentic" portraits beneath. Now it has emerged they were, in fact, wiping away priceless insights into the changing appearance of Britain's greatest playwright. The images which had been superimposed on both paintings had actually been painted in Shakespeare's own lifetime, the Art Newspaper will reveal next week, and showed how he looked as he aged. The so-called "restoration" could now go down in art history as one of the biggest blunders on record.

...When the only known portrait of William Shakespeare was unveiled earlier this month, it was hailed by academics and fans alike as taking us a step closer to the true likeness of the great playwright. Experts believed the newly discovered painting, called the Cobbe portrait, which was painted when the writer was still alive, and another version called the Folger portrait had both been altered after Shakespeare's death. But it has emerged that art conservators who joined forces to restore the two portraits by removing the top layer of paint to reveal the "authentic" portraits beneath, were actually wiping away priceless insights into the changing appearance of Britain's greatest playwright. The Art Newspaper claims that the images which had been painted on top of both portraits had actually been painted in Shakespeare's own lifetime and provided valuable information about how he looked as he aged. The so-called "restoration" could now go down as one of the worst botches on record in the art world. New research has revealed both portraits were probably altered during Shakespeare's lifetime, or within a decade or so of his death in 1616, while his friends and associates were still alive. In the Cobbe portrait, believed to have been painted for the Earl of Southampton, the sitter was given a bouffant hairstyle. It is possible the Earl may have wanted a more flattering image. ...more in The Independent - The Guardian - The Telegraph

Nobel Peace Prize Dr. Aung San Suu Kyi Celebrates Independence Day with Music and Words, yet under arrest by Burma dictatorship:

On Independence Day this year, Burma's detained democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has chosen not to stay quiet behind the locked gates of her home where she is under house arrest. Members of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) said they heard old songs, popular in the pre-independence era, playing in her home. On Sunday, Burma marked the 61st anniversary of its independence from Britain in 1948. Suu Kyi has also put up a new red banner, which can be viewed from the street, with words in yellow quoting her father, independence hero Gen Aung San: ''Act decisively in the interest of the nation and the people." The NLD, in a ceremony at its headquarter in Rangoon attended by 300 people, including veteran politicians and diplomats, called for the release of Suu Kyi, who has been detained for more than 13 of the past 19 years. ... In December, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution calling on Burma to free all political prisoners, including Suu Kyi. The resolution also voiced concern over the junta’s so-called "seven-step roadmap" to democracy, including the planned general election in 2010, noting the failure of the regime to include other political parties, members of Burma’s main opposition party, the National League for Democracy, and representatives of ethnic political organizations in the process. ...more in The Irrawaddy - Mizzima - Google News

2008

August

Shakespeare's earliest theatre discovered in London:

Archaeologists have discovered the foundations of the theatre in east London where Shakespeare learned his trade. The brick foundations of The Theatre in Shoreditch, home to the Lord Chamberlain's Men, the company in which Shakespeare was both actor and playwright, have been found by a Museum of London team at New Inn Broadway, on a site being cleared for a new theatre, The Tower.
James Burbage opened The Theatre in 1576, but after a row over the lease had it dismantled. Its timbers were taken to the South Bank of the Thames, where they were used to build The Globe in 1599.
Every year hundreds of thousands of visitors make their way to Stratford-upon-Avon and the Globe Theatre, on the Thames, to explore Shakespeare's intriguing past. Not surprisingly, an unremarkable plot of land on New Inn Broadway, just north of London's medieval City wall, does not rate a mention on the Shakespeare tourist trail, since before now only the most fervent history buffs were aware of the site's significance in the playwright's life.
However, that history can be laid bare after an archaeological dig at the Shoreditch site uncovered the remains of The Theatre - one of the capital's first playhouses — where Shakespeare's works were first performed in the 16th century.

In what the Museum of London Archaeology has described as “one of the most exciting finds of recent years”, an excavation last month uncovered a large section of what is believed to be the original brick foundations of the theatre.
Jo Lyon, a senior archaeologist at the museum and the dig's project manager, told The Times yesterday that one of London's most enduring secrets had been uncovered. “Shakespeare is such an enormous part of our cultural heritage and the way we define ourselves. It's a highly significant find,” he said. With it, a history of a significant period of Shakespeare's life has also been unearthed, for the fate of The Theatre was closely entwined with the playwright's eventual tenure at The Globe. The Theatre, built in 1576, was home to the Lord Chamberlain's Men, the company in which Shakespeare first performed as an actor before his writing career flourished. ...more in The Guardian - The Times

July

The British Museum opens an extraordinary exhibition about an extraordinary man, emperor Hadrian: Roman art has had poor press since the 18th century. In the days of the Renaissance, when Europeans kindled modern culture by reviving the heritage of classical antiquity, no one was too worried whether statues dug up in the cluttered soil of Rome were Greek or Roman. But as soon as scholars such as JJ Winckelmann identified periods and styles, it became conventional to see Roman art as a poor pastiche of ancient Greek originals. This terrific exhibition rights a wrong and puts paid to a cliche. It shows that Roman art abounds in humanity, character and life. The empire strikes back. The first things that hold you are portraits of the emperor Hadrian as a young man with sideburns, before he grew the beard that became his personal style; the show teems with portraits of this man. In comparing them, you start to glimpse the human behind the stone. But it's not just the emperor who comes to life. A bronze figure of Hadrian in armour, from Israel, stands near cases that display the relics of Jewish rebels his army crushed.


Hadrian has a violent battle scene on his breastplate; in the cases are Jewish refugees' door keys, kept in expectation that they would soon be going home. The modern echoes are eerie. Yet this is just one part of the show's world of olive oil magnates, bricklayers and Dionysian revellers. A fantastic marble faun from Hadrian's Tivoli villa gives a glimpse of the sensual excess of Roman life. But most haunting of all is the face of Hadrian's male lover, Antinous, sculpted on statues of gods and heroes - through which the emperor mourned his companion - including a vast, yet achingly erotic head of a Bacchic divinity.

So many exhibitions talk big then give you a few casts and copies and wall texts. This show delivers: it is an archaeological treasury whose beauty is the result of exceptional loans of some of the supreme works of Roman art from the Capitoline and Vatican museums in Rome, the Louvre in Paris, and new archaeological finds such as a colossus of Hadrian, excavated recently in Turkey. There are handwritten letters from the Jewish rebel leader Simon Bar Kokhba, and a papyrus fragment on which is written the Alexandrian poet Pankrates's celebration of a lion hunt where Hadrian deliberately missed his own shot, in order "to test to the full the sureness of aim/ Of his beauteous Antinous". ...more in The Guardian - The Times - The Independent - The British Museum - Watch the video documents including from an interview to Margarite Yourcenar the famous author of Memoirs of Hadrian done by Denmark TV

Paradise Found
Watch this excellent documentary on Islamic Architecture and Arts
with the British Art Critic Waldemar JANUSZCZAK
We imagine many things when we think of this word. However, we do not think about Islamic Architecture, which influenced the art of Europe so profoundly. This documentary tours through the Muslim world, in search of that "atmosphere of Paradise" hidden away in mosques and palaces.




June

Because Wilde's worth it: Dorian Gray reimagined as a gay aftershave model for our times? Star choreographer Matthew Bourne tells Judith Mackrell why he couldn't resist.

Choreographer Matthew Bourne and designer Lez Brotherston fit together like an old married couple. They have worked together on five productions, including their spectacularly successful all-male version of Swan Lake, and between them they have generated a brand of deviant, romantic, visually stylish dance drama that is unique on the international stage. Now, deep into their latest project - an adaptation of Oscar Wilde's novel The Picture of Dorian Gray that will premiere in Edinburgh in August - it is clear how attuned to each other the two men have become. They finish each other's sentences, anticipate each other's jokes, admire each other's taste, and admit that they can't tell where each of their ideas starts and ends. ...Bourne had been planning a version of Dorian Gray for a long time, but it was in conversation with Brotherston that he began to thrash out the complexities of plot and theme. "There is quite a lot of Wilde in it still," Bourne insists, "and the story of this beautiful young man getting corrupted inside has been pushing me into deeper, darker areas. But I wanted to make the story more contemporary, so Lez and I had a lot of discussions about period. At first we were thinking of the 1960s, but that's a period we love and keep going back to. I wanted to push us outside our comfort zone. So we're setting it in the present - which is quite scary for us." "We have to get it right," Brotherston explains. "We have to be extra careful about details of style. Everyone in the audience knows as much about the present as we do. They all go shopping. So we are judged more critically on what the characters look like." Having decided to bring the piece to the present day, the two men had to choose an appropriate milieu for Dorian. They finally settled on the world of arty, upscale photography. Brotherston's plan for the set is an ingenious revolve that can turn the production on a sixpence between loft apartment, studio, club and even the Royal Opera House. Dorian's beauty becomes immortalised through an ad campaign, rather than through a painted portrait, as in Wilde's novel. "We were trying to think how a person would become the talk of the town today, and it had to be through an image that you see everywhere. So Basil [the portrait-painter in Wilde] is going to be an iconic photographer, someone like Annie Leibovitz, and Dorian is going to become the face of a new perfume, like in a Calvin Klein ad." ...more in The Guardian

May

What’s up with Woody Allen?: He keeps making them, but the films of Woody Allen no longer captivate even the great man himself. When Mike Leigh was asked whether he liked the work of his fellow director Woody Allen, he responded in a way that many of us have been secretly thinking too: “Radio Days would be on my desert island with me, but if you wanted to subject me to excruciating torture, you’d send me there with a copy of Match Point. I wouldn’t survive 24 hours.” Match Point (2005) may have earned Allen his 21st Oscar nomination – for Best Original Screenplay – but this did not hide the fact that his once-great works have given way to a series of below-par films. This weekend Vicky Cristina Bar-celona, the 38th film of Allen’s 42-year career, has its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, in an out-of-competition slot. The story of two American students on holiday in Spain, it stars three of Hollywood’s hottest current stars: the recent Oscar winner Javier Bardem, Penélope Cruz and, for a third time, Scarlett Johansson. Yet when I ask him how he feels about the film now that it is heading to Cannes, the response is distinctly automatic pilot. “I never think about a film once it’s finished and I’m almost finished filming another one. I never give it a second thought. It was finished last summer and now it’s this summer.” Next Friday his previous work, Cassandra’s Dream, is released in Britain. It’s his third movie in a row to be set in London, after Match Point and Scoop. Now 72, Allen is well past retirement age but has no intention of stopping. “I would consider it,” he says, “but it’s not something imminent.” The trouble is, though, does anyone care any more? As a friend of mine said to me, “These days being a fan of Woody Allen is like supporting England: you’re nostalgic for the glory days, you go in with hope and you end up being disappointed.” ...read the full article by James Mottram in the The Times
And watch the trailers of Woody Allen's recent two films: 'Cassandra's Dream' and 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona'

'Beijing Coma : Slaughter and forgetting'
by Ma Jian
"First and foremost, this is a novel. I believe that the power of literature is stronger than the power of tyranny"

Ma Jian's epic of the Tiananmen massacre and its aftermath will make waves across the world. Boyd Tonkin meets the exile who dares to remember China's past. During the Tiananmen Square massacre of June 1989, Chinese security forces killed many of the students and supporters who had over six weeks demonstrated for democratic reform. Estimates of the dead range from just under 1,000 to over 7,000. Last year, prior to the anniversary, a small ad surfaced in a Beijing paper. It read: "Respects to the mothers of 4 June". The young clerk who took the words down had no idea of their significance, though ignorance did not save her from the sack when this sole allusion to the protests saw print. "The tragedy is that this girl didn't even know the importance of the date," says the exiled Chinese author Ma Jian. "This whole period in Chinese history has been completely erased." He adds that, "I wanted to chronicle these events, to hammer them down like nails in a piece of wood, so no one would be able to forget."
His new novel, Beijing Coma (translated by Flora Drew; Chatto & Windus, £17.99), does much more than that. Its appearance, just as the giant propaganda juggernaut built in preparation for the Olympic Games looks liable to topple over in the face of global anger over Beijing's record of repression, is an event that should, and will, resonate around the world. It establishes Ma Jian, already the author of three free-spirited books about the post-Mao country which he finally left in 1997, as the Solzhenitsyn of China's amnesiac surge towards superpower status. "When history is erased, people's moral values are also erased," he says. "It was from a sense of rage at this whitewashing of history that I felt the need to bear witness." In dictatorships, there must be "a constant struggle between the authorities who want to control history and the writers who want to grab hold of it and reclaim it."
Like his Soviet counterpart in the glory days of dissent, but far gentler in manner, Ma combines a gift for densely detailed, panoramic fiction with a resonant prophetic voice. The mass state murders of 1989 damaged us all, east and west, he maintains. Protesters were "mown down by the tanks of a regime that survived this blip and went on to become the world's best friend." Effectively, the Communist Party got away with it as China's great leap into prosperity began. This impunity "has had a damaging effect on the world's civilisation." Now, foreign leaders may know that Hu Jintao, China's president, "is a liar. But they still agree to be friends. This act of stretching out your hand to these people corrupts the world's moral values." ...read the full article in The Independent

April

New coins unveiled with winning design: The winning entry in a public competition to design the first new British coin series for nearly 40 years was unveiled today. Matthew Dent, 26, from Bangor, North Wales, will have his work stamped on billions of coins for decades to come. His designs, which feature parts of the royal coat of arms, have been picked to feature on the "reverse" of the 1p through to the £1. They will partner the familiar Queen's head image on the other side. Mr Dent won the nationwide competition to come up with the new feature aimed at "renewing and reinvigorating" the UK's coinage. The new coins are being minted and will come into circulation this summer, replacing the old coins with familiar designs such as the one penny piece's portcullis and chains. It is the first wholesale change to the country's coinage since decimalisation was first introduced in April 1968. Mr Dent said: "For designs of mine to appear on a medium as significant and prestigious as the United Kingdom's coinage and to be produced and circulated in millions is a tremendous honour." The six designs on the 1p through to the 50p coins can be pieced together to form a complete image of the royal shield of arms. ...more in The Independent - The Times - The Guardian - The Telegraph

January

Why the people of Burma are risking jail to catch a glimpse of Rambo: Rambo star Sly Stallone may not be to everyone’s taste. But on the streets of Rangoon, people are willing to risk jail just to catch a glimpse of the ageing action hero as he takes on the junta. Despite efforts by the Burmese authorities to ban the Stallone’s recently released movie, Rambo 4, reports suggest there an underground trade in downloaded versions of the film in which he rescues missionaries from the clutches of the military. While cinemas are prevented from showing the film, the downloaded version - burned onto DVDs - is being passed around by groups of trusted friends. “Some of the video rental shops have put up a sign that reads ‘ We don't have a copy of Rambo 4 released in USA on January 25’, as many people continue to ask for it,” one Rangoon resident told the Indian-based website Mizzima. Stallone’s fourth adventure as the action hero was shot along the Thai-Burmese border and features the Vietnam War veteran coming out of retirement to rescue Christian missionaries abducted by the authorities while supplying supplies to the ethnic Karen, who have long been the victims of clashes and attacks from government troops. While political activists both inside and outside of Burma have celebrated the film for revealing the brutality of the junta, the Rangoon resident said that many people were confused as to whether the film was fictional or portrayed genuine events. ...more in The Independent - The Times - The Telegraph

Script: Twenty years after the last film in the series, John Rambo (SYLVESTER STALLONE) has retreated to northern Thailand, where he's running a longboat on the Salween River. On the nearby Thai-Burma (Myanmar) border, the world's longest-running civil war, the Burmese-Karen conflict, rages into its 60th year. But Rambo, who lives a solitary, simple life in the mountains and jungles fishing and catching poisonous snakes to sell, has long given up fighting, even as medics, mercenaries, rebels and peace workers pass by on their way to the war- torn region. That all changes when a group of human rights missionaries search out the "American river guide" John Rambo. When Sarah (JULIE BENZ) and Michael Bennett (PAUL SCHULZE) approach him, they explain that since last year's trek to the refugee camps, the Burmese military has laid landmines along the road, making it too dangerous for overland travel. They ask Rambo to guide them up the Salween and drop them off, so they can deliver medical supplies and food to the Karen tribe. After initially refusing to cross into Burma, Rambo takes them, dropping off Sarah, Michael and the aid workers... Less than two weeks later, pastor Arthur Marsh (KEN HOWARD) finds Rambo and tells him the aid workers did not return and the embassies have not helped locate them. He tells Rambo he's mortgaged his home and raised money from his congregation to hire mercenaries to get the missionaries, who are being held captive by the Burmese army. Although the United States military trained him to be a lethal super soldier in Vietnam, decades later Rambo's reluctance for violence and conflict are palpable, his scars faded, yet visible. However, the lone warrior knows what he must do...

Year 2007

Novembre

Maurice Béjart, the genial coreographer of the XX century Ballet has left us: GENEVA (Reuters) - French choreographer Maurice Bejart, considered one of the great figures in contemporary ballet, died on Thursday in a Swiss hospital at the age of 80, a spokeswoman for Bejart Ballet Lausanne said. Bejart, a former dancer, had been in and out of hospital in recent months, suffering from exhaustion as well as kidney and heart problems. "He died early this morning at Lausanne hospital," Bejart Ballet Lausanne spokeswoman Roxanne Aybek told Reuters. In 1987, Bejart moved along with most of the dancers in his 20th Century Ballet from Brussels to Lausanne, Switzerland. The lakeside city offered better conditions and subsidies to the troupe, which he was still directing at the time of his death. Its 35 dancers are in rehearsals for a new production called "Around the World in 80 Minutes," to be premiered on December 20 in Lausanne. "We're all upset but the show will go on," Aybek said. Bejart, born in the southern French city of Marseille, came to prominence with a celebrated production of Russian composer Igor Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" in 1959. Other creations included "Bolero" and "Souvenir of Leningrad." "With Maurice Bejart, we have lost one of the great choreographers of our time, one of the most famous and one of the most admired," French Culture Minister Christine Albanel said in a statement. ...more in Reuters
And clik on the screens to enjoy Mozart Tango by Maurice Bejart and his Laussanne Ballet


Also enjoy "Prebystère" by Béjart and his dancers and his famous "Bolero" danced by Jorge Donn who was his beloved companion.

The BOBs Awards 2007 to best blogs categories by the German Television: Foto-Griffaneurei [aka-bora.livejournal.com] wins Best Weblog 2007 The jury has spoken and we here at The BOBs are proud to announce that the winner of the prestigious "Best Weblog" Award at the Deutsche Welle International Weblog Awards 2007 is Foto-Griffaneurei (literally translated as "Photo-Maniac") a photo Blog from Belarus. The woman behind the Blog is Xenia Awimova, a 23 year-old aspiring photojournalist who lives and works in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Her collections of black and white photos chronicle her live and that of her home city. The winner of the Reporters Without Borders award is Jotman.com. This anonymous Blogger chronicles the events that have been unfolding in Thailand and Burma. Alive in Baghdad a Blog about the lives of Iraqis filmed by Iraqi journalists is the winner in the Best Videoblog category. Valour-IT, a Blog which uses the web to raise money to provide laptops for disabled American soldiers is the winner in the Best Weblog English category. Our international jury of media experts and bloggers has chosen winners in all 15 categories of the Best of the Blogs - The BOBs. ...more in the website of The BOBs at the German Television / And click on the screen to watch a recent interview by Jotman to a democratic resistant in Burma

King Tut treasures back in Britain:One of the most talked about exhibitions of the year, Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs, opens tomorrow in a blaze of gloriously preserved artefacts. But tensions between the Egyptian lenders to the exhibition and the British Museum threaten to overshadow the show, which sees astonishing objects from the tomb of Tutankhamun displayed in Britain for the first time since 1.7 million people queued at the British Museum 35 years ago. ... The boy who became king aged nine and ruled for nine years until his death is the core of the show but it also studies his parentage and has archive material from the tomb's discovery in the Valley of the Kings in 1922 by archaeologist Howard Carter. Tutankhamun was the only pharaoh whose tomb was not stripped by looters in ancient times. Egypt put the actual mummy of Tutankhamun on display in his tomb earlier this month, giving visitors their first chance to see the face of the teenaged ruler. The mummified body has been examined in detail only a few times although the tomb's artefacts have toured the world. "Not only will people learn about the ... most famous boy king, but they will also have the opportunity to learn first hand about ... ancient Egyptian history," Hawass said. Through a succession of rooms, visitors see statues, empty jars for mummified body parts, masks and daily objects. Turning a corner, the visitor is confronted by a life-sized bust of the boy king. Then comes the heart of the exhibition with gold figurines and the ceremonial trappings of power. "To stand in the presence of an object that Tut touched or saw takes us back in time," said John Taylor of the British Museum. In all, 130 objects, none less than 3,000 years old, are on display, including 50 from the tomb itself such as the boy king's gold crown. ...However, some visitors may find the show's loud accompaniment of "atmospheric", choirs-of-heavenly-angels music off-putting. Nor is it clear yet how the public will respond to the O2 as an exhibition space, with its atmosphere bordering on that of an American mall. Tickets sold so far number 325,000; the organisers hope to attract a million visitors in total. Highlights of the exhibition shop include a lifesize "mummy" that opens to reveal a set of CD shelves (£1,500), and a Tutankhamun tissue box where hankies are dispensed from the pharoah's nostrils. Hawass's many fans will also find versions of his Indiana Jones-style hat on sale, fetchingly modelled by the secretary general himself. ...Some critics have said the organisers have debased the treasures with merchandising that includes a Tutankhamun shot glass, mummy fridge magnets and a King Tut headband. ...more in Reuteurs - The Guardian - The Times - The Independent - The Telegraph - And in the webpage of Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs / Also click on the screens to watch related documentals

October

Doris Lessing wins Nobel prize for Literature: The British author Doris Lessing has won the 2007 Nobel prize for literature. Lessing, who is only the 11th woman to win literature's most prestigious prize in its 106-year history, is best known for her 1962 postmodern feminist masterpiece, The Golden Notebook. Announcing the award, the Swedish Academy described Lessing as an "epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny". It singled out The Golden Notebook for praise, calling it "a pioneering work" that "belongs to the handful of books that informed the 20th-century view of the male-female relationship." Lessing, who was shopping at the time of the Nobel announcement, was typically irreverent in her response to the news. "I've won all the prizes in Europe, every bloody one. I'm delighted to win them all, the whole lot," she said to the reporters gathered outside her home in north London. "It's a royal flush." ...more in The Guardian - The Times - The Telegraph

Damien Rice performs tribute to Aung San Suu Kyi
Wembley Arena, London
Saturday 6th, nigth

As tens of thousands of people across the world take to the streets as part of a global day of action on Burma, Damien Rice will lend his support with a special performance of a song he has written for Aung San Suu Kyi, the detained leader of Burma’s democracy movement.

Damien Rice will perform the song – Unplayed Piano – during a concert at Wembley Arena this evening. The song will be introduced by a Burmese political exile, Zoya Phan, whom Damien first met at a health clinic for refugees during a trip to the Thailand Burma border. Members of the Burmese community, wearing traditional dress, will then recite the same Buddhist chants that the Monks on the streets of Rangoon did before the regimes brutal crackdown.

Damien Rice came to find out what was going on and how he could help at a time when the world was ignoring what was happening in Burma,” said Zoya Phan. “I really appreciate his continuing support at this critical time. We must keep pressure on governments to take action.”

For more information contact Suki Dusanj, Events Manager at Burma Campaign UK, on Tel. 02073244710.

July

Italian visionary Michelangelo Antonioni dies at 94: Michelangelo Antonioni, one of the most innovative and distinctive film-makers of the 20th century, has died at the age of 94. The Italian director died at his home in Rome on Monday evening, less than 24 hours after the death of Ingmar Bergman - that other great giant of European art-house cinema. Alongside his near contemporary Federico Fellini, Antonioni signalled a break with the "neorealist" style that flourished in Italy at the end of the second world war. In contrast to the working class parables of Vittorio De Sica and Roberto Rossellini, his films were cool and stylised, traditionally focusing on the experiences of an alienated bourgeoisie. Antonioni made his film debut with Cronaca di un amore in 1950. International success followed with the release of his classic L'Avventura in 1960. ...more in The Independent - The Telegraph - The Washington Post - The Guardian

Click on the screens to enjoy fragments of his famous films:






Film legend Ingmar Bergman dies aged 89: Ingmar Bergman, the Swedish film director regarded as one of the masters of modern cinema, has died at the age of 89. He passed away at his home in Faro, Sweden, this morning, according to his daughter Eva. She told local media that his death was "peaceful". Famous for his facial close-ups and concern with psychological conflicts, his prolific output included Fanny and Alexander, which won four Oscars, The Seventh Seal, and Cries and Whispers. Demanding, intense and grim, his films had little mass appeal but were celebrated by critics and developed a cult following. ... Having initially cut his teeth in the theatre, Bergman went on to direct more than 50 films, beginning with Crisis in 1946. His breakthrough came in 1957, courtesy of an extraordinary double-headed triumph of Wild Strawberries and The Seventh Seal. He would go on to win three best foreign language film Oscars between 1961 and 1984, for The Virgin Spring, Through a Glass Darkly and Fanny and Alexander. ...more in The Telegraph - The Independent - The Guardian - The Times - The Washington Post
Read the tribute by Paul Schrader, film director and screenwriter of 'Taxi Driver', in The Independent

Click on the screens to enjoy fragments of his films:










"The magic Flaute" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart directed by Ingmar Bergman





Theatre: "A Doll's House" by Henrick Ibsen directed by Ingmar Bergman


"Man alive" interview with Ingmar Bergman [1970]


The vulgar's culte:: Harry Potter's big con is the prose: A nine-year-old might feel quite pleased with the writing in the Harry Potter books. It's pretty embarrassing coming from an adult. t is time to make a stand against Harry Potter. A futile stand, no death or glory involved: just popping my head over the trenches so it can be mowed off by the vast, unstoppable juggernaut of popular acclaim before I have begun to open my mouth. Firstly: if you're going to buy her book, don't buy it for half price at a supermarket. As an example of a world gone mad, you couldn't do much better than this: a writer whose sales have actually fulfilled a publisher's wildest dreams is indirectly responsible for large-scale misery among independent bookstores. This is not JK Rowling's fault. It's a consequence of the deregulation of the book market. ...But whether you should buy the book at all is another matter. For I have come, with some regret, to this conclusion: their style is toxic. And this is Rowling's fault. I know that I am anticipating what the style of the latest book will be in advance of actually seeing it, but really, I don't think I'm going out on a limb here. Of course, if she has turned into a first-class writer with her forthcoming Potter book, I will happily, no, joyously, eat my words. But until then, we have to swallow hers. And for all that she is gifted enough in devising popular scenarios, the words on the page are flat. I think it was Verlaine who said that he could never write a novel because he would have to write, at some point, something like "the count walked into the drawing-room" - not a scruple that can have bothered JK Rowling, who is happy enough writing the most pedestrian descriptive prose. Here, from page 324 of The Order of the Phoenix, to give you a typical example, are six consecutive descriptions of the way people speak. "...said Snape maliciously," "... said Harry furiously", " ... he said glumly", "... said Hermione severely", "... said Ron indignantly", " ... said Hermione loftily". Do I need to explain why that is such second-rate writing? ...read the critic by Nicholas Lezard in The Guardian

March

Andre Schiffrin has been a leading figure in the book publishing world for nearly 50 years: As head of Pantheon books Andre Schiffrin edited titles by Jean-Paul Sartre, Studs Terkel, Art Spiegelman, Noam Chomsky and Michel Foucault. In 1990 he resigned and set up the non-profit publishing house The New Press. Schiffrin has also written several of his own books including, his new memoir, "A Political Education: Coming of Age in Paris and New York." ...Well, he [my father] had invented a new form called -- a collection of classics from France and the rest of the world, called a Pleiade, which has since become one of the staples of French publishing. It’s books that practically all educated French people try to have in their homes and has become a real institution, and he ended up working for this big publishing house, called Gallimard, which bought up this collection, when it was so successful, he didn’t have the money to keep it going. The Germans had the bad idea of walking into Paris on my fifth birthday, and very shortly thereafter ...watch, listen, read the interview in Democracy Now!


Barak Obama for President:

A wonderful remake of a Macintosh commercial based on George Orwell's premonitory fiction "1984" denounced the connivence of Hillary Clinton with Bush Jr planetary police state and encourage citizens to support Barak Obama for USA President in 2008
... Mr Obama, vying to become America's first black president, made the most stirring appeal as he used his first visit to Selma, a fulcrum of the civil rights movement to declare: "I'm coming home." The son of a Kenyan, he drew a connection between the struggle of blacks in the segregated Southern states, the experience of Africans in British colonies, the struggle to be free from the Soviet Union and women's movements against the "unjust" Vietnam war and the "ill-conceived" Iraq invasion. ...read more in The Telegraph
Watch the two videos clicking on the screens.
And visit Barak OBAMA for President Web.
Also watch both video by clicking on the screen.

January

The Tate Modern opens the exhibition State Britain, resuming citizen Brian Haw's brave protest against the invasion of Irak on Parliament Square since 2001: They passed a law to ban him, but they can't keep Brian Haw out of the Tate: his five-year protest against Tony Blair has been lovingly restaged by the artist Mark Wallinger. This is art as William Blake wanted, Art to wake people's consciousness up and better the world ... more in The Independent - The Tate Modern - The Telegraph - The Times - Brian Haw Peace Protester website [where you can support the protest for Justice and Peace] - watch also a 3D of the protest for peace installation here.

Watch and listen Brian Haw explaining the meaning of his brave civic protest [courtesy of YouTube]

Year 2006

November

We must travel to the stars to save the human race: Stephen Hawking warned that future generations would need to leave the planet to ensure the survival of the species as he picked up a prestigious scientific accolade yesterday. ..."If we used chemical fuel rockets like the Apollo mission to the moon, the journey to the nearest star would take 50,000 years. This is obviously far too long to be practical, so science fiction has developed the idea of warp drive, which takes you instantly to your destination. Unfortunately, this would violate the scientific law which says that nothing can travel faster than light. "However, we can still within the law, by using matter/antimatter annihilation, at least reach just below the speed of light. With that, it would be possible to reach the next star in about six years, though it wouldn't seem so long for those on board," he said. ... more in The Independent.

Article by film-maker Andrei Nekrasov on murdered British investigator Alexander Litvinenko: ..."I have visited my friend half a dozen times this week and his deterioration has been steady and dispiriting. On Sunday night he was able to converse quite normally. On Monday we chatted but he already seemed tired. On Tuesday I had my last conversation with him. By then he was already visibly weaker. On Wednesday he barely moved and it was that night that he suffered a heart attack, lost consciousness and was put on life support. It was so different from the beautiful sunny day just a month ago, when we met at Westminster Abbey for a memorial service to Anna Politkovskaya, the murdered journalist who had exposed the State’s abuses in Chechnya and paid for her courage with her life. ..." ...Read the article by film director Andrei Nekrasov in The Times -
Also watch the film DISBELIEF (Loose change in Russia 1999) on the bombing of working class buildings in Moscow by the Russian secret services in a plot to empowered Putin and "justify" a new war against Chechenya - click here
Watch Alexander Litvinenko talking in the Front Line club about the murder of Anna Politkovskaya by Vladimir Putin - click here to watch it now [courtesy of Google Video].

October

54 years old Orhan Pamuk, a Turk who defied official history about Armenians genocide, awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature 2006: "who in the quest for the melancholic soul of his native city has discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures" The decision to award the prize to a writer and campaigner who advocates Turkey's European ambitions, and is a searing critic of authoritarian trends in his country, came as a boon to freedom of expression. But Pamuk, a hero to Istanbul liberals, is reviled by his country's nationalists who see him as a traitor. ...Mr Engdahl told journalists in Stockholm. "This is an author that creates an immediate and almost childish joy of reading. He has stolen the novel, one can say, from us westerners and has transformed it to something different from what we have ever seen before ... His roots in two cultures ... allows him to take our own image and reflect it in a partially unknown and partially recognisable image, and it is incredibly fascinating." ... read more in The Nobel Prize Foundation website - in Wikipedia. - The Guardian / The Washington Post / The Independent / The Times

August

Glenn Ford, the legendary actor of Hollywood, died: He became famous for his interpretation at the side of Rita Hayworth in Gilda.
Clik on the video, courtesy of YouTube, to watch three scenes from Gilda and the famous finale from The Lady from Shanghai by the genius Orson Welles :


July

The new development of Tate Modern will create the world's first museum designed to show the full breadth of contemporary art in the 21st century. It will enrich the beautiful cosmopolitan neighborhood of the Friends of Borges in London, the fairest and finest capital of the world ... for more information click here.


May

Da Vinci dud: Mark Kermode says it's this year's dullest film. Da Vinci Code is the worst and dullest film ever, every bit as bad as the text itself ... watch the interview in the BBC

The Da Vinci Fraud by Robert M Price
Truth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code by Bart D Ehrman
Mug's games on the Grail trail: Many critics of The Da Vinci Code have condemned the author's appalling research. The recent copyright case revealed that it was not Dan Brown but his wife Blythe who trawled books and the internet, copied down chunks of text without checking their accuracy, and handed these to her husband with no sources attached. He then, apparently not knowing their origin or their validity, and thus not understanding their context, plugged them wholesale into his novel. Hardly surprising that it's so flawed... read the complete article in The Independent

The Da Vinci Code: More dog's dinner than Last Supper
by Anthony Quinn in The Independent

April

BOOKS
"Beckett remembering: Remembering Beckett"
edited by James and Elizabeth Knowlson
Hail Saint Samuel
Reviewed by Kevin JACKSON in the The Times Literary Supplement


"In the Beginning was Sound"
Reith Lectures 2006 by Daniel Barenboim
In this year's Reith Lectures musician and conductor Daniel Barenboim discusses the interplay between music and society.
You will be able to hear the lectures again, or download a full transcript, after the broadcast.
Find out more about the lectures in the BBC


The calvary of Jesus up dated in Manchester ...read the article in The Guardian





February
Is this bust the true face of Shakespeare? ...more in The Independent - BBC
Lump above eye that 'killed Shakespeare' ... more in The Telegraph

Archeology: the findings by Israel Finkelstein, professor at Tel Aviv University and a Dan David Prize laureate, show that Exodus and other "historic" events from the Bible are masterpieces of fantastic literature ... to know more on the subject read :
"Grounds for disbelief" interview with Prof. Israel Finkelstein by Aviva Lori published in the newspaper Haaretz
Sigmund Freud, Moses and Monotheism

Richard Friedman: Who Wrote the Bible?
Akhnaten in Rosicrucian and Theosophical teachings
Moses and Machiavellism


January

The Great Silence : An unlikely film has been filling cinemas in Germany in recent weeks: a three-hour documentary with hardly a single spoken word, set in a monastery. The film Into Great Silence is an intimate portrayal of the everyday lives of Carthusian monks high in a remote corner of the French Alps. It came about 17 years after the director first requested permission to make it. At the monastery, only the candles break the darkness. It is the middle of the night and in the icy cold of their stone cloister, the monks sit in their thick habits reciting Gregorian verse. "I think they simply do it because they choose to... become close to God," says the film's director Philip Groening. "It's a very simple concept, the concept is God himself, is pure happiness, the closer you move to that, the happier you are. ..." ... more in BBC

Click on the screen to watch 4 minutes of this beautiful film on the Carthusians monks who founded The Royal Chartreuse of Jesus of Nazareth (1309-1835) in Majorca of which Can Mossenya made a significant historic part.


Brokeback Mountain : An elegy to epic love One of several remarkable things about Ang Lee's new movie Brokeback Mountain is that, though set in 1963, you could spend the first three-quarters of an hour imagining it to be 1863. The spareness of the composition, wherein a man, a horse and the yawning skies of Wyoming might be all that fills the screen, suggests a bygone age, and when one character expresses the hope that "the army don't get me", you have to correct your initial instinct: it's not the Civil War he's referring to but the Vietnam War. For a while, time seems to have stopped in this American pastoral. Please do not miss a frame of these opening 45 or 50 minutes, because they are the most beautiful Lee has ever committed to film. Dreamlike and at the same time intensely realistic, they conjure an unlikely relationship - unlikely both for the time and place of its action, and unlikely for issuing from mainstream Hollywood. You may already know Brokeback Mountain as "that gay cowboy movie", but it hardly does justice to the nuance of texture and feeling that Lee has lovingly finessed. Adapted from the Annie Proulx short story, it begins with two young farmhands, Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal), riding out to tend sheep for a summer on Brokeback Mountain, a job that mostly involves chowing down baked beans and avoiding each other's eyeline. Ennis is the more reticent of the two, Jack the jokier, more open personality, and for long stretches the modest, plangent chords of Gustavo Santaolalla's guitar soundtrack fill the silences between them. ... read the review by Anthony Quinn in The Independent

Year 2005

December

John Lennon and me:
My first memory of John is of swimming in his pool in Weybridge. He wouldn't talk. Then, on hearing a police siren, he went to the piano and wrote a song. ...more in The Independent

Congratulations to The Swedish Academy for Nobel to Pinter:
He denounced torture and misery to Irak in name of freedom
... more in The Independent
Swedish Academy confounds expectations by naming Harold Pinter as this year's laureate ... more in The Guardian
Harold Pinter, the English playwright, poet and political campaigner whose work uses spare and often menacing language to explore themes like powerlessness, domination and the faceless tyranny of the state, won the Nobel Prize for Literature today. Mr. Pinter "uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression's closed rooms," the Swedish Academy said in announcing the award ...more in The New York Times


A day for a poet, but you may not know it
Today is National Poetry Day in the United Kingdom, a chance to reflect on an art that seldom makes headlines, but regularly enriches the private moments of countless readers. The writers below won the prestigious Forward prizes, awarded annually to mark the event. To celebrate their honourable calling, a resident poet, Martin Newell, writes in praise of the art itself ... read more in The Independent

New Chapter in the Mystery of Marilyn: her "free associations" recorded for her psychiatrists: ... when Monroe died, Miner had met with the actress' psychiatrist, Dr. Ralph Greenson. During the interview, Miner says, Greenson played the Monroe tapes, but only on condition that the investigator never reveal their contents. ... more in Los Angeles Times

Camille PAGLIA on ten great female philosophers:
Radio 4's 'Greatest Philosopher' poll yielded an all-male Top 20. But is philosophy really a female-free zone? ... more in The Independent


LONDON will host the Olympic Games for the third time in History
... more in LONDON2012 - Clarín - Libération - Le Monde - The Guardian - El País - The Independent

Psychopathology of Everyday Life: the symtomatic bungled actions of Bush Jr. ... read more in The Guardian



The magnificent Lauren Bacall for ever working ... see her in BBC

Watch another interview by ARTE channel

Enjoy Lauren Bacall famous whistle scene

Paul Ricoeur, philosopher of dialogue dies at 92 ... plus dans Le Monde

Woody Allen falls in love again but with London
He praises 'fabulous-sounding' English actors and plans to film again in Britain because of friendlier funding climate ... more in The Guardian and in The Independent

Woody Allen triumphs with his latest work, Match Point, as a Cannes Festival premiere:
The Manhattan veteran director of comedy, with such recent titles as Hollywood Ending that opened the 55th edition of the Cannes Festival in 2002, takes a turn to drama with this film shot entirely in London... read more in the Cannes Festival website.


"The knight in the mirror" by Harold Bloom
Don Quixote - the first modern novel - remains the finest. As a new translation of the Spanish classic is published, Harold Bloom argues that only Shakespeare comes close to Cervantes' genius ... read more in The Guardian

Don Quixote by Carlos Fuentes
They know all about us! exclaims Sancho, even the most private conversations. Cervantes and his ingenious squire have just inaugurated, de facto, the era of Gutenberg, the democratic society of readers and writers ... read the article in The New York Review of Books

2200 años tiene la historia de España ... más en La Razón

In the Roman sun, the cult of John Paul II is born
The cult starts here. You wouldn't notice unless you looked hard. It has its origins on the back of a visiting card tucked in among candles and photographs of the late Pope at a makeshift shrine in the middle of St Peter's Square. In Spanish it says: "Saint John Paul II, intercede for the health of your son" ... more in The Independent

¿Dónde ven la mano de Dios? por Josep Maria Espinàs
... Si es así, si la mano de Dios se hizo visible para salvar a Juan Pablo II, yo no soy capaz de confeccionar la lista de lugares en donde la mano de Dios no ha aparecido... más en El Períodico o en el Periodista Digital


The complete Caravaggio at The National Gallery, London 2005

Jonathan Jones on a unique journey through the work of a troubled genius ... read more in The Guardian





The naked genius of Lucian Freud hits a new record sale ... more in The Guardian - Christie´s

Lucian FREUD: a great master at work ... more in The Guardian


New biographic evidence shows the sexual freedom of Abraham Lincoln, the president who abhorred slavery and founded a humanist movement, the US Republican party, which sadly is no longer such ... more in Salon magazine

Year 2004

October

The philosopher Jacques Derrida died.
He will be remember as the creator of «deconstruction» and founder with the philosopher François Lyotard of The COLLÈGE INTERNATIONAL DE PHILOSOPHIE with headquarters in Paris and branches all over the world. Derrida sustained the actuality of Freud's concepts ... more in ABC / Le Monde / Libération / La Nación / Clarín / The Independent / Clarín / The New York Times


"Desconstructing Harry"
an homage to Derrida by Woody Allen

August

An incongruous, sycophant bio-fiction about Borges:

["Borges, a Life" by] "Edwin Williamson's new life of the great writer Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) is thoroughly engrossing, and fans of the Argentine's ficciones will want to read it without delay. But like socialist literature of the 1930s, this biography wants to fit unruly human life into a theoretical mold. Throughout these pages, Borges is made to appear a divided man, one who desperately, and until his final years unsuccessfully, yearns for spiritual unity. Williamson discovers polarities everywhere. As a child Borges is torn between admiration for his martial ancestors (symbolized by the sword) and an equal admiration for the romantic violence of raffish knife-fighters and petty criminals (the dagger). As a young man, he is caught between the example of his father, the bookish, philandering would-be artist, and the demands of his controlling mother, whom he never disobeys, no matter how stultifying her attentions, how suffocating her devotion. Worst of all, as an adult, Borges repeatedly desires the love of a good woman or even a bad one, but though his spirit may sometimes be willing, his flesh is apparently always weak: Whether traumatized by memories of an unsuccessful adolescent visit to a prostitute or fearful of offending imperious Mama, he can never, his biographer strongly suggests, actually bring himself to go to bed with anybody. ... Annoying though Williamson can be (repeating, again and again, his theory about the sword and the dagger as emblems of opposing psychological tugs), he usefully reminds us that Borges was more than the blind seer and gentle mage of his last world-famous years. He founded literary magazines like Proa (meaning "prow"), promoted avant-garde art, translated bits of Joyce and Kafka into Spanish before anyone else, loved a good literary squabble, loathed fascism, Nazis and Peron, and made lots of bad decisions, both personal and political (he supported the oppressive government that caused so many in Argentina to disappear). Despite a flabby body, ugly mug and owlish myopia (and eventual blindness), Borges must nonetheless have been immensely charming, and not just vastly well read. (When, by the way, did the man do all this reading? Or writing, for that matter? We're told seemingly everything about his social life and hardly anything about his desk habits.) Invariably, Borges gravitated toward the sort of women his mother would not approve of. Norah Lange brought out the scandalously titled (and semi-autobiographical) novel 45 Days and 30 Sailors, cavorted (perhaps intimately) with Pablo Neruda, and then, after a brilliant early flowering, squandered her talents by becoming a mere social eminence and popular after-dinner speaker. The free-spirited Estela Canto offered to sleep with Borges, and he refused (even though they were supposedly engaged); she finally broke off the relationship after realizing that her fiancé was interrupting their evenings together to sneak away and call his mother. And then there's Maria Kodama. Late in life, Borges grew fascinated with a very young Japanese-Argentine woman who soon became his travel companion and eventual second wife. She was left the writer's entire estate, to the disgust of his extended family and the disappointment of his longtime cook and housekeeper. The true nature of Kodama's relationship with Borges has long been problematic: Did she truly love him? Was she merely a gold digger? Has she sacrificed her own life to become a keeper of the flame? Or has she tried hard, like other literary widows before her, to control or hamper the work of researchers and legitimate scholars? Edwin Williamson insists that Kodama helped him with this biography but that it is in no way authorized. If we assume this to be true, the actual book nonetheless suggests that all of Borges's early life finds its fulfillment and resolution in Maria Kodama. Williamson portrays her as almost saintly and her relationship with Borges as deeply affectionate and tender, a sudden, unexpected idyll of serene happiness before the blind storyteller's death. Yet other scholars view the same woman with considerable distrust. Even Adolfo Bioy-Casares -- Borges's sometime collaborator -- took a strong dislike to her. Borges simply stopped seeing his oldest and best friend...." read the review by Michael Dirda in The Washington Post



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EVENTS & NEWS


Sir Derek Walcott, Poet & Playwright, a Nobel Laureate dies at 87 years...
William Shakespeare is 400 years young! Join the Celebrations in the World's stage...
Daniel Sibony's Seminar 2017 in Paris ...
'Anatomy of Influence', a new work by Harold Bloom ...
Bioy reveals in his diaries that his lifelong companion Borges lived his final years in fear of the "bizarre" character of his assistant Miss Kodama...

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