In the glitzy Dolby Theater in Hollywood Heights, with stars dressed in hundred thousand-dollar garbs, Parasite
—a film about inequality, class tension and the fault lines of capitalism—won big. I couldn’t help but recall South Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s earlier 2013 film, Snowpiercer
Even as their income dries up and their touring opportunities disappear because of the Covid-19 pandemic, some artists are using their work to call out injustice, criticize inept leaders and spark social change.
Eight years ago, at the age of eleven, Fuzia co-founder Riya Sinha decided to start a writing club for school girls. Stemming from this initiative a few years later Sinha, along with co-founder Shraddha Varma, decided to start the online platform for women. Their story and Fuzia's DNA are intrinsically wrapped around each other – and highlight how even in the age of feminism where women’s voices tend to be drowned out, a platform for them can become a global success.
A young and dynamic digital platform, named Fuzia, has attracted millions of women social media followers and 100,000 active global users with its eclectic mix of content. The platform showcases women’s talent and provides a support network.
William Somerset Maugham was already an established author when he began to focus on short stories. His interest in this genre was actually meant to have been a form of relief from novel-writing, but interestingly it was this literary form that rendered him more famous in the East. Though intensely English in attitudes and behaviour, he was not quite a ‘legit Brit’. Born in Paris (in 1874), he learnt to speak in French before he spoke English, spent some time studying at Heidelberg Germany, before continuing further education in England, then settled down in the south of France. Having written a few novels, he turned to short stories. Perhaps due to his cosmopolitan exposure, he was deeply influenced, in his short stories, by foreign writers. In particular, the Russian author Chekov and the Frenchman Guy de Maupassant.
The film Haingosoa
had barely made it onto screens in France when the government ordered a lockdown because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Theatres, cinemas, museums and other cultural institutions had to shutter their doors, leaving the arts world scrambling to salvage numerous projects.
It is easy to generalize about migration. Populist politicians often portray migrants as strangers and ”our” homeland as a stable entity, rooted in an old agricultural society. When they do so they tend to forget that most of us are in fact migrants who have left that traditional farming community far behind and if it was not we who did so, it was our ancestors.
For some time Wuhan in China and Lombardy in Italy were epicentres of the COVID-19 virus, something that has changed when the contagion is spreading fast in the US. A Lombardy in the grip of a deadly epidemic might among several Italians give rise to memories of their school days. For almost a century, Alessando Manzoni’s massive novel The Betrothed (I promessi sposi)
from 1842 has been obligatory reading for all Italians during their last primary school year. A quite impressive endeavour considering that the novel is more than 700 pages long.
Do you recognize this man? You do, of course. It is the silhouette of Beethoven, the famous composer and pianist, well known all over the world. The year 2020 marks his 250th anniversary and the UN city of Bonn, Germany is very proud of its famous son, born here, next to the river Rhine. The calendar for 2020 shows many festivals, musical events, and exhibitions, attracting tourists and people appreciating classic music from all around the globe. We all immediately recognize his famous Fifth Symphony with the sound known worldwide of ‘da-da-da-daaaa’. As Europeans we honor his Ninth Symphony, this having been chosen as the European anthem.
With the spread of the Covid-19 disease, the arts and culture sectors have seen a flood of cancellations and postponements, affecting artists around the world and putting the global 2,000-billion-dollar creative industry at risk.
Humans belong to a species that is constantly on the move . Since some Homo Sapiens
125,000 years ago began to move from the African continent, humans can be found all over the world, even in such utterly inhospitable places as the icebound plateaus of Antarctica. By moving, humans have tried to escape inadequate food-supply or otherwise unacceptable living conditions. Natural forces have forced them to leave, or even more commonly – violent actions by other humans. With them migrants have brought their means of expression and interaction, some of them expressed through their art.
While women find it hard to talk about their painful experiences, some have found a way of expressing themselves through art. Women, trained as artists, from Nairobi’s informal settlements Kibera and Kangemi, have produced a beautiful quilt that tells stories about their daily challenges.
Fresh from unveiling a huge statue of a black man on horseback in New York’s Times Square, renowned African American artist Kehinde Wiley flew to France this week to “meet” 18th-century French painter Jacques-Louis David.
It must be a daunting prospect to sing songs made famous by the incomparable Nina Simone, but performers Ledisi and Lisa Fischer brought their individual style to a BBC Proms concert in London, honouring Simone and gaining admiration for their own talent.
Dogs barking in the distance. Birds chirping nearby. A man walking through the mist, surrounded by lush vegetation. A distinctive vibrato singing “Speak Softly, Love” over it all.
There are several means to make profitable use of other human beings, an endeavour that tends to turn others into tools by depriving them of their roots and self-respect. This happened in concentration - and work camps, where individuals were reduced to mere numbers.
Human existence includes dreams, thoughts, ideas, music, stories, religion, and other immaterial ”things”. They constitute an important part of our habitat
, i.e. the dwelling place of any living organism, consisting of both organic and inorganic surroundings. I learned this when I many years ago found myself among the undulating heights of Cordillera Central
, which rise diagonally across the island of Hispaniola, shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
The catastrophic fire in Notre Dame produced a massive emotional reaction. In a Paris famous for its secularism tearful people knelt on the pavement, sang the Ave Maria and prayed to God to save their cathedral. Several stated that it was not only a church burning, but the soul of Paris passing away. What did they mean to say?
The Academy Awards
, i.e. The Oscars
, may occasionly award a worthy movie as Best Picture
, though it is far from sure they select films with a unique artistic vision, enduring cultural influence and/or innovative qualities. Take for example the plain family drama Kramer vs. Kramer
, which in 1979 won Best Picture
and Best Director
, while Francis Ford Coppola´s by now classical epic Apocalypse Now
was awarded for best sound.
Some memories stay with us forever. From my childhood I remember above all a few extraordinary moments – when I suddenly, after many failed attempts, found that I could swim and the same happened when I could ride a bicycle on my own. Since then, these skills have stayed with me throughout life, becoming part of my existence. However, towering above these instances of bliss is the moment when I realised that I had read an entire novel, one without pictures. One of those books that grown-ups were reading. From that moment the gates of paradise on earth were flung wide open. Friedrich Nietzsche once wrote that without music life would have been a mistake. He was probably right, but for my part I assume that without reading, my life would have been much more difficult, empty and boring. I cannot imagine a life without books. As a teacher my wish has always been to convey to my pupils the happiness and wealth books may bring to you.