Another kind of war, less explosive than bombs and more subtle than night raids, is taking place in the Central Asian country of Afghanistan: a war of cultural influence. Its means are financial sponsorships and other support for cultural and artistic events.
Ricardo Bharath-Hernandez, like most citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, has probably lost count of the millions of dollars being spent to renovate the Greek revival style “Red House” that serves as the parliament building in the oil-rich twin island republic.
Ela, a young Tunisian woman whose face is barely visible behind her niqab, says she has spent five months protesting a university ban against the religious garment in the classroom “to no avail”. On the other side of the capital Tunis, a group of students decked out in djellabas and keffiyehs (traditional Tunisian costumes) with the Tunisian flag wrapped around their shoulders, perform the Harlem Shake: a dance form that originated in the United States in the early 1980s but has recently gone viral online as a popular meme.
Authorities at Kyrgyzstan’s Ministry of Culture want to ban a play that discusses domestic abuse and sexual violence because it “promotes scenes that destroy moral and ethical standards and national traditions of the peoples of Kyrgyzstan.”
The Taliban may have placed a ban on theatre, but women in Pakistan’s northern provinces won’t allow the threat of the militants’ reprisals to keep them off the stage.
The applause has continued long after the curtain came down on the last performance of Khushal Khan Khattak in the northern Pakistan city of Peshawar last month. The enthusiastic reception should have the Taliban worried.
Despite uncertainty and the ongoing conflict, Mali will work to rebuild and safeguard its cultural heritage, says the West African country’s minister of culture Bruno Maïga.
They belong to the Amazon of Bolivia, where their people, the Moxena nation, are found, and they are brothers. Francisco and Alfonso Ichu Tamo came to this southern city to become the premier makers of musical instruments.
Mahfuza, a mother of three in a small town in the Ferghana Valley, has better things to do than spend her afternoons at crowded, smoke-filled Internet clubs. But as a high-school algebra teacher, she has an extracurricular assignment from her bosses: she must monitor the clubs’ clientele – many of them her students – while they play computer games, surf social networking websites, and watch music videos.
Artists-in-residence, once found only in the industrialised North, can now be found throughout Latin America, which is hosting artists from different parts of the world to produce and exhibit their work. There are also opportunities for visiting artists simply to seek inspiration.
“Child abuse merits a different, in-depth approach. The objective of this film is to make the problem visible and promote debate and reflection,” says Eric Corvalán, director of a documentary that required “breaking through walls.”
Nestled in a valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal mountain range, Kashmir is an idyllic and culturally rich region, a cradle of Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist religious relics and architectural sites.
A group of young people walk down the streets of Chicago, broad grins on their faces. They have good reason to be happy: the ovations received by their repertoire of Latin American music when they played in the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela still echo in their ears.
Venezuela’s youth symphony orchestras that have enamoured audiences on several continents are a social programme aimed at fighting poverty and marginalisation, more than an artistic endeavour, says the founder of the initiative, José Antonio Abreu.
Venezuela’s youth orchestras have gotten used to wild applause and standing ovations in Europe.
But this time the warm reception was not for the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, the most visible face of the National System of Youth and Children’s Orchestras of Venezuela
(FESNOJIV), a network of youth and children’s orchestras that has put instruments and music scores in the hands of 400,000 children and young people.