Culture

Culture Review: Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Gaza Film Festival, Egyptian Artists Arrested, “Panama Paintings”

A selection of arts and culture news from India and around the world.

Chilean poet-revolutionary Raul Zurita in conversation with writer Sharmistha Mohanty. Both will feature in the 3rd Kochi-Muziris Biennale. Credit: MD Niche

Chilean poet-revolutionary Raul Zurita in conversation with writer Sharmistha Mohanty. Both will feature in the 3rd Kochi-Muziris Biennale. Credit: MD Niche

3rd Kochi-Muziris Biennale announced

The 3rd Kochi-Muziris Biennale, organised by the Kochi Biennale Foundation (KBF), an artist-led non-profit institution that also manages education and outreach activities, will run for 108 days, starting December 15, 2016. It will feature a range of poets, musicians, and theatre and performance artists working in varied media and genres, including Finnish-English artist and musician Hanna Tuulikki, Chilean poet-revolutionary Raul Zurita and poet-installation artist Sharmishtha Mohanty.

Mumbai-based artist Sudharshan Shetty will be curating the biennale and says that its mandate is to “broaden and blur the labels and lines attributed to art” by being “an admixture of styles, schools and sensibilities” and creating a “space for cross-cultural interactions.” The biennale will also showcase the results of the KBF’s “Students’ Biennale” and “Art by Children” projects.

Film festival for Gaza

A Human Rights Film Festival is underway in Gaza for the second year running, and is open and free to the public, Al Jazeera reports. The idea behind the festival, according to the organisers, is to bring to Gaza’s people a chance to feel at peace and to send the message to the world that Gaza is a city of life and not of terrorists. The hashtag and slogan of the festival is Badna Nitnafas in Arabic, which means “we want to breathe, we want to breathe air, we want to breathe freedom,” said Saud Aburamdan, one of the organisers of the festival. Seventy films, including feature films, documentaries and shorts, will be screened.

Four young performance artists arrested in Cairo

Four young artists aged between 19 and 25 years have been arrested in Cairo for posting clips online mocking Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and his government, in the latest in a series of crackdowns on free expression in Egypt. The artists face charges of inciting terror attacks and street protests, and insulting state institutions.

Their collective, called Awlad el-Shawarea (Street Children), was started during the flowering of the graffiti and music scene that following the 2011 protests, and has a huge following on social media.

The members of Awlad el-Shawarea during a satirical performance. Credit: Youtube

The members of Awlad el-Shawarea during a satirical performance. Credit: Youtube

First-of-its-kind museum for African American history and culture

On September 24, 2016, the National Museum of African American History and Culture will open in Washington, DC. The museum, the 19th of the Smithsonian Institution, will feature galleries focused on slavery, segregation and the civil rights movement in the US, as well as music, entertainment, sports and politics. Currently under construction, the $540 million, 400,000 square-foot building will extend 40 feet underground, and feature an Oprah Winfrey Theatre and a Contemplative Court with walls of glass and copper, a skylight and a waterfall. The architects, curators and designers worked together to conceptualise the museum, which, according to exhibition designer Ralph Appelbaum, aims to bring together dramatic viewpoints.

Artist creates “Panama Paintings”

A gallery in Berlin is showcasing a series called the “Panama Paintings” by London-based German artist Philipp Ackermann, The Guardian reports. The paintings, while in Ackermann’s name, were painted by Galician painter Daniel de Isabel and commissioned via the gallery’s curator – a process intending to mimic the duplicity of the Panama dealings. The gallery performs the function of an offshore company that deals in “offshore paintings.”

Ackermann notes also that the media hype created around the Panama Papers was like a piece of art. Among the Panama Papers were details of enough privately collected Monets, Picassos and Hirsts to fill a museum. In Ackermann’s words, questions of authorship and copyright come into play in a project like his. In the art world, money laundering is everywhere, but without the scandals.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture, with its beehive structure, being constructed. Credit: Wikipedia

The National Museum of African American History and Culture, with its beehive structure, being constructed. Credit: Wikipedia

Greece looks to international justice to regain Parthenon Marbles

In a decades’ long cultural struggle, Greece is now working to forge international alliances, including with the UN, in its bid to repatriate the Parthenon Marbles from the British. June 7 marks the 200th anniversary of the “capture” of the marble sculptures. On that date in 1816, the British parliament purchased the marbles after the Scotsman ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Lord Elgin, ordered them to be torn down from the Parthenon and shipped to England.