Culture

Culture Review: Authors Sign Petition Against Trump, Native American Leaders Protest Auction, Brazil Reinstates Culture Ministry

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

Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club, one of the signees of the petition against Donald Trump's presidency. Credit: Flickr

Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club, one of the signatories of the petition against Donald Trump’s presidency. Credit: Flickr

Authors sign petition against Donald Trump

More than 450 authors have signed a statement in which they, “as a matter of conscience, oppose, unequivocally, the candidacy of Donald J. Trump for the presidency of the United States.” The signatories include acclaimed US-based authors Amy Tan, Stephen King, Anita Shreve, Jennifer Egan and Junot Diaz.

The petition states that “the rise of a political candidate who deliberately appeals to the basest and most violent elements in society… demands, from each of us, an immediate and forceful response.”

It was launched on May 23 by writers Mark Slouka and Andrew Altschul, “out of desperation to do/say something about the rise of Donald J. Trump,” as Slouka said on Facebook.

The petition is pitched as an “open letter to our fellow Americans” and affirms the signees’ belief that “any democracy worthy of the name rests on pluralism, welcomes principled disagreement, and achieves consensus through reasoned debate.” Slouka told BuzzFeed News that “[the] statement is an expression of what we see as uncontroversial American values — and so we hope those who read the statement will ask themselves whether Donald Trump is a suitable representative of those values.”

Since its launch, the petition has been made public and has gathered more than 20,000 signatures. It can be read in full and signed by anyone, here.

Native American leaders protest auction

Native American leaders, US politicians and NGOs held a meeting at the Smithsonian, Washington, D.C., on May 24, to protest an auction in Paris on May 30 of hundreds of sacred Native American objects and artworks from the Americas, Africa and Asia, at the EVE auction house.

Brenda Toineeta Pipestem, Chair of the board of the trustees of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American India, called on the owners of the disputed objects to return them. “Please join us in setting a new standard for the private sector’s treatment of indigenous peoples’ sacred objects and cultural patrimony.” Kurt Riley, Acoma Pueblo governor, urged top officials to persuade French authorities to intervene in the auction.

Among the objects to be sold for thousands of euros each are an Acoma Pueblo ceremonial shield, a Hoopa ceremonial deer and and Hopi masks, which are considered physical embodiments of the tribe’s ancestors.

Over the years, Native American tribes have lost hundreds of objects of spiritual importance in the process of relocation and assimilation.

Alain Leroy of EVE Auction House, Paris, responded that “all the items proposed are of legal trade in the US and in France” and that “the public auction process allows the different tribes to acquire their past.”

The recorded live stream of the meeting is available online.

A rare antique tribal mask, Kachina Hapota, circa 1910-1920, revered as a sacred ritual artefact by the Native American Hopi tribe in Arizona is displayed at the Drouot auction house in Paris before auction, December 9, 2013. Credit: Reuters/Christian Hartmann

A rare antique tribal mask, Kachina Hapota, circa 1910-1920, revered as a sacred ritual artefact by the Native American Hopi tribe in Arizona is displayed at the Drouot auction house in Paris before auction, December 9, 2013. Credit: Reuters/Christian Hartmann

Brazil reinstates Ministry of Culture

Following protests by artists and cultural organisations, Brazil’s interim president Michel Temer will reinstate the Ministry of Culture on Monday, May 30. The new minister will be Marcelo Calero, a diplomat, who promises to to ensure the implementation of the National Culture Plan.

It was Temer himself who took the original decision to incorporate the cultural ministry into the Ministry of Education, reducing the number of ministries from 33 to 23, as a way to tackle the country’s historic government deficit. It was one of his first announcements after taking over office on May 12 from the suspended former president Dilma Rousseff, and was met by protests by prominent artists, including at the Gustavo Capafnema Palace and during the Cannes Film Festival, through performances, articles and open letters. The decision to now reinstate the ministry is the latest in a series of reversals in the interim government’s hasty transition.

Account of modern Russia wins UK’s Orwell prize

Arkady Ostrovsky, a Russian-born correspondent for The Financial Times and The Economist, has won the Orwell prize for political writing for The Invention of Russia. The book investigates media manipulation in modern Russia, tracing how Russia moved from Gorbachev’s freedom in 1985 to Putin’s war today.

The £3,000 prize is given to the book that the judges deem closest to Orwell’s ambition to “make political writing an art.” Ostrovsky’s book wins over Jason Burke’s The New Threat from Islamic Militancy, John Kay’s Other People’s Money and Emma Sky’s The Unravelling, among other contenders.

  • K SHESHU BABU

    Protest trump for his appeasement speeches of attracting ‘basest and most violent element’s . Protest against auction of objects in Paris ! Protest against the new Brazilian president abolishing cultural ministry which ended in reinstatement of the ministry!
    Kudos for Orwellian prize winner Arkady …
    People’s power wins!