Gustavsen arrived in Philly with his trio–longtime drummer Jarle Vespestad and German-Afghan vocalist Simin Tander–to perform cuts off his new album entitled “What Was Said.” The musicians served up a diverse platter of musical and linguistic customs. Gustavsen’s understated piano playing sounded like lights flickering on and off (each key actually lit up each time it was touched!), drawing us in closer to observe what was taking place. Just as subtle was Vespestad, who drummed with beautiful restraint while exploring the percussion’s range.Read More
What will the future bring? Will it be bliss or apocalypse? Imagining the future has always been a means of actively processing the history of the present. In 1895, H.G. Wells’ novel The Time Machine critiqued labor and class conditions of the day by transporting his protagonist to a future ruled by bloodthirsty proletariat mutants feeding off the waifish decedents of the aristocracy. In the racially charged climate of 1966, Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek envisioned a future where the races worked side by side to seek out new civilizations and new sexual conquests. Perhaps most strikingly of all, in the 1980s and ’90s Octavia Butler provided an alternative to the stagnantly white male visions of the future and created stories that were sculpted by the past and current oppression of women and blacks. So for this week’s Reader Advisor I offer few links that examine how we shape the future and how our projections shape the here and now.Read More
Despite all the technical know-how that goes into producing this work, there is something distinctly painterly about Portlock’s approach to image-making. and his futuristic landscapes owe a great deal to the golden age of American landscape painting in the nineteenth century. What separates Portlock’s work from the Hudson River School’s optimism is the artist’s pragmatic engagement with the difficult issues facing many American cities in the 21st century, such as the growing socioeconomic divide between rich and poor, the housing crisis, and environmental degradation. He presents a vision of Philadelphia that is terrifyingly realistic, for depending on where you live, litter-filled streets and boarded-up buildings are all too familiar. As a new resident, I still see the scars of poverty and gentrification that crisscross the city, but exposure and familiarity can blunt the impact of painful reality. Bringing together historical references, contemporary issues, and digital technology, he helps us to see our city with new eyes.Read More
Hello everyone. Your Reader Advisor is back after a long hiatus. I wish I could be returning on a happier note but unfortunately that doesn’t really seem possible any more. After 49 people were simultaneously murdered last week for being themselves, myself like innumerable others, have been feeling a lot of feelings. In fact sometimes I get the impression that the only time our country really collectively “feels” or expresses emotions is after a mass shooting or a mass sporting event. But these outpouring of emotions have become so routine that even politicians are calling into question our sincerity. So this week I offer an examination of how our collective expressions of grief (and love) are coming under new and important scrutiny.Read More
With Eighth Blackbird closing out the LiveConnections season, we can now look to the 2016-17 season. One concert to watch for in the upcoming season is bassist John Patitucci and the Daedalus Quartet’s performance next April. In the meantime, Eighth Blackbird’s concert not only left the audience anticipating their next bold, musical statement, but also LiveConnections’ exciting and much-needed programming.Read More
“I did it because I could,” says Rocky 184, the one woman grafitti writer who gets a deep look in the movie. The self-proclaimed tomboy from Washington Heights is not alone in her unfocused motivation. “I was bored,” says Snake 1. It was not political, say a number of the others. The best, nuanced comment is from Cool Earl, who says “It was a sign of the times, a sign of our youth, our lack of funds and perhaps our lack of paternal guidance.”Read More
When Daniel de Jesús performs he looks just like a painting of the Virgin Mary or a statue of a saint come to life. He wears a blue silk robe and his blue and purple eye make-up runs down his cheeks like tears. His voice resounds in unison with the cello between his knees; a drum machine may keep time or offer up haunting sounds.Read More
In addition to documenting the course of Sanchez’s personal life, her literary life, and her life as an educator–beginning in Alabama, with stops along the way in New York, Amherst, and San Francisco, and ending in Philadelphia–the documentary surveys the route of her five decades of activism, touching upon her involvement in CORE, The Children of Malcolm, the Black Power Movement, the Black Arts Movement, the Black Studies Movement, the Black Panthers, and The Nation of Islam. Above all, the film portrays a powerful, principled woman on a mission, speaking out against and standing up to injustice wherever she encounters it–whether in the curricula of respected educational institutions or in the misogyny of Eldrich Cleaver–demanding and reclaiming self-respect for herself and for her community, and urging her sisters and brothers to do the same.Read More
In the end, the exhibition Common Touch: The Art of the Senses in the History of the Blind offers more than a glimpse into the history of the blind from the depths of today’s archives. In contrast to persistent misconceptions about blindness–as if Pieter Bruegel’s sinister and mocking “The Blind Leading the Blind” (1568) still shapes our thinking today–Teresa Jaynes shifts our biased perception from a predominantly visual culture into a synesthetic experience. Speaking through the language of the fingers, she creates a tangible world that addresses issues of humanity and society that are anything but marginal. Liberate your vision and explore the nature of perception through the senses of touch, sound, and scent.Read More
Kip’s and Fischer’s respective works underscore a sense discomfort in the act of looking or a reliance on subjective frameworks in the process of recollection. I find their work particularly relevant as they address the relationship between routine and confusion, and between observation and obscured memory, within the context of architecture. From their structures, I gather that to think about edifice is not to reflect on deliberate forms of shelter and safety, but, more so, to consider how the built environment metaphorically serves as a foundation for the lived experience.Read More
Some of the most compelling sequences in Wright’s documentary consist of the artist’s reflections on perception, perspective, and space. After a painful breakup with his longtime partner, Peter Schlesinger, Hockney made a series of etchings based on Wallace Steven’s poem, “The Man With the Blue Guitar,” which was in turn based on Pablo Picasso’s famous 1903-04 Blue-period painting, “The Old Guitarist.” Hockney was drawn to the poet’s insistence on “things exactly as they are,” using his etchings to play with realistic and illusionistic depictions of space, all within the emotional frame of the artist’s life and relationships with others.Read More
The tension between rules and improvisation is at the heart of much musical practice, but it is unusual to see it played out in the context of a collective audience performance. As a participant, the experience was thought provoking and occasionally frustrating, and I left with a new appreciation for the importance of rules for all of us who listen to and perform music.Read More
Mike Durkin and the performers of The Renegade Company offered an amusing and thought-provoking interpretation of Bosch’s medieval masterpiece. The deliberately loose and open structure of the performances allowed us as audience members to pick and choose our sins, and gave us space to reflect on their meaning.Read More
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