Archive for September, 2007

Interview: Laura Veiga (English Translation)

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

Photo: Laura VeigaMerlo Nights, a series of independent theater encounters, is held every three months in the beautiful village of Merlo in the Province of San Luis in Argentina. Laura Veiga is a dancer and performer, and she has been the artistic director of Merlo Nights since 2003. Like many other artists from Buenos Aires, Laura moved to Merlo and decided to settle and work there.

Laura talked with KadmusArts about what it is like to organize a cycle of independent theater in a small village in the central region of Argentina, how the public reacts to experimental plays, and why she prefers to support independent productions rather than commercial theater.

 Interview: Laura Veiga (English Translation) [12:44m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Interview: Laura Veiga (In Spanish)

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

Photo: Laura VeigaNoches Merlinas, un ciclo que reúne compañías de teatro independientes, se lleva a cabo cada tres meses en la hermosa villa de Merlo, Provincia de San Luis, Argentina. Laura Veiga es intérprete y bailarina, y ha estado a cargo de la dirección artística de Noches Merlinas desde 2003. Al igual que muchos artistas de Buenos Aires, Laura decidió instalarse y trabajar en Merlo.

En esta entrevista con KadmusArts, Laura nos cuenta cómo fue organizar un ciclo de teatro independiente en un pueblo pequeño en el centro de la Argentina; cuál es la reacción del público frente al teatro experimental, y por qué prefiere el teatro independiente al comercial.

 Interview: Laura Veiga (In Spanish) [12:37m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Religio-Fascism of Entartete Kunst

Monday, September 24th, 2007


Photo by D.H. Richardson — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

There they go again.

Whatever happened to the Cardinal rule that if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it? Or, why does a Cardinal have to build up his faith by knocking down the life of others? The answers are to be to found in only the most recent example of religio-fascism.

As covered in our Fest News section this week, Cardinal Joachim Meisner, the seventy-three year old archbishop of Cologne, tagged art of today as “degenerate” in his speech at the Kolumba Archdiocese Art Museum on September 14, 2007. (Yes, 2007, not 1937.)

“When culture becomes disconnected from religion, from the worship of God, religion becomes ritualism and the culture becomes degenerate,” Cardinal Meisner said with the full force of religious authority and political clarity in emphasizing “Entartete Kunst.” No need for a timid echo of the Nazi ministering to culture; this was appallingly rather straight and to the point.

As the furor erupted, the Cardinal chose the well trodden path of apology via “taken out of context.” Writing to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Cardinal Meisner “regrets very much that this vocabulary, in a shortened quotation taken out of context, led to misunderstandings.” Later in a radio interview, he supported his choice expression by arguing that “when art and religion are separated both are damaged.” Still later, he went on to clarify that what he really meant to emphasize was that art must glorify God. Oh. I feel so much better, now.

In addition to resurrecting Nazi ideology, Cardinal Meisner also has an easy ability to demean other religions through his art criticism. In speaking about a recent art work of glass by Gerhard Richter for Cologne Cathedral, Cardinal Meisner said that it could just as well belong in a mosque. Oh. It’s not that art, to be art, must glorify God. Art, to be art, must glorify Cardinal Meisner’s God. Don’t you feel much better, now?

Obviously, Cardinal Meisner’s brand of religio-fascism is not unique to his Catholicism nor to his country. Although, when a German leader purposely reaches back to entartete kunst the echo of mass murder is all too readily heard, loud and clear.

So much of the world’s culture has its foundations in a spiritual conversation — humans attempting to communicate with something larger than ourselves, and to confront what we don’t understand.

Given the rich tradition of art and the church, why must a religious figure use his pulpit to threaten rather than celebrate? Surely, he is not teaching theology. He is only playing politics.

- Bill Reichblum

Are You a Kidult, a Grup, or Just a Festival Fan?

Monday, September 17th, 2007


Photo by Irene Agnese — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

Festival News this week carried a story from CNN.Europe on the noticeable bald heads, grey hairs, and families at this season’s festivals.

Brigid Delaney’s report can’t seem to make up its mind: is it bad that so many forty year olds are going to festivals? Or, is it good that festivals attract multi-generational audiences and are selling more tickets than ever before. Either way, everyone is noticing that performing arts festivals - dance, music, and theatre - are a growth industry as much as a growth art experience.

The CNN story follows the news that Michael Eavis is changing the process of ticket buying at Glastonbury to make sure a younger generation is not shut out of the quick-to-sell-out annual fest.

OMG. YG2BK. 2G2BT. MIRL. BFD. T+. **

It is an interesting dilemma to solve when your festival sells out so quickly many potential audiences are left in the dust. However, what’s the problem?

Richard Herring thinks our world is being ruled, onstage and off, by forty year olds who act like teenagers, “Kidults.” Adam Sternbergh reaches back to Star Trek (how retro can you get?) to see our culture being controlled by and geared to adults who act like kids, “Grups.” (Star Trek trivia time - grups was the term used by a planet’s youthful inhabitants to identify Capt. Kirk and his crew, a shortened from of grownups.)

Are the Euro kidults going to battle the U.S. grups for cultural supremacy?

One of the wonders of the documentary film on Woodstock (sorry, I am too young — i.e. too kidulty/gruppy — to have provided a first hand account) was to see all the little kids running around, dancing, and smiling. (Why weren’t my parents more hip and open?) In other words the very touchstone of youth festival culture had a multi-generational bridge built-in to the experience.

Festivals can be a magnet for great live art as much as a genuine sharing — across the stage and within the audience.

Eavis’ proposal is to set aside 40% of the tickets for telephone sales only so that teenagers can call from their mobile phones. Hmmm. Even if they have a phone but not access to going online, they still need a credit card — and the money to buy.

Surely, though, at the end of the day, a festival’s audience is more than anything else a reflection of the festival’s programming, and the pricing.

If some of the great companies and artists combine generations in creation and on stage (think Paul Taylor Dance Company, Peter Brook’s productions, or New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, to name a quick three from a list of thousands) why shouldn’t the festival audience be a direct reflection?

A festival fan sharing fun is a good thing — and sells out.

- Bill Reichblum

** And now your very own guide to a few messages from that youthful form of communication - text messaging as used above: Oh My God. You’ve Got to be Kidding. Too Good to be True. Make in Real Live. Big Freaking Deal. Think Positive.

Interview: Carolina Pizzo (English Translation)

Wednesday, September 12th, 2007

Photo: Carolina PizzoLa Plata, the capital city of the province of Buenos Aires, Argentina, is holding the second edition of the International Tango Festival of La Plata from September 14-16, 2007.

Carolina Pizzo is a professional tango dancer and the general director of the festival. In an interview with KadmusArts, Carolina talked about how she became involved with tango dance, and how she decided to organize a tango festival in La Plata, only 32 miles away from the city of Buenos Aires. She also discussed the difference between “milonga” or traditional tango dance and new or electronic tango, and explained why the tango embrace has such a haunting effect upon people all around the world.

 Interview: Carolina Pizzo (English Translation) [11:10m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Interview: Carolina Pizzo (in Spanish)

Wednesday, September 12th, 2007

Photo: Carolina PizzoLa segunda edición del Festival Internacional de Tango Ciudad de La Plata se llevará a cabo en la ciudad de La Plata -capital de la provincia de Buenos Aires, Argentina- del 14 al 16 de septiembre de 2007.

Carolina Pizzo es bailarina profesional de tango y está a cargo de la dirección general del festival. Carolina habló con KadmusArts sobre sus comienzos en el baile de tango, y nos contó cómo surgió la idea de organizar un festival en La Plata, a sólo 52 kilómetros de la ciudad de Buenos Aires. También habló sobre la milonga o tango tradicional y el tango electrónico o nuevo, y nos explicó por qué el abrazo de tango es algo tan fascinante para los extranjeros en todo el mundo.

 Interview: Carolina Pizzo (in Spanish) [9:39m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

A Good Computer Virus

Monday, September 10th, 2007

WoW Plague

Image Credit: Blizzard Entertainment

What if a computer game could save the world? Really — save the real world.

A recent article in Lancet Infectious Diseases examined the implications of a virus released into the World of Warcraft game. The virus became a pandemic.

The virulent and contagious element, Corrupted Blood, was introduced in 2005 by Blizzard Entertainment as an extra challenge to players. However, soon after it was introduced they had to take it off the site as the deadly virus spread too far and too deep.

One player, Eric Lofgren, got in touch with his professor Nina Fefferman, a medical epidemiologist, affiliated with Princeton, Rutgers, and Tufts universities. They tracked the implications of the outbreak and spread of the virus across the game, which has almost nine million players, to understand the ramifications of players’ behaviors, travels, and even interactions with pets.

Their research has now been added to a growing body of work to better the modeling of human behavior in a pandemic’s deadly development.

There was a group of players that put themselves at risk to protect others; then, there was the group that seemed to enjoy infecting others. There was also the “stupid behavior” described by Fetterman as “I’ll just get close and get a quick look and it won’t affect me.” While the result might be fairly characterized as “stupid”, the impulse behavior is surprisingly normal and might have the most impact in a pandemic — curiosity.

Fefferman is now working with Blizzard to model disease outbreaks in other popular games, following on research by Ran Balicer to use this kind of role-playing to understand outbreaks such as SARS.

Jeremy Bailenson and Nick Yee of Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab study social interactions in virtual reality worlds. Apparently, it is amazing how much this parallels our behavior in the real world.

Think about how important this work — and playing — is in trying to predict what the next pandemic will be, and how it will affect us.

Then, think about how our medical and scientific models will be based on someone who plays a lot of computer games.

Yet again, the children of today will save the world of tomorrow.

- Bill Reichblum

Interview: Carolina Simón (English Translation)

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

Photo: Carolina SimonCarolina Simón is the General Director of the Tango Dance World Championship, which has been held in Buenos Aires since 2003. In its fifth edition, which took place on August 16-26, 2007, the championship attracted more than 100.000 visitors, and more than 450 couples came to compete from 154 different cities from around the world.

Carolina talked with KadmusArts about the structure of the championship, the jury, and the shows and activities that took place druring the event. She also discussed the importance of making the promotion of tango a state policy, with the goal of preserving Argentina’s national heritage. Finally, she talked about upcoming tango events in Argentina, such as Tango Day in December 2007 and the Buenos Aires Tango Festival in February 2008.

 Interview: Carolina Simón (English Translation) [18:29m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Interview: Carolina Simón (in Spanish)

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

Photo: Carolina SimonCarolina Simón es la Directora General del Campeonato Mundial de Baile de Tango, que se ha realizado en la Ciudad de Buenos Aires desde el año 2003. Para la quinta edición — que se llevó a cabo del 16 al 26 de agosto de 2007 — el campeonato reunió a más de 100.000 personas, y a más de 450 parejas que vinieron a competir desde 154 diferentes ciudades del mundo.

Carolina habló con KadmusArts sobre la estructura del campeonato, el jurado, y los shows y actividades que se ofrecieron durante el evento. También habló de la importancia de lograr que la promoción del tango sea una política de estado, para así poder preservar el patrimonio nacional. Finalmente, Carolina nos contó cuáles serán los próximos eventos de tango en la Argentina: el Día del Tango en diciembre de 2007 y el Festival Buenos Aires Tango en febrero de 2008.

 Interview: Carolina Simón (in Spanish) [20:37m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

Moralists Come Out of the Closet

Monday, September 3rd, 2007

Photo by Tom Davis — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

The conservative press in America is having a field day with two stories, this week, about cultural icons of the left: Arthur Miller and Pete Seeger.

Miller, whose plays center on the common man to question the fairness of a society focused on business and success, is certainly one of the great playwrights of the twentieth century.

Seeger’s songs and performances helped rally generations for causes of social justice and civil rights.

The September issue of Vanity Fair magazine features a story on Arthur Miller’s treatment of his son, Daniel, who was born with Down syndrome. Born in 1966, Daniel was the second child Miller had with his third wife, Inge Morath. The couple institutionalized Daniel a few weeks after his birth. Miller apparently had very little connection to his son throughout his life, and made no mention of him in his autobiography, or even with close friends. Daniel’s story became public when Arthur Miller’s will included the same share to Daniel as to his other children. Receiving a large inheritance triggered the state of Connecticut to seek reimbursement for Daniel’s public care when he was a minor.

The New York Sun carried Ron Radosh’s story about his recent correspondence with Seeger. Radosh has known Seeger for a long time, even studied banjo with him when he was young. Radosh had written to Seeger when he wasn’t included in a documentary on Seeger: he wanted a platform for his views attacking Seeger’s earlier blind support for communism. Seeger wrote Radosh, now a historian and fellow at the very conservative Hoover Institute, to agree that he was wrong to be silent on the acts of the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin.

And so the conservative press sweeps in to question why we should continue to see Miller’s plays or listen to Seeger’s songs now that we know that they were less than perfect men. As their argument goes, unless the artist leads a perfect life, we should not hear or see the value in their work — especially when it questions our own values.

Given the heat and the vitriol, you would think that the conservative press thinks that artists must be as important as political leaders. If so, that’s definitely good news for the arts.

There is, though, a crucial difference between a politician and an artist: An artist questions society; a politician makes laws that rule society.

What is not in question, much to the disappointment of these critics, is that the work of Arthur Miller and Pete Seeger will continue to astonish and inspire audiences around the world for a long time.

These two figures have been joined together for a long time in American history. Miller and Seeger were both indicted for contempt of Congress for refusing to name names in the McCarthy era of personal destruction for leftist affiliations. What’s clear, again, is that many in the conservative political circles have never forgiven Miller’s and Seeger’s principled stands for freedom of expression and association.

Even if you want to take the low road of questioning each man, it seems as though they both tried to overcome their own sense of failings. Seeger has even written a song, which he included in his letter to Radosh. The song, “Big Joe Blues” includes the lyrics:

He ruled with an iron hand.
He put an end to the dreams
Of so many in every land.
He had a chance to make
A brand new start for the
     human race.
Instead he set it back
Right in the same nasty place.

As in all good stories, this one too has the dramaturgical advantage of characters’ actions disguising a larger truth. At the same time these stories broke, there was also the Republican Senator, who had been a leading voice in his party to penalize gays and lesbians and criminalize homosexuality, caught soliciting sex in a men’s bathroom.

Is there a moral?

Maybe, we should trust artists’ questions more than politicians’ answers.

- Bill Reichblum