PARIS — From a minister of culture during the precedent administration who famously admitted that she didn’t have time to read books, newly inaugurated president Emmanuel Macron and his freshly-minted prime minister Edouard Philippe, both famous readers and promoters of literature, today took a major step in recuperating the image of a portfolio for years honored by Andre Malraux by naming as the country’s minister of culture and communications Françoise Nyssen, long-time director of Arles-based Actes Sud, one of the crème de la crème of French publishers. Together with Macron’s campaign promise to increase library hours at night and on the week-ends, and Philippe’s record as mayor of Havre in sending bookmobiles around the coastal city, the appointment of Nyssen, who also founded a school focused on listening to the child after the suicide of one of her own children, augurs well.
Parce que oui, la Culture française – comme d’ailleurs tous les cultures qui déferle vers Paris – appartient au monde qu’elle a si souvent rayonné, et il faut refusé de la laisse etre confiné et sequestré par les forces de l’Obscurantisme.
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The Open Studios or Portes Ouvertes de Belleville and those of the Prè Saint-Gervais, performers including Berlin’s Constanza Macras, Portugal’s Vera Mantero, a major exhibition devoted to Camille Pissarro paintings rarely seen in France, Belgium’s Alain Platel, Spain’s Israel Galvan, Crystal Pite — these are just a few of the major cultural happenings in Paris and environs this Spring that the Arts Voyager and Dance Insider will be able to cover with your support.
Many of you first read about these internationally renowned artists and events for the first time in English in our journals and, continuing our 20-year mission of bringing you stories not told elsewhere, we’ll also be reporting on Giulio D’Anna, a Netherlands-based Italian choreographer whose “OOOOOOO” is inspired by Zagreb’s “Museum of Broken Relationships,” and Jasna Vinovrski’s “Lady Justice,” addressing the relationship between justice and art. Speaking of art, we’d also like to bring you Yasmina Reza’s “Art” as interpreted at the Theatre de la Bastille by the pioneering Belgium theater company STAN . And of intersections between art and society, this year’s Chantiers (Building Projects) d’Europe festival at the Theatre de la Ville features countries in the front lines of the refugee crisis, notably in six short films from Greece addressing this topic and a public brainstorming session with artists from six countries. Most of all we’ll be able to bring you into the studios of the 200+ artists taking part in the Open Studios of Belleville — a neighborhood which in its very MULTI-CULTURAL contours and dimensions provides the best retort to the cloistered vision of French culture represented by the National Front. (We share the FN’s stated pride in traditional French culture; we simply argue that this definition is too limited and does not do justice to the grandeur and ouverture to the world that has always been French culture.) Click here to read our coverage of last year’s Open Studios / Portes Ouvertes de Belleville.
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France, too, is at the crossroads. On May 7 the country will choose between the fear represented by the National Front and the hope and optimism represented by Emmanuel Macron. Between closure and opening. In the campaign between these two ‘cultures’ that has raged in this country for the past two years, CULTURE has been all but forgotten. (Among Macron’s refreshing ideas: More library hours.) With your help, we will be able to do our part in restoring some light to what has always been France’s principal calling card around the world. Our calling for more than 20 years.Many thanks and
“Brassens Danse.” ©Joann Sfar and courtesy Cité de la Musique.
“Georges Brassens au métro Glaciére avec un sans abri, 1953.” (Georges Brassens at the Metro Glaciere with a homeless man, 1953.) ©Robert Doisneau and courtesy Cité de la Musique.
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011, 2017 Paul Ben-Itzak
If there are four things the French adore, they are: anniversaries, anarchists, comics, and Georges Brassens. The new exhibition at the Cité de la Musique at the parc La Villette in the north of Paris, co-curated by comics giant Joann Sfar (author of “The Rabbi’s Cat” comics series and director of the film “Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life”) testifies to all these amours in a giant way, commemorating the 90th anniversary of the birth and 30th of the death of Brassens, France’s signature poet-troubador, in an creatively curated exhibition that uses comics to help revive the anarchist the patina of nostalgia has often obscured.
To receive the rest of the article from the Arts Voyager Archives, first published June 1, 2011, including more cartoons by Joann Sfar, Arts Voyager & Dance Insider subscribers can contact publisher Paul Ben-Itzak at firstname.lastname@example.org. Not a subscriber? Subscribe to the Arts Voyager & Dance Insider for just $29.95/year ($99 for institutions gets full access for all your teachers, students, employees, company, association and collective members, etc.) and receive full access to our Archive of 2,000 articles by 150 leading critics on performances, film, and art and culture from five continents published from 1998 through 2017. Just designate your PayPal payment in that amount to email@example.com, or write us at that address to learn how to pay by check or in Euros. Contact Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Louise Bourgeois in Jonas Mekas’s new “Sleepless Nights Stories.” Image courtesy Jonas Mekas.
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2011, 2017 Paul Ben-Itzak
Halfway through “La Commune,” Peter Watkins’s 5-hour, 45-minute tour de force which simultaneously resurrects the insurrectional barricades Parisians erected around their city to stave off a new monarchist-leaning government and tears down the barricades between documentary and fiction, I had to stop and e-mail a Parisian friend to ask if she’d seen the film. My friend — an artist denizen of Belleville, one of the quarters which lead the rebellion — had not even heard of it. This vindicated Watkins as far as the one reservation I have about “La Commune,” that the otherwise educative inter-titles, filling in the basic historical timeline around the events of March – May 1871, sometimes cede to the film-maker’s rants about the obstacles to getting his film distributed in France — even its co-producer the German-French television network Arté screened “La Commune” from 11 at night to 4 in the morning — and claims that the Commune is under-taught in French schools. The media blockade is not incidental, indeed validates the pertinence of a film which resurrects a utopian societal ideal which directly menaces the financial elites.
To receive the rest of this article from the Arts Voyager Archives, first published December 13, 2011, including more images and, in addition to “La Commune,” reviews of Alain Tanner’s “Charles, Dead or Alive” and Jonas Mekas’s “Sleepless Nights,” Arts Voyager & Dance Insider subscribers can contact publisher Paul Ben-Itzak at email@example.com. Not a subscriber? Subscribe to the Arts Voyager & Dance Insider for just $29.95/year ($99 for institutions gets full access for all your teachers, students, employees, company, association and collective members, etc.) and receive full access to our Archive of 2,000 articles by 150 leading critics on performances, film, and art and culture from five continents published from 1998 through 2017. Just designate your PayPal payment in that amount to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write us at that address to learn how to pay by check or in Euros. Contact Paul at email@example.com .
Par Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2017 Paul Ben-Itzak
“Il faut se saisir de la réalité tant qu’il est vécu par nos compatriotes.”
— Benoît Hamon, France Inter, le 23 janvier 2017
“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” (Volez comme un papillon, piquez comme un abeille)
— Muhammad Ali, citation collée au dessus du bureau de Benoit Hamon
De l’extrême gauche a l’extrême droite — avec quelques exceptions sur quelques points de la part de Yannick Jadot & Emmanuel Macron — tous les candidats à l’élection presidentielle française dit qu’ils sont seuls à détenir la verité. Or, leur verités sont presque toutes basées sur un idéologie plutôt que sur une analyse froide des faits. Sauf Benoît Hamon.
Voici un exemple: Dans notre société, il y en a qui disent que la soi-disant “révolution” numérique est formidable, et il y en a d’autres (comme votre serviteur) qui disent que c’est un malédiction malsaine car elle remplace les humains par des robots (ou, si tu prefère, le travail individuel par l’automatique et les ‘algorithmes,’ donc l’humain devient plus et plus obsolète en faveur de la robotique). Benoît Hamon, par contre, dit (pour resumer): “Ecoutez, qu’on l’aime ou qu’on se mefie, le numérique est là. La mondialisation — et le perte d’emploi qu’elle implique, comme pour le numerique — est là. Alors comment faire face?”
Comme *une* solution possible, Hamon a proposé le “revenu universel.” *MAIS,* à la différence des autres politiciens — surtout ceux qui lui sont presque tous tombés dessus — il a précisé (je résume encore), “C’est ma verité, mais ce n’est pas moi qui ai le monopole de la vérité. On peut discuter.”
Donc, pour moi, la question n’est pas, “Est-ce que le revenu universel vas nous sauver” ni non plus, “Mais comment on va payer pour ça?” L’important c’est plutôt dans le fait que Benoît Hamon a posé la question: “Le numérique et le mondialisation sont là. Il y a des gens qui souffrent au cause de ça. Est-ce qu’il y a un moyen d’améliorer leur souffrance? Voila une idée. Est-ce que vous en avez une autre?”
As of January 1, 2017, new Arts Voyager articles and art will be made available exclusively to subscribers and delivered via e-mail.
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Keith Haring. Manhattan Penis Drawings for Ken Hicks, 1978. Graphite on paper. 8 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches (21.6 x 14 cm). ©Keith Haring Foundation. Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York. First published on the Arts Voyager in 2012.
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Text copyright 2016 Paul Ben-Itzak
Today my DVD deck on my more or less brand new lap-top broke down just after I’d popped in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” for my annual refresher course in pursuing one’s dreams and fleeing one’s disappointments with panache. Every year Blake Edwards’s film of Truman Capote (note to French media: It’s CA-POE-TEE not CA-POHT)’s novel teaches me something new. Two years ago, I finally understood why George Peppard’s insisting, “You belong to me, Holly” is not misogynistic. (If I told you there would be no need for you to view the film.)
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