Jordan, Japan and control of the narrative

King Abdullah of Jordan at the World Economic Forum in Davos, January 2013 (Source: World Economic Forum)

The group calling itself the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) recently set First Lieutenant Muath al-Kasasbeh, a Jordanian pilot, on fire. He had been shot down over Syria on Christmas Eve, during a bombing raid on ISIS bases near the city of Raqqa. On February 3rd, the horrific footage of his execution was… Continue Reading ➤

Mockingbird: Harper Lee’s expression of American change

Harper Lee in 1962, , two years after Mockingbird was published (Source: Jbarta)

The news that Harper Lee was publishing a second novel was greeted by a roar of ecstasy in the literary world and beyond. The BBC described it as launching a ‘‘trade frenzy’’, while the Bookseller magazine anticipates Go Set a Watchman to be ‘‘as big as it gets for new fiction’’, and was told by… Continue Reading ➤

Beauty and militancy: on post-Soviet feminism

Photo: Ghenady

“Visitors to Russia are always surprised to see that Russian women look like they are going to an Oscar night gala dinner even if they are just going to the grocery store or to throw away garbage,” begins Chapter 7 of Russia Survival Guide, an alternative guidebook, which undertakes to provide foreigners with a privileged… Continue Reading ➤

Silent Partners – How to do things with the uncanny

[source: Wikimedia]

The current exhibition “Silent Partners” at the Fitzwilliam Museum charters the history of the artist’s mannequin. From Walter Sickert’s corpselike dummy to Alan Beeton’s androgynous muse, propped up at a writing table in the gallery just as it appears in Beeton’s oil paintings, the exhibition reflects on mannequin’s shift from a functional stand-in for the… Continue Reading ➤

2014, the year of the quenelle? An analysis of the Dieudonné Affair

The Quenelle gesture [source: MoTH4FoK]

Last January one could not switch on a French TV station, read a French newspaper, or have a conversation with a French person without the name of French comedian, Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, coming up. Even amongst Cambridge’s French student community, all our gatherings that month ended in heated discussions of what had become known as… Continue Reading ➤

Indie

Lana Del Rey [source: petercruise]

“Indie” is a cultural punching bag. Everyone loves to hate indie people and almost nobody would self-identify as one, though they might admit to being a fan of the genre. The steady drumbeat of magazine articles and blog posts dismissing the indie outlook as content-lessand paradoxically conformist is proof enough of this,  although relatively few… Continue Reading ➤

David Shrigley: Artist of the Absurd

I'm Dead

In his landmark book The Theatre of the Absurd, Martin Esslin argues that a cluster of playwrights from the 1960s dramatized the theories of Camus and Sartre more coherently than they had expounded them themselves. Beckett, Ionesco and Genet didn’t just describe the absurdities of the human condition, they made them palpable, evacuating characters of… Continue Reading ➤

The Hunter-Uploader Society: Lights, Camera, Obsession

facebook uploader

“Quick! Take a picture!” “Get a snap!” “Film this!” “Hurry and record!” “You’ve gotta put that on Facebook!” Sound familiar? Well it should, because these are the stock phrases of the photo-mad digital world in which we live. Recording events on iPads before we think to breathe them in, snapping pictures with people we barely know… Continue Reading ➤