# Arts & Culture

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08.09.2018

David Robert Jones was only one year old when 492 immigrants called by the British government landed on the British coast. They would soon be his new neighbors. It was 1948, and the ship that carried them from the Caribbean archipelagos to the London fog was a former German cruise ship recovered as war booty, the Empire Windrush. These new Londoners settled in the south of the city, first in Clapham and then in Brixton. David grew up surrounded by their music, and those sounds and culture helped him create David Bowie, one of Brixton's most beloved sons, depicted on a famous mural in Turnstall Roadunder which fresh flowers are brought every day. A multi-ethnic neighborhood by definition, the cradle of Caribbean culture in Europe has also been the scene of riots between locals and the police back in the 1980s and 1990s, yet today Brixton is one of the places to keep an eye on to get an idea of the contemporary British cultural avant-garde. Music, art and food are the focus and the driving forces behind the vibrancy you breathe as soon as you get out of the tube at the Brixton station. The heart of the neighborhood isWindrush Place, named after the ship that changed the destiny of this district. Here are two veritable institutions: Ritzy cinema, founded in 1911 and still proudly independent today, and the Black Cultural Archives, the first and only British center dedicated to the conservation and spreading of African and Caribbean culture in the UK. A venue for meetings, exhibitions, studies and comparisons, the Black Cultural Archives also won the New London Architect Award in 2015.  On Brixton Road sits Brixton Market, open seven days a week, selling exotic and bizarre goods and food from all over the world. Featuring both outdoors and indoors areas, it is the kingdom of ethnic street food. This maze of stalls, kiosks and restaurants has long been a place of nostalgia, yet today it is not only a destination for fans and enthusiasts but also for the locals, especially since the 2000s, thanks to a new injection of of artists, musicians and designers from Asia, continental Europe or simply from other areas of London, attracted by the liveliness of the area and by the unique character of Brixton. Some call it gentrification, for others it may be just the natural evolution of an ever-changing place, as shown by Pop Brixton, an installation of containers at 53 Brixton Station Road that host start-ups, small shops, kiosks, restaurants, and spaces dedicated to design, innovation and social initiatives. Pop Brixton should stay until fall, but given its success it might stay longer: it is an example of how an abandoned area can be quickly revived and become an authentic cultural hub. Art and creativity have always been everywhere in the streets of Brixton and today this been somewhat institutionalized: Electric Avenueis dotted with small contemporary/experimental art galleries, and the clubs offer all music genres from hip hop to electro, reggae and rock starting from 11 pm try Electricand 02 Academy

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07.20.2018

In 1967 the Beatles published the Magical Mystery Tour, and in Amsterdam the Provo movement dubbed the Dutch city "Magical Center Amsterdam". Where was the magic? Perhaps in the power of imagination, which invented new ways and spaces to say things in a different way, with the aim of changing the world. In the late 1960s, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam began to bring together what was left of the energy brought to the streets by a new category of young artists whose ‘experimental’ lifestyles were themselves veritable works of art. The Magic Center, an exhibition currently on display at the Stedelijk, summarizes the energy of the years between 1967 and 1970, when the city became one of the most fertile and vibant crossroads of that new generation of artists.  Curated by Bart Guldemold, the exhibition collects 250 works and objects and 100 reproductions collected from the museum’s permanent collection, from the Rijksmuseum and from the Institute of Social History, Sound and Vision. The common thread is irony, which brings together the contradictions of that era, expressed through the posters by Daniel Buren, which were among the first examples of street art, the performances of Wim T. Schipper, who put together an improbable Christmas tree in Leidseplain, one of the central squares of the city, in the middle of summer.  Sunny Imploo was yet another invention of that time: a luminous sphere inside which you could stick your head to enjoy a supposedly relaxing effect. According to authors Louis van Gasteren and Fred Wessels, it should have been made available for everyone at every street corner, but it never actually left the museum.  50 years later, these seemingly bizarre works still manage to bring back the emotional clock to a moment in history when cultural revolution was a daily affair and female artists began to play a decisive role. Among the hundreds of works and icons belonging to that time, including many independent magazines, the exhibition presents some original materials from the Bed-in for Peace project by John Lennon and Yoko Onothat happened at the Amsterdam Hilton in 1969. And as Amsterdam rediscovers its central role in the artistic ferment of the late 1960s, on the red brick façade of one of Stedelijk's warehouses the largest mural ever made by Keith Haring in Europe (1986, 12 by 15 meters)comes back to life thanks to the intervention of various artists and foundations. The work depicts  a man riding a sea animal with a dog's head and it can be seen from Willem De Zwijgerlaan Street. 

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07.20.2018

In 2017, for the 15th year running, the Adachi Art Museum was elected the best traditional garden in Japan by The Journal of Japanese Gardening, the American publication devoted to the special world of Japanese gardens and Japanese architecture. The Adachi Museum of Art, centred on modern Japanese paintings, was established in 1970 in the city of Yasugi, Shimane prefecture, It was completed in September and opened to the public in November of the same year. It currently houses 130 works by Yokoyama Taikanand it is also renowned for its gardens. Yasugi was the birthplace of Zenkō Adachi, the founder of the museum. Zenkō began working as a coal haulier between the countryside and Yasugi Harbour. He developed a keen interest in business and after the Second World War he took on several jobs, including textile wholesaler in Osaka and estate agent. At the same time, he began collecting works by Japanese painters, something he had loved since his youth, and eventually became known as an art collector. Throughout his life, Zenkō delighted in designing gardens. Finally, in 1970, at the age of 70, as a sign of gratitude to his hometown and aiming to enhance the cultural development of Shimane prefecture, Adachi established the Adachi Museum of Art. Adachi’s passion for collecting art was well known, but perhaps his greatest accomplishment was his 1979 acquisition of several works by Taikan Yokoyama from the Kitazawa Collection, including Autumn Leaves, Mountains After A Shower, and Summer - Four Seasons Of The Sea. Zenkō Adachi considered the garden as a picture scroll and had horizontal viewing panels installed, through which visitors can enjoy the ever-changing beauty of the garden. After his death at the age of 91 in 1990, the garden, which is divided into six sections totally about 165,000 square metres, was officially designated as one of Japan’s most representative gardens. The six gardens have a different appearance in every season, framed in the beautiful landscape of the surrounding natural mountains. Adachi’s gardens are said to be a living Japanese painting and gained three stars in the Michelin Green Guide Japan. 

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07.16.2018

From the 5th century AD, when the order of Saint Benedict was founded, to today, monasteries have preserved a unique feature that goes beyond every religious tradition: they are still a place where to take refuge, whether to get away from raids and poverty, as it happened in the Middle Ages, or to put a little distance between ourselves and our daily routine, as it often happens today.  Monasteries are almost inevitably secluded and out of time, and their days are punctuated by simple chores and tolling bells. Home to pilgrims, travelers and faithful for centuries, they retain a special energy magnified by the beauty of their ancient architecture and manuscripts. Europe is literally scattered with such places, and some of them can be extraordinary day-trip or holiday destinations. Here are five monasteries that you most likely do not know yet. Reichenau Island Monastery (Germany)Reichenau is an island on Lake Constance, at the foot of the Alps. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the island houses a Benedictine monastery dating back to the 8thcentury with three churches mixing Carolingian, Ottoman and German architecture from the Salian dynasty, which reigned over the Holy Roman Empire between 1024 and 1125. Its peculiarity lies in the huge mural paintings, particularly those inside St. George’s church, which are very well-preserved.  Monastery of the Holy Cross, Fonte Avellana (Italy)In the 21stcanto of Dante’s Paradise from the Divine Comedy, Pier Damiani speaks of a hermitage at the foot of Monte Catria. This place was already a point of reference in the 14thcentury: the first monks had settled here, in this valley on the border between Marche and Umbria, in the 10thcentury, giving birth to what would become one of the most important Camaldolese monastic complexes in Italy. Hospitality and dialogue are the values ​​that have always been carried forward ever since then, with a calendar of events that covers the whole year and the opportunity of retiring for a few days to enjoy the silnce, nature, the woods and the sky. Ostrog Monastery (Montenegro)Set against the rocky mountains of Montenegro, in the Bjelopavlići valley and not far from Podgorica, the Ostrog Monastery is home to wild birds and strong winds. Founded in 1671, it is composed of two structures on an upper and lower level, connected by a long and winding staircase. The monks still celebrate Orthodox rites and sacraments and are happy to share the long history of this place and of the miracles that supposedly happened on its grounds with the visitors. Saint Gall Abbey (Switzerland)The first stones of this great Benedictine monastic complex date back to the 8th century, as well as some of the oldest manuscripts kept here. The library is its main asset, both for the Baroque structure and for the huge quantity of manuscripts dating back to the last twelve centuries, including the first architectural project on parchment. Architecture is the second focusbecause it features all the architectural styles from Charlemagne onwards, making this place one of the most vibrant cultural centers in Europe.Hermitage of Santa Caterina dal Sasso (Italy)Coming from the lake, the first thing you’ll see is the big bell tower, and then the beautiful arcade that runs along the lake. In Leggiuno, on Lake Maggiore, this hermitage has two convent structures, the oldest one dating back to the 13th century, and a church with an original structure, the result of the fusion of three different chapels over time. The frescoes, focusing on everyday life scenes and stories full of mysticism, have preserved their bright colors. When the winter fog rises from the lake, this place is an otherworldly vision. 

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07.13.2018

She is one of the world’s most famous and appreciated mezzo sopranos, a Baroque music enthusiast, a generous artist and a proud mother. Swedish singer Ann Hallenberg has been successfully singing opera for 25 years in the world’s most prestigious theatres. In the meantime, she has constantly enriched her repertoire with the rediscovery of amazing arias from unknown Baroque composers, supported in this passionate and incessant research by her husband, the German musicologist Holger Schmitt-Hallenberg. We discussed her career, her life and her passions over a Spritz in Venice. How did you, Ann, become Ann Hallenberg the famous mezzo soprano?AH:I am actually the proof that the media do have the power to shape a child. I grew up in a house with music. My father was a church singer, so I had music around me but it was mostly church hymns, never opera. And then when I was six I was left alone in front of the TV one day, and there was a televised production of the Bettlerstudent, an operetta by Millöcker. It just got me. I remember crying because it seemed like there would be a tragic finale, and jumping on the sofa when I found out there would actually be a happy ending. The day after, I asked my dad to buy me the record, and my mum to make me a dress just like the prima donna. There and then, I decided: this is what I want to do. I want to become an opera singer! So, basically you are living you childhood dream?AH:Yes, my whole life I have been doing what I wanted to do. I am extremely lucky, and I am aware of this luxury. Although as I was studying music, I said to myself “This is ridiculous, you can’t be an opera singer just like that”. Since I had a huge interest in history and I also wanted to be an archaeologist, I gave myself five years after attending the opera school to see if this dream would work. “If it does not”, I thought, “then I will have all my papers ready to become an archeologist”. It was my plan B. Which was the first moment in which you realized you could make it?AH:I think it was when I auditioned with very short notice in Oslo for L’Italiana in Algeri. Basically, from day 1 to day 2 they threw me in: I auditioned, said thank you, and I was on my way out of the stage door to catch my plane back to Stockholm when the opera management came running after me and told me I'd got the job! During that opera production I began to realize that it would work. I was four years out of opera school. From then on, my mantra has been “slow growth, quality music”Which specific moments in your career did you cherish the most?AH:There have been many fulfilling professional moments, of course, but personally the most remarkable one was coming home after an audition with Luca Targetti from La Scala one night and telling my parents “I am going to sing at La Scala!”. The joy of my father in his pajamas in the middle of the night is something I will always cherish. What triggered your passion for Baroque and 17thand 18thcentury composers?AH:First of all, I discovered Baroque through Swedish mezzo soprano Anne Sophie von Otter and truly liked it. Secondly, I realized that to sing Verdi, Puccini and Mozart I would have to stand one step behind the sopranoand reach for handkerchiefs, and chairs, and be supportive as they sing their arias. By singing Baroque, on the contrary, I would get to sing several arias. And then of course I also realized that it was perfect for my voiceIn your Carnevale 1729album you sang a collection of 14 unknown Baroque hits from the 1729 Venetian Carnival. How did you come up with the idea and why this specific selection? AH:The inspiration came from those cheap CDs you can buy at any gas-station: “Greatest Hits 1985”, “Summer Hits 2010” etc. I began to imagine what an album from the 18th century would have been like, what the “hits” of an exciting season in 18thcentury Venice could have been. We ended up picking the year 1729 because the Venice Carnival of that year had so many incredible arias written for the occasion that had miraculously survived. 1729 was a special year also becauseall the big stars of Italian opera had come back home after disagreements with their impresario, Händel,in England. This connection with such a well-known composer was also crucial to help us sell the record. On that note, how do you cope with the fact that these composers, such as Orlandini or Giacomelli, while being amazing are very little known? Wouldn’t it just have been easier and more profitable to record something by Händel?AH:I am absolutely aware of this. And I obviously love Händel. In the case of Carnevale 1729, I thought that “using” his name to make people discover the other composerswould be a good idea. The same thing happens when you set up the program for a recital: sometimes it can be annoying, but you always feel that you should add a Händel aria so that people are happy. But recently things are changing, and both record companies and fans are starting to appreciate unknown composersIs there a composer in particular work that you think would deserve more attention from musicians and the public? AH:Well, there are several. I would say Pietro Torri, Giovanni Porta, and of course Geminiano Giacomelli. Yet it is not easy to popularize work. They are basically unknown, and there is not a single famous piece from them that the public can connect with to get an idea of who they are. Also, you need to do a lot of research because scores and editions are scarce. Finally, there is a negative bias towards unknown composers, the idea that if they had been so good they would not have been forgotten. If it is not about quality, why is that are some composers more known than others? Why Händel and Vivaldi and not Torri and Giacomelli?AH:It is about quality, but only to a certain extent. There is no denying that Händel, for instance, was unique. He truly had a God-given gift. But there are other aspects we should take into account: some composers were only present in their time, they wrote music for a living, maybe they didn’t travel much. In other words, they did not think of music “for eternity”(this is something that only became relevant later, with the “genius” culture). They had one commission after another, and they were extremely good at their own craft. So, yes: Händel was a genius, and maybe Torri was a genius too, only he did not manage to have his work performed in theatres for as long as Händel’s Messiah, and thus to become equally popular. Sometimes it’s just that people love to listen to what they already know: and in that sense, everything that is familiar has a great advantage over the unknownWhat’s your favorite genre when it comes to performing?AH:Opera was my first loveand I have been doing it for 25 years. It is magic indeed, both onstage and behind the scenes. I love the behind-the-scene dance, with people perfectly coordinating to make everything perfect! But it also very hard work, and a lot of time away from home. Besides, singing operas can sometimes be frustrating these days, because the power of the directors has become so overwhelming that it occasionally takes over the idea of the music. So, at this point in my career it has to be something really special. Nobody can believe a singer who sings everything. In this industry you must be capable of saying no. It is brave and refreshing at the same time. How do you feel about curtain calls? What goes through an artist’s mind in that moment?AH:After so many years I am still terrified. I think the fear of not receiving an applause is every artist’s worst nightmare. It luckily never happened to me. When the applause comes, it is like the ultimate proof that you did your job well, and that the public is in a way giving back what you have tried to give them. It’s a sort of chemistry. How do you cope with being an artist as well as a wife and a mother?AH:I am travelling about 200 days every year, so the real hero is my husband. It definitely is a teamwork, because if he didn’t take care of everything at home and with our daughter I would not be able to travel. I’m the one onstage, the one who gets the applause, but behind the scenes there is someone taking care of all the rest. As for meI remain a normal persondespite my staging career. I still love going out without makeup to buy milk in my hometown. Your husband, Holger Schmitt-Hallenberg, is in the music field too. Does that help?AH:Holger is a musicologist, andmy living encyclopedia! This means that we can collaborate and that is just perfect. He has been working in theatres and he knows how my profession works. I never have to explain. But in general, I think that for instance two singers would have a hard time coping with a career and a family, because one of the two would have to step back.   What do you like to do to relax once the hard work is over?AH:Knitting! I need to work with my hands. My work is gone the moment I do it. I sing, and it’s air. I need to do something more physical. 

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07.04.2018

Founded by Aurel Aebi, Armand Louis and Patrick Reymond in La Neuveville, Switzerland, in the year 1991, atelier oïalways stood out from the crowd because of the unique creative journey that gives birth to its objects and spaces. At the heart of it is a penchant for mixing different architectural genres and design disciplines, ranging from architecture to set design, interior design, and product design. 2018 is a very special year for the studio, because two different exhibitions are celebrating its work and telling its story. Oïphorieis the exhibition underway (until September 30) at the Museum für Gestaltung in Zurich, a historic landmark for Swiss design since 1878. Oïphorie is a selection of projects accounting for 27 years of activity involving the most diverse clients, from major international design and luxury brands to prestigious cultural institutions. The aim is to show the phases of design and carrying out of each project, from the manipulation of the materials - the silver thread of the whole process - to the prototype, and on to the final result. On the other side of the world, the Museu da Casa Brasileira in São Paulo, a major destination for design and architecture in the Brazilian city, will be hosting an exhibition called Handmade Industry(August 2018) focusing on the atelier’s approach to materials and exhibiting projects and samples to show how mastering materials and treatments is crucial when embarking on independent design and cultural project. From the merging of materials and ideas comes the impalpable emotional space that surrounds the creations and installations by atelier oï, which always leaves room for reflection and interpretation. The intuition that gives life to the project is a spark that reflects on the experience of anyone interacting with it, getting in touch with its shape and surface, or using it with their eyes and their hands. 

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06.29.2018

It was the year 1999 when Massimiliano di Battista, an art enthusiast and public relations businessman, co-founded the innovative photographic agency Management + Artists + Organization in New York with his partner Marco Fincato. Specializing in fashion and born to drive and support artists in creative terms as well, today the agency is an international reality with offices in London, Paris and Milan, but Massimiliano has remained faithful to "his" adoptive New York City, where he has now been living for almost twenty years not as an "expat", but as a true New Yorker. What’s it like to live in New York for an Italian-born individual?MDB:Personally, I tried to adapt to the city ever since the very beginning, and this led to creating my own family and friend circle to make the experience fulfilling.New York is a very fascinating citybecause it can surprise you every day, it is always on the move and is the only place in the world where so many different ethnic groups coexist peacefully.But it is also a complex and hard city, where the quality of life – by which I mean the quality of human relationships - is rather poor, even when you have reached your goals professionally and financially. It is extremely difficult to have and develop human relationshipsthat are profound, honest and authentic. Have you ever wondered why?MDB:Sure. And the explanation I gave myself is this: real New Yorkers, born and raised in the city, are a minority. Most people come here with a definite project: to achieve a dream, success, financial independence, power, to gain recognition. New York is a city based much more on work and success than it is on human relationships. So, if you manage to develop authentic relationships, it is very important to invest in these people. To what extent does New York embody the whole nation, and what distinguishes it profoundly from the rest of the country?MDB:This a very complicated question, but to sum it all up I would say that New York is at the same time the mirror and the antithesis of the rest of America. The mirror, because of its huge contradictions, which are similar to those of the entire country. The antithesis, for its sense of belonging, for the lack of racial tensions, for a dynamism and a desire to create and to succeed that are absent in many other parts of the United States. What is it that you love most about New York?MDB:My ideal places in New York are those that somehow make me feel "at home" and give me some kind of emotion. Take the subway, for instance: I love traveling on the trains to observe the people, imagine their lives, their desires, their dreams. The subway is possibly the most "democratic" place in the city, the one where there is the greatest integration between different social classes. Or Broadway, and of course the off-Broadway scene: while it may in a sense be considered too touristy and corny, it also offers the unique opportunity to admire some of the greatest Hollywood stars live. Another New York classic of which I am particularly fond, is the so-called “restaurant date”: in a city where friends are hardly ever invited at home, where there are very few bars and the whole aperitivoconcept is missing, restaurants are where most people meet and socialize. My favorite restaurants are EN Brasserie and O-ya (for Japanese cuisine), The Pool Room and The Polo Bar (for an elegant and somewhat formal situation), and the "farm to table" restaurants in Brooklyn or Queens, where you can taste dishes based on local products. Finally, shopping in New Yorkis definitely an exciting experience. I like to discover small shops even in the lesser-known neighborhoods or unexpected places, where new businesses are born on a daily basis. I recommend the Lower East Side, Madison Square Park, Chinatown and Chelsea West. Do you believe that being based in NYC is still a unique opportunity for a photographer or a creative professional in the year 2018?MDB:Living in New York is not crucial for a fashion creative professional, at least not any more. Actually, it may even be a bad idea. Most of the customers are super commercial brands, and very few newspapers offer creative opportunities to photographers.The situation is more suited to the new creative digital generation– multidisciplinary and digital artist, and professionals with skills mixing technology and creativity. These days, in the US it’s all about mobile content. Printed media have become merely accessory. For a fashion photographer or a stylist, it makes probably more sense to live in London or Hong Kong. 

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06.27.2018

We definitely have a problem with plastic. Over the last 50 years, the production and the consumption of the most common manmade material have been rising constantly.  In this context, the recent discovery of a plastic-eating warm by Italian researcher Federica Bertocchiniappears absolutely relevant and it might even provide us with a new weapon in the war against a problem that was caused by our own ineptitude and shortsightedness. Previously a Research Career Development Fellow at the Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology of Cantabria (IBBTEC) in Santander, Spain, Federicagraduated in Biological Science at the University of Pisa and later earned a PhD from the DIBIT research at Milan’s Istituto San Raffaele. Working in London and New York City, she focused her studies on the development of the vertebrate embryo, but it was actually a chance discovery that led her to start a project on plastic bio-degradation. As it happens, Federica is also an amateur beekeeper, and while removing a wax warm infestation in one of her hives one day she put them in a plastic bag, only to later discover that they had eaten their wayout leaving holes all over the bag!  The research that followed, and which was also supported by scientists at Cambridge University, revealed that the wax worm, the larva of a Lepidoptera living in the honeycomb of beehives, does actually eat plastic: according to lab tests, 100 worms can eat 92 milligrams of polyethylene in 12 hours, apparently by using the same enzymes they use for eating beeswax.  Yet, in order to ascertain that polyethylene bio-degradation by wax warm is a viable option that might contribute to solving the plastic problem, more research needs to be done, and Federica is certainly up to it.  

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06.20.2018

160 fashion photographs taken by over 80 photographers and representative of a whole century of evolution of costume and society: these are the numbers of Icons of Style: A Century of Fashion Photography 1911-2011, the exhibition that will take place at J.Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles from June 26thto October 21st, 2018. Fashion photography is the mirror of the company to which it is addressed precisely because it is, first of all, commercial photography and therefore necessarily effective in attracting the attention, and aligned with the curiosities of the moment. Whether it is in the form of a cover, an illustration, a video, an advertisement or a report, when fashion photography becomes one with creativity (and desire), the result is the faithful portrait of the aspirations of an era. Aspirations, not reality, but no less significant for reconstructing a period of history and deserving a retrospective of an author in a prestigious space. During the depression of the 1920s the emphasis that magazine put on glamor responded to a real need for escape, whereas in the years of the Second World War, especially in the United States, a pragmatic, confident and enthusiastic vision of life replaced the previous one. Fashion photography is always a symptom of the spirit of time: the rebirth of the 1950s is all in the lenses of Irving Penn and Richard Avedon, who celebrated the magnificence that came from Paris with the creations of Cristòbal Balenciaga and Christian Dior , among others. The costume revolution in the 1960s can be found the 35mm film photos by William Klein, who got closer to the new street culture, or in the psychedelic and surreal aesthetics of Neil Barr. The 1970s introduced diversity, involving people with different backgrounds, ages and attitudes, in line with the spirit of the time, between experimentations and avant-garde. The 1980s were the years of the Italian limelight: from Versace to Giorgio Armani, Milan became the core of fashion, supermodels were born and fashion photography became an object of daily consumption, a popular heritage and a reservoir of dreams that will nurture a whole decade. The thrill ended on the threshold of the 1990s when, from a slowdown in the economy, the melancholy of grunge and minimalism arose.  By telling this whole story, the exhibition manages to bring images born for commercial purposes but filtered by the genius and talent of some of the greatest masters of photography into a major museum. The final part is devoted to the definitive shift of fashion photography from the catwalks to the street, via fashion blogs (starting from The Sartorialistby Scott Schuman) and Instagram. Is this where the great photographers we will remember in a century from now train and grow? Only time will tell. 

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06.18.2018

Gianni Canova is the Dean of the Faculty of Communication, Public Relations and Advertising at Milan’s IULM University besides being a journalist, novelist, and essayist. Additionally, he is the founder of Duel, the first Italian film magazine to broaden its focus beyond film alone, and delve into the rest of the contemporary media landscape. But above all, Canova is one of the most eminent Italian film critics – although he doesn’t like to be called that as he thinks of himself rather as someone who tries to “infect” his readers and students with the passion for cinema. We chatted with him about essential movies, Italian films, and Netflix.  Contemporary Italian cinema doesn’t seem to be nearly as highly regarded as it used to be in its golden era. Why is that? GC:We have plenty of talented professionals and skilled technicians. We have some extraordinary directors. And yet something is wrong with the industry. The festivals are too conservative and they tend to snobbishly promote films for die-hard cinephiles. The production system has been spoiled by years of excessive public funding. Personally, I wish for a braver entrepreneurial spirit and more innovative promotion and communication strategies. What we need is a cultural revolution that will bring back to our national film industry the dignity it used to have back in the 1960s and that got lost somewhere along the way. For instance,why do the French believe that it’s “cool” to go to the movies, whereas we don’t? I believe that this gives a good idea of where the problem lies. Which contemporary Italian directors would you recommend to a young, foreign film student?GC:Paolo Sorrentino is one of the greatest creators of images in the global film industry. There is not a single frame in his films that is obvious, predictable, or trite.All of his works seem to be designed to teach our eyes how to see beauty. When watching The Great Beautyor Youth, the feeling you get is like the one you might experience in front of someone you are attracted to: you do perceive their imperfections, and yet they drive you crazy. Honestly, all his movies deserve to be seen. The same goes for Matteo Garrone, a visionary talent whose imagination goes beyond reality to create worlds and unearth demons and ghosts.  Now, imagine an alien (or an inexperienced spectator) came up to you and asked what cinema is. Which three fundamental movies in the history of cinema would you show him/her and why? GC:Rear Window by Alfred Hitchcock because it unveilsonce and for all the voyeurthat hides inside every spectator. 8 e 1/2by Federico Fellini because it is a dancing phantasmagoria on the foolishness of making movies. And 2001: A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick because it reminds usthat cinema is the most extraordinary mental exercise that this era has put at our disposal. What do you think of the growing popularity of film streaming services? GC:To me, they are the triumph of films and the death of cinema. People have never been watching so many films, they watch them on their tablets, smartphones, computers and TV screens. Films have become something other than cinema. As Marshall McLuhan wisely and famously stated,“the medium is the message”. TV series are just an outstanding invention designed to transfer investments, capitals and consumption from the cinematic medium to other media. That’s all they really are: a simple positioning strategy in the entertainment market, with all that this entails. Netflix is not a film producer. It is a company that produces films to nurture and self-sustain itself. It’s not like there’s anything bad about it, but how can this recreate the feeling of being by enthralled by something larger than yourselfthat you had in front of the big screen? How can a movie become a myth to us when all we are watching is digital images the size of stamps that we dominate with ease, and that will never, ever be able to give us the overwhelming emotions that real cinema aroused?  Have you ever felt the urge to direct a movie? GC:I am too passionate of a spectator to undertake the pains of directing a film. Being on a movie set is one of the most repetitive and boring experiences ever, whereas watching a movie is always exciting. In spite of all the films I have seen, every time the lights go out in the movie theater I feel the same emotion I experienced the first time I ever watched a movie. 

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06.08.2018

Gaetano Pesce has made things clear ever since the beginning of his career: while still studying architecture at the University of Venice, he wrote a manifesto called "in defense of the right to incoherence", because creatives had to be allowed and required to wander and experiment.It was the end of the 1950s and also the time of the Paduan Enne Group, a collective of students fascinated by machines and the application of technology to art, and attracted to kinetic art that was already a thing Milan. Because of the special relationship he had with the city, Padua is celebrating Gaetano Pesce with a retrospective entirely dedicated to the designer, visionary, artist and architect born in La Spezia in 1939. Il tempo multidisciplinare(“multidisciplinary time”, open until September 23) is housed inside the historic Palazzo della Ragione, which just turned 800 years old. It presents 200 works that explore all the forms of expression experienced by Pesce throughout his life, from design to urban projects, avoiding all defined routes so that visitors can be carried away by the perennial brainstorming which is at the base of Pesce’s art. Incoherence finds coherence in its own guiding thread: the curiosity that drives the artist’s search for the essence of contemporaneity. Exhibited at the MoMA in New York, at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, at the Vitra Museum in Berlin and at the Pompidou Center in Paris, here in Padua Gaetano Pesce's ideas are epitomized by Un Gigante di Vestiti (“a giant made of dresses”), a four meter-high chair covered in women’s clothes from different eras and styles. In this exemplary work, the scenic power joins a civil message, as it is often the case with his works: around the chair, six columns hold six wild beast heads representing masculine aggressiveness unleashed by the fear of women. Maestà Tradita(“betrayed majesty”), a sculpture dedicated to the female martyrs, and Italia in Croce(“crucified Italy”, 1978) are both exhibited outside the Palazzo, offering free hints for reflection to the whole city. Among Pesce’s previously unseen works is finally Padova Onora Galileo(“Padua honors Galileo”, an urban project dedicated to the city of Padua and to one of its most distinguished guests, and a tribute to borderless thinkers who explore everything that inspires them, from art to physics, astronomy, and literature. 

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06.06.2018

Hirohiko Araki’s masterpiece JoJo’s Bizarre Adventurewas originally serialised in Weekly Shōnen Jump from 1987 to 2004. The series, which has garnered worldwide acclaim ever since, consists of 8 unique parts, depicting the blood ties and supernatural foes of the Joestar family. Numerous fashion designers have been influenced by Araki and for the brand’s 2013 window displays, Gucci teamed with renowned Japanese Manga artist Hirohiko Araki. The exhibition will be held at the exhibition hall on the second floor of the National Art Center, in collaboration with Shueisha Publishing. It will be the final project to celebrate the 30th anniversary of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, with a great number of items on display, including original drawings and texts from the original release. In the Jojo Chroniclecorner, you can take a walk through the 30-year-old history of the series, looking back at all the characters and settings that have appeared over the years. The section Star of Destiny, Blood of Fatedisplays a collection of scenes that best convey the theme of fate weighing on the shoulders of the protagonists and their rivals. The exhibition also features works by artists active in the forefront of sculpture, fashion, and video-making, including sculptor Motohiko Odani, Anrealage fashion designer Kunihiko Morinaga and the visual design studio WOW. 

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06.01.2018

Arles must have a special energy. It was in this small town in the south of France that Vincent Van Gogh moved in February 1888, giving way to the most intense and fertile period of his career: over 300 works in just over 14 months, inspired by the light of Provence. Since the 1970s, Arles has been home to Rencontres d’Arles, a major international photography festival aiming to observe through the lens of the great photography masters the disruption and the speed of social and political changes. From July 2 to September 23, the whole city will once again turn into a huge exhibition space with over 30 venues and guests and visitors from all over the world. The 2018 edition, director Sam Stourdzé explains, is a journey through time on the tracks of a selection of images that entrust the eye of the photographer with the task of bringing us back to precise moments of our era. Everyone can somehow relate to these images through their own experience and, by putting together sensations and memories, perhaps even sense some fragment of the future. Among the over 60 scheduled exhibitions, three are dedicated to investigating the timeline. Run Comrade, the old world is behind youpresents, among others, 1968! What a story, a tribute to the year that truly shaped our view of the world at the end of last century. A time of tragedies and dreams, with a thin red line pushing us towards a better future. The future of 1968 is our today, depicted by 40-year-old Norwegian photographer Jonas Bendiksen in theAugmented Humanityseries, which documents the life of 7 modern-day gurus suspended between avant-garde and archaic beliefs, between confidence in technology and a return to ancient practices, in a constantly precarious balance. America Great Againcelebrates the 50thanniversary of Les Americainsby Robert Frank, the famous on the road reportage documenting 1950s USA. 60 years later, five photographers of different ages and backgrounds depict today’s America in their own way. Workshops and performances will complete the program, which is starting with the July 2-8 inaugural week and the "Arles nights": every night, a special guest will tell a story through music, prose and storytelling in the ancient city theater. 

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05.21.2018

A few kilometers away from Rome there is a place that combines the eternal charm of history, the beauty of Renaissance architecture and the contemporary taste for hybridization between art and design. Aristocratic families, collectors and art lovers have been living in these rooms, and over time they have given shape to their unique charm. The name is La Posta Vecchia and it is located in Palo Laziale, near Ladispoli, on the beautiful stretch of Tyrrhenian coast between Rome and the Argentario. Overlooking the sea, this majestic Renaissance villa was built in 1640 by the Orsini Princes as a place for hosting friends and it has preserved the atmosphere of an exclusive yet welcoming place. From 1693 on, the villa belonged to the Odescalchi family, who abandoned it after the fire that hit it in 1918. In 1960, Jean Paul Getty, founder of Getty Oil Company, a tycoon and an art enthusiast, purchased it and, with the help of critic and art historian Federico Zeri, filled the rooms with ancient tapestries, sculptures, and works of art dating back from the Renaissance to the contemporary era. In the early 1980s, the villa was bought by Roberto Sciò, who revamped its original vocation for hospitality turning into a boutique hotel with 19 rooms and suites filled with objects and works of Italian and European ancient and contemporary art. The Getty Master Suite houses a 17th-century inlaid box depicting the story of King Solomon, as well as a collection of Meissen porcelains hanging on the walls. In the Medici Master Suite, guests can enjoy a seventeenth-century map and a marble table from the same period, while two majestic marble stairs lead to the bathroom. Besides opulence and elegance, La Posta is gifted with natural beauty, offered by the energetic beauty of the sea washing this beautiful stretch of coast that has long been chosen as a place of rest and pleasure. On that note, the renovation commissioned by Jean Paul Getty has brought to light the remains of a Roman villa from the second century BC, preserved inside a small archaeological museum in the basement.To complete the experience, chef Antonio Magliulo awaits guests at the Cesar restaurant on the terrace overlooking the sea, ready to offer a sophisticated menu prepared with vegetables from the hotel's organic vegetable garden. Further amenities include tennis courts, a park, an indoor pool, and a spa.  

[...]

05.16.2018

A historic newsstand in Ortona, Italy, a dream shared by a father and a son, and a sudden infatuation for Chile. These are the main elements of a unique story, that of a small independent publishing house named Edicola Ediciones (edicola is Italian for newsstand) established in 2013 between Italy and Chile, building a virtual bridge made of books between two not-so-distant worlds, albeit divided by two different languages, an Ocean and a continent. A story that sounds like a novel itself, and whose main characters are Paolo Primavera and Alice Rifelli, a couple of young and brave publishers, partners in work and in life. Paolo and Alice currently live and work between Ortona, the publishing house’s Italian headquarters, Ferrara, Alice’s hometown, and Santiago de Chile.We spoke to them to learn more about this extraordinary enterprise. Why Chile?Paolo: Back when I was working as a photographer, I traveled all across Chile. That experience soon became a book and filled me with the desire to return - which I did by starting a couple of collaborations with local newspapers and teaching at a university for four years. Meanwhile, I also enrolled in a Master’s degree in Publishing. Then one day I got a call: my father was dying. I left everything and went back home.My father had been running a newsstand that has belonged to my family for over a century. One day, when we were sitting in the kiosk, we had spoken of how there was a lot of unnecessary publications among all that we sold, and that we should have opened our own publishing house specializing in our respective passions - photography and handmade wooden furniture.The idea had been stuck in my head ever since. So when my dad died, I returned to Chile to finish the Master and founded Edicola, our publishing house, building a bridge between Chilean and Italian culture through translation and proposing Spanish titles in Italy and vice versa. How is the Chilean independent publishing scene?Alice: The country is currently experiencing a cultural fervor similar to that blossoming during the Allende government. Although the Chilean democracy is still very fragile, thirty years after the end of the dictatorship people have gone back to experimenting, questioning and gathering. The Government massively invests in culture and the results are under our eyes.Paolo: In Chile there is much more collaboration among publishers than in Italy. Four years ago, we founded a publishers’ cooperative, La Furia. We started out in seven, and today we are more than forty. In the meantime, collaborating with other organizations, we have developed and launched a Chilean book internationalization program, and participated in the drafting of the new book's law. How do you choose your authors?Alice: There are several ways to choose a book. The most obvious one is to fall in love with it as a reader. But we also feel a strong urge to follow the voice of our authors through different books and to make their new projects come true. And sometimes it’s all about building a puzzle where every book is a piece that you hope will fit in the right place at the right time. While "still believing in paper", Edicola also publishes e-books. Paolo and Alice: Ever since the beginning, we opted for publishing both the paper and the digital format. We believe in both. We are not interested in the useless diatribe over which of the two supports is never better. Books are products too, and if going out at night and writing them on the walls is what it takes to sell them (and let people read them), we are ready to do it. E-books are simply another style of publishing, with its obvious advantages both the reader and the publisher.As for our paper books, we have tried to make them as "portable" as possible: most of the have approximately the same size as an e-reader. How do Chileans see the Italian culture and authors?Paolo: They are very interested in our art, culture, and literature. Our history has earned us a lot of respect, even if the usual clichés are still a thing. In the field of literature, all the great authors like Calvino, Pavese, Pasolini and Natalia Ginzburg are quite well-known. At Edicola, we have done and will continue to do our part by translating contemporary Italian authors. We recently published our first classic: The Night by poet Dino Campana, translated by Antonio Nazzaro. What made you fall in love with Chile?Alice: In the beginning I had a bit some trouble with avocados and earthquakes. Over the last three years, I got used to both. I learned how to eat avocados like a local: perfectly ripe, with only a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt on toast, or in a salad. Earthquakes are obviously no joke, but Chilean buildings are safe and designed to withstand a continually shaking ground. And it is precisely this overpowering and yet generous nature that made me fall in love with Chile

[...]

05.03.2018

Near Tokyo’s Omotesando, surrounded by a 17,000m² garden, stands the Nezu Museum.The museum houses the private collection of pre-modern Japanese and East Asian art of KaichirōNezu, a businessman who served as the president of Tobu Railway. Born in Yamanashi Prefecture in 1860, Kaichirōhad a keen interest in antique art from a very young age, which he never lost after he moved to Tokyo, where he became a successful businessman, a politician and a philantropist. In the capital, he was very active in collecting pieces of art and he also took on tea ceremony. Kaichirō did not see his collection as a private treasure trove, but rather a joy to be sharedwith the general public.  After Kaichirō’s sudden death, his son and heir Kaichirō II established a foundation to preserve the collection in 1940. The following year, he opened the Nezu Museum in its current location, which used to be the Nezu family residence. A great part of it, including the galleries, garden, and teahouse, were lost to fire in 1945 during World War II, but the museum was renovated in 1954 and expanded twice, firstly in 1964 and secondly in 1991, to commemorate the 50thanniversary of its founding. Opened in 2009, the new building was designed by Kengo Kuma– one of Japan’s most representative architects – and consists of two storeys above the ground and one below, covered by a large roof. The museum’s collection, which was quite large at its start, holding 4,642 works, has been expanded to approximately 7,400 pieces. These include seven National Treasures, 87 Important Cultural Properties, and 94 Important Art Objects. Centred around the Japanese and East Asian antiquities collected by Kaichirō, the exhibition includes the beautiful tea wareshe accumulated under the tea name of “Seizan”, and works by painter Ogata Kōrin and his brother, potter Ogata Kenzan. Within the large garden stand four tearooms and Nezucafé, an open-style café surrounded by glass on three sides, where visitors can sit and relax, enjoying their drink and the view. 

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04.13.2018

Open mics, slams, readings, theatrical performances: poetry is alive and kicking, and it feeds on new rituals and unexpected places. Encouraged by a spirit of cultural revenge bordering on the world of hip hop and rap music, it is bringing its moderately subversive vibe beyond traditional spaces, finding freedom in improvisation and in the vagueness of the rhymes. Although most places devoted to poetry are below the radar, there are a few institutions that still aim at making a clear statement – “this is where poetry is made”. Poetry Café, LondonIn 1909, the Poetry Society was born here with the aim of promoting and spreading the art of poetry. Today, the charity organization has over 4,000 members worldwide, a prestigious annual publication (The Poetry Review) and a rich program of readings, poetry performances, visual arts exhibitions, and concerts: a hybrid space in Covent Garden where the passion for poetry becomes an excuse for promoting all artistic languages. Walden, MilanoInspired by Henry David Thoreau’s famous novel of the same name, this new space aims at being a cultural hub, a literary café, and a space for poetry, with plenty of events, bookshelves loaded with books from independent publishers, and a vegetarian bistrot. Nuyorican, New YorkAllen Ginsberg once defined this space in the East Village "the most integrated place on the planet". It was the year 1973 and the atmosphere, despite the time and location changes, has not changed: poetry still remains the voice of minorities, the most accessible and free form of language, exclusively resulting from talent and exercise. Jazz and hip hop music concerts, which share the same vocation, share the stage with poetry slams, open mic, open mics, and readingsCafé Poesie de Belleville, ParigiIn 2016, Rodrigo Ramis, a poet and a contemporary stage actor, founded this place with the desire to create an actual meeting place for humans, a unique and protected space in one of the districts that epitomize multiculturalism in the French capital. The program includes stage-less theatrical improvisation performances and poetry readings open to anyone willing to experiment and listen. Bluecoat Poetry Café, LiverpoolBluecoat is a center for contemporary arts in the heart of Liverpool, housed in an ancient UNESCO World Heritage building. In this place that has made the history of contemporary performing arts – it even hosted Yoko Ono’s first paid performance in 1967 - the Poetry Café is a space devoted to poetry and music performances and creative experimentation. 

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04.09.2018

Why go out to go to the movies when Netflix & Co. bring the same stars, contents, and directors directly into our homes? Because the movie theatre is not just a frame, it is part of the image, of the experience, a place that has a history of its own. Operating a small cinema in 2018 is a political act, a practical form of resistance to the rapid changes that film production and consumption have been undergoing over the last few years. The good news is, someone is really doing it: here are five tiny movie theatres around the world that you should definitely know. Uplink (Shibuya, Tokyo)A temple of entertainment in the heart of Tokyo’s nightlife district, Uplink was founded in 1987 and includes three theatres including the smallest one in Japan, with only 40 seats, screening local and international independent films along with with documentaries and (a  few) box office hits. Nitehawk (Williamsburg, New York City)Founded in 2011, this unique place has set an absolute record, overcoming the last traces of Prohibitionism, i.e. the law that forbid the consumption of alcohol in cinemas. Inside its three theatres (respectively featuring 30, 62, and 90 seats) the audience can enjoy drinks and gourmet food while watching art films, documentaries, and international hitsSun Pictures (Broome, Australia)The oldest open-air cinema in the world, Sun Pictures was born in 1903 as a theatre founded by the Yamasaki family and later turned into a movie theatre. With the sea for a backdrop and the beach for a floor (before the sea barriers were built, at high tide you could watch a movie with your feet in the water), this one-of-a-kind place has really been a witness to the history of film and of Australia - a living documentary on cinemaIl Cinemino (Milan)This newborn, crowdfunded movie theatre aims at reviving the single-screen neighborhood cinema concept. Yet it’s not just about nostalgia: with 75 seats and a beautiful retro-style bar, il Cinemino constantly hosts popular and emerging directors, actors and screenwriters from around the world to talk about their work, screening films of all genres and for all ages from the early afternoon on. Le Brady (Paris)Choosing a movie theatre in Paris is no easy task: after all, this is the city where it all began back in 1895. Le Brady is one of the few movie theatres in the Strasbourg-St.Denis district, and it boasts none other than François Truffaut among its past frequent patrons. Which should not surprise us, since Le Brady has always been screening niche films along with international hits. Its smallest salle has only 39 seats where you can enjoy art films in a quiet and charming atmosphere. 

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04.06.2018

Chatting all night about soccer with Paolo Nutini in a Dublin bar while drinking whiskey and Guinness is not something that happens every day, but it's actually pretty usual for Mattia Zoppellaro, a young Venetian photographer who has had the honor of portraying some of the most legendary names in the international rock scene, including Lou Reed U2,  Paul Weller, and David Gilmour. In this exclusive interview, he tells us about his encounter with these music icons and how he managed to turn their souls into beautifully authentic and eloquent pictures.Among the most remarkable episodes, check out the story of his encounter with Patti Smith and Depeche Mode and the one about chasing Amy Winehouse. 

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04.06.2018

The Shizuoka prefecture is very easy to access from Tokyo, and so is the Tōkaidō Hiroshige Museum of Art. All you have to do is take the Tōkaidō Railway Line from Shizuoka Station, ride for about 20 minutes and get off at Yui Station. In the nearby Yui-Honjin park sits the museum, which was opened in 1994 and named after Hiroshige Utagawa, one of the most representative and respected artists in the domain of ukiyo-e (literally “pictures of the floating world”), a genre of Japanese art that consists of woodcut prints and paintings, and one of Japan’s symbols. Hiroshige was one of the most brilliant pupils of another illustrious Japanese painter, Hokusai, who achieved the zenith of his career pretty late in life, when he was seventy, with the series of prints Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji.  Born in 1797, Hiroshige first became an apprentice of Toyohiro Utagawa and by the age of sixteen he was allowed to sign his works, which he did under his mononym “Hiroshige”. The Utagawa school throve on portraits of female beauties and kabuki performers, but Hiroshige expanded and gave a personal touch to life portraiture. His Ten Famous Places in the Eastern Capital, which were perhaps too heavily influenced by Hokusai’s Thirty-six Views, were not so well received. Nonetheless, 35-year-old Hiroshige’s depictions of Mount Fuji represent a departure from 72-year-old Hokusai’s point of view. Hiroshige focused on new places, new landmarks and new perspectives and in a couple of years he spawned the Fifty-Three Stations of the Tōkaidō - depicting the stations along the Tōkaidō, one of the five major roads of Japan in the Edo period - which were released to great acclaim, thanks to the sacred status of Mount Fuji and the development of tourism in the places represented in the series. In addition to this famous series, the museum’s permanent collection includes approximately 1,400 pieces, including one of Hiroshige’s late works, the One Hundred Famous Views of Edo series. he Tōkaidō Hiroshige Museum of Art endeavours to provide visitors with fresh viewpoints on ukiyo-e by rotating the collection every month, holding conferences and art talks, and allowing visitors to experiment with printing.  

[...]

04.04.2018

The county fair is the most ‘American’ of American traditions. For over 170 years, it has been the bedrock of American communities across the country, showcasing the power and meaning of some of the most unifying and nostalgic ideals of the American culture and society. Generally held in the late summer or early fall on the outskirts of town, the fair was originally a meeting place for farmers to promote local agriculture. In the 20th century, as America shifted from an agrarian to an urban society, it expanded dramatically to include a wealth of family focused fun and entertainment, from carnival amusement rides, games, and side shows to car racing, concession stands, and musical concerts. During the summer of 2015, American photographer Pamela Littky travelled across the U.S. to capture the sites of these important seasonal markers in America’s heartland. She drove thousands of miles to experience and document fairs all over the country, teeming with the people who call the surrounding area home. “I have spent most of my adult life in Los Angeles, (where) the one thing that seems lacking is a true sense of ‘community’ — a feeling of connection among its diverse and unique populations”, Pamela said. What she discovered is that the essence of the American fair has not changed very much over the past century. While the social and cultural fabric of the United States has evolved considerably, the fairs continue to draw millions of people yearly from different backgrounds and upbringings who seek a place near their homes where community is celebrated in all its diversity. The results of Littky’s road trips are published for the first time in American Fair, a breathtaking collection of photographs where wistful reflections on the past meet the challenging realities of American life in the 21st century. Idyllic portraits of farmers and rope-and-ride spectators are shown alongside tableaux that evoke undertones of apprehension and uncertainty. Elderly faces that have seen many seasons of the fair are interspersed with images of youth who project determination or innocence underneath adolescent postures. An amazing work that, in our humble opinion, belongs in the same league as some of the great masters of photography who documented real America, such as Robert Frank and Dorothea Lange. 

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04.03.2018

What will happen to illustration in an age in which everything, from reality to works of art, is digitally reproducible? What will become of this vast world halfway between art and craftsmanship? Which worlds can an illustrator explore beyond the boundaries of a paper sheet? Driven by the uniqueness of its nature and of its own limits, illustration continues to evolve. For us enthusiasts, it is not easy to understand in which directions it will go, but talking to an insider can certainly help us get a clearer picture. These and other considerations emerged from our conversation with Ale Giorgini, an Italian illustrator whose works have reached Tokyo, New York, Zurich, Vienna, Paris, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Melbourne and many other cities in the world. Giorgini won the Good Design Award from the Chicago Museum of Design and was selected by the New York Society of Illustrators. He is the president and artistic director of Illustri Festival and an illustration teacher. SJ: What are the inspirations behind your work and your creativity?AG: What I draw comes from my childhood: Carosello (Italian old-style TV advertising), Hanna & Barbera’s cartoons, the illustrated books by Miroslav Sasek, and I Quindici, a famous children’s encyclopaedia.How I draw, on the other hand, comes from the path I had to undertake: I earned my diploma as a surveyor and worked for 15 years as a graphic designer. At one point, the lysergic charm of the of the 1960s and 1970s aesthetics met the rigour of geometry and vector graphics, and this encounter gave life to what I do today. SJ: How do you see the relationship between colours and strokes? Which role do they play in your work?AG: It might seem bizarre, but I've always loved filling contours. As a kid, I used to puncture the paper with all the energy that I put into tracing over the lines of my drawings until I thought they were perfect. For this reason, I am madly in love with Illustrator: it allows me to have total control of every element, of every single line. My illustrations have extremely marked traits. And honestly, I never asked myself why: I am a self-taught illustrator and probably everything is a consequence of my lack of technical preparation. Colours came later, to harmonize those otherwise incomprehensible signs. Colours are almost inevitably necessary to untangle the shapes contained in my drawings and make them visible. There are times when my black and white drawings look like puzzles that only become clear with the addition of colours. For this reason, colours and strokes are often essential. SJ: What makes the hand of a talented illustrator unique?AG: I don’t think I have talent - and I don’t say this out of false modesty or to earn your readers’ sympathy. I often say - with absolute conviction - that I cannot draw. My gift, if I were to find one, would be that of turning my own limits into resources. Not having any artistic preparation, I have found a recognizable language that totally leverages my limits as a designer. For this reason, I appreciate the personality and the character of an image much more than its technical execution. I often find myself faced with images that are extraordinarily beautiful and yet absolutely empty. The vision behind an image is what needs be unique, the illustrator’s hand may even be imperfect. But of course, if you have both a vision and a good hand, then you have it all. SJ: What about the trends of contemporary illustration: what’s beyond paper?AG: Today, paper is to illustration what pizza is to restaurants: it's an evergreen, everybody likes it, but you cannot eat pizza every day of your life (although I could seriously consider that option). The world out there is much bigger than an A4 paper sheet and there are plenty of opportunities on the new fronts of communication. The market is giving extremely positive signals and there is a strong rediscovery of illustration even in previously unexplored areas. Recently I saw this happen everywhere from fashion and furniture design to live news reporting and the personalization of cruise ships and other objects. Think of the Milan subway station that became an art gallery with images designed by Emiliano Ponzi, or of the cruise ship entirely customized by Riccardo Guasco. Purists might turn up their noses in front of these "daring" uses of illustration, but personally I believe their attitude makes no sense at all. Today, that of the illustrator is one of the most crucial roles in the creative industry, because illustration is a language that manages to touch people’s hearts and raise emotions in a way that other languages can hardly do. SJ: Even the subjects have changed a lot.AG: Actually, I believe that illustration is still doing what it has always done: telling something about reality. This can happen in the form of a comment in a newspaper or a magazine, but also through different media. Besides drawing for a newspaper article or an illustrated book, illustrators often find themselves designing a skateboard, a wine bottle, an animated gif, a T-shirts, or even a room. The subjects have changed because the world has changed. 

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03.28.2018

East and West, Japan and Europe, Japan and the United States: ever since the year 1853, when the American military fleet of Commodore Perry reached the Yokohama Bay and ordered the Japanese authorities to open their ports and businesses, Japan and the Western world have been observing, studying, and exploring each other with the intensity of someone who sees the other as an unintelligible mystery but cannot help investigating it. Here are five books that tell a story about this reciprocal exploration. Sōseki Natsume, Grass Pillow (1906)Recognized as the most important author of modern Japan, Natsume (1867-1916) tells the story of a wayfarer wandering around the Japanese mountain villages, as a metaphor for the journey of life. The protagonist collects stories and encounters and turns them into reflections, outlining a profile of Japan in the beginning of the 20th century and the new role of the artist. Fosco Maraini, Japanese Hours (1957)Maraini compares 1950s Japan with the Japan he has known during the Second World War, when, after September 8, 1943, he was imprisoned for 11 months for his refusal to swear loyalty to the Republic of Salò. A naturalist and an anthropologist, Maraini describes the fascinating and mysterious complexity of the Japanese rules of social behaviour, the extraordinary design skills of a population emerging from post-war destruction and the architecture of the daily rituals that are a crucial part of the individual identity. Shūsaku Endō, Silence (1966)This book tells about the struggle between the Japanese feudal Lords of the 17th century (Togukawa period) and the first Japanese Christian communities born around European Jesuit missionaries. The theme of sacrifice in the name of a Lord, earthly or divine, is the fundamental point of contact, confrontation and clash among the historical events that highlight the violence with which this principle, in its various meanings, was defended to the extreme. James Clavell, Shogun (1975)British navigator John Blackthorne fortuitously approaches the Japanese coast in the 17th century, towards the end of the feudal lords' struggles. One of these Lords, Yoshi Toranaga, welcomes Blackthorne to his court and initiates him into the customs, rituals and rules of local daily life in the shadow of which Toranaga will become a Shogun through power strategies. Alex Kerr, Lost Japan (1994)An American graduate with a degree in Japanese at Yale and in Chinese at Oxford, Kerr has been the first non-Japanese author to win the Shincho Gakugei literary prize. Kerr tells the story of contemporary Japan and explores the growing gap between rampant hyper-technology and tradition - the latter being the backbone of national identity which survives in ever-smaller spaces such as the small Shinto temples in the shadow of the skyscrapers. 

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03.26.2018

There are musicals revolving around music and others where songs and dance choreographies are just a way to tell a story of love, life, death and more. For those who love them, it is absolutely impossible to make a ranked list - there are just too many gems that would risk being left out. But if you are not a fan or a follower of the musical cult, maybe these ten little masterpieces might help you familiarize with the genre. Singin' in the Rain (USA, 1953)Gene Kelly and Debby Reynolds star in a meta-film that happily celebrates music and the human voice. Set in 1920s Hollywood and revolving around the transition from silent to sound film, it tells of the love affair between an actor and the girl dubbing his capricious co-star, whom everyone has mistakenly taken for his life partner. For those who love happy endings and, at least once in their life, have danced in the rain Gene Kelly-style, fiddling with an umbrella. West Side Story (USA, 1961)Romeo and Juliet takes Manhattan, becomes a box office hit for dozens of weeks, wins 10 Oscars and, in 1997, finally enters the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. Because thwarted love is the most universal plot ever, because Leonard Bernstein's soundtrack is unforgettable, and because Nathalie Wood is the perfect Upper West Side JulietMy Fair Lady (USA, 1964)Can grace and a beautiful voice become a tool for social ascent? Flower seller Eliza Dolittle learns good manners (and elocution) from glottologist Professor Higgins, and she teaches him about love in return. As "the rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain", The Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw, on which the George Cukor film is based, brings Prince Charming into the competitive modern worldMary Poppins (USA, 1964)Walt Disney is the home of musicals and Mary Poppins is one of its best musical films ever. Thanks to a glowing Julie Andrews and a perfect screenplay, Robert Stevenson's cinematic version of Pamela Lyndon Travers' books has gained five Oscars and a special place in the imagination of many generations of children.Cabaret (USA, 1972)The energy of the music and Liza Minnelli's unique voice stand out on the conflicting background of Weimar Republic Berlin, serving as the setting for this tale of love and history that wraps its characters in a whirlwind of events from rampant hedonism to Hitlerian rhetoric. The choreography, the costumes, and the hairstyles are simply incredible.Grease (USA, 1978)Welcome to a world where music is a way of talking (even from a distance), getting to know each other, and size each other up: friends or enemies? Welcome to Rydell High, where Sandy Olsson and Denny Zuko, although they are meant to be together, will have to adjust to each other for the whole school year, before finally becoming a couple. Song after song, through unforgettable choreographies and tunes you jest can't help singing along toFlashdance (USA, 1983)Just like in the equally famous Alan Parker film Fame, in the world of Flashdance music is life, and dance is the only way to an otherwise unattainable redemption. The American Dream turned musical, with sacrifice and talent leading to love and success. Cliché? Maybe, but that doesn't mean you won't be watching it again and again, trying to learn the steps of the final dance scene. Dirty Dancing (USA, 1987)The producers had no idea that this low-budget movie with no famous stars in it would end up turning into one of the most resounding hit films in the history of cinema - and a classic among musical film lovers, although technically not a musical. Thwarted love, a beautiful, Oscar-awarded soundtrack, and scattered references to the change of mentality that paved the way to the 1960s are its successful ingredients, along with memorable lines such as, well: nobody puts Baby in a corner. Moulin Rouge (USA+Australia, 2001)Who, other than Baz Luhrmann could have revived the musical at the beginning of the third millennium by setting the plot of Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata in 1899 Pigalle? Who else could have made the songs of Elton John, David Bowie, Nirvana and T-Rex resonate on the roofs of 19th century Paris, going so far as to mix fictional lovers Christian and Satine with historical figures of the bohemian movement such as Henri Toulouse-Lautrec? Freedom, beauty, truth, and love for everyone!La La Land (USA, 2016)Hollywood pays homage to its own world with a highly acclaimed and award-winning musical where the two young individuals, Mia and Sebastian, choose to make their dreams come true by devoting their whole life to art, giving up on love. If talent and sacrifice equal success, then the musical applauds itself as a genre with one of its most beautiful productions ever, dense with good music, beautiful images, and sophisticated references. Directed by the great Damien Chazelle, and starring the talented Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. 

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03.23.2018

Can the majestic and supernatural beauty of the Sistine Chapel become an even more engaging spectacle? Can contemporary technology add something more to an immortal masterpiece like Michelangelo's Last Judgment? Giudizio Universale. Michelangelo and the Secrets of the Sistine Chapel, which debuted on March 15 at Rome's Auditorium Conciliazione, may be the answer to these and more questions. The Sistine Chapel is the focus of a unique show that stems from the blending of art, theatrical performance, special effects and technology, surrounding the viewer thanks to the immersiveness of 270 degree laser projections on a huge surface positioned over 12 meters above the audience. Performed both in Italian and in English, this complex one-hour-long show revolves around the creation of Michelangelo's masterpiece, from the commission of the vault's frescoes by Pope Julius II up to the painting of The Last Judgment. Behind it is the creative mind of artistic director Marco Balich, who produced the Opening Ceremonies for the Olympics in Turin (2006) and Rio (2016). "We wanted to create a completely unique show, telling the genesis of a universal art masterpiece by mixing everything that the world of live entertainment has to offer", he said, "and at the same time absolutely respectful of Michelangelo's work". Boasting the Vatican Museums' scientific advice, the show involved globally renowned artists such as Sting, who composed and performed the original score's main theme song, and the Italian actor Pierfrancesco Favino, who lended his voice to Michelangelo. Dancing bodies, lights and videos blend together and immerse the viewer into a continuous transformation of the theatrical language, thanks to the supervision of director and playwright Gabriele Vacis, who defined the show as "a little breath adding up to those of the many people who contributed to building the Sistine Chapel over the centuries". John Metcalfe's music, Luke Halls' sets inspired by 15th perspectives, and the choreographies by Fotis Nikolaou are just some of the eminent contributions to this innovative and choral show that aims at helping the audience discover and rediscover one of the greatest masterpieces in the history of art.  "We like to think," commented Balich, "that our viewers, especially the younger ones, will realize that there is nothing more exciting than the beauty of a work of art". 

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03.19.2018

Founded in 1994 by George and Ilone Kremer, the Kremer Collection is a privately owned group of around 74 works of 17th century Dutch and Flemish art including masterpieces by, amongst others, Rembrandt, Abraham Bloemaert, Hendrick ter Brugghen, Gerrit Dou, Frans Hals, Meindert Hobbema, Gerrit van Honthorst, Pieter de Hooch, Jan Lievens, Paulus Moreelse, Michael Sweerts, Jan Baptist Weenix, and Emanuel de Witte. Over the past 20 years, many of the works from the Collection have been on display in a variety of exhibitions and on long-term loans with international museums, but the latest enterprise launched by its founders is an innovative new concept that combines these world-class masterpieces with cutting-edge technology: The Kremer Museum, a virtual museum designed by architect Johan van Lierop of Architales design studio. Accessible exclusively through Virtual Reality (VR) technology, the museum allows visitors to examine the artworks’ surface and colors up-close and enjoy a deeply immersive experience with the paintings, which have been individually photographed between 2,500 and 3,500 times using the ‘photogrammetry’ technique to build one ultra high resolution visual model for each of them.  “Our journey as collectors has always been about finding the highest quality artworks and simultaneously finding ways to share them with as many people as possible", George Kremer, Founder of the Kremer Collection, told the press. "My wife Ilone and I believe we can make a greater contribution to the art world by investing in technology rather than in bricks and mortar for our collection”. Perfect lighting, the possibility to look at the back of the paintings, and a perfectly designed space are the main assets of this virtual museum, which besides offering visitors a unique experience also gave its architect a rare opportunity. “To design a museum without gravity, plumbing or code regulations", van Lierop himself said, "is a dream for every architect".  As well as hosting a number of exclusive pop-up events with a full VR set-up, the Kremer Collection also launched the TKC Mighty Masters program, providing selected schools around the world with VR tools to fully access the museum. To select its first schools, the program partnered with India’s Delivering Change Foundation to host a drawing contest among over one million children in India.  

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03.16.2018

The Naoshima archipelago consists of 27 small and large islands floating in the Seto Inland Sea, about 3km south of Tamano, in the Okayama Prefecture, of which only five are inhabited. Due to the presence of copper refineries, islands like Naoshima and Inujima used to be heavily polluted by the fumes. After the war, however, afforestation was introduced and has been in force ever since. In particular, the greenery of Kōjin-shima has been revived, and the southern side of Naoshima has been designated part of the Setonaikai National Park. Benesse Art Site Naoshima is a collective name for the art activities conducted on the islands of Naoshima, Teshima, and Inujima. Furthermore, the Setouchi Art Festival is held once every three years in the archipelago, with hordes gathering from all over the country. The origin of the Art SiteBenesse Art Site Naoshima was born from the Naoshima International Campsite in 1989, designed by world famous architect Tadao Andō, where people could experience the beauty of the Setouchi area by staying overnight in Mongolian yurts. Then came the opening of Benesse House and the installation of Yayoi Kusama’s Pumpkin, which soon became one of the symbols of Naoshima. Highlights of NaoshimaThe Oval is one of the lodging facilities of Benesse House, designed by Tadao Andō and opened in 1995, with a great number of guests every year. In the meantime, the old houses are being transformed into works of art. Tadao Andō also developed the Chichū Art Museum, using a century-old private residence. The museum opened in 2004, with photographs, sketches and miniatures documenting Andō’s activity on Naoshima, as well as the history of the island. Highlights of TeshimaOn the island, in a corner of a 9-hectare hilly area terraced with 270 rice paddies overlooking the Seto Inland Sea, stands the Teshima Art Museum, which combines art and the beautiful natural scenery. Since the island is quite small, it is very easy to tour by bicycle or moped which you can rent. The Teshima Yokoo House showcases the works of one of the most representative contemporary artists, the famed graphic designer Tadanori Yokoo, with life and death as a recurring theme. The most distinctive feature of the building is the red glass of the windows that filters and modulates the light and colour of the interiors, allowing the artworks to acquire a shifting range of appearances and giving visitors the illusion of walking through a three-dimensional collage. There is no better way to end the tour than with a bite or a drink at the gourmet snack bar in the elegant set-up of a renovated private house. Highlights of InujimaRegardless of its small extension (0.54m²), Inujima is full of natural charm and cultural facilities. The Inujima Seirensho Art Museum is located on the site of a former copper refinery, where you can enjoy the atmosphere of ancient ruins. In 2007, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry designated the Inujima refinery as one of Japan’s Industrial Modernisation Heritage sites, in recognition for the pivotal role it played in the industrial development of Japan. When you are finished with culture, you can enjoy the nature strolling leisurely or relaxing on the sandy beach of the Inujima Seaside Resort. 

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02.27.2018

Despite being extremely traditional, kimonos are becoming all the rage. In Japan, a kimono is the most suitable attire for all kinds of formal gatherings. Their beauty also resides in their versatility: with a different sash and different accessories, you can create a multitude of looks out of the same kimono. Every man can be seen wearing stylish, tailor-made kimonos. Men’s kimonos are made from various types of fabrics, but they can be divided into two main categories: casual kimonos and ceremonial kimonos, which differ by materials, colour and the presence or the absence of a family crest, a haori jacket and hakama trousers. Casual kimonos can be fastened with a stole or a belt, instead of the traditional obi sash, use a shirt or another type of western undergarment, instead of the nagajuban under-kimono, and be worn with a pair of boots or trainers, instead of zōri sandals. By contrast, men’s ceremonial kimonos consist in black haori and hakama, bearing the family crest. Weddings and other dignified occasions require men to wear a black haori, bearing the family crest and fastened with an obi, a hakama and tabi or zōri sandals. Lately, casual kimonos, known as yukata, have become increasingly popular, usually sold or rented out in a set complete with sandals and the other accessories. Kabuki, bunraku, rakugo and noh theatre, sumo wrestling and other traditional venues Recently, kabuki and rakugo have been refashioned for contemporary relevance, with classic stories transposed into today’s Japanese, to broaden their appeal. In such venues, it is very common to see an increasing number of members of the audience enrobed in a casual, yet stylish, kimonoNew Year’s Celebrations, Hatsumode and SetsubunDue to the solemnity of the occasion, it is very important to keep a good posture, and the kimono helps achieve that, by restraining the movements and forcing the wearer to straighten their spine. If you have no particular event on calendar, you can wear your usual clothes. However, visiting a shrine in a kimono will make the experience more special and memorableA Friend’s Wedding or A PartyEvery time a dinner jacket is mandatory, you can wear a kimono. Of course, kimonos too have their own rules for materials and the use of obi sash. Visiting Kyoto, Nara, Kamakura and KanazawaIt is highly recommended to wear a kimono when sightseeing the historic cities. A kimono will make you feel part of the scenery and grant you more worldly benefits, such as discounts at some shops, as well as reduced fee and priority tickets at shrines and temples. It is not necessary to own a kimono. You can always rent it from one of the many shops in Kyoto. Hanami in Spring, Festivals in Summer, Momiji-gari in Autumn, Christmas in Winter and Other Seasonal EventsQuite a few people choose to attend summer festivals and firework shows in the laid-back attire of a yukata. One may think that the excuse is the hot weather because a yukata is a fresh type of clothing. However, people also love to wear multi-layered kimonos on other occasions, such as cherry blossom viewing in spring (hanami) and leaf viewing in autumn (momiji-gari). Men’s kimonos have different designs for each season, which you may coordinate with the pattern and colours of the sandals, obi and collar. 

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02.12.2018

“We wanted the Museum to be as representative of Africa as possible. To celebrate its history, its culture, its diversity and its future with a focus on art from the 21st century. Most importantly, this is an institution for all of Africa!“. With these words, last September Jochen Zeitz, Co-Chairman of Zeitz MOCAA, inaugurated the world’s largest museum dedicated to contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora. Located in Cape Town, South Africa, on the beautiful Victoria & Albert Waterfront, the harbor built in 1860 by Prince Alfred, son of Queen Victoria, during the British domination, Zeitz MOCAA is the result of a boldly ambitious project to reimagine a historic grain silo into a major cultural institution which took four years in the making. From preserving the historic architectural legacy of what was once the tallest building in South Africa, to developing a sustainable not-for-profit public cultural institution that preserves, develops and enhances creativity, Zeitz MOCAA is a hugely important cultural landmark that will contribute to a stronger, wider appreciation of Africa’s cultural heritage. The grain silo’s architectural redevelopment from disused industrial building into a cutting-edge contemporary art museum was undertaken by London-based Heatherwick Studio in conjunction with local South African architects. The museum is spread over nine floors and carved out of the monumental structure of the silo complex. The galleries and the cathedral-like atrium space at the centre of Zeitz MOCAA have been carved from the silos’ dense cellular structure of forty-two tubes that pack the building. The development includes 100 galleries, a rooftop sculpture garden, a bookshop, a restaurant and bar, and various reading rooms. The basis of the extensive art on display at the museum is represented by the Zeitz Collection, founded in 2002 by entrepreneur Jochen Zeitz and regarded as one of the most representative collections of contemporary artefacts of and from Africa and its Diaspora. Besides the permanent collection and the temporary exhibitions, Zeitz MOCAA also houses a Costume Institute, and Centres for Photography, Curatorial Excellence, the Moving Image, Performative Practice, and Art Education. 
 
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