A New Digital Archive Preserves Black Lives Matter & COVID-19 Street Art

Image by Aman­da-Lee Har­ris Gibbs, “Floyd & Tay­lor Trib­ute” 

What hap­pens when anti-racist pro­test­ers gath­er in the streets and are not met with tear gas, rub­ber bul­lets, and batons? For one thing, they make art and graf­fi­ti. Lots of it, on walls, streets, side­walks, cour­t­house doors, the ply­wood of board­ed-up win­dows, wher­ev­er. Pub­lic activist art serves not only as a memo­r­i­al for vic­tims of state oppres­sion, but as a way to imag­ine what the future needs and visu­al­ly occu­py the space to make it hap­pen. In the inter­twin­ing “mutu­al rela­tions of the polit­i­cal and the aes­thet­ic,” sym­bols can begin to call real con­di­tions into exis­tence.

The streets of cities around the coun­try have become tem­po­rary gal­leries of art­works that remem­ber vic­tims of sys­tem­i­cal­ly racist police vio­lence and call for jus­tice, even as they imag­ine what a more just world might look like: one where peo­ple are not trapped in cycles of pover­ty by aus­ter­i­ty and state vio­lence. Such dis­plays have pro­lif­er­at­ed espe­cial­ly in Min­neapo­lis, where George Floyd was killed. There, the “memo­r­i­al… is con­stant­ly chang­ing. In the days fol­low­ing Floyd’s mur­der by the police, street art, flow­ers, hand­writ­ten notes, and more” appeared.

Now the site “has become a liv­ing space,” Todd Lawrence, a pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­si­ty of St. Thomas, tells Leah Feiger at Hyper­al­ler­gic. “The state of flux char­ac­ter­izes much of Minneapolis’s street art scene in the wake of recent protests,” Feiger writes. “The own­er­ship of the phys­i­cal art is con­tentious,” and tem­po­rary instal­la­tions become sites of long-term debate. The Uni­ver­si­ty of St. Thomas has decid­ed to pre­serve these ephemer­al state­ments in a data­base called Urban Art Map­ping: George Floyd & Anti-Racist Street Art. The project began with a focus on Min­neapo­lis and has “steadi­ly expand­ed with every new sub­mis­sion.”

The project includes in its wider scope a data­base of COVID-19 street art, with many an acknowl­edge­ment of how gov­ern­ment fail­ures in response to the pan­dem­ic con­nect to the will­ful dis­re­gard for human life the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment calls out. “Artists and writ­ers pro­duc­ing work in the streets—including tags, graf­fi­ti, murals, stick­ers, and oth­er instal­la­tions on walls, pave­ment, and signs—are in a unique posi­tion to respond quick­ly and effec­tive­ly in a moment of cri­sis,” notes the COVID-19 Street Art site. As we lim­it our move­ment through pub­lic space, that space itself trans­forms, respond­ing in direct ways to a mul­ti­tude of inter­sect­ing crises none of us can afford to ignore.

Make sub­mis­sions to the COVID-19 Street Art archive here and to the George Floyd & Anti-Racist Street Art archive here.

via Hyper­al­ler­gic

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Pub­lic Ene­my Releas­es a Fiery Anti-Trump Protest Song (NSFW)

Hear a 4 Hour Playlist of Great Protest Songs: Bob Dylan, Nina Simone, Bob Mar­ley, Pub­lic Ene­my, Bil­ly Bragg & More

How Jazz Helped Fuel the 1960s Civ­il Rights Move­ment

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

The Japanese Sculptor Who Dedicated His Life to Finishing Gaudí’s Magnum Opus, the Sagrada Família

Ven­go de Japón.” With those words Japan­ese sculp­tor Etsuro Sotoo intro­duces him­self to us in “Stone Cut,” the short film from NOWNESS above. Since com­ing to Barcelona in 1978, Sotoo has not just mas­tered the Span­ish lan­guage but con­vert­ed to Roman Catholi­cism and ded­i­cat­ed much of his life to labor­ing on the com­ple­tion of the most famous build­ing in Spain: Antoni Gaudí’s mag­num opus, the Basíli­ca de la Sagra­da Família. Not that it was quite so revered when Sotoo first encoun­tered it: “Back in the day, no one real­ly cared about Sagra­da Famil­ia,” he says. “There were stones and rub­ble, but it was most­ly an aban­doned ruin. This sit­u­a­tion last­ed many decades.” 

Even the young Sotoo him­self had no inter­est in the archi­tect of Sagra­da Famil­ia, but “back then it was manda­to­ry to know Gaudí’s name. Slow­ly, my inter­est in Gaudí start­ed to grow in me. And today it keeps grow­ing.” As it should: for more than 40 years now, Sotoo has worked to com­plete what Gaudí left unfin­ished at the time of his death in 1926, a decade before the out­break of the Span­ish Civ­il War. That bit­ter con­flict not only put a stop to the con­struc­tion of Sagra­da Famil­ia for near­ly two decades, it also dam­aged what had already been built: the sculp­tures of its Por­ta del Rosari, for exam­ple, which it has fall­en to Sotoo to restore.

Sculp­tures con­sti­tute much of the elab­o­rate dec­o­ra­tion of Sagra­da Famil­i­a’s exte­ri­or and inte­ri­or, both of which present the view­er with nary a straight line nor a flat sur­face. Even in the incom­plete build­ing, the effect is at once organ­ic and oth­er­world­ly. “Gaudí is way beyond where we are today,” says Sotoo, and his film­mak­ing coun­try­man Hiroshi Teshi­ga­hara must have shared that sen­ti­ment, hav­ing paid trib­ute to the archi­tect with a wor­ship­ful 1984 doc­u­men­tary. The project of real­iz­ing the archi­tec­t’s unprece­dent­ed aes­thet­ic vision — the result of a con­ver­sa­tion “with God about some­thing very big and pro­found” — con­tin­ues to this day, 138 years after the com­mence­ment of its con­struc­tion, which moved slow­ly even dur­ing Gaudí’s life­time. “My client,” his­to­ry remem­bers him hav­ing said, “is not in a hur­ry.”

The cur­rent push to com­plete Sagra­da Famil­ia has a more press­ing dead­line: the year 2026, the cen­te­nary of Gaudí’s death, at which time less than a quar­ter of the project was com­plete. (You can see a 3D ren­der­ing of the remain­der of the process in this video from the Sagra­da Famil­ia Foun­da­tion, pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured here on Open Cul­ture.) But that time frame only cov­ers com­ple­tion of the struc­ture, includ­ing the eigh­teen spires Gaudí envi­sioned as rep­re­sent­ing the Twelve Apos­tles, the Vir­gin Mary, the four Evan­ge­lists, and Jesus Christ. The dec­o­ra­tive ele­ments should be fin­ished by the ear­ly 2030s, grant­i­ng more breath­ing room to arti­sans like Sotoo — who, hav­ing spent four-decades being reshaped by Gaudí him­self, knows that archi­tec­tur­al genius can’t be rushed.

via Aeon

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch Antoni Gaudí’s Unfin­ished Mas­ter­piece, the Sagra­da Família, Get Final­ly Com­plet­ed in 60 Sec­onds

The Isamu Noguchi Muse­um Puts Online an Archive of 60,000 Pho­tographs, Man­u­scripts & Dig­i­tized Draw­ings by the Japan­ese Sculp­tor

A Vir­tu­al Time-Lapse Recre­ation of the Build­ing of Notre Dame (1160)

An Intro­duc­tion to Hagia Sophia: After 85 Years as a Muse­um, It’s Set to Become a Mosque Again

The His­to­ry of West­ern Archi­tec­ture: A Free Course Mov­ing from Ancient Greece to Roco­co

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall, on Face­book, or on Insta­gram.

Watch the Opening Credits of an Imaginary 70s Cop Show That Stars Samuel Beckett

Samuel Beck­ett: avant-garde drama­tist, brood­ing Nobel Prize win­ner, poet, and…gritty tele­vi­sion detec­tive?

Sad­ly, no, but he had the mak­ings of a great one, at least as cut togeth­er by play­wright Dan­ny Thomp­son, cofounder of Chicago’s The­ater Oobleck.

Some twen­ty five years after Beckett’s death, Thompson—whose cred­its include the Com­plete Lost Works of Samuel Beck­ett as Found in a Dust­bin in Paris in an Enve­lope (Par­tial­ly Burned) Labeled: Nev­er to Be Per­formed. Nev­er. Ever. Ever! Or I’ll Sue! I’ll Sue From the Grave!!!repur­posed Rosa Veim and Daniel Schmid’s footage of the moody genius wan­der­ing around 1969 Berlin into the open­ing cred­its of a nonex­is­tent, 70s era Quinn Mar­tin police pro­ce­dur­al.

The title sequence hits all the right peri­od notes, from the jazzy graph­ics to the pre­sen­ta­tion of its sup­port­ing cast: Andre the Giant, Jean Paul Sartre, and Jean “Hug­gy Bear” Cocteau. (Did you know that Beck­ett drove a young Andre the Giant to school in real life?)

Thomp­son ups the verisimil­i­tude by cop­ping Pat Williams’ theme for The Streets of San Fran­cis­co and nam­ing the imag­i­nary pilot episode after a col­lec­tion of Beckett’s short sto­ries.

He also notes that a DVD  release of the first, only and, again, entire­ly non-exis­tent sea­son has been held up by the noto­ri­ous­ly liti­gious Beck­ett estate. Alas.

Note: An ear­li­er ver­sion of this post appeared on our site in 2015.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Books That Samuel Beck­ett Read and Real­ly Liked (1941–1956)

An Ani­mat­ed Intro­duc­tion to Samuel Beck­ett, Absur­dist Play­wright, Nov­el­ist & Poet

Watch Samuel Beck­ett Walk the Streets of Berlin Like a Boss, 1969

When Samuel Beck­ett Drove Young André the Giant to School: A True Sto­ry

Samuel Beck­ett Directs His Absur­dist Play Wait­ing for Godot (1985)

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

Nina Simone Writes an Admiring Letter to Langston Hughes: “Brother, You’ve Got a Fan Now!” (1966)

Nina Simone’s cre­ative and polit­i­cal com­mu­ni­ty meant every­thing to her, and the many loss­es she suf­fered in the 60s sent her deep­er into the depres­sion of the last decades of her life. “Langston Hugh­es, James Bald­win, and Lor­raine Hans­ber­ry [were] promi­nent,” writes Malik Gaines at LitHub, “among… social­ly engaged writ­ers and drama­tists” whom she con­sid­ered not only her “polit­i­cal tutors” but also her heroes and clos­est friends. She nev­er stopped griev­ing the loss of Hans­ber­ry and Hugh­es and fre­quent­ly memo­ri­al­ized them in trib­utes like “Back­lash Blues.”

Writ­ten by Hugh­es, and one of Simone’s fiercest and most time­ly civ­il rights songs, “Back­lash Blues” rep­re­sents the sig­nif­i­cant influ­ence the poet had on her and her art. In a live 1967 record­ing, she sings, “When Langston Hugh­es died—He told me many months before—Nina keep work­ing until they open up that door.” The two first met when Simone was still Eunice Way­mon from Try­on, North Car­oli­na: an aspir­ing clas­si­cal pianist, “pres­i­dent of the 11th-grade class and an offi­cer with the school’s NAACP chap­ter,” explains Andrew J. Fletch­er, a board mem­ber of the Nina Simone Project in Asheville.

This was 1949, and Hugh­es had come to Asheville to address Allen High School, the pri­vate school for African Amer­i­can girls Simone attend­ed through a schol­ar­ship that her music teacher and ear­ly cham­pi­on col­lect­ed from her home­town. The poet “could not have known,” Maria Popo­va writes at Brain Pick­ings, “that [Simone] would soon rev­o­lu­tion­ize the music canon under her stage name.” But near­ly ten years lat­er, he rec­og­nized her tal­ent imme­di­ate­ly.

On the release of Simone’s first album, Lit­tle Girl Blue, Hugh­es was “so stunned that he laud­ed it with lyri­cal ardor” in his col­umn for the Chica­go Defend­er.

She is dif­fer­ent. So was Bil­lie Hol­i­day, St. Fran­cis, and John Donne. So in Mort Sahl. She is a club mem­ber, a coloured girl, an Afro-Amer­i­can, a homey from Down Home. She has hit the Big Town, the big towns, the LP discs and the TV shows — and she is still from down home. She did it most­ly all by her­self. Her name is Nina Simone.

They would become close friends and mutu­al admir­ers. Hugh­es sent her “books he thought would inspire her,” includ­ing sev­er­al of his own, and wrote “words for her to set to song.” She wrote to him with earnest expres­sions of appre­ci­a­tion, espe­cial­ly in the let­ter here, penned in 1966 just before Hugh­es’ death.

Simone had just read Hugh­es’ auto­bi­og­ra­phy The Big Sea. The book, she says, “gives me such pleasure—you have no idea! It is so fun­ny.” She also writes, with can­dor:

Then too, if I’m in a neg­a­tive mood and want to get more neg­a­tive (about the racial prob­lem, I mean) if I want to get down­right mean and vio­lent I go straight to this book and there is also mate­r­i­al for that. Amaz­ing—

I use the book—what I mean is I under­line all mean­ing­ful sen­tences to me…. And as I said there is a wealth of knowl­edge con­cern­ing the negro prob­lem, espe­cial­ly if one wants to trace the many many areas that we’ve had it rough in all these years—sometimes when I’m with white “lib­er­als” who want to know why we’re so bitter—I for­get (I don’t forget—I just get tongue-tied) how com­plete has been the white races’ rejec­tion of us all these years and then when this hap­pens I go get your book.

Hugh­es’ is rarely “mean and vio­lent,” but Simone brought to her read­ing her own despair and rage and raw sense of rejec­tion, emo­tions she was nev­er afraid to explore in her work or talk about with humor and fierce ire in her life. “Broth­er, you’ve got a fan,” she gush­es. The Big Sea “grips my imag­i­na­tion imme­di­ate­ly plus every­thing in it I iden­ti­fy with, even your going to sea and I’ve nev­er been to sea.” She had not been to sea, but she had been adrift, “depressed, alien­at­ed and low,” as she sang at More­house Col­lege in 1969 in a per­for­mance of her civ­il rights anthem and trib­ute to Lor­raine Hans­ber­ry, “To Be Young, Gift­ed and Black.”

The adlib framed Simone’s feel­ings with the same “emo­tion­al and polit­i­cal dimen­sions,” writes Gaines, she found in Hugh­es’ work. Though she does not men­tion it in her let­ter, her anno­tat­ed copy of The Big Sea sure­ly marks up the pas­sage below, in which Hugh­es’ describes his ear­ly unhap­pi­ness and his trans­for­ma­tive encounter with art:

When I was in the sec­ond grade, my grand­moth­er took me to Lawrence to raise me. And I was unhap­py for a long time, and very lone­some, liv­ing with my grand­moth­er. Then it was that books began to hap­pen to me, and I began to believe in noth­ing but books and the won­der­ful world in books–where if peo­ple suf­fered, they suf­fered in beau­ti­ful lan­guage, not in mono­syl­la­bles, as we did in Kansas.

For Simone, music gave her suf­fer­ing pur­pose, but not the music she played for audi­ences and on record. One of the sad­dest ironies of her career is that the woman dubbed “The High Priest­ess of Soul” had lit­tle inter­est in play­ing soul. She embarked on her pop­u­lar music career to fund her clas­si­cal edu­ca­tion. How­ev­er, the oppor­tu­ni­ties to play the way she want­ed to did not arise. “Nina closed her let­ter on a strange­ly down note,” writes Nadine Coho­das in Princess Noire: The Tumul­tuous Reign of Nina Simone. “Her melan­choly over­whelmed any excite­ment about play­ing for the first time in France and Bel­gium. ‘No plea­sure,’ she told Langston, ‘just work.’”

So much of Simone’s frus­tra­tion and burnout in the music indus­try came out of a deep sense of alien­ation from her work. The shy Eunice Way­mon had nev­er craved the spot­light, some­thing Hugh­es must have come to know about her in the years of their acquain­tance. In his first note of praise, how­ev­er, he gets one thing wrong. As she was always the first to point out, Simone did not do it “most­ly all by her­self.”

The sup­port of her moth­er, her teacher, and her small “down home” com­mu­ni­ty took her as far as it could. Her rela­tion­ships with Hans­ber­ry, Hugh­es, and oth­er artists/activists car­ried her the rest of the way. Until they were gone. But when Hugh­es died, Popo­va writes, “a dev­as­tat­ed Simone turned her cov­et­ed set at the New­port Jazz Fes­ti­val into a trib­ute and closed it with an exhor­ta­tion to the audi­ence: ‘Keep him with you always. He was a beau­ti­ful, a beau­ti­ful man, and he’s still with us, of course.’” See much more of their cor­re­spon­dence at the Bei­necke.

via the Bei­necke

Relat­ed Con­tent:    

Nina Simone’s Live Per­for­mances of Her Poignant Civ­il Rights Protest Songs

Nina Simone Song “Col­or Is a Beau­ti­ful Thing” Ani­mat­ed in a Gor­geous Video

Langston Hugh­es Reads Langston Hugh­es

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451: A Free Reading by Featuring Neil Gaiman, William Shatner, Susan Orlean & More

Today, the world cel­e­brates the 100th anniver­sary of Ray Brad­bury’s birth­day. And, to mark the occa­sion, Neil Gaiman, William Shat­ner, Susan Orlean & many oth­ers will host a read­ing of Brad­bury’s clas­sic book, Fahren­heit 451.

The online spe­cial, like the book, is sep­a­rat­ed into three parts, each intro­duced by Librar­i­an of Con­gress Car­la Hay­den. The voic­es of librar­i­ans, notable authors, actors, schol­ars, and stu­dents are book­end­ed by the open­ing and clos­ing read­ings from Neil Gaiman and William Shat­ner. The spe­cial includes com­men­tary by Ann Druyan, direc­tor and co-author of Cos­mos, an after­word by Susan Orlean, author of The Library Book, and a spe­cial appear­ance and read­ing by for­mer NASA astro­naut and admin­is­tra­tor Charles F. Bold­en Jr.

You can watch the videos the read­ing  the videos above and below. The videos should be avail­able until Sep­tem­ber 5th.

Part 2

Part 3

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If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Why Should We Read Ray Bradbury’s Fahren­heit 451? A New TED-Ed Ani­ma­tion Explains

Ray Brad­bury Reveals the True Mean­ing of Fahren­heit 451: It’s Not About Cen­sor­ship, But Peo­ple “Being Turned Into Morons by TV”

Father Writes a Great Let­ter About Cen­sor­ship When Son Brings Home Per­mis­sion Slip to Read Ray Bradbury’s Cen­sored Book, Fahren­heit 451

An Asbestos-Bound, Fire­proof Edi­tion of Ray Bradbury’s Fahren­heit 451 (1953)

New Edi­tion of Ray Bradbury’s Fahren­heit 451 That’s Only Read­able When You Apply Heat to Its Pages: Pre-Order It Today

A Teas­er Trail­er for Fahren­heit 451: A New Film Adap­ta­tion of Ray Bradbury’s Ever-Rel­e­vant Nov­el

Hear Ray Bradbury’s Clas­sic Sci-Fi Sto­ry Fahren­heit 451 as a Radio Dra­ma

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Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock & Other Jazz Musicians Sell Whisky & Spirits in Classic Japanese TV Commercials

I like to think that, when the occa­sion aris­es, I can speak pass­able Japan­ese. But pride goeth before the fall, and I fell flat on my first attempt to order a whisky in Tokyo. To my request for a Sun­to­ry neat the bar­tender respond­ed only with embar­rassed incom­pre­hen­sion. I repeat­ed myself, push­ing my Japan­i­fied pro­nun­ci­a­tion to par­o­d­ic lim­its: saaan-to-riii nee-to. At some point the man deci­phered my lin­guis­tic flail­ing. “Ah,” he said, bright­en­ing, “suuu-to-raaay-to?” To think that I could have han­dled this sit­u­a­tion with dig­ni­ty had I but seen the Sun­to­ry com­mer­cial above, in which Her­bie Han­cock sug­gests hav­ing a drink “straight.”

Would even the mad­dest men of the Amer­i­can adver­tis­ing indus­try coun­te­nance the idea of putting a jazz musi­cian in a com­mer­cial? Japan thinks dif­fer­ent­ly, how­ev­er, and in its eco­nom­ic-bub­ble era of the 1970s and 80s thought more dif­fer­ent­ly still.

At that time, Japan­ese tele­vi­sion spots — at least those com­mis­sioned by suf­fi­cient­ly deep-pock­et­ed com­pa­nies — began fea­tur­ing Amer­i­can celebri­ties like James Brown, Woody AllenNico­las Cage, Paul New­man, and Den­nis Hop­per. A 1979 Sun­to­ry ad that put Fran­cis Ford Cop­po­la along­side Aki­ra Kuro­sawa would, a quar­ter-cen­tu­ry on, inspire Cop­po­la’s daugh­ter Sofia to dra­ma­tize a sim­i­lar East-meets-West com­mer­cial sit­u­a­tion in her film Lost in Trans­la­tion.

Of all the things Amer­i­can embraced (and repur­posed) by Japan after its defeat in the Sec­ond World War, jazz music has main­tained the most intense­ly enthu­si­as­tic fan base. Japan­ese-made jazz has long been a for­mi­da­ble genre of its own, just as Japan­ese-made whisky has long held its own with the West­ern vari­eties. But when the mak­ers of Japan­ese whisky made an effort to sell their own prod­uct on tele­vi­sion to the new­ly wealthy Japan­ese peo­ple, they looked to Amer­i­can jazzmen to give it a shot of authen­tic­i­ty. Hav­ing recruit­ed Han­cock to pro­mote drink­ing their sin­gle-malt whisky at room tem­per­a­ture, Sun­to­ry got bassist Ron Carter as well as both Bran­ford and Ellis Marsalis to pro­mote drink­ing it hot.

Could the cul­tur­al asso­ci­a­tion between jazz and whisky extend to oth­er liquors? That was the gam­bit of a 1987 com­mer­cial fea­tur­ing Miles Davis, recent­ly inves­ti­gat­ed by Insid­e­Hook’s Aaron Gold­farb. Its prod­uct: shōchū, “a col­or­less, odor­less, yet often chal­leng­ing spir­it typ­i­cal­ly dis­tilled from rice (known as kome-jochu), bar­ley (mugi-jochu) or sweet pota­toes (imo-jochu).” New­ly launched with an appar­ent intent to pitch that staid bev­er­age to mon­eyed younger peo­ple, the brand VAN hired Davis to play a few notes on his trum­pet, then take a sip of its shōchū and pro­nounce it a “mir­a­cle.” He also describes him­self as “always on the van­guard,” hence, pre­sum­ably, the name VAN (though its being rem­i­nis­cent of VAN JACKET, the com­pa­ny that had ear­li­er brought Ivy League style to the same tar­get demo­graph­ic, could­n’t have been unwel­come).

Though Davis’ brand of cool did its part for the suc­cess of Hon­da scoot­ers and TDK cas­sette tapes, it proved not to be enough for VAN shōchū. The brand “was a big flop and had a very short life,” Gold­farb quotes an indus­try expert as say­ing, “prob­a­bly because shōchū is so quin­tes­sen­tial­ly Japan­ese, and a for­eign-style shōchū just didn’t make sense to most.” Per­haps the com­mer­cial itself also lacked the plea­sur­able sim­plic­i­ty of Sun­to­ry’s many jazz-ori­ent­ed spots, none of which turned out sim­pler or more plea­sur­able than the one with Sam­my Davis Jr. per­form­ing a cap­pel­la just above. In the process of pour­ing him­self a drink Davis plays the part of an entire jazz com­bo, using only his mouth and the objects at hand, includ­ing the ice in his glass. The con­cept would­n’t have worked quite so well had he tak­en his Sun­to­ry neat — or rather, straight.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

A 30-Minute Intro­duc­tion to Japan­ese Jazz from the 1970s: Like Japan­ese Whisky, It’s Under­rat­ed, But Very High Qual­i­ty

Watch Aki­ra Kuro­sawa & Fran­cis Ford Cop­po­la in Japan­ese Whisky Ads from 1979: The Inspi­ra­tion for Lost in Trans­la­tion

The Best Com­mer­cial Ever? James Brown Sells Miso Soup (1992)

Nico­las Cage, Paul New­man & Den­nis Hop­per Bring Their Amer­i­can Style to Japan­ese Com­mer­cials

Woody Allen Lives the “Deli­cious Life” in Ear­ly-80s Japan­ese Com­mer­cials

Glo­ri­ous Ear­ly 20th-Cen­tu­ry Japan­ese Ads for Beer, Smokes & Sake (1902–1954)

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall, on Face­book, or on Insta­gram.

The Face of Bill Murray Adds Some Joy to Classic Paintings

Bill Mur­ray isn’t one of those actors who dis­ap­pears into a role.

Nor is he much of a chameleon on can­vas, how­ev­er icon­ic, as artist Eddy Tori­goe demon­strates with a series that grafts Murray’s famous mug onto a num­ber of equal­ly well-known paint­ings.

Tori­goe told Digg that he was inspired by acci­dent, when he was struck by the uncan­ny resem­blance between Gilbert Stuart’s Lans­downe por­trait of George Wash­ing­ton, and a pho­to of Mur­ray post­ed by a Red­dit user.

He down­loaded both images and bus­ied him­self with Pho­to­shop.

The rest is his­to­ry.

The Pres­i­den­tial update is an improve­ment in ways. Mur­ray-faced Wash­ing­ton appears kind­ly, and not averse to a bit of fun. No teeth of enslaved peo­ples com­pro­mis­ing that mouth.

While Mur­ray is capa­ble of main­tain­ing a straight face—wit­ness his work in Lost in Trans­la­tionThe Razor’s EdgeHam­let 2000, and Torigoe’s homage to Whistler’s Moth­er, above—more often than not a cer­tain puck­ish­ness shines through.

One won­ders what would have befall­en painter Jacques-Louis David had he bestowed The Emper­or Napoleon in His Study at the Tui­leries with Murray’s goofy expres­sion.

And it’s well estab­lished that a key ele­ment of Grant Wood’s oft-par­o­died Amer­i­can Goth­ic is the pok­er faced reserve of its male sub­ject.

Had they been alive today, it’s con­ceiv­able that Lucas Cranach the Elder’s por­trait of Mar­tin Luther might have depict­ed a lighter side of his friend, some­thing more Mur­ray-esque. Though giv­en the Ref­or­ma­tion and his 95 The­ses against Indul­gences, maybe not….

Explore more of Eddy Torigoe’s Bill Mur­ray-enriched mas­ter­pieces of art, includ­ing self-por­traits by Rem­brandt, Fri­da Kahlo, and Picas­so, on his web­site.

via My Mod­ern Met

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Bill Mur­ray Explains How a 19th-Cen­tu­ry Paint­ing Saved His Life

Bill Mur­ray Reads the Poet­ry of Lawrence Fer­linghet­ti, Wal­lace Stevens, Emi­ly Dick­in­son, Bil­ly Collins, Lorine Niedeck­er, Lucille Clifton & More

Mas­ter­pieces of West­ern Art with All Gluten Prod­ucts Removed: See Works by Dalí, Cézanne, Van Gogh & Oth­ers

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

The British Museum is Full of Looted Artifacts

As crit­ics and fans wrote excit­ed­ly upon its release, Marvel’s Black Pan­ther did an excel­lent job of cre­at­ing sym­pa­thy for its vil­lain. Many found Erik Killmonger’s rad­i­cal­ism more appeal­ing than the hero’s mod­er­a­tion for some spe­cif­ic rea­sons, begin­ning with the heist at the “Muse­um of Great Britain,” a thin­ly fic­tion­al­ized British Muse­um. “In one scene,” writes gal­lerist Lise Rag­bir at Hyper­al­ler­gic, “the block­buster super­hero movie touch­es on issues of prove­nance, repa­tri­a­tion, diver­si­ty, rep­re­sen­ta­tion, and oth­er debates cur­rent­ly shap­ing insti­tu­tion­al prac­tices.”

As a gallery direc­tor who is also black, I was awed by Killmonger’s dec­la­ra­tion to an over­con­fi­dent cura­tor that she was mis­tak­en. When the cura­tor con­de­scend­ing­ly informed Kill­mon­ger that items in the muse­um aren’t for sale, my hands began to sweat. And I was down­right thrilled when the vil­lain blunt­ly con­front­ed her: “How do you think your ances­tors got these? You think they paid a fair price? Or did they take it like they took every­thing else?”

He does not exag­ger­ate. The scene “describes a cen­turies-old truth,” artist Deb­o­rah Roberts remarks”—“colonialists rob­bing black cul­ture to put on dis­play for Euro­pean con­sump­tion.” The issue, in oth­er words, is not only who gets to tell the sto­ries of African and oth­er non-Euro­pean peo­ple, but who gets to see and hear them, since so many non-white peo­ple have been exclud­ed from muse­ums and muse­um cul­ture.

As Casey Haugh­in wrote in the Hop­kins Exhi­bi­tion­ist, the film “pre­sent­ed [the muse­um] as an ille­gal mech­a­nism of colo­nial­ism, and along with that, a space which does not even wel­come those whose cul­ture it dis­plays.” So-called “dis­put­ed muse­um trea­sures,” the Vox video above shows, are essen­tial­ly stolen arti­facts, with claims of own­er­ship that elide, omit, or fab­ri­cate the his­to­ry of their acqui­si­tion.

Some loot­ed trea­sures have been returned, but when it comes to the major­i­ty of the Museum’s “dis­put­ed” col­lec­tions, “so far, it isn’t giv­ing them back,” Vox explains, despite calls from for­mer­ly col­o­nized nations. It’s easy to see why. If they were to hon­or his­tor­i­cal claims of own­er­ship, the British Muse­um would lose some of its most cel­e­brat­ed and sig­nif­i­cant hold­ings, like the Roset­ta Stone or the Benin Bronzes, “some of the most con­tentious items in the muse­um.”

These bronzes, from the wealthy King­dom of Benin, locat­ed in mod­ern-day Nige­ria, were “loot­ed by British sol­diers dur­ing an 1897 raid,” Sarah Cas­cone writes at Art­net. Faced with calls from Nigeria’s Nation­al Com­mis­sion for Muse­ums and Mon­u­ments to return them, the British Muse­um held meet­ings that lead to more meet­ings and a “dec­la­ra­tion” that “out­lined an intention”—all stalling tac­tics that have not pro­duced results. Learn why these arti­facts are impor­tant to Nige­ri­ans and how the 19th-cen­tu­ry “scram­ble for Africa” cre­at­ed so much of the muse­um cul­ture we know today, one still heav­i­ly mired in its colo­nial­ist roots.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The British Muse­um Cre­ates 3D Mod­els of the Roset­ta Stone & 200+ Oth­er His­toric Arti­facts: Down­load or View in Vir­tu­al Real­i­ty

The British Muse­um Puts 1.9 Mil­lion Works of Art Online

Take a Vir­tu­al Tour of 30 World-Class Muse­ums & Safe­ly Vis­it 2 Mil­lion Works of Fine Art

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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