Monthly Archives: January 2010

In the tune for FF

Inspirational music for the weekend:

May it be cool and full of love for everyone.

And I just can’t stop loving Friendly Fires. That Ed Macfarlane has got the moves, oh Dear.

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On overused themes

Whether one is religious or not, the Bible is an element of culture which is overwhelmingly present in Western Society. It has been the source of inspiration for artists through the millenia and, although we are living in an increasingly non-religious world, its influence is still very much felt in the world of the arts.

The famous book is present not only in the way we think or behave (religious teachings are the basis for western morals) but too often in the arts as well. Literature, theater, films (even sci-fi ones), music – biblical stories are everywhere. Thus, given its importance in our society, the emergence of new ways to interpret it becomes more and more important from a historical point of view, as we loose touch with the source in our daily lives.

The cover of the Brazilian edition

Robert Crumb‘s cartoon-like depiction of The Book of Genesis is a milestone in that aspect, for it makes some of the world’s oldest stories accessible to biblical skeptics. In detail-full images, Crumbs illustrations are very revealing in the sense that they help us see what is behind this often overused theme.

I have become quite interested in the Bible for sociologic and historic reasons. This reading exercize has made me realize a couple of things (revelations, one might say): the first one is that it has come to a point of extreme overuse as a theme for art; the second one is that one really has to read it in order to understand the basis of many beliefs one doesn’t even know were religion-based.

Just as sex is irritantingly overused as a subject for the arts, so have become biblical stories. Nonetheless, it is still important to know what came from where, so as to be able to judge the newness of any piece of art.

Newness, novelty, innovation, inspiration, please. A modern prophet might say.

After all, we need to get our heads off of our sins.

A taste for sculpture

The way I see it, art should always bring about feelings and emotions. It is great when it happens and even better when you can identify at once exactly what you felt.

Such a thing happened to me recently, at the first time I looked at Tatiana Blass‘ work. Born in São Paulo, Brazil, she is a sculptor, a painter, an illustrator and a writer who has just quite newly begun showing her art. Soft colors, mixture of shapes and the presence of rupture are a constant presence in the wonderful pieces she creates.

Cão cego #1("Blind Dog #1"), brass and paraffin, 2009

When looking at Cão cego #1, I was immediately struck by feelings of pity and compassion but at the same time touched by the sensibility with which it was created.

There is quite an established tradition for sculpture in Brazil and it’s really exciting to see what this praxis is being continued by someone as skillful and as multitalented as young Tatiana.

I can’t wait to see how her art develops.

Music against anxiety

I had a plan to write all about language learning today but my mood has got swings that probably only a pregnant woman with peaks of hormones has. My goodness.

From starting the day with a lovely breakfast with dear friends to an evening full of anxiety it was just a step. I don’t know why I so often feel this way. Then again, 10 whole years of weekly therapy have had an effect, for I today at least try to do things that I know will help me cheer up. The best and most effective way for me has always been my favorite kind of art: music.

I’ve recently found out about this band that has got me all hooked up on their sound: Vampire Weekend.

There are some discrete touches of folk, a bit of Alex Turner and lots of cleverly written songs and funky rhythms.

Music, besides making people come together, keeps Prozac away.

On the rise of Brazil

It is quite interesting to see the amount of attention Brazil is getting from the foreign press these days. For decades, the only thing that was available for readers around the globe were news pieces about either carnaval/soccer extravaganzas or poverty-connected events. It was one cliché after the other. Then came the internet. Then came easier and cheaper traveling opportunities. And most importantly, then came economic progress and the discovery of unimaginably immense oil reserves off the coast of Brazil.

Let us not be naive and think that all this interest sprang from a sudden curiosity about Brazilian cultural life. It has been the same or maybe even more original since way before President Lula‘s shiny leadership. Of course this is a special time and we should be opmistic about it. People’s lives are improving, from the poorest of the poor to the richest of the rich – things are better. I’m actually quite glad to notice that this is a good time for the country to grow. Why? Nowadays development plans are carried out in a  much more conscious way than ever before. Europeans often criticize Brazil and other countries for their growing strategies but let us not forget than the whole of Europe  (or parts of the US or Japan for that matter) was once covered by forestland. What is left of it? Virtually nothing. Positive criticism is always welcome, but let us do it without cynicism – it’s better taken.

Times are changing and I’m part of it. When I come to think about, I wonder if maybe just 15 years ago my voice would have been heard.

Let the many faces of Brazil finally be seen.

One of the many faces of Brazil

Expecting

I can’t wait to get my ears on Sigur Rós‘ singer Jónsi Birgisson‘s solo album – Go.

It’s not going to be released until March-April, but it’s possible to listen to parts of it recorded on radio shows, especially this one (please be so kind as to ignore the presentor’s stupid questions).

Something tells me that it’s going to have a strong folk character but I guess I’ll just have to wait and see. Be whatever it may be, his voice is just amazing.

Sigur Rós' frontman

Looking forward to this release.

A land of the (re)mix

If there’s one thing Brazilians do really well is to absorb cultural elements from a multitude of sources and transform it into something completely new and often surprising.

This might be due to the fact that for decades the only access to international culture we had here was rather late and often obsolete. Then came the 21st century and mass rapid internet connections. It is the age of the remix.

The Twelves, a musically gifted duo from Rio do it better and faster than one’s head can take. They are excellent.

In a very Brazilian way, they take songs from great artists around the globe and add their own twist of musicality to the original beat, creating something which is as good to dance to as it is to appreciate at home.

Reinvention is my word du jour.

PS: FYI, they do create their own music, though not as often as one would wish.