Monthly Archives: February 2010

Hirst and the Orca

Most humans love animals and love to be entertained by them. It thus comes as a great shock to most that a nice-looking beast such as an orca whale could kill its trainer. It is terrible indeed, but not surprising to me.

There couldn’t be something as evil to me as keeping an animal which lives in open waters in a tank just for the pleasure of the spectators. It is a gruesome thing to do to any free being and especially to a whale.

This terrible story made me think of Damian Hirst‘s series of works using dead animals preserved in formaldehyde. Controversial as they are, it is not a matter of simply liking them or not. Much more important is their role as questioners of our relationship to animals.

These artworks have always got me thinking about the use we make of animals. If killing them in large scales for eating, dressing and so forth is acceptable, why not put dead beasts on display for the sake of art?

It is high time we stopped with practices that in one way or the other damage the environment or disturb nature just for our selfishly human need for animal entertainment.

Hirst’s artistic approach to matters of life and death couldn’t be more appropriate.

Fri for fun

Friday spells fun for me. At least this one does.

I’m seeing Dj Mehdi tonight, one of France’s sole hopes for good music nowadays.

Let’s have some fun, this beat is sick.

The boss of remix

As I’ve said before, Brazil is the country of the remix; the place where art is cleverly appropriated and given a special touch: a Brazilian touch.

In this sense, I can’t think of any DJ who is as good at making fun, dancing music as Bo$$ in Drama. A performer and a music producer too, he can shake any dancefloor at any time and any day. He rules.

A live performance of the song Jumpstyle:

One of the best live gigs/dj nights I’ve ever been to.

Your heart feels

Never write anything and publish while you are drunk, you might regret it later.

Writing with a hangover from a fun yet alcohol-filled night is no good either.

Still, it is always nice to listen to good music when you wake up:

Thieves Like Us are a band I’ve liked for quite some time now. They are releasing a new record, called Again and Again soon.

Their latest single:

I just love the Berlin feeling I get whenever I listen to their music.

About II

It’s my roommate’s birthday today. We decided to start the celebrations by having a great lunch at home, with a bottle of champagne. I’m now a little drunk and I still have to work later on.

I had bought a book by Miranda July a couple of weeks ago, but I hadn’t started reading it until today after I got drunk. I guess I lacked to courage since she so often overwhelms me.

I guess one has to be ready to be overwhelmed, you know, with an open spirit.

I am now, but I still have to go to work.

No one belongs here more than you.

Found in translation

I love languages and I’m usually quite obsessed with them. I enjoy learning a tongue as much as I like learning about them.

The process of learning a foreign language is very intriguing, for it really challenges one’s preconceptions of oneself.

I’ve recently been given an issue of the Metronome magazine, a collection of fiction, poetry and thoughts by a collective of artists and writes. This special number from 2001 deals with speech and its magnetism.

The work of Danish artist Lise Harlev really caught my attention. Some excerpts:

When you come across a word that you do not understand as foreigner you are often in doubt whether you should ask about the meaning of the word right away or pretend to understand and go look it up later.

As a foreigner you often wonder if you actually manage to express your true personality to other people through the foreign language.

Wenn ein Inländer seine Muttersprache spricht, hört es sich manchmal so fliessend und perfekt an, dass man als Ausländer sein intektuelles Niveau überschätzt. (When a native speaks his/her mother tongue, it sometimes sounds so fluent and perfect that one as a foreigner overstimates the person’s intellectual level).

Som utlænding oplever man ofte at man taler fremmedsproget bedre men nogle indfødte end med andre.(As a foreigner, one often realizes that s/he speaks the foreign language better with some natives than with others).

The work, called Når man dagligt taler et fremmed sprog (“When you speak a foreign language daily”), is written in Danish, German and English and it is interesting to notice that although the sentences contain similar ideas (I chose different ones), they don’t translate exactly in the same way.

The questions raised by Harlev are also extremely clever because they make us wonder about how much what we think of ourselves is a product or not of our linguistic abilities. This is something that becomes very obvious when we are struggling to learn a different language.


Are we what we speak or is there more to us than just words? Most importantly, how can we know?

Familiarity in strangeness

Brazil and Africa are so close in so many aspects that I am constantly tempted to say: Brazil is Africa.

Ever since my curiosity about our ancestors and their legacy to Brazilian culture was sparkled by music, I’ve been restlessly searching for a truer face of the continent. Unfortunately, it seems that most information about Africa is second-hand, that is, written by other people with their foreign mindsets. It seems that cliché is also just around the corner in most reports about Africa.

Luckily though, there are people like Pieter Hugo. A talented and politically aware photographer from South Africa, he has over the years produced startling images of the African people in the most diverse and intriguing situations.

The Hyena & Other Men series

Although acquiring great fame and recognition for his series of works entitled Nollywood (which depict s actors and ordinary people connected to Nigeria’s film industry), his work with the hyena tamers is to me the most impressive.

What I like most about his work is his ability to capture a glimpse of what the human soul and its secrets are supposed to be even in the strangest sets and situations.

What is then the connection of Pieter Hugo’s work to Brazil? Absurdity. The absurd things and and the absurdness of life bring the two places together in a very special way. It is when one feels familiarity in strangeness that one can really see a close link between nations and continents.