Articles by Kathryn Dere
February 10, 2012
Last Thursday’s French-themed program at the Boston Symphony Orchestra featured a fashion show to complement the performance of Debussy’s La Mer. Project Debussy, part of an annual fashion competition based on the works of a composer, featured eleven Debussy-inspired designs by local fashion students. This Project Composer series adds a new dimension to the usual symphony-goer’s experience, as couture and music — at least classical music — is rarely explored together.
February 7, 2012
2011 was a year of general unrest and uncertainty — rioting and political upheaval throughout the world, a possible start to the collapse of the Eurozone, and on American soil, the Occupy Wall Street movement. On the arts front, the arrest of Chinese contemporary artist and political activist Ai Weiwei on charges of tax evasion sparked international protest. Despite the universal tensions on political and economic fronts, however, the entertainment industry somehow managed to maintain its golden world of sugar-coated pop and blockbuster films.
January 25, 2012
While many movies focus on the private life behind a public figure, The Iron Lady focuses on the private life of a woman already retired from the spotlight. In keeping with the recent trend of making films about contemporary (British) politicians and royalty, this Margaret Thatcher biopic skillfully weaves fact and a great deal of artistic liberties to create a portrait of the first female prime minister of the UK.
November 15, 2011
The Wampanoag people of southeastern Massachusetts, who helped the Pilgrims survive 400 years ago, had no spoken language to call their own until about 20 years ago. Anne Makepeace’s newest documentary, We Still Live Here: Âs Nutayuneân, delves into the fascinating linguistic — and consequently, cultural — revival of a tribe.
October 28, 2011
It starts with a sound and ends with a painting. Creaking. Voices. Echoing footsteps. The soft swish of fabric. Above all, darkness. When the scene opens, the camera slowly pans back and forth across an evolving painting: The Mill and the Cross is centered around Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s The Way to Calvary (1564), so what better way to open the film than with a tour of the painting itself?
September 23, 2011
The Hedgehog proves that a film is best enjoyed if you watch it with low expectations at the outset. Admittedly, I read Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog this summer and enjoyed it so much that I was convinced that the film adaptation would be an absolute failure. After all, aren’t all movie adaptations of books at least something of a disappointment? Morbid curiosity is what drove me to watch The Hedgehog, and, well, thank goodness for morbid curiosity.
September 2, 2011
Miranda July’s Eleven Heavy Things cleverly skirts the word “sculpture,” one of those ill-defined “things” that suggests a commercial object just as often as it does an artistic one. This installation, sculptural merely by virtue of the fact that it is three-dimensional, lets us in on the artistic process and blurs the lines between creator and observer. Eleven Heavy Things originally debuted in 2010 in New York’s Union Square Park, and its journey to Los Angeles this summer came in conjunction with the release of July’s latest film project, The Future. Although I have not yet seen the film, this exhibition has certainly whet my appetite for the wacky but strangely candid ideas that emerge from July’s head.
June 3, 2011
Google Art Project was only unveiled in February, but already it has professional artists and amateur art lovers alike raving. It’s no wonder that people are impressed. A visit to the home page gives a crystal clear close-up of a famous painting. In the introduction video, painting after painting presents itself in proper Google Maps style as a voice tempts us to “discover hidden secrets, or get in close to see the most miniscule details, like the brushstrokes of van Gogh.”
May 6, 2011
Perhaps I can explain the draw of Tony Rauch’s new book, eyeballs growing all over me … again, rather quickly through one analogy: The Mysteries of Harris Burdick (1984, Chris Van Allsburg). Harris Burdick was a collection of illustrations by Van Allsburg, each accompanied by a title and a single line of text. The goal, according to elementary school teachers, was to make children think creatively and come up with stories incorporating the text and the picture. “Mr. Linden’s Library,” a picture of a sleeping girl and vines sprouting from the binding of an open book in front of her, sparked a sea of creative juices from excited fifth graders; eyeballs does the same thing for the more mature reader.
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May 3, 2011
Dale Chihuly has been working with glass for over 40 years, and his newest collection of glass sculptures is now on display at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. Chihuly: Through the Looking Glass is not your typical art exhibition, it’s a celebration of installation art and fragility at its very finest. Of course, before we give Chihuly all the credit, you should know that he does not work alone. A dislocated shoulder from a 1979 bodysurfing accident left him unable to hold a glassblowing pipe; since then, he has relied on a team of glassblowers to carry out his artistic plans. Chihuly classifies his role as “more choreographer than dancer, more supervisor than participant, more director than actor.” The result of these artistic collaborations is an oeuvre focused just as much on presentation as craftsmanship.