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the Kulture Files

Feature

Cinema & Art: When the Twain Meet by Neha Nair Rohera

The onset of summer always brings with it glorious heat, bright sunshine and the lure of foreign lands. It’s the time of year when passports are dug out, visas are stamped, bags are packed and airport queues are endured. For our travelers, the Kulture Files has a great event section that gives you a peek into culturally relevant events across the globe. If you aren’t traveling, there’s no need to despair.

Architectural Spotlight

Editor’s Note

Kuwait Blind Association Sports Complex by PAD10

Criticism

When Censorship Prevails by Fatmah Al-Qadfan

Travel Special

A Cultural Journey Around the World

Vol. 04 July 1, 2012

Vol. 04 July 1, 2012

A good movie offers glimpses of exotic lands and cultures right on your screen! Fittingly, our feature section explores the medium of cinema as art. The architecture story reveals the concept of a brand new sports complex for the visually impaired for the Kuwait Blind Association, designed by PAD10. Lastly, what is culture without criticism? Our guest writer elaborates on censorship and its effects on the spirit of innovation and creativity. With so much in store, we are sure you will have much to ponder on during those long haul flights. Happy travels!


WHEN THE TWAIN MEET By Neha Nair Rohera

What constitutes art? The scope of art is wide; encompassing different channels and media. From conventional paintings and sculpture to installations, performances, cinema and the written word; art manifests itself in every aspect of life and culture. Although the history of cinema is significantly shorter when compared with that of art, it is probably one of the most accessible mediums and holds mass appeal like no other.

where he finds himself in an unfamiliar setting and is confronted by clocks with no hands and a coffin. The scene alludes heavily to his imminent death, leading him on an introspective journey in the twilight of his life - forming the crux of the story.

Names of auteur directors such as François Truffaut, Akira Kurosawa, Ingmar Bergman, Wong Kar Wai inspire much discussion and debate. Their films have been lauded by critics, in spite of some controversial issues and many have developed a cult following.

Landmark movies like Citizen Kane, Battleship Potemkin, Bicycle Thieves, Un Chien Andalou, Rashomon, 8½, Rear Window, Amores Perros, Taxi Driver and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind find themselves on the ‘must-watch’ list of every cinema student and film critic. These films comprise various genres including Realist, Surrealist, Film Noir, Mystery, Fantasy, Science Fiction and even Political Propaganda films.

But how does a film become ‘art’? Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless makes ingenious use of jump cuts and a jazz score to create a movie that was one of the finest of the French New Wave cinema. Though, innovative technique can in no way be considered the only criterion for judging a film’s art quotient. Sometimes, it is the beautiful imagery and motifs it evokes, à la Wong Kar Wai’s classic In the Mood for Love. While some cinephiles may consider the edgy and divisive Pulp Fiction as an art film, other purists might find themselves aghast at the idea of such seeming depravity in the name of cinema. While there may be no brush strokes to analyze, the 35 mm (or 70 mm) canvases run rife with symbolism. In Swedish director Ingmar Bergman’s acclaimed Wild Strawberries, the lead character experiences a dream

It is imperative to recognize the critical dissonance that exists between films praised by critics and those loved by the public. It makes the difference between a critically successful film and a commercially lucrative one. While Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream remains a favorite of the cognoscenti, the box office recorded poor financial gains. On the other hand, directors like Michael Bay have made record collections at the box office, only to have their films panned by reviewers. The Resident Evil and American Pie franchises are some movies that failed critically, but found approval in audiences. While there are movies that do not have commercial and critical success as mutually exclusive factors, these form but a small percentage of the thousands of movies churned out worldwide each year.

In recent years, independent cinema has made significant strides and has grown from a relatively nascent concept to an industry in itself. With digital film equipment trickling down to the average consumer, filmmaking has gained a wider scope. A simple search on YouTube displays millions of amateur videos, with some ‘viral’ videos gaining up to a million views! There are many instances of movies with low production budgets making a huge impact on the big screen. Debutant director Oren Peli made Paranormal Activity on a shoestring budget of about USD 15,000, only to have it become one of the most successful horror films in recent times. The film has now turned into a profitable franchise. The Blair Witch Project, Garden State and Primer were all low budget movies which managed to rake up huge profits. As in most spheres of art, the choice of a film and its review is entirely subjective. Cinéastes have always been divided on the factors that make a movie great. Debates range from the popularity of the lead actors to the director’s abilities, to technical arcs like cinematography and the musical score among many others. However, if there is one undeniably decisive element that makes the difference between art and trash, it is a good script.


Kuwait Blind Association Sports Complex

By PAD10

Rendering

“Mute the vision; augment the senses”. This statement was the backbone of defining a sports facility for the visually impaired community. Centered around a ‘goal ball’ internal court and a ‘sound garden’ external courtyard, a series of ramps mediate these with support programs along the perimeter. The rhythm of light and color, wrapping the building envelope, orient the users of the building, most of who can perceive shades and lights. The colors simulate the interplay between gender, level, and program to become indexical to the visually impaired of their whereabouts. The openness relates to the facade orientation allowing in more light on the ground level and gradually less on upper levels. The building is ADA compliant.

Elevations

Client: Kuwait Blind Association; Design Architect: PAD10 (Principal Architects: Naji Moujaes, Johnny Salman; Project Team: Alia Alazzeh, Rohan Almeida, Raymund Yadao, Samantha Rodrigues); Architect of Record/ Engineering Consultants: SSHIC; Client Representative: Abdalla Al-Shaar, Injaz.

When Censorship Prevails by Fatmah Al-Qadfan

At the beginning of the 20th century, American historian Henry Steele Commager wrote, “Censorship always defeats it own purpose, for it creates in the end the kind of society that is incapable of exercising real discretion.” Other authors have also asserted that censorship reflects society’s lack of confidence and tests democracy. A century later, we are still struggling with censorship. For us, the word embodies the examination of speech, books, music, films (and other art forms), the press, radio, television, and the Internet by the government in order to suppress questionable material. Governments cite different reasons for censorship including national security, obscenity, pornography, hate speech, promoting or restricting political or religious views, as well as preventing slander and protecting intellectual property. Censorship, however, is not always legal and the line is often blurry. Take Kuwait for example. Books, movies and magazines are officially examined by the government and the socially unacceptable parts are suppressed - or in extreme cases, banned. When one books tickets to watch a movie in Kuwait, it is in the full knowledge that it is a censored movie. We pay to allow someone to infringe on our rights. We pay, time and again, to watch a movie that has been cut and tailored to fit someone else’s morals.

People are infuriated by censorship of movies in Kuwait – but what has been done about it? Movements to overcome censorship have been few and far between, spearheaded by writers and educators. The real danger, therefore, lies in our inability to confront our government’s growing tendency to censor. A social problem like censorship can be overcome by an organized community that is dedicated and determined. Nothing will change if we continue to go to the movies or if we don’t stop buying censored magazines. With no real threat, censorship will continue to fester and grow, spreading from one medium to another. The problem with censorship is that it is not limited to books, magazines or television. Once it spreads and becomes an acceptable part of the culture, it permeates everyday life. One minute we are accepting vague and arbitrary censorship at the movies and another minute we’re censoring our words at home. How often do we bite our tongue in the middle of a heated conversation? We hold back, not because our words are hurtful, but because we have been taught to dismiss certain ideas. Whether our ideas make sense or not, we censor them so we do not sound foolish in front of others. Self-censorship stems out of fear of – or deference to – the sensibilities of those around us.

Self-censorship is not only practiced by artists and authors in Kuwait who worry about their works being sabotaged; it is practiced by every member of society: from the child who cannot voice his or her dream for fear of being ridiculed, to the young adult who has no notion of hopes and aspirations. Years of censorship have taught our youth to live for the moment – or at best, to make only their parents’ dreams come true. Censorship has finally restricted our imagination; we have all become alike. We have a legion of young men and women whose dream is to become engineers and architects. Young minds are no longer allowed to explore other options. Some accept the social limitations imposed on them, the rest may not agree but eventually bow their heads in defeat. Nobody wants to deal with the harsh judgment of others by choosing a career that is not taken seriously. Kuwaitis have let go of ambitions because when self-censorship prevails, dreams perish. Fatmah Al-Qadfan is a Social Community Executive at BBDO. She’s a blogger, aspiring theatre director and full-time cynic.


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20/21 British Art Fair September 12 – 16, 2012 London, UK The 20/21 British Art Fair at the Royal College of Art features work by British artists such as Keith Vaughan, Eduardo Paolozzi, Jacob Epstein, Patrick Heron, Barbara Hepworth, David Hockey, Sandra Blow, Patrick Caulfield and Banksy.

Melbourne Art Fair August 1 – 5, 2012 Melbourne, Australia Melbourne Art Fair is an exhibition of leading contemporary art from more than 80 selected national and international galleries. The biennial event features paintings, sculpture, photography, installation and multimedia art by over 900 artists.

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Biennale of Sydney June 27 – September 16, 2012 Sydney, Australia The Biennale of Sydney is a non-profit organization that presents Australia’s largest and most exciting contemporary visual arts event. The event includes a three-month exhibition, plus a program of artist talks, performances, forums, film screenings, family events, guided tours and other special events, all free to the public.

SH Contemporary September 7 – 9, 2012 Shanghai, China Serving primarily the development of the region’s art markets, SH Contemporary is a commercial platform and a curatorially-led project, displaying interesting new finds in contemporary art to discerning international collectors and art lovers.

Gwangju Biennale September 7 – November 11, 2012 Gwangju, South Korea Founded in 1995, the Gwangju Biennale is Asia’s oldest and most prestigious biennial of contemporary art. Centered on the Biennale Hall in Gwangju’s Jungoui Park, the presence has elevated the city of 1.4 million to become a cultural hub of East Asia. It is home to some of the best-preserved cultural relics in the nation, and is known locally as the “City of Art, Cuisine and Culture”.

Busan Biennale September 22 – November 24, 2012 Busan, South Korea Busan Biennale is a comprehensive art festival that integrates three different festivals held in the city: the Busan Youth Biennale, Busan Sea Festival and Busan Outdoor Sculpture Symposium.

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Seoul International Media Art Biennale 11 September – November 4, 2012 Seoul, South Korea The theme of this year’s biennale is ‘Spell On You’. It aims to imagine a vision for a new world and society in two ways. On the one hand, it will show how the recent production of new technology and social media is generating various renewals in social communication and exchange. On the other hand, it aims to reinterpret art and technology in an attempt to re-envision our future, and find alternative ways of living.

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The 56th International Festival of Contemporary Music October 6 – 13, 2012 Venice, Italy Directed by the composer Ivan Fedele, the festival is entitled +EXTREME-, and refers to the musical minimalisms and maximalisms of our times. Eight intense days featuring three events per day (concerts and performances) will offer the audience 51 cuttingedge works including 28 world premieres. The venues are the Teatro Piccolo Arsenale and the Teatro alle Tese.

Manifesta 9 June 2 – September 30, 2012 Limburg, Belgium Manifesta is the only itinerant European biennial of contemporary art. Manifesta originated in the early 90s in response to political, economic and social changes following the end of the Cold War and the subsequent steps towards European integration. Since that time, Manifesta has developed into a traveling platform focused on the dialogue between art and society in Europe.

dOCUMENTA (13) June 9 – September 16, 2012 Kassel, Germany The 13th edition of documenta involves more than 300 participants. The exhibition in Kassel is presented at eight main venues, with many other projects located at sites throughout the center of the city. dOCUMENTA (13) is dedicated to artistic research and forms of imagination that explore commitment, matter, things, embodiment, and active living in connection with, yet not subordinated to, theory.

The 13th International Architecture Exhibition August 29 – November 25, 2012 Venice, Italy Directed by David Chipperfield and organized by la Biennale di Venezia chaired by Paolo Baratta, the architecture exhibition, entitled Common Ground, will open to the public at the Giardini della Biennale and at the Arsenale.

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International Theatre Workshop August 4 – 12, 2012 Venice, Italy The new edition of the International Theatre Workshop, directed by Àlex Rigola, runs from 4 - 12 August, 2012. This will be the preliminary step of the next Festival, to take place in 2013. Five directors and mentors of the contemporary stage (Luca Ronconi, Declan Donnellan with Nick Ormerod, Claudio Tolcachir, Neil LaBute, and Gabriela Carrizo) will hold workshops for young actors, directors, dancers and playwrights. The venues are the Teatro Piccolo Arsenale and the Teatro alle Tese.


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69th Venice Film Festival August 29 – September 8, 2012 Venice, Italy The 69th Venice International Film Festival, organized by La Biennale di Venezia, will run at Venice Lido, and will be directed by Alberto Barbera. The aim of the festival is to raise awareness and promote all the various aspects of international cinema in all its forms: as art, entertainment and as an industry, in a spirit of freedom and tolerance. The Festival includes retrospectives and homages to major figures as a contribution towards raising awareness of the history of cinema.

30th São Paulo Biennial September 7 – December 9, 2012 São Paulo, Brazil The 2012 São Paulo Biennial will focus on “the multiplicity, transitionality, recurrence, and permanent mutability of the artistic poetics: their aesthetic and political topology, their survival, alterations, their diverse forms of eloquence and derivations; retours, reverses, regressions, progress, assimilations, condensations, and deformations.”

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8th Taipei Biennial September 29, 2012 – January 13, 2013 Taipei, Taiwan The Taipei Biennial is the most important exhibition for promoting contemporary art held by the Taipei Fine Arts Museum. Since its inception in 1998, the Taipei Biennial has introduced new artistic ideas from around the world that act as a driver of dialogue between Taiwan and other cultures, becoming a primary symbol of Taiwan’s contemporary art development and international artistic exchange.

Frieze Art Fair October 11 – 14, 2012 London, UK Frieze Art Fair features over 170 of the most exciting contemporary art galleries in the world. The fair also includes specially commissioned artists’ projects, prestigious talks and an artist-led education schedule.

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Kochi-Muziris Biennale December 12, 2012 – March 13, 2013 Kerala, India The Kochi-Muziris Biennale is an international exhibition of contemporary art being held in Kochi, Kerala. The inaugural edition is co-curated by Bose Krishnamachari and Riyas Komu.  The exhibition will be set in spaces across Kochi, Muziris and surrounding islands. Through the celebration of contemporary art from around the world, The Kochi-Muziris Biennale seeks to invoke the historic cosmopolitan legacy of the modern metropolis of Kochi, and its mythical predecessor, the ancient port of Muziris.  Alongside the exhibition, the Biennale will offer a rich program of talks, seminars, screenings, music, workshops and educational activities for school children and students of all ages. 

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18 In order to tackle the subject, four curatorial zones have been identified: - Poetic survivals - Alter-Forms or Poetic Alterations - Poetic Voices - Poetic Drifts A transversal zone is included as well, based on the idea of “Poetic Reverses”, or the reverse as action in-between these four concepts.

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Art Copenhagen September 14 – 16, 2012 Copenhagen, Denmark Scandinavia’s largest and leading art fair for international contemporary art since it first started in 1997. This year, the fair will take place in Forum Copenhagen, close to downtown Copenhagen.

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14th Art International Zurich October 12 – 14, 2012 Zurich, Switzerland The 14th Art International Zurich presents contemporary art in the exclusive location of the Kongresshaus Zurich. This annual Art Show creates an interdisciplinary exhibition space and an interactive meeting place for artists, gallery owners, collectors and an art interested public.

Beirut Art Fair July 5 – 8, 2012 Beirut, Lebanon Building on the success of the 2010 & 2011’s editions, Beirut Art Fair in Lebanon stands out as a leading platform for the promotion of contemporary art & design of the ME.NA.SA countries (Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia). For its third installment, Beirut Art Fair accentuates its position through a rich and innovative program of conferences and workshops, a VIP round through the city, meetings between collectors and galleries, happenings, cultural exhibitions, open spaces, off events, as well as forty international art galleries, carefully selected to offer a complete panorama on the young creations of our ME.NA.SA regions.

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