By Deb A.
Happy Ramadan to all our Muslim readers! And thanks to TED-Ed for this hypnotic look into the intricacies of Islamic design:
Arundhati Roy is back with new fiction, 20 years after her breathtaking first novel, The God of Small Things. The Guardian's recent interview with the author gives us a glimpse into her mind--and the minds of her latest characters. You can read an extract of Ms. Roy's latest novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, at The Guardian too.
The world is $933,000 away from Neil Gaiman doing a live reading of Dr. Seuss's Fox in Socks (or a mere $433,000 away from hearing him read the Cheesecake Factory menu). In case this is what's missing in your life, you can donate here. All proceeds will go to the UNHCR.
The BBC takes a look back at 70 years of classic portrait photography with a tribute to the Camera Press Agency.
His memoir was on many 'best books of 2016'' lists last year; this year Hisham Matar's The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between has also won the Folio Prize.
Kerry Clare takes a look at smallness in children's literature in The Walrus.
He "solved a problem that [others] did not. He found a way to represent for a global Anglophone audience the diction of his Igbo homeland": Kwame Anthony Appiah explains Chinua Achebe's particular genius in The New York Review of Books.
By Deb A.
Over the last decade, nearly 36,000 30-page sketchbooks have made their way to the Brooklyn Art Library's permanent collection.They are part of The Sketchbook Project, an initiative to equalize and inspire creative people that claims to be one of the world's largest collections of sketchbooks.
The Sketchbook Project's criteria for inclusion are low: contributors must purchase a branded, barcoded 5"x7" sketchbook to fill, use it in some way, and return it to the library in its original dimensions. That's it. The rest is up to you.
Unlike the exclusive gallery culture that founders Steven Peterman and Shane Zucker were reacting against when they began, all works are welcome--the library features sketchbooks filled by professional artists alongside others filled by children.
Submissions that meet the criteria are catalogued with keywords, enabling visitors to search for a particular name, theme or place. Artists can see how often their books have been pulled from the shelf; with each view, they get a reminder that somewhere out in the world, someone is paying attention. (For $35, they can have their work digitized and made available for viewing online as well.)
The Sketchbook Project offers a range of themes that contributors should use for a starting point: for 2018, this includes everything from 'Tacos' to 'Lines and Graphics' to 'People I Wish I Knew'.
Anyone wishing to add their own work to the project must sign up by January 5th, 2018 and submit their sketchbook by the end of March.
By Deb A.
Praised as "a powerful and disturbing installation that poses urgent questions about our time" by the president of this year's Venice Biennale jury, Anne Imhof's Faust is an aggressive, seductive exhibition that takes up the entire German pavilion.
Visitors are greeted by barking Doberman pinschers and a long queue. Upon entering, they walk on a glass floor elevated just high enough for young, gaunt performers dressed in black to crawl and writhe under their feet. The performers move cooly below, amongst and even above the crowds in three sterile white rooms; whether chanting, intimating violence, or engaging visitors in uncomfortable eye contact, they remain emotionless. The entire performance, a statement on the commodification of human bodies, lasts for five hours.
Perhaps confirming the suspicions of the critics who were reminded of Nazi Germany, the 38-year-old artist explained upon receiving the Golden Lion for National Participation that Faust offers "a very transparent view on the past," while also looking to the future and addressing the need "to know what to stand up for, and when to raise our fists."
Fellow German artist Franz Erhard Walther was also honoured with a Golden Lion; he was named Best Artist.
The 57th Venice Biennale is open until November 26th.
By Deb A.
Time for another round-up of bits and pieces that have caught our eye recently....
The BBC celebrated Magnum Photos's 70th anniversary with a retrospective on the legendary photo agency run by photographers.
The Institute of Arab and Islamic Art opened May 4 with Exhibition 1, a show featuring four female artists influenced by Islamic architecture and design. The institute, which is the only cultural institution representing Muslim and Arab artists in New York City, aims to encourage dialogue and confront stereotypes.
Messy Nessy takes us back to the original Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Paris, where struggling writers who promise to read a book each day and work in the shop for two hours a day have been sleeping amongst the stacks since 1951.
A.R. Penck, a leader of the German Neo-Expressionist movement, died May 2, aged 77.
Just over 40% of us have embellished the truth about our reading habits, claims The Reading Agency. That statistic leaps to nearly 65% for people aged 18 to 24. Indeed, a quarter of that particular demographic purports to have read The Lord of the Rings when in fact, they've only seen the film.
...Good news for anyone who's been pretending to read Margaret Atwood or Neil Gaiman: The Handmaid's Tale and American Gods have both hit the small screen.
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