29 abr. 2011

Face 2 Face

Exhibition: Face 2 Face
Dates: 9 April – 28 May 2011
Opening times: 11-13h 14h-19h, Tuesday to Saturday
Place: Galerie Flak, 8, rue des Beaux Arts, Paris (France)
Entrance fee: Free
Webpage:  www.galerieflak.com
About the exhibition:
Ritual art and industrial objects.
Galerie Flak, established in 1990, is located 8 Rue des Beaux-Arts, Paris 6th arrondissement.
Galerie Flak Art Tribal specializes in ancient tribal art from Africa, Oceania & North America. We pride ourselves in dealing in museum quality pieces with prestigious provenances. The gallery closely works with the major ethnography museums around the world (Musée du Quai Branly in Paris, Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Rietberg Museum in Zurich, museums in Tahiti, Taiwan, Jerusalem, etc.).
Galerie Flak is an official member of ATADA (the Antique Tribal Art Dealers Association) and is the official representative of the association in Europe.
Julien Flak is a certified expert of the C.E.C.O.A. (The European Chamber Of Expert-Advisors In Fine Art)
Every year, Galerie Flak stages a major exhibition. The latest events include the following exhibitions and publications: Dogon in 1997, Ibeji in 2001, Kachina in 2003, Lobi in 2004, Mumuye in 2006, Face to Face, Secret Masks in 2007, Mossi Fertility Dolls, and Totems & Shamans in 2008, Ancient Arts of Papua New Guinea in 2009.

© Text and image: www.galerieflak.com

25 abr. 2011

Canadian bacon strata

This savory breakfast pudding can be prepared the night before through step 2 and baked the next morning. Let the strata chill 2 hours, and it will be nice and moist. If you leave it overnight in the refrigerator, it will be even more custardy.

Ingredients (serves 6)
Softened butter for pan
4 English muffins, split, toasted, and cut in half
½ pound sliced Canadian bacon, about 10 slices, halved
1 ¼ cups (5 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/3 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
8 large eggs
3 cups milk
1 ½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
Coarse salt and ground pepper
¼  teaspoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco


How to cook it (25 minutes preparation, total time 4 hours)
Butter a 2-quart shallow baking dish (oval or square); set aside. In dish, alternately arrange, cut side down, muffin halves and Canadian bacon. Sprinkle with cheddar and Parmesan cheeses. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, mustard, ½ teaspoon salt, a pinch of pepper, and hot sauce until combined. Pour over muffins and bacon; cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
Preheat oven to 350°. Place baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet; remove plastic wrap. Bake until puffed and set in the center (see note below), about 1 hour and 30 minutes. (Tent loosely with foil if strata starts to brown too quickly). Let stand 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Note: With a paring knife, pierce the center of the cooked strata. If it feels firm and the knife comes out clean, the eggs have set and the strata is done.


Watch the video for a similar recipe:

23 abr. 2011

Lagaan

LAGAAN MOVIE REVIEW

Title: Lagaan (Once upon a time in India)
Director: Ashutosh Gowariker
Writer: Ashutosh Gowariker
Year: 2001
Running time: 224 minutes
Country: India

Plot summary:

This is the story about the resilience shown by the Indians when they were under the British Rule. They are already taxed to the bone by the British and their cronies, but when Jack Russell announces that he will double the Lagaan (tax) from all villagers, they decide to oppose it. Leading the villagers is a handsome young man named Bhuvan, who challenges them to a game of cricket, a game that is to be played by veteran British cricket players, versus villagers, including Bhuvan himself, who have never played this game before, and do not even know a bat from a piece of wood. As the challenge is accepted, the interest grows and attracts Indians from all over the region, as well as the British from all over the country - as everyone gathers to see the 'fair play' that the British will display against their counter-parts, who are aided by none other than the sister of Captain Rusell, Elizabeth.

21 abr. 2011

Tektitek language

Name of the language: Tektitek (Tectiteco, Teco, or B'a'aj)
Total speakers: approx. 3.000 (2.077 in Guatemala and 1.000 in Mexico)
State of the language: critically endangered
Place: Tectitán, department of Huehuetenango (Guatemala) and Chiapas (Mexico)
History:
The Tektitek language (Tectiteco, Teco, or B'a'aj) is a member of the Quichean-Mamean branch of the Mayan language family. It is very closely related to the Mam language. Tektikek is spoken by the Tektitek people, which are primarily settled in the municipality of Tectitán, department of Huehuetenango. A number of Tektitek speakers have settled in Mexico.
Tektitek are the smallest Mayan community in Guatemala.
The video explains pottery in Tectitán describing the whole production process from clay to sale. Also a way to discover the simple yet harsh lifestyle of the inhabitants of Tectitán.

© Text and image: Wikipedia and www.sorosoro.org

17 abr. 2011

Polyphonic singing of the Aka Pygmies

The Aka Pygmies living in the south-west region of the Central African Republic have developed a distinctive vocal musical tradition, which involves a complex type of contrapuntal polyphony based on four voices, mastered by all members of the Aka community.
Music and dance form an integral part of Aka rituals including ceremonies related to the inauguration of new encampments, hunting and funerals. Unlike polyphonic systems that are written down in notation, the vocal tradition of the Aka Pygmies allows for spontaneous expression and improvisation. During performances, each singer can change his or her voice to produce a multitude of variations, creating the impression that the music is continuously evolving. The songs are generally accompanied by various percussion and string instruments, each one played for a specific occasion. Among the most common instruments are a local type of drum (enzeko), a harp-like instrument known as the geedale-bagongo, and the single-string bow (mbela). The songs perpetuate essential knowledge for the cohesion of the group and the preservation of community values. The dances are performed to the accompaniment of vibrant hand-clapping. Depending on the ritual, some dances feature men only, while others may be executed by couples or by male and female solo dancers. Relying entirely on oral transmission, the Aka Pygmies have succeeded in preserving their musical knowledge within the community by including children in rituals from an early age.
The lifestyle of the Aka Pygmies has been drastically disrupted due to the changes currently taking place in the Central African Republic. The scarcity of game resulting from deforestation, the rural exodus and the folklorization of their heritage for the tourist industry are the principal factors contributing to the gradual disappearance of many of their traditional customs, rituals and skills.
The polyphonic songs of the Aka Pygmies are an integral part of their hunting and life-cycle rituals, a tool of communication and reaffirmation of community values. With socio-economic changes, deforestation and rural exodus, the Aka traditions are inclined to gradually disappear.
The project began with field research focused on documentation and anthropological data collection in the Central African Republic and the Republic of Congo. A database on the oral tradition of the Aka Pygmies was then created, which will be accessible to national and international researchers as well as the communities concerned. A subregional festival of the Aka Pygmies’ music and dance will be organised, in addition to training seminars and radio and national television programmes.
This project will contribute to sensitizing the populations of both countries and enrich their national identity, enabling them to obtain more knowledge about the intangible heritage of the Aka Pygmies and, ultimately, encouraging cultural dialogue and the cultural integration of the Aka Pygmies in subregional Central Africa.
Inscribed in 2008 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (originally proclaimed in 2003)

© Text and images: UNESCO

15 abr. 2011

Buddhism across Asia

Exhibition: Images and sacred texts, Buddhism across Asia
Dates:
14 October 2010 – 3 April 2011
Opening times: Open daily 10.00–17.30. Open late* on Fridays until 20.30 (last entry 70 minutes before closing)
Place: The British Museum, Great Russell Street, London (UK)
Entrance Fee: Free
About the exhibition:
Through sacred texts, painted scrolls and sculptures from Sri Lanka to Japan, discover the shared traditions of Buddhism – the ‘three gems’.
The exhibition features depictions of the ‘three gems’ from across Asia. The ‘three gems’ consist of the Buddha himself, his teachings (dharma), and the Buddhist community (sangha). Despite regional variations, the ‘three gems’ show remarkable similarities, sometimes across hundreds of years.
Objects featured in the exhibition include exquisite gold sculptures and paintings of the Buddha, beautiful Buddhist texts on palm leaf and paper, and a selection of images of Buddhist monks.
The objects come from across the whole of Asia, including India, China, Mongolia, Tibet, Thailand, Cambodia, Korea and Japan. The earliest objects are from the 1st–2nd century AD, and the latest date to the 20th century.
Many of these objects have never been on display before, making this is a unique opportunity to view rarely-seen items from the British Museum’s collection. Due to the fragility of the paintings and texts, some items in the display will be changed after three months, halfway through the exhibition run.
This exhibition provides an insight into the key elements which hold the Buddhist world together in Asia and, now that Buddhism is a worldwide faith, across the world as a whole.

© Text and image: British Museum

9 abr. 2011

Rêves de poussière

Title: Rêves de poussière (Dreams of Dust)
Director: Laurent Salgues
Writer: Laurent Salgues
Year: 2006
Running time:  83 minutes
Country: Burkina Faso
Plot summary:
Mocktar Dicko, a Nigerian peasant, comes looking for work in Essekane, a gold mine in Northeast Burkina Faso. In this cage made of wind and dust, he hopes to forget the past that haunts him. He becomes friend with his boss and his colleagues and with a prostitute Tabassa and a young widow, Coumba, who dreams about sending her daughter to Denmark, where her uncle lives. While becoming familiar with his new life, Mocktar Dicko starts to loose his roots. The day he discover a piece of gold, decides not to go home and offers the money earned by selling the gold to Coumba.

Some critics:
Jugu Abraham - 13th International Film Festival of Kerala, Festival Reports, Highlights, Featured - 16 décembre 2008 (dearcinema.com)
Dreams of Dust was important for me as it showed the competence of a talented director making a debut with his own script. Director Laurent Salgues was so impressive with this film that a particular shot of a woman seen through a cascade of water elicited a spontaneous clapping from the knowledgeable audience. The film is a story of Nigerien (from Niger, not Nigeria) gold prospector seeking gold in neighboring country Burkina Faso. One would think this is "Blood Diamond" revisited. Towards the final half hour of the film, the story evolves from mere "sweat-and-blood' tale of an expatriate into a metaphysical, psychological tale with visuals that remind of Kubrick's visual metaphors. The film won attention at Sundance and I can see several reasons for it. The film presents the nobility and elegance of African men and women, rarely seen on cinema. I can probably appreciate the film better because I have visited rural areas of the two countries indirectly discussed. I strongly recommend this film for its direction, its allegorical script, the fine performances and last, but not least, the superb camerawork of Crystel Fournier. It ought to be in the run for all the three major awards at IIFK.

John Nein - Sundance Film Festival - January 18-28, 2007
The characters in Laurent Salgues's entrancing debut feature occupy both a literal and figurative netherworld. Pulling amazing textures from the windswept wasteland, his widescreen images are hypnotic. But it's the camera's evocation of people that is most striking. Salgues is more interested in showing us inner landscapes -- and the dignity of these souls that seem to erode before us. For the rest, it's cruel irony that they are so close to gold but so far from happiness.
In an amazingly stoic performance, Makena Diop conveys an entire journey of self-discovery. We have only a vague sense of Mocktar's wounds, but it's clear that riches will not salve them.

7 abr. 2011

The Tzeltal of Mexico

Tzeltal Maya Indian woman from Tenejapa, Chiapas, Mexico weaves on a backstrap loom
© D.Donne Bryant
PEOPLES OF THE WORLD 
Name: Tzeltal 
Living Area: Los Altos region, Chiapas State (Mexico
Population: more than 278.000 
Language: Tzeltal 
Comments:    
The Tzeltal people are the largest indigenous group mostly located in the highlands or Los Altos region of the Mexican state of Chiapas. They are one of many groups which are descended from the Mayans, conserving a language (Tzeltal) which belongs to the Western Mayan linguistic group. Most Tzeltals live in communities in about twenty municipalities, under a Mexican system called “usos y costumbres” (usage and customs) which seeks to respect traditional indigenous authority and politics. Women are often seen wearing traditional huipils and black skirts, but men generally do not wear traditional attire. Tzeltal religion is a syncretism of Catholic and native beliefs, with shamanism and traditional medicine still practiced. Most make a living through agriculture and/or handcrafts, mostly textiles; however, many also work for wages to meet family needs. 
The Spanish conquered Mayan territory in the early to mid 16th century including what is now the state of Chiapas. They founded the city of San Cristóbal de las Casas which is on the edge of Tzeltal territory and subjected the Tzeltal people to the encomendero system with the payment of tribute. Over most of the colonial period until the Mexican Revolution, this and other indigenous groups were forced to labor in the mines, mills and haciendas of the state for little to no wages. Even during the 20th century economic and political marginalization remained severe, culminating in the Zapatista uprising in 1994, which many of the Tzeltal people participated along with other indigenous groups.
In the mid 20th century, the population of the state and the highlands experience population growth which outstripped local resources. Since the 1930s, many Tzeltals, along with other indigenous and mestizos have migrated from the highland areas into the Lacandon Jungle. These migrants came to the jungle area to clear forest and grow crops and raise livestock, especially cattle. Now there are groups of Tzeltals in the lowlands living with members of other indigenous groups. This process of taking over “empty jungle” to create settlements for highland Chiapas indigenous groups continued with the support of the Zapatistas, which whom the Tzeltals were generally supportive, putting them in conflict with the area’s native Lacandon people and environmental groups.

The Tzeltal call themselves Winik atel, which means "Working Men" in their language, or as the “batzil’op” or “those of the original word” referring to the Mayan oral tradition. They are the largest indigenous ethnicity in Chiapas State, with an estimated 278,577 individuals. The traditional territory of the Tzeltal is to the northeast and southeast of San Cristóbal in the municipalities of San Juan Cancuc, Chanal, Oxchuc, Tenejapa, Altamirano, Sitalá, Socoltenango, Yajalón, Chilón, Ocosingo, Amatenango del Valle and Aguacatenango. Tzeltal territory is bordered by that of the Tzotzils to the west, the Ch'ols to the north and north east and the Tojolabal to the southeast. The Tzeltals distinguish themselves from “Ladinos” (Spanish speakers, usually of mixed race) and from those indigenous in the more rural areas. This is mostly due to a history of socioeconomic oppression and conflict with colonial, then later state and federal authorities. However, many Tzeltal practices have survived to the present day because of this group’s large number against the Spanish and Ladinos, giving it a certain amount of power to resist acculturation to European culture.
Tzeltal religion is a syncretism of Catholic and indigenous elements. Most ceremonies and festivals are associated with saints’ day, organized by sponsors called “mayordomos” with assistants called “alfereces”. Mayordomos in charge of the ceremonies are often leaders in more secular village affairs. These rituals follow an annual cycle. Shamanism and magical practices still remain. The cosmology of the Tzeltals is based on the concept of the interaction among the body, mind and spirit of a person and how these interact with the community, the world and the supernatural. This has a large bearing on traditional medicine, which is important because it is often the first source of treatment for most Tzeltals and due to lack of modern medical facilities, is often the only source. This cosmology ascribes both religious and magical elements to the relationship of sickness and health. Illness can be ascribed to the breaking of societal rules as sanctions imposed by the saints or gods. It can also be ascribed to witchcraft done by someone seeking to do harm. To counter both, there are rituals. As sickness is considered to be a case of the lack of harmony within the person or with the person and the world/supernatural, healing is focused on restoring this harmony.

Known for their: village social differences
The main Tzeltal region is divided into three zones: north, central and south, with some demographic and cultural differences among these zones. Women are distinguished by black skirt with a wool belt and an undyed cotton blouse embroidered with flowers (huipils). Their hair is tied with ribbons and covered with a cloth. Most men do not use traditional attire.
A more important cultural distinction is the small community or village, each of which is a distinct social and cultural unit, which its own territory, dialect, clothing and more based on a kinship system. This intra-community loyalty supersedes that at the ethnic level. These communities are based on a main village or town, on which there are a number of smaller dependent communities. These are often mirrored in the official municipality system of the state. The seat is the political, religious and commercial center of the entire community. This seat is divided into two or more neighborhoods called barrios or calpuls, with their own local authorities and sometimes with their own patron saint. The more conservative communities maintain the inheritance of land through patriarchal lineages and a complicated set of kinship terminology. Less traditional systems tend to be more aligned with Ladino practices. Although there are some extended families, the nuclear family is more the norm.

© Text: Wikipedia / Photo: D.Donne Bryant

5 abr. 2011

Blackburn polynesia collection

Title: Polynesia: The Mark and Carolyn Blackburn Collection of Polynesian Art
Author: Adrienne Kaeppler
Year of publication: 2010
Paperback: 448 pages
Language: English
Synopsis:
The visual arts of Polynesia offer a richly diverse and relatively little known body of work, covering an enormous geographical area yet linked by shared artistic conventions. The collection of Mark and Carolyn Blackburn, one of the greatest private collections of Polynesian art in the world, encompasses this broad field of artistic endeavor. It features both ceremonial and functional traditional forms in diverse media, from delicate ivory ornaments and decorated barkcloth to formidable weaponry and imposing sculpture in coral, wood, and stone.
The geographic spread of the collection is vast, covering the Pacific Ocean from Hawai‘i to Rapa Nui (Easter Island) to ‘Aotearoa (New Zealand), and the many islands in between. Many of the pieces have noteworthy historical antecedents, such as items associated with the eighteenth-century voyages of Captain Cook, and the Dupetit-Thouars material from the Marquesas, first collected by the nineteenth-century French admiral of that name.
In this book, for the first time, these unique works of art are on display, fully described and annotated, for the enjoyment and appreciation of scholars, collectors, and interested readers alike. Selected paintings, drawings, engravings, and photographs from the Blackburn collection give context to the artifacts and essays. Items from each geographic and cultural area are described within their cultural and historical context: ‘Aotearoa (New Zealand), the Austral Islands, the Cook Islands, Fiji, Futuna, the Gambier Islands, Hawai‘i, Malden, the Marquesas Islands, Niue Island, Nukuoro Island, Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Rennell Island, Rotuma Island, Samoa, Tahiti, Takuu, Tokelau, Tonga, and the Tuamotu Islands.
In Polynesia, the visual arts and their associated objects serve as physical representations of the underlying aesthetic, social, and religious aspects of the island cultures. In some cases, these eloquent objects may be all that remains to speak of these once-living traditions. This publication allows these remarkable works to communicate directly with the modern viewer.
Adrienne Kaeppler is curator of Oceanic ethnology at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D. C. She has carried out field research in Tonga, Hawai‘i, and elsewhere in Polynesia. Renowned for her work on the ethnography and collections from Cook’s voyages, she continues to focus on connections between social structure and the visual and performing arts.

©Text: University of Hawai’i Press

3 abr. 2011

Sbek Thom, Khmer Shadow Theatre

The Sbek Thom is a Khmer shadow theatre featuring twometre high, non-articulated puppets made of leather openwork. Dating from before the Angkorian period, the Sbek Thom, along with the Royal Ballet and mask theatre, is considered sacred. Dedicated to the divinities, performances could only take place on specific occasions three or four times a year, such as the Khmer New Year, the King’s birthday or the veneration of famous people. After the fall of Angkor in the fifteenth century, the shadow theatre evolved beyond a ritualistic activity to become an artistic form, while retaining its ceremonial dimension.
The puppets are made from a single piece of leather in a special ceremony for each character representing gods and deities. The hides are dyed with a solution made from the bark of the Kandaol tree. The artisan draws the desired figure on the tanned hide, then cuts it out and paints it before attaching it to two bamboo sticks enabling the dancer to control the puppet.
The performances traditionally take place at night outdoors beside a rice-field or pagoda. A large white backdrop is held between two tall bamboo screens in front of a large fire or, nowadays, projectors. The shadows of the puppet’s silhouettes are projected onto the white screen. The animators bring the puppets to life with precise and specific dance steps. The performance is accompanied by an orchestra and two narrators. Inspired from the Reamker, the Khmer version of the Ramayana, the performances stage scenes of this epic, which may last several nights and require up to 160 puppets for a single presentation. Many of them were destroyed under the repressive Khmer Rouge regime, which almost annihilated this sacred art. Since 1979, Sbek Thom has been gradually revitalized thanks to the few surviving artists. So far, three shadow theatres have managed to rise from their ashes, ensuring the transmission of the knowledge and skills, including those relating to puppet making.
Inscribed in 2008 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (originally proclaimed in 2005)

© Text and images: UNESCO

1 abr. 2011

Afghanistan, Crossroads of the Ancient World

Exhibition: Afghanistan, Crossroads of the Ancient World
Dates:
March 3 to July 3, 2011
Opening times: Open daily 10.00–17.30. Open late* on Fridays until 20.30 (last entry 70 minutes before closing)
Place: The British Museum, Great Russell Street, London (UK)
Entrance Fee: £10
About the exhibition:
At the heart of the Silk Road, Afghanistan linked the great trading routes of ancient Iran, Central Asia, India and China, and the more distant cultures of Greece and Rome.
The country’s unique location resulted in a legacy of extraordinarily rare objects, which reveal its rich and diverse past.
Nearly lost during the years of civil war and later Taliban rule, these precious objects were bravely hidden in 1989 by officials from the National Museum of Afghanistan to save them from destruction.
The surviving treasures date from 2000 BC to the 1st century AD and include opulent gold ornaments found at a burial site of a nomadic tribe, to limestone sculptures of a Greek city set up by a former commander of Alexander the Great.
The first exhibition of its kind to be seen in the UK in 40 years, this is a unique opportunity to discover the story of Afghanistan’s ancient culture, its immense fragility, and the remarkable dedication shown to its survival and protection.

© Text and image: The British Museum
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