Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Mr Cogito's Mind Swirls As He Contemplates Cultural Diplomacy, Propaganda, Concert Halls, Obsolete Museums, Flames, And Phoenixes Rising From The Ash

"LAST May, a 30-something American curator named Chris Gilbert stormed off his job at the Berkeley Art Museum [and Pacifice Film Archive] in California. He left in a dispute over a word.

He had just organized a show called “Now-Time Venezuela: Media Along the Path of the Bolivarian Process,” about the leftist revolution in progress in South America. In a wall label, he described the exhibition as being in “solidarity” with that struggle, and museum officials balked. They wanted him to use more neutral wording, like “concerned” with the struggle. An ideological standoff ensued. Mr. Gilbert quit, posting his resignation letter, which was also a political position paper, on the Internet.

Two concepts of what a museum should do — and be — crystallized and clashed, with Mr. Gilbert’s view by far the less traditional. To him, art is an instrument for radical change. The museum is a social forum where that change catches fire. The curator is a committed activist who can help light the spark. The goal is to transform the values of the culture that had created the museum. If in the process an obsolete museum went up in flames, a new one would rise from its ashes." ...

Holland Carter "Essay: Leaving Room for the Troublemaker" New York Times March 28, 2007


"This week I have had the chance to see two propaganda concerts in the span of three days – which, as an eager proponent of more cultural diplomacy (which is the name for propaganda if ‘your guys’ are doing it), I embrace wholeheartedly. In principle, at least.

Ideally, cultural diplomacy brings people of diverse background, opinions, and cultures together on presumably neutral, common ground. Art – classical music – for example.

The United States was no slouch at this, either, during the Cold War. Duke Ellington, Van Cliburn, and Co. were out there to convince peoples around the world that the US was not a ruthless, soulless capitalist, slave-holding, baby-eating monster. Well, at least not only that. Since then, the US seems to have forgotten the benefits of this policy that cost a comparatively paltry $1 billion annually – especially when compared to certain policies that cost up to $200 million per day and have done significantly less to improve the image of the United States abroad.

No Nation had perfected the art of cultural diplomacy quite as the Soviet Union." ...

Jens F. Laurson "Music as Propaganda in Washington and New York" blog Washington, D.C. March 27, 2007


Though one might ask whether Mr Laurson is not more properly referring to Hamburger Propaganda at Carnegie Hall rather than Hanseatic Propaganda at Carnegie Hall.

[Click on image for enlargement.]

Herzog and de Meuron's concept for the New Elbe Concert Hall on the historic waterfront of Hamburg, Germany, European Union. [2003-2005, planned realization 2006-2009.]

"Similar to a large glassy wave, the Elbphilharmonie Concert Hall floats above the distinctive Kaispeicher A building.

Classical music, 21st-century music and quality easy-listening music will all find their performance base here."

Photo and caption credit: © Herzog & de Meuron via HafenCity, Hamburg. With thanks.


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