Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Justifiable Causes for Dancing at Home

Everyone must know the salsa is a dance genre that comes from Cuba and is a mix of rhythmic African and Latin music. So little wonder I was dancing with great energy round the house today ... as I came across to a clip of Celia Cruz singing 'Egosimo' on television in 1966. And dancing is the sure sign for sharing!

Now, there's another angle on this Queen of Salsa for me cos we saw her on tour - in Sydney a few years back. Her music and performance were so extraordinarily infectious the audience were dancing in the aisles of the theatre, way before half though. In fact much as I was this morning!

And towards the end of her concert the public had crowded onto the stage around this artist, almost stopping the show.

With all that said, the lady also has great moves! And a killer and glittering 'period' sheath!

Just tell me you're not on your feet - or at least thinking of it!
Old Is When ...

Rembrandt Study of an Old Man in Profile c 1630

Old is when ...

Yours friends compliment you on your new alligator skin shoes ... and you're barefoot.

Your boyfriend says 'Let's go upstairs and make out' and you reply 'Pick one, I can't do both'.

A hot guy catches your attention ... and your pacemaker opens the garage door.

'Getting a little action' means you don't need any fibre today.

You're not sure these are jokes.

Though I suspect old is when you can laugh heartily and in good spirits when you read jokes like these!
Just Too Tempted

As you well know, this type of cutesy post is not what I usually do ('de trop' as Bette Midler put it in 'The Divine Miss M') ... but today the temptation was just too great ...

I think it was the way he seemed to eye me off as he hurriedly gobbled down bits of my scone ... like some child who kinda knows s/he is doing something naughty but thinks a bold face might just disguise this or distract me!

Anthropomorphising gone wild!

There was also something comic in this little creature getting the evidence of his 'crime' all over his beak!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Just Amazing What You Can Google Up!

Vaslav Nijinsky filmed in Vienna on September 12, 1945

As you must be aware by now, I'm an inveterate and serial googler - for which, I am reliably informed, there is no known cure or medication.

The up-side to this dangerous condition are nuggets like this is unique footage of the greatest of of all Ballets Russes dancers, Vaslav Nijinsky (1890-1950).

It was filmed in Vienna on September 12, 1945 by an Occupation-authorised cameraman, and presented to the world through Pathe newsreel footage.

The legendary dancer is seen walking out of the entrance of a building and then down a street, accompanied by a uniformed American news reporter.

Other images of the dancer in this period for comparison are ...

Vaslav Nijinsky and his wife Romola in Vienna, 1947

Vaslav Nijinsky and his wife Romola in Vienna, 1945

I've added music to the video from 'Le Spectre de la Rose' (music: Carl Maria von Weber, choreography: Mikhail Fokine, sets and costumes: Leon Bakst) - The Rose being one of Nijinsky's greatest early roles ...

Amazing stuff, eh?
Things You'd Grab as the House Burnt Down

C19 Ashanti Figure - an Akuaba or Fertility Doll, Ghana, West Africa

The list things I'd tuck under my arm when the house is burning down and I'm I dashing for the front door is not short at all at all, but near the top would be our C19 Ashanti Figure ...

... an Akuaba or Fertility Doll from Ghana in West Africa ...

... with its text-book lovely old patination ...

Akuaba dolls are carried round on the back by expectant mothers so their new-born will be beautiful, as is the doll. They also function as a tool for socialising young girls into parental child care, as dolls do in many societies.

What I particularly like bout these sculptures is the simplified geometric forms which remind me of the African sculpture that was so influential on Pablo Picasso and non-realistic art of the early C20

As you do, I was Akuaba doll browsing this morning and googled up a few other beautiful examples, such as ...

... and ...

... and finally ...

Just a brief caring and sharing moment - and a bit of serious self-indulgence on my part!
Total Cultural Relativism - A Moral Dead End?

For some time, France has been seriously considering making the wearing of the burka illegal (see, for example, 'Huffington Post'), with a recent TNS Sofres/Logica poll (Reuters) indicating that 33% would like a complete ban and 31% a ban relating only yo public spaces.

At a lunch, and with no wine flowing, the issue seemed one to consider in some detail - particularly Australia, a major migration destination since WW2, is a diverse multi-cultural society.

The debate revolved round the rights of individuals and groups within larger groups.

We reached an easy consensus that clitoridectomy (or female genital cutting) particularly when practised on under-aged girls (as it is in 28 African countries) seemed to violate some universal human right above considerations of cultural relativism.

We then thought about culturally specific law and associated punishment for offence. And explored, in particular, spearing of the guilty metered out by affected families in traditional aboriginal communities. And came to the view that here, within a single country, there should be equality before the law. For fairness, corporal punishment, if not proscribed by the law of the country, should not be a possibility for some sections of the populace. The Law Reform Commission of Western Australia makes a relevant point here ...

'Under Australian law there is a clear separation between legal matters and religious, social or moral standards.'

Again, there seemed some violate of a universal human right.

We then moved away from strictly moral considerations.

And kicked around the notion of polygamy in a society where the practice is not permitted by law, thinking firstly about the context of migration. The issue has come up in this country when migrants wish to emigrate with several wives. France, after Algerian independence in 1960, sensibly allowed official recognition of multiple spouses for the migrating generation, but not for subsequent ones.

At the extreme other end of the spectrum to all these considerations might be the (probably) uncontentious 'issue' of culturally indicated footwear - not much debate around clogs, sneakers, leather shoes, boots, whatever ... !

In the middle, lies the difficult territory of burkas and our starting point.

For us, the issue revolved around security and the arguments commonly constructed as the repression of women.

In this post-9/11 world, individual identification is required in many public contexts. It can be argued that the burka could be worn in public and there could be women at all places where identification was necessary. Equality for all of course would require that anyone, if they choose, be able to cover up.

The repression of women argument is a tricky one, and we finally seemed to feel it should be a matter of individual choice. Of course there may be cultural pressures to act in certain traditional ways. And I'm aware of how many ways in which I am not too unwillingly coerced into various socially-approved behaviours. But then again I have real choice in the matter.

What are your thoughts guys?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The World From The Air

Ruins of the medieval city of Shali, Egypt

This is not THE most fab set of images of this genre, but I enjoyed them enough over my coffee this morning to set off on a post.

So, some cities from the air ...

Suburbs, Copenhagan

The Changping District in Beijing, China

Pigeon Houses Mit Gahmr Delta, Egypt

Varanasi, India

Boat Houses in Lagos, Nigeria

... then groups of animals ...

Cattle near the Masai Mara National Park, Kenya

Elephants on the savannah, Botswana

... and finally, landscapes ...

Mountains near Jengish, Kyrgyzstan

Easter Island, Chile

Machu Picchu, Peru

Actually this collection of images looks better and better as I've posted it!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

C19 French Artists on Film!

Amazingly I just came across tiny pieces of film of four of the giants of C19 French art.

The first records the Impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) ...

... painting at home - first in his garden and then indoors ...

The second piece captures Edgar Degas (1834-1917), one of the founders of Impressionism but who preferred to be known as a realist ...

... walking past a cafe in a street in Paris past with lady ...

The third segment of footage captures the father of modern post-naturalistic (as opposed to realistic) sculpture, Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) ...

... walking in and out of, and inspecting, a rather monumental perhaps antique building, and then posing in a garden, uncharacteristically top-hatted ...

The final film fragment shows famed Impressionist painter of water lilies, Claude Monet (1840-1926) ...

... talking to a gentleman outdoors, and then painting en plein air at the edge of a pond in his garden at Giverny ...

It all makes me wonder just what other film stock might still be out there, in some musty old archive/library/museum/cellar/wherever!