Category Archives: Arts

“Revolution Every Day” at Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art

The exhibition “juxtaposes works of Soviet graphic art—primarily posters from the 1920s and 1930s—with works on video and film.”

Charles McNulty: “How theater should respond to a democracy in meltdown”

“Today would seem to be a prime time for agitprop.”

“All the President’s Shakespeare”

“What Trump administration officials would you cast in Macbeth?”

“What to Wear to Smash the State”

‘Min is an artist. For her, this is one of the most unappreciated aspects of black bloc as a style. It’s tactical, and practical, and it’s also an art form with the effect of building solidarity long after the boots go into the closet. The experience of being enveloped in anonymity helps retain the movement’s ideology, after the balaclavas get folded up and stacked in the drawer.  “In spheres where we don’t have uniforms, we really embrace individuality,” Min said. “But black bloc creates a feeling of ‘Who you are is who I am.’ Of ‘It doesn’t matter who I am when we’re fighting together.’”’

‘Calling Detroit’s 1967 Civil Unrest a “Rebellion,” a Museum Takes a Strong Stand’

‘Colloquial references to the events of ’67 as either a “rebellion” or an “uprising” are common in Detroit … but the Charles H. Wright Museum appears to be the first institution to officially adopt that nomenclature as a matter of policy, and this seems right in step with their commemorative exhibition, organized by Erin Falker, Say It Loud: Art, History, Rebellion.’

“Detroit Museums Examine the Riots that Changed the City”

“The story of Detroit’s July 1967 riots is, in some ways, a tale of two cities, one black and one white. Now, 50 years later, three neighboring museums here are revisiting that fateful summer with exhibitions that portray and explore the riots in sharply different ways.”

Caryl Emerson: “The Revolutionary Specters of Russian Letters”

The great Russian writers between “apocalypse and nihilism.”

Lynn Clement: “The Commune’s Marianne: An Art History of La Pétroleuse”

“The near-mythical pétroleuse was one of the principal figures to emerge from the short-lived, yet radical Paris Commune (1871). The pétroleuse represented those women accused of setting devastating fires that gutted government and cultural institutions during the Semaine Sanglant (The Bloody Week). … Damaging ideologies coalesced around the pétroleuse and as such, a study of these symbols of female destruction reveals the fears and tensions that surrounded French women’s political power and agency by way of the proletariat’s civil war and revolution.”

Mariana Alessandri: “In Praise of Lost Causes”

In his Don Quixote, “Cervantes detailed a life in praise of futilely resisting a corrupt world. Quixote fought giants because he could not, in good conscience, not fight them. We can similarly transform ourselves into quixotic pessimists — the kind who are called dreamers, idealists or lunatics — by reading more, rejecting common sense and reinterpreting what constitutes a waste of time. If we happen to succeed by worldly standards, we will be surprised and perhaps pleasantly so; if we fail, we will have expected it. Praise be to uncertain successes and to certain failures alike.”

Laurent Dubois: “Heroines of the Haitian Revolution”

“What is the role of an artist in the face of political repression? What is the place of culture in the midst of injustice and terror? Haitian writer Marie Vieux-Chauvet (1916–1973), author of powerful novels representing the experience of living under the Duvalier dictatorship, confronted such questions throughout her life.  One of Vieux-Chauvet’s earliest novels, Dance on the Volcano (1957), just published in a new English translation, does so by journeying back to the world of plantation slavery and of the Haitian Revolution. The novel is woven around the life of a real historical figure, Minette, a free woman of African descent who overcame the racial barriers of the time to become a star singer on the colonial stage. It focuses on Minette’s struggle to find both an artistic and a political voice, using her story as a crossroads through which to explore broader questions about art, sexuality, politics, and revolutionary change.”