Arts News Need-to-Know

October 19, 2016 by DAVID MORRIS | LITERATURE, MUSIC
Amy Schumer's recent Tampa performance caused headlines nationwide. Photo: Mark Seliger
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Here at Creative Pinellas, we’ve got our focus trained on arts and culture in our namesake county, but the larger world doesn’t escape our attention or yours! So every few weeks, we’ll be rounding up a few of the biggest stories in literature, art, film, music, performig arts and more from around the country, and the globe. If you’ve got a tip, please let us know by tweeting us @pinellasarts!

Bob Dylan awarded Nobel Prize in Literature . . . and Ignores It.

It was big, somewhat controversial news when American troubadour Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature on October 13. It’s easy, after all, to think of Dylan as a man with a guitar, rather than as a ferocious poet–though many have since argued Dylan’s words alone mark him has one of the greatest chroniclers of life in the 20th century.

But things took a turn from the contentious to the bizarre when, in days since, it became clear that Dylan may be as ambivalent about the prize as anyone. Since announcing the award, the Swedish Academy has been unable to contact Dylan, and Dylan has not acknowledged the award publicly, despite playing multiple concerts in the meantime. He has a lifelong reputation for being inscrutable and reclusive, and the Nobel committee seem to be taking it as just par for the course.

 

HBO’S Westworld is Your Next Game of Thrones

Though it’s based on a B-grade Michael Crichton thriller from the early 1970s, HBO’s new Westworld series takes its source material to new frontiers of complexity and strangeness. Its central conceit is a video game-like theme park where rich tourists pay to live in an Old West populated by nearly-human androids. Those creations suffer endlessly at the hands of those visitors–and then begin to resist their situation, in a setup that promises to explore everything from the ethics of artificial intelligence to audiences’ own apparent hunger for blood and sex.

The series is about to air its fourth episode, and so far it feels like a must-watch. That’s good news for HBO, which badly needs an audience to connect with the series. Game of Thrones is nearing the end of its run, even as the channel faces an onslaught of competition for premium TV content from new players like Netflix and Amazon. What’s worse, recent efforts like the swiftly-cancelled Vinyl haven’t done the job.

 

Author Elena Ferrante’s Identity Revealed by Controversial Investigation

cover3Since 1992, a series of novels about life in midcentury Naples have been published by Elena Ferrante, widely considered the most important writer in contemporary Italy. It has long been known that “Elena Ferrante” is a pseudonym, and a new investigation, first published in the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, concludes that the woman behind the name is Anita Raja, a Rome-based translator.

The investigation and its conclusions have become the topic of intense debate in the literary world, and beyond. The reporter behind the piece, Claudio Gatti, argues that his discovery undermines Ferrante’s body of work, because while it has often been taken as semi-autobiographical, Raja seems to have had little direct experience of the milieu she chronicles. Others, though, support the author’s right to anonymity, saying that the books speak for themselves–and, further, arguing that the campaign to “expose” Ferrante is rooted in an enduring skepticism of female authors among the literary establishment.

Amy Schumer Riles Us Up

Just across the bridge, comedian Amy Schumer’s politicized performance last weekend triggered a walkout by about 200 members of the audience, in what became national news. Schumer was characteristically unapologetic.

Marina Abramovic Loses Lawsuit To Former Partner

In the fine art world, there has been no bigger name in recent years than Marina Abramovic. Her performance work, particularly the 2010 retrospective and performance The Artist is Present, has led to collaborations with mainstream luminaries like Jay-Z and Lady Gaga.

But her legacy has long been shadowed with at least one major controversy. Her longtime partner in art and life, Ulay, has alleged for more than a decade that Abramovic was in breach of a revenue-sharing agreement covering their joint works. In mid-September, a Dutch court agreed, ordering Abramovic to pay Ulay more than 250,000 Euros as restitution.

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