February Arts News Roundup
It has been an eventful few weeks, and not only because the arts are entwined with the complex, challenging landscape they comment on. Here’s our semi-monthly roundup of some of notable happenings nationwide.
Oscar Nominations were released last week. The list is, of course, extensive, but I’m particularly excited by the multiple nominations for Moonlight, Hell or High Water, and Manchester By the Sea, as well as the doc nod for O.J.: Made in America. All three show the massive potential of film to be both broad and intimate.
Meanwhile, Iranian Oscar Nominee Asghar Farhadi risks being blocked from the U.S. by President Trump’s travel ban – just one of an array of apparently unintended consequences. His The Salesman was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, which he previously won for A Separation in 2011. His absence from the ceremony would be particularly ironic, given that his films offer an empathetic window on the average people of a nation often demonized in the U.S.
Print book sales rose again in 2016, and brick-and-mortar bookstores who have survived the shakeout of the last ten years are experiencing a resurgence. It turns out all those defenders of good old fashioned paper were right.
Major Musicians Kanye West and Justin Beiber may boycott the Grammys because they’re not inclusive enough. The music awards have been notably slower than the Oscars to represent a broader spectrum of America – but they’ve also, it has to be said, shown consistent preference for sales over artistry for decades. I’m torn on which is the greater crime.
Richard Prince has denounced and disowned a piece of his own work (right), after it was bought by First Daughter Ivanka Trump. Politics aside, the question of what happens when an artist disowns a piece is intriguing. Does it remain collectible? In what sense is it still a ‘real’ Richard Prince? Oh, and in case you’re wondering, yes, Prince is said to have returned the money.
HBO seems to have done it again. The Young Pope has captured a slice of the zeitgeist, becoming a massive meme, and a critical puzzle. It’s surreal and self-conscious, but is it a comedy, a drama – or just plain bad?
Also in TV: Louis C.K.’s Horace and Pete has made its way to Hulu, and it’s an absolute must-watch. Nothing so much as a ten-hour, episodic stage play, the series continues C.K.’s trajectory away from traditional comedy and towards character-driven drama. Horace and Pete is a multigenerational exploration of a family with some serious problems, but it manages to be profoundly human amidst the regret and horror.