Category Archives: art

Justice for Mike Brown: disrupting the symphony

Beautiful music.  A moment of public dialogue interjected into a space for beautiful music.   I don’t know how I missed this  St. Louis symphony showdown.

Elizabeth Vega on the conception of the symphony as a protest space.   Daily KOS reports:

Elizabeth: Two weeks ago, Sarah and I participated in a direct action at Cardinal Stadium. We did a series of banner drops at a baseball game with folks. We are both middle aged I am a grandmother and I am brown and Sarah is white. People were incredibly rude and racist to us at the game. They booed us. Told us “Pants up dont loot” etc.. They clearly saw what they wanted to see. We were escorted out in handcuffs and chanted “No justice! No Peace!” It was a rough night where we didnt feel any love. Sarah suggested that night, jokingly, that perhaps we needed another venue. The next day she said she wanted to do an action at the symphony. I was on board and immediately brought on Derek. When we found out the next performance was a requiem we had to do it.  It took us about two weeks among planning other actions and events for the national mobilization. We are all very busy but carved out about five hours total to recruit, plan and organize.

via Requiem for Mike Brown protest at St. Louis Symphony exposes both white privilege and support.

Thanks to feministing for the suggestion, link and video.

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Filed under art, class, human rights, memorial, music, protest, representation, resistance

Stevie Wonder: Talk Box studies 103

Stevie Wonder on the David Frost show extending the notions of human expression.  I’m gonna see if I can make the ending note of this song my cell phone ringtone.

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Filed under art, communication, music

Janelle Monae & 500th post

This is the 500th post on life of refinement.  I’m proud of the non-linear series of artifacts gathered here that point toward new understandings.  I use this web site to archive interesting things.  Meaningful things.  This is a curation of the rambling series of artifacts and patterns of representation I find significant enough to be marked and analyzed in a free open public space.  This is as close to learning as we’ll ever get.

Thanks to all who read the website.

***

 

I knew of Janelle Monae and appreciated her music but only had singles in my library.  Inspired by a Wax Poetics write up, I bought a copy of “The Electric Lady” last night.  With two full listens into the album (barely enough to comprehend what is going on) I’m sold.

This project is wonderful dance music and a really good concept album (or an extension of a concept album to multiple projects — Monae plays an alter ego pretty consistently).   The record is an extended riff on technology, cyborg/human interactions, civil rights and living life with dual identities.  Given that “The Electric Lady” could be a Phillip K. Dick novel, the smooth inviting production and musicianship is what carries the project.

This albums sounds VERY eighties to me.  From the sonic structure and choices of beats/samples to the rock opera lyricism of the concepts.  At points I was reminded of my nostalgic childhood filled with Styx, Heart, Bon Jovi and Run DMC.    The strings sound eighties.  The drums sound eighties.  Even the vocal harmonies remind me of eighties hits.   But the eighties were a point of technological jump off and the slight broadening of pop music.

I like the futuristic world that Monae is painting.  And the willingness to build futuristic pop music out of the sonic blocks of the past.  Astute Monae names tracks after inspiring pioneers: “Sally Ride” (astronaut) and “Dorothy Dandridge Eye’s” (first black woman to be nominated for an Academy Award).

In the context of the blog, I’ll quote the end of the “Dance Apocalyptic” when Janelle Monae says: “I really really want to thank you for dancing to the end.”   Thanks for reading and dancing ’til the end.

 

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Filed under art, communication, funk & soul, hip hop, human rights, music, representation, resistance, rock and roll, technology

Electoral politics in Iceland: anarchist performance art

I appreciated Constantin Seibt’s article on the anarchists playing with the Icelandic electoral system.  The Best party had a wonderful list of campaign promises:

A glance at the most important campaign promises of the Best Party is more than enough to highlight the audacity of Reykjavik’s voters. They were promised free towels at swimming pools, a polar bear for the zoo, the import of Jews, «so that someone who understands something about economics finally comes to Iceland», a drug-free parliament by 2020, inaction «we’ve worked hard all our lives and want to take a well-paid four-year break now», Disneyland with free weekly passes for the unemployed «where they can have themselves photographed with Goofy», greater understanding for the rural population «every Icelandic farmer should be able to take a sheep to a hotel for free», free bus tickets. And all this with the caveat: «We can promise more than any other party because we will break every campaign promise.»The Best Party emerged from an idea for a sketch show.

via More punk, less hell! – News Ausland: Europa – tagesanzeiger.ch.

You know how it goes, they win the election, form a coalition government, fix the budget, and suggest that humorous performance art may be more effective than traditional governance.

An assessment of four years of anarchist rule yields a rather surprising conclusion: the punks put the city’s financial house in order. They can also look back on some very successful speeches, a few dozen kilometers of bike paths, a zoning plan, a new school organization that no one complains about any more and a relaxed, booming city – tourism is growing by 20% a year and some say that is the new bubble. In speeches, president Grímsson no longer praises Icelanders’ killer instinct, but their creativity. Real estate prices are again on the rise and the Range Rovers are back too. In polls last October, the Best Party hit its high-water mark of 38%. Shortly thereafter, Gnarr announced he would retire and dissolve the Best Party. His reason: «I’m a comedian, not a politician.» He added: «I was a cab driver for four years, a really good one even, and I quit doing that as well.»«My question was always: ‹How do we fuck the system?›» says Örn. «And the answer was, we show that non-politicians can do the job as well. But quitting with a certain election victory within reach, that’s truly fucking the system!»

via More punk, less hell! – News Ausland: Europa – tagesanzeiger.ch.

Thanks to longreads for the suggestion.

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Filed under art, capitalism, communication, do-it-yourself, humor, media, protest, punk, representation, resistance

Performing arguments: The Roots . . . And then you shoot your cousin

Okayplayer has a slightly obtuse review of the live performance of The Roots new album.  The album is called . . . And then you shoot your cousin.  Here is a snippet from the review by Eddie “Stats” which highlights the use of performance to make some interesting arguments:

Questlove is at the decks now and as the lights strobe a massive avalanche of balloon animals suddenly falls on the stage, a Jeff Koons flood of meaningless forms, falling in the framedrop slo-mo created by the flash of the strobe. A doo-ragged character enters the stage, humming, holding a gigantic red balloon like a kite. There’s something clownish in his dancerly movements, he has his mouth absurdly open, recalling at once a mime, Flavor Flav in wop-mode, the broom-wielding enforcer of the Apollo as he sweeps balloons away in the wake of his feet. In silence his dance picks up in intensity and his movements resemble Flav less than legendary b-boy choreographer Pee Wee Danz. As he steps and swims through balloons, the pop of dying inflatables echo like gunshots. We are fully in Fluxus territory now, improvisation colliding with a wickeder kind of randomness to create an ‘anything could happen’ tension in the room.

via The Roots chop up their new LP into art live (photos + recap) Okayplayer.

The Roots performing live among some balloon animals.  Photo by Mel D. Cole taken with respect from Okayplayer.

The Roots performing live among some balloon animals. Photo by Mel D. Cole taken with respect from Okayplayer.

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Filed under art, communication, dance, hip hop, music, race, representation, resistance

Power, autonomy, body and twerking: Kimari Brand

Brilliant breakdown of twerking and bodily representation.  Smart insights from Kimari Brand about power and the significance of the dance form (film by Irma L. Garcia).  Brought to me by the ever-on-point Feministing.  Good preview of the video by Sesali Bowen in Feministing:

Utilizing multiple experiences — including a course on performance, feminism and social justice, a trip abroad to study Afro-Caribbean culture and politics, and her experiences as a Black girl at an institution of higher education that prioritizes white supremacist “credibility and status” — Brand has reframed the dialogue about twerking.

via “Twerk It Girl” examines twerking for autonomy and resistance.

I think twerking is at the heart of a lot of the moral panics about young women’s sexuality.  More particularly the moral panic attached to twerking is represented along racial and/or sexual and/or class lines depending on the expected audience (Miley Cyrus).  Worth discussion and re-presenting which Brand and the filmmaker Garcia do really well.

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Filed under academics, art, class, cultural appropriation, dance, documentary, feminism, hip hop, race, representation, resistance, rhetoric

Food, authenticity and cultural appropriation

Thanks to Bitch Media for the comic frame.

Shing Yin Khor has a wonderful comic about cultural appropriation and food at Bitch Media.  Five stars.

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Filed under art, colonialism, cultural appropriation, food, representation