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Tag Archives: Books

Articles: 

Shenyang’s Oddball Architecture: As I gear up for a year studying the history of Chinese architecture in Beijing, I love reading articles like this (if only to satiate myself!). There’s a great many ‘oddball’ buildings in China–it’s being treated like an architect’s wonderland right now, often with few limits on funding or structure. Sometimes this results in great works of architecture, such as (IMHO) the CCTV tower by Rem Koolhaas/OMA, but then you have the case in point of this article, the Feng Yuan building, a misguided attempt to fuse international modern architecture with Chinese aesthetics.

‘Selma’ Costumes Reveal Class and Consciousness of the Movement: I desperately want to see this movie! I really love seeing costume designers vividly display their characters’ fears, desires, and ambitions in the way they dress themselves.

Meet the Woman Who Can’t Feel Fear:

“Okay. I was walking to the store, and I saw this man on a park bench. He said, ‘come here please.’ So I went over to him. I said, ‘what do you need?’ He grabbed me by the shirt, and he held a knife to my throat and told me he was going to cut me. I told him — I said, ‘go ahead and cut me.’ And I said, ‘I’ll be coming back, and I’ll hunt your ass.’ Oops. Am I supposed to say that? I’m sorry… I wasn’t afraid. And for some reason, he let me go. And I went home.”

The original story was featured on this week’s episode of Invisibilia (NPR), which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Social Issues–A Woman in Uniform: Being a police officer in contemporary America is fraught with issues–it’s a tough life to lead as a man, but I would argue it’s even tougher to occupy that role as a woman. This is an interesting exploration of both one woman’s experience as a NY police officer, as well as an examination of what the literal uniform means to her.

Plan of Watts Towers

Buzzfeed’s Great Middle California Architectural Road Trip: If I ever get back to my home state, I would love to actually complete this trip. I’ve read about the Watts towers and are desperate to see them! (Check out the comments–seems like everyone who has visited thinks it’s pretty cool, too.)

Books: 

Best American Nonrequired Reading 2014: This group of stories/plays/peoms/podcasts/what-have-you was chosen by a select group of high-school-aged kids from around the US. The result is an eclectic (and wonderful) mix of literature. My favorites: ‘An Interview with Mona Eltahawy’ by Yasmine El Rashidi, ‘Embarazada’ by Andrew Foster Altschul, ‘The Saltwater Twin’ by Maia Morgan, and ‘Joy’ by Zadie Smith.

Olikoye Cover Art, via Medium.com

Olikoye: Okay, not a book, but rather a (very) short story, from one of the authors I have heard a lot about in recent months. I’ve been excited to read Americanah by this author (Chimamandah Ngozi Adichie), and this was a great story in and of itself. It tells a family history of sorts through naming rites, shedding light on both the family in particular as well as Nigerian culture.

Random Content from Around the Internet: 

Monolith Controversies Exhibition: Venice, Italy 2014.

Monolith Controversies: The award-winning Chilean entry into the Venice architecture biennale 2014. This exhibition is about the prefabricated concrete block and how it came to shape residential space in turbulent 1970s Chile (during that era, Chile faced a 180 degree political turn from the communist policies of Salvador Allende, to the conservative, religious dictatorship of Pinochet via coup).

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Articles: 
The Shadow of Anti-Semitism in France: After the Charlie Hebdo attack, there have been a lot of think-pieces analyzing both France and Germany’s often-xenophobic leanings at large. Although right now the focus is on the muslim minority, I think it’s pretty telling that 74% of French Jews have considered leaving their home and/or adopted country–it’s not easy to exist on the imposed “outskirts” of French society.
A History of the Color Pink:  Growing up with the concept of Girls=pink, Boys=blue etched viscerally into my childhood memories, learning this offers me relief. As I get older (and as one might be able to tell, more staunchly feminist), I’m happy to let go of many of the ideas I once held that adhere strictly to America’s blinder-toting gender binary.
Serial is Real: This short article talking about the legal repercussions of having (or not having) power in the United States due to race and notoriety just adds another voice in the argument that our justice system is broken. I was a huge fan of Serial (the NPR podcast), and listening to that tale of a case that failed to see justice for the accused (whether he did it or not) has me feeling a little down about the current state of the union.
Invisibilia Podcast: Brand new podcast that just debuted at #1 on itunes. Invisibilia’s first episode talked about our innermost thoughts, and whether or not they are representative of our nature through a few stories of people who have grappled with that issue firsthand.

 

Books: 
Women in Clothes: I’m almost finished with this MASSIVE compendium of the collected thoughts on fashion from 700+ women. If there was ever a book tailor-made to suit me, this is it. Women speak about the thoughts and mental hoops they jump through to get themselves ready in the morning, from the imprint of their mother’s style on their lives, to their own understanding of what looks good on them, to the mantras and philosophies that they dress by. Five stars (out of five) so far.

 

Content from the corners of the internet: 
^Every David Bowie Hairstyle (Dollychops.tumblr.com)
This thread (“The Beginner’s Guide to Italian Style”) on reddit’s r/femalefashionadvice had me reeling. Not only did I not like the recommendations offered by the author, I really resented her steel-minded focus on achieving “femininity.” There were many who loved the guide, but I found it insulting and demeaning–from tips like “drink more water!” (which has zilch to do with dressing like her version of a perfectly-thin Italian woman with bronzed skin and an ‘almost animal sensuousness’) to the ridiculous, stereotypical expectation she has of women, I was truly annoyed. (And in my personal experience, I have met more than one androgynous/plus-size/non-‘bronze’ Italian woman who also happens to be beautiful and proud of their status as Italian.)

 

Until next week!
Alicia

I just finished reading the book The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art by Don Thompson, a detailed overview of the art world from the perspectives of gallerists, auction houses, collectors and more. Sometimes snarky (very clear warnings are given to new-to-the-game collectors who think that buying fresh art from art school grads will result in later profits), sometimes awed (by collectors such as Charles Saatchi), Thompson maintains his truthful tone throughout the book. I felt as if I was getting inside information that most people weren’t privy to–an internship in a book.

After reading two books about the art sphere I feel as if I need a break: even the people who are most closely involved with auctions and the art trade can’t fully explain why a Picasso goes for $78 million at auction–it is difficult to extrapolate on assumptions that paintings are worth that much after a certain point, since the foundation is so unstable. Regardless, for paintings under about $30 million, the price scales are easier to comprehend, and the various stories that Thompson provides about the art trade are engaging.

A few fun facts:
1. Le peau de l’ours was the first art fund (like a stock fund, but with its managers betting that art will gain value in the future instead), and it was wildly successful in the beginning of the 20th century. There are two competing theories for the reason behind the name: either it was named for the bearskin hanging on the wall in their office or it was named for an old french folktale in which hunters sold the skin of the bear before catching the bear itself, a tongue-in-cheek statement about what they were doing (and my preferred theory).

2. Santiago Serra, a Spanish/Mexican artist, is famous for his bold artistic moves: on top of his decision to burn down the gallery in which he was showing as a form of protest towards its commercial orientation, he once traded prostitutes heroin in exchange for the right to tattoo a line down the center of their back and photograph it. He also barred the entrance to the Lisson gallery in London with metal grates, so that the upper class gentry that flocked to his exhibition could feel the sting of being excluded as the masses did each day. Another work was proposed at the Kunsthalle in Vienna, where he wanted to strip all of the museum employees to the waist (from head curator to janitor) and display them in a progression of skin tones from dark to light as a commentary about the relationship between privilege and skin tone.

Damien Hirst’s The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, for which the book was named, sold for $12 Million (reportedly) to Steve Cohen.

I loved this book, and no, I don’t own any kind of copyright to it.