05 November 2013

It's Go Time

Hi, peeps. It's time for a little talk. As you may know, I am all up in the Israeli culture. If you give me half the chance I will be sending you Terry Poison links here, suggesting that L-E-V should be part of your 2014-2015 season there. As you also may know, the reason I am this way, that is to say, my gateway drug in my early 20s studying abroad in Tel Aviv was Batsheva. I was totally like, Wow.

So, let's fast forward several years to 2012 to me writing a story about Barak and Tomer Heymann as a journalism student. You with me? Ok. I interview both Heymanns, watch some of their films, do some research, and learn they are doing a film about Ohad Naharin, Batsheva's artistic director. I cannot wait.

Should I make a side trip here to explain Naharin's significance? Awright. Of the American premiere of Naharin’s Virus about ten years ago, New York Times dance critic Anna Kisselgoff wrote: “This is not dancing you will see anywhere else.” This is why I became obsessed with Batsheva in the 1990s. I didn't articulate it thusly the time, but I was done with pretty-pretty dance. Batsheva was not necessarily beautiful or heroic. The dancers' release was neither light, nor beautiful. The work was very demanding, very intense, very disconcerting, even. And I loved it.

So, naturally, I was very excited about the Heymanns' film about Ohad Naharin. I hoped every month their newsletter would announce it had been completed. When I stopped by their office in Tel Aviv this past June I, of course, asked Barak how it was progressing.

Then today on Facebook I see a really awesome announcement about the film. Not the one I was hoping for saying the film about Ohad Naharin was ready for my viewing pleasure. But rather one asking me to give them some money so that film would be ready for my viewing pleasure. I'm like, Ok, that seems fair enough.

And today I contributed to my first ever Kickstarter thingie. I was the first donor! Yay, me! I signed up at the $150 level so I could see my name in the thank-yous.

So, I'd like to ask you to contribute. Whatever amount you can spare. I can't fund this movie on my own. Or I would.

29 September 2013

Israeli Dance Is Gorgeous

A productive Sunday following Israeli dance links has revealed that Renana Raz, whose gorgeous mug I saw for the first time on Friday in Fill the Void, is a dancer.

I am currently working on turning the paper I wrote about Batsheva ten years ago for a dance history class at The University of Iowa into a zine that should be finished in mid-October. Of course, since it's a paper about dance I need photos, right? Rather than rip off Gadi Dagon, I got the idea to use the photos of Ian Robinson, a current Batsheva dancer.

25 August 2013

What I Read for Summer

The Edward Said did not pan out, I'm sorry to say. So, what I have read this summer was Life on Sandpaper, by Yoram Kaniuk, may he rest; "The Real Thing" and most of "Rough Crossing" by Tom Stoppard; and The Map of Love by Ahdaf Soueif, which I think fell down in not making the 1900s characters less perfect. And I did read "Heathcliff" by Orly Castel-Bloom waiting for the bus to Jaffa. I usually read more, but I was working full-time this summer.

There's no doubt I missed out on some reading opportunities last week. At Woodland Pattern, après-museum, I fumbled buying a volume of Mizrahi writing. Flicking through the table of contents and recognizing none of the authors' names, I realized that all the Israeli writers I read, save Yehoshua, are Ashkenazi. (Yes, Castel-Bloom is also Mizrahi, according to Wikipedia, but I've only read the one story by her.) Hmm.  

And also, convoluted library logistics (Why was College Library closing before 5PM last week, if you please!?) thwarted my attempt to read something by David Mura. 

With one week left before classes start, I have to read something else. A mystery would go fast, maybe an Agatha Christie.

15 August 2013

Body Culture!!!

I started writing a poem about Tel Avivi DJs this week.

I have been thinking about the body culture  a lot of late. And I am just so excited that I need more than one exclamation mark in the title.

Earlier this month I gave my presentation at work about Israeli culture, which led me to reflect on how in my early twenties I was obsessed with whether there were some "Israeli essence" that gave Ohad Naharin's work its unmistakable look and character. (I hope it goes without saying that some 15 years on the idea of "Israeli essence" is not only specious, but also doesn't interest me.)

Last week I read an awesome article about Israeli dance in Dance Research Journal. I loved this article sooo much because it was just what I needed. I was thinking that there had to be something about Israeli culture that produced its (sorry about this) "edgy" contemporary dance. Duh, right? What I mean there must be something about the way Israeli dancers and choreographers relate to embodiment that is a result of factors of Israeli society like intense collective experience and the historical preoccupation with the creation of the (Zionist project of the radically different Jewish) Israeli body. Which also makes me wonder how Israeli conceptualizations of embodiment impinge upon Israeli DJs.

Last week I also found a paper I wrote for a dance history class taught by Rebekah Kowal at The University of Iowa some ten years ago. As you would expect, it was pure, unstoppable brilliance. One of the things I find interesting is that I was like, Everybody hold on a minute; Ohad Naharin is not necessarily a genius. Nowadays I'm like, Ohad Naharin is the god of dance; duh.

The Heymann Brothers are finishing their documentary about Naharin, you see. That's why I went searching for the cache of research materials I'd used for my dance history paper that I knew I'd never have thrown away even ten years on. Among the goodies was a VHS tape (!) of Kyr I'd gotten from some dance historian in New York and all the BAM promotional stuff for Virus.

And I finally saw Tomer Heymann's first documentary about Naharin Out of Focus, which went miles toward demystifying him for me. I never imagined Naharin smiled (why would he need to?); he had been an impregnable enigma to me.

And I'm going to a Gaga class on Saturday! I hadn't thought about this in ages and remembered it as I was preparing my Israeli culture presentation: the semester after I returned from study abroad at Tel Aviv University Batsheva performed at my school. Talk about felicitous coincidence. I was in a modern class taught by Muriel Cohan, and Ohad Naharin came to our class. Crazy, right? I was in my twenties and didn't have the modesty or self-awareness to be intimidated into a boneless pile of mush in his presence.

13 August 2013

Parading Shoes

This song has been going through my head when I'm out running, so it's worthy. Ladies and gentlemen, Ran Nir...

Unambiguously Gaga

 I've been thinking about dance a lot lately, noodling around watching videos of Batsheva, L-E-V, Kibbutz Dance, and Vertigo.

In my noodling, I happened onto the Gaga (by which I, of course, mean "Ohad Naharin's movement language) site yesterday night. And there's a class being taught in Chicago on August 17!! Totally affordable!

This is unreal! I cannot wait! Happy birthday to me!

05 August 2013

Wrong Demons Are the Right Demons As Far As I'm Concerned

Hey, looky here, music lovers! Here we have the dudes who used to play with Asaf Avidan and some additional dude, I think. They all got together and made themselves a music video. This song sounds like it was written and recorded in the ten years before I was born; I'm guessing this is the effect they were going for. That sound is sorta not my bag, but I really like the lyrics.

I was trying to work out who was singing. I supposed it was Ran Nir since he wrote the song, and I guess that's right.

Since I'm American, I feel uneasy if I don't point out that I do not condone underage drinking in any form or the immoderate use of alcohol. Or keytars.

22 July 2013

It Has Recently Come to My Attention that I Love Israeli Culture

I am doing a brown bag presentation about Israeli culture at work on Aug. 1.

And I have poster for it. What's up??

Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for Steel Wagstaff on InDesign...

18 July 2013

Israeli Music Pops, Part II: I Was Like, These Are Not Love Songs

I'm not gonna lie: I did not like Asaf Avidan's voice when I saw his Tedx Tel Aviv thing last year. And I was childishly disappointed he didn't speak English with an awesome Israeli accent.

But I did listen to his Different Pulses album on the flight back from Paris last month. (Thanks, Air France!) I was like, Wow, I like this, and proceeded to listen to "Different Pulses" and "613" several times in a row. To me, they sound like the beach at Jaffa. So, I was bummed to find that Different Pulses won't be released in the U.S. until 2014. On the other hand, I should have some sweet interview questions by then. Meanwhile, Asaf Avidan tours Europe--mostly France, it seems--endlessly. This makes me feel resentful.

So, I bought Different Pulses online at the end of last month and finally got it yesterday. I read the liner notes and was like, These are not love songs. I was thinking about this song yesterday and found this great live version.

I need your help, dear reader! Hip me to awesome Israeli pop music you know about. I've been listening to Rinat Bar on SoundCloud. I listened to the Balkan Beat Box at work today. Leave your suggestion(s) as a comment. Also, let me know what you think of this song. Thanks!

13 July 2013

Israeli Music Pops

I'm so uncommitted to music that I don't even have a tag for it. But I'm really excited about this song!! I heard the "teaser" TYP posted somewhere and was like, Mizrachi realness. Cannot wait.

I have mentioned before that my attitude toward Israeli pop music, as someone who grew up with American pop music, whose breakthroughs in the 20th century have been the result of African-American innovations, was one, well, markedly lacking in enthusiasm. Pop culture in Israel has shifted since the 1990s. Maybe I'm getting my head around the music more lately because the dudes whose stuff I'm liking like Ivri Lider are around my age--and we've probably had some of the same musical landmarks.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for IsraPop. Appropriately enough, I heard one of Aviv Geffen's songs in English on the way to Ben-Gurion. It was melancholy enough for a cab ride to the airport at 4AM. And I listened to Asaf Avidan's album on the flight from Paris and liked it enough to order my own copy ahead of the its 2014 (!!) release in the U.S.

If this is the first Israeli pop song you've heard, Mazel tov! It's awesome. 

19 June 2013

It's Time To Have A Talk About Women Who Have Short Hair

Swinton. Of course.
This topic is much on my mind because I have a salon appointment today, and I know I'm going to tell the stylist to get the clippers. I, unfortunately, often leave the salon unsatisfied with my 'do, so I spent yesterday scrolling through hundreds of images yielded by Google searches.

Despite photographic images that prove, in my mind, at least, that I am more attractive with more hair, I can't and won't do it anymore. A bunch of hair on my head feels weird to me. I don't like wearing my hair "out." I feel as if it's always in need of securing via twisting or braiding, and I just don't have the stamina and creativity for the full-time job that is a black woman's hair. (Also, depressingly, the texture of my hair is actually fine.)

Even writing that I lack the motivation and energy to face down the decades-long career that is managing black girl hair is cause for shame. That I would give up the sacred struggle! That I would opt for ease: of exercising, sleeping, showering, styling. It's proof that I am not only a failure, but also a traitor, a deserter of the black women's hair cause, the struggle.

Being, existing, as a woman with short hair is rather emotionally taxing. Other people treat you differently; you at times doubt yourself for looking different from other women. There are entire aspects of culture (like some dances, for example) constructed around the normativity of women having long/gobs of hair to face down. 

What's the big goddamn deal with a woman having short hair? Why was I forbidden to cut my hair growing up? Why does my mother think to this day that I'll never get married (god forbid!!) if I don't let my hair grow? Why are there guys who feel free to tell me (unsolicited, of course) that I would be pretty if or that I "need to" let me hair grow?

Obviously, this is sexism. Long/gobs of hair is not a universal good. Just like dresses aren't.

This morning I was texting a short-haired female comrade, quizzing her about her methods. It turns out that her visual inspirations for her hairstyles are male models.

Last month I was telling someone that I had reached the conclusion that if a guy ever asked me for haircut advice, I would tell him that he should find a Bowie style that works for him. (Duh.) As I've been writing this post, I realize that's advice that, as Swinton illustrates above, applies to women as well.

The photo above and my own experience make me realize this is bigger than hair. I've long lamented the fact that shoe stores carrying both men's and women's styles feature sneakers and oxfords for men, but, usually, mostly ridiculous heels for women. Like women don't want to wear oxfords or cool sneakers? Like women, who are most likely to need to flee assault, don't want shoes that allow them to be fleet-footed? And I don't want to get started about men's cologne...

Also this morning I was thinking that sometimes it seems as if ways of being that are comfortable or less troublesome get coded "masculine," when they're actually simply comfortable and less troublesome.

18 June 2013

What To Read For Summer

I've never lost a blog post before. Really. I haven't.  So, I'm emotionally unequipped to deal with having just lost a pretty good blog post about what to read this summer.

Basically, I was saying that I was reading Eli Amir's Yasmine because I finally capitulated to the buy-a-second-book-at-50%-off sale at Steimatzky's Ramat Aviv location even though books in English were hella expensive, and that it had been touch and go the first chapter, but I settled in with the first-person chapter featuring the character Nuri. And that I have less than 100 pages to go and stop every dozen or so pages because I'm afraid something major will happen and I'll be totally devastated. This is how tense I get when I read.

Also, that I was planning to read Said's Orientalism because I probably have some exoticist hangovers from watching The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles in high school and reading Michael Korda's Queenie in grade school. Yup.

So, basically, that was what I was going to say. That, and the fact that I felt sure there was something else I had forgotten to mention but was, no doubt, a brilliant addition to my to-read list. But I didn't click the little undo arrow when I accidentally deleted my far better previous post on this topic, so this is what there is.

20 May 2013

I'm Going to Israel-Palestine. I'm Telling You About It!

This image is from the CIA's The World Factbook

 People, it turns out, have been asking me what I'm going to be doing in Israel-Palestine. My answer has been along the lines of: Chilling. Because to my mind, in that we won't be performing taxing physical labor or wrangling/teaching childrens like other Quest trips The Crossing runs, it's pretty chilled out. But perhaps it yields a more realistic picture (and seems less hedonistic) to say we'll be meeting and talking with both Palestinian and Israeli peace activists.

Our group's itinerary is superb. This is largely the result of Eric Ogi, et al. having put the trip together like a boss.

This is what we'll be doing: visiting Biram, the village in which Melkite Greek Catholic Church Archbishop and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Elias Chacour grew up, and the Mar Elias School in Ibillin. While we're in that area we'll also meet with Fr Chacour himself in Haifa, see the Sea of Galilee, and visit Nazareth.

Next we'll go to Jerusalem and the West Bank. We'll do some typical stuff in and around Jerusalem like visit Yad Vashem, the kotel, and various churches. But we'll also tour an Israeli settlement; meet with Dalia Eshkenazi-Landau, one of the central figures of the non-fiction book The Lemon Tree: An Arab, A Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East; talk with folk from Rabbis for Human Rights, and visit the Sabeel Palestinian Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center.

In the West Bank we'll go to the Freedom Theatre in Jenin: hang out in Ramallah; visit Jericho; tour the Aida Refugee Camp; visit Tent of Nations, an educational and environmental farm I heard a lecture about during the Fall 2012 semester at Edgewood College; stay overnight with a Palestinian family; and stay at the International Center of Bethlehem.

It is impossible for me to even type without smiling. This is the kind of thing I've been googling for the past few years--and now I actually get to go there and see this stuff and meet the people I've been reading about. My stomach knots, and I can only smile because it is unbelievable. My brain keeps looping the lyric, "This is crazy." And this is not even all the stuff we will be doing.

Please wish us godspeed, so to speak, and the ability to bring our best selves to our adventure.

Oh, and there will be a "shareholders'" event in mid-June at which attendees will share what they learned and experienced. If you're in or around Madison, please come to The Crossing.

17 May 2013

Sitting Back, Unwinding

I turned in my last assignments from this semester last week.  Now I'm just getting ready for I-P. That is such an excellent state of affairs I almost feel obligated to write a rap song about it. Nevermind that. It appears that Will Smith got there first.

Not surprisingly, I am very much looking forward to this summer, have been since the Spring 2013 semester started. As a student, I feel like I squeeze all the living I want to do into its fleeting months. Well, this year I have a plan. 

Stuff I Want To Do This Summer
  1. Pick berries
  2. Make fruit cobbler
  3. Make a pie from scratch
  4. Make a cake from scratch
  5. Make awesome vegan food (with friends?)
  6. Work on Israel-Palestine film festival 
  7. Create a magazine
  8. Figure out Art Education plan of study
  9. Take a dance class (Bellydancing? Tap?)
  10. Get running game on point
  11. See "All My Sons" at American Players Theatre
  12. Get my room organized
  13. Get more exercise (Kickboxing? Pilates?)
  14. Help friends in their gardens
  15. Go to Iowa City 
  16. Visit friends in other parts of the state

11 April 2013

Get Paper: A Blog Post About the Upcoming "Text Support: A Library Exhibit About Paper" and Sundries

I haven't heard or seen much about it, but I know that the show Silver Buckle Press director Tracy Honn and Kohler Art Library director Lyn Korenic have been working on opens April 15 in Special Collections in Memorial Library.

I worked with these library doyennes mostly last semester when I was writing my paper about Amos Kennedy, Jr. and doing a video project about artists' books. And I, of course, found them to be very helpful experts. I've found Lyn extremely forthcoming with sources and providing access to the art library's wonderful artists' book collection. And Tracy has helped me to understand what I was seeing when I looked at prints and talked with me about design.

Other events going on in conjunction "Text Support: A Library Exhibit About Paper," which is up through June, include the Friends of UW-Madison Library's Annual  Schewe Lecture by...wait for it, please...hand papermaker extraordinaire and MacArthur laureate Tim Barrett and an artist's talk by pop-up book man No. 1 Shawn Sheehy.

Photo provided by Tracy Honn. 

31 March 2013

Silver Buckle Press Is the Gold Standard

This is a repost of a story I did for the UW Libraries' new News & Events site, which is a great source of information about the mind-boggling array of cool things going on there.

Hand-inked print.
Hand-inked print
For fans of typography and print history, Silver Buckle Press, located on the second floor of Memorial Library, is a resource that is both charming and vital to the preservation and the celebration of print and printing. Silver Buckle Press is a working museum of letterpress printing – a living archive of materials and process.

Letterpress printing involves the actual setting, inking, and impressing of pieces of type in a printing press—creating an artisanal print a world away from the quotidian office inkjet.

Press History
The University of Wisconsin Libraries acquired Silver Buckle Press from the estate of Robert Shaftoe, an art director at the Ford Company and printing hobbyist, in the early 1970s. According to its director Tracy Honn, one of the most important things about Silver Buckle is that its holdings are “not behind glass.” Its mission, she said, is to be a demonstration and education lab.

Silver Buckle Press Today
Rather than collecting dust, Silver Buckle collects fans. For students and scholars in departments like English and art, Silver Buckle Press is, well, the gold standard.

Katie Garth, a graphic design student, is the current Printing Assistant. “On a typical day, I might distribute type, assist in print production, perform research for upcoming projects, or help Tracy prepare for tours and other visitors,” she said. “My understanding of letterpress printing was initially informed by my study of graphic design, which led me to take an interest in book arts and printmaking.” Also, she found the draw of “set[ting] type  away from the screen and combin[ing] the design process with fine art printmaking” hard to resist.

Collection Highlights
But how to determine the Press’ pièce de résistance?

Honn is understandably proud of Silver Buckle’s specimens of Van Lanen, a typeface the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum (less than 100 miles north of Milwaukee) commissioned Matthew Carter to do. And so Carter, the MacArthur Fellowship-winning type designer who gave the world the Verdana font, created his first wood type—which is named after the Hamilton’s founder Jim Van Lanen. Silver Buckle is one of only three institutions in the U.S. that own the Van Lanen typeface.

Chicago hand press.
Chicago hand press
Honn also directs the visitor’s attention to what could forgivably be called the most adorable printing press anyone has ever seen. The Sigwalt No. 11 press is a tabletop model used by amateur journalists in the 19th and early 20th centuries. “They [did] the same sort of thing bloggers do,” Honn said. “We’re coming back around to a sense of doing it on your own.”

Visit Silver Buckle Press for more information about the press, its history, and current activities. To view rare historic materials, visit the Silver Buckle Press Collection in the UW Digital Collections.

Images courtesy of Silver Buckle Press.

29 March 2013

Faythe Levine's New Film Is Ready

Last week during SGC's I stopped by Sky High Gallery to peep the show by The Little Friends of Printmaking, who are, unfortunately, still planning to move to California.

Whilst there, I, of course, chatted a little with Faythe, whom I had approached earlier about being the topic of the research project I'm doing for my art education class. (She graciously said yes.)

I was really excited to hear that her new film about sign painters is done and that she's booking it. Yay! Unfortunately, it wasn't completed in time to make it into this year's Wisconsin Film Festival. Dang. I hope to play a part in its screening here in Madison, though. I, ahem, actually haven't seen Handmade Nation yet, so perhaps that could be a double feature.

I will be writing a piece for Bitch magazine's blog about Faythe, too.

22 March 2013

SGC | Milwaukee | 2013

Two great tastes that taste great together: Milwaukee and printmaking.

I am going to the SGC International conference in Milwaukee! Yay! I would've been even more awesome if I'd had Spring Break this week and wasn't going at the ass end, but such are the vicissitudes of grad school life...

I want to blog more about cool stuff that's going on and is accessible and the fact that this can just be part of one's life. That sentence was, indeed, totally really amorphous, but it's been a bee in my bonnet about creative work this past year.

Amos Kennedy won't be there this year, which is too bad because I could've added to my nascent art collection. But I guess the man did just up and move across the country, so I totally get it. Or he might have a show he's getting ready for.  (Hmm. Maybe I should edit and post the interview I did with him last semester?? I can haz content!)

The (always awesome) Little Friends of Printmaking will be there, and it's always great to catch up with them. (Not that I'm expecting them to change their name or anything.) I did see them at Ritz Crafters and buy the tuxedo cat on a bike poster last month. But they're still moving to L.A. Boo! Shame! Unfortunately, I will not make it to the opening reception for the show at Sky High Gallery tonight because of aforementioned vicissitudes.

But many thanks to them for permission for the use of the image above.