To many, Boston appears to be a generally opened minded and tolerant city. When Massachusetts was the first state to legalize gay marriage six years ago Boston’s Mayor Thomas_Menino stood on the steps of the Massachusetts state house and proudly welcomed the same sex couples who came to get married. When bigoted fast-food chain Chick-Fil-A began their media store of discrimination, Menino wrote a passionate outspoken letter barring them from spreading hate within his cities limits but the sad truth is that a tolerant amazingly open minded Mayor doesn’t equal tolerant open minded population.
Don’t get me wrong, I love when art is controversial, art should be controversial- art should provoke thought, make you frightened, make you angry, art should never be used as a tool of prejudice or hatred. Prejudice has wrongly found it’s way into Boston’s latest public art piece, not by the artists themselves but by a public who’s view on certain kinds of people are still unjustly skewed by the media and ignorance to art is unfathomable.
Recently famed Brazilian art duo Os Gêmeos (Portuguese for the twins) unveiled a larger than life mural in Boston’s Dewey Square as part of their exhibit at the Institute of Contemporary Art, immediately sparking controversy. The mural which features a boy innocently dressed in pajamas with a shirt wrapped around his head has wrongly been accused of being a depiction of a terrorist by many citizens and news outlets, who have taken to sensationalizing the controversy. Yes art is open to interpretation and criticism is expected especially when a piece resides in a public setting-but these claims of terrorist depiction are a sobering reminder of how uneducated our city and country is as a whole when it comes to cultures that are not our own and our willingness to spread fear and hatred with absolutely no provocation. Just because somebody’s head is draped in cloth does in no means equate them to terrorism, Catholic nuns cover their heads and not one person is fingering them when it comes to homeland insecurity- in fact if a mural of nuns was painted in the exact same spot not an eyelash would be bat. Even more puzzling is that the piece originates from Brazil, a country who’s values closely mirrors that our own and has absolutely no known ties to any major terrorist origination or threat to our countries security. The entire situation is shameful, all who have wrongly viewed this piece should hang their head in embarrassment and the media outlets who have given voice to them should be held accountable. In 2012 there is not a single reason that such narrow-mindedness should be possessed by any individual nonetheless broadcast to the masses.
Luckily for Boston, Mayor Menino once again took the high road defending the mural to sensationalistic FOX25 News stating “We got enough division in our country today. We don’t need somebody out there to divide us and saying that’s a racist thing, that’s against a religion. It isn’t…That was art made to show a young boy out there and that’s what I believe it is.” Though one man’s words cannot change the collective minds of our city, solace can be taken in the fact that the media did give a rare opportunity for a level-headed honest and accurate opinion to be heard. Here’s hoping that at least one person listened.
Cambridge, Massachusetts photographer Jessica Durant recently traveled to Paris, France where she used her camera to produce a body of work that transformed the unfamiliar sights of the city into beautifully familiar scenes that exists just beyond on the boundaries of the everyday.
It has been said that if an artists does their job correctly they will undoubtedly evoke a response from their viewer whether it be negative or positive. If such is the case,Chinese artists Zhen and Qiang, known internationally as the Gao Brothers are excelling in their field. Having been raised during Mao’s reign, the brothers are no strangers to it’s horrors, their farther was taken to prison by Mao’s army and was never seen again- such experiences are the motivation for the majority of their often controversial works.The brothers 2009 sculpture “The Execution of Christ” (which features a firing squad made up entirely of Chairman Mao aiming their guns at Lord and Savior Jesus Christ) caused controversy in their home country and has since been forbidden to be exhibited in China — mainly due to it’s negative portrayal of former leader Mao Zedong than for it’s portrayal of Christ.
The Gao Brothers, The Execution of Christ, 2009, Bronze
Even your average dilettante could tell you that it’s not the first time in history than an image of an execution has caused political controversy; as edgy as the Gao Brothers Christ may seem the idea is less than original. The Gao Christ is an homage (and by homage I mean almost an exact three dimensional replica) to nineteenth century French painter Edouard Manet’s 1868 series “The Execution of the Emperor Maximilian of Mexico.” which depicts the execution of Maximilian I of Mexico by firing squad (and in one version, being excited by Napoleon himself…). Just as the Gao’s are causing controversy in their native China now preventing them from exhibiting it there, Manet caused controversy 145 years ago in his native politically unstable France and was unable to do the same. It wasn’t until almost a decade later Manet’s body of work was able to be show in it’s entirety in Boston and New York.
Édouard Manet’s The Execution of Maximilian, 1868
Taking a cue from Manet, the Gao Brothers let the dust settle for a few years and looked elsewhere to house their piece finding it a home at London’s SHOWStudio’s upcoming “Death” exhibition. Despite finding a temporary home for ‘The Execution”, controversy is still following. Just as Manet had merged two opposing cultures French and Mexican, the Gao’s merged opposing cultures, Eastern political symbols and the definitive Western religious symbol. This innovative use of Christ is getting it’s fair share of controversy here in the Eastern world too, some have gone as far to suggest the piece is ‘disrespectful’ and ‘sensationalistic’.
Sociopolitical inspired work of genius or even more ingenious publicity stunt, we here at NOUN are just happy to see that art is once again taking it’s place in the world, resembling a four letter word.
It-girl in training Paris Jackson has had a rough week. First her grandmother disappears, a rumored physical domestic disturbance is reported at her family’s compound and to top it off she’s right in the middle of a developing aggressive custody battle. All seem normal (for the Jackson’s) compared to the newest development in this multimedia-circus. Paris has seemed to find a confidant in rock icon and infamous tweeter Courtney Love. After Paris took to twitter to express the duress she has found herself under, Love showed her softer side tweeting her support. Things took a turn for the awesomely bizarre when Love complimented Jackson on her new profile picture and suggesting that the controversial rocker will be sending a guitar her way.
Love often makes headlines for her use of twitter, but this is the first time they have been positive. Only time will tell if Courtney is just trying to fulfill her own agenda – “I want every girl in the world to pick up a guitar and start screaming” perhaps hoping to recruit members for the newest incarnation of Hole. Or is this kind gesture of support a mentorship in development? There is no doubt Love, who has faced her share of adversity and media scrutiny has a few words of wisdom to share with Paris to get her though the hard-times. Nothing is too weird for the Jackson family or Love for that matter. Here’s hoping for a beautiful friendship.
Between Tom Cruise and Katie Homles parting ways , The Dark Knight Rises, Chick-fil-A causing a ruckus and the London Olympics, something happened and collectively humanity remembered that there are celebrities and events on the planet other than Lady Gaga and her global empire. Being the star that she is (her particular star being the Sun) Monster Monster couldn’t stand the gravitational shift in the universes attention span and instantly took to the internet to put the planets back in their proper alignment, gravitating around her.
Unlike the rest of us who read the iTunes top songs charts to gauge success, Gaga actually reads the Billboard charts, as confusing as this maybe it gets even more confusing in that apparently they still count for something in the music world. As with most things that don’t make sense, it’s Canada’s fault- specifically Canadian sensation Carley Rae Jepson and her hit ‘Call me Maybe‘ which has surpassed Gaga’s 2011 hit ‘Born This Way‘ in weeks at the #1 spot on the charts. Having none of this neighbor to the north friendliness , she tweeted at innocent little Carly “@carlyraejepson (sic) I SEE you just swooped in and broke my BORN THIS WAY record of the most weeks at #1.,” she wrote. “DONT GET COMFORTABLE IM COMING FOR YOU”.
Unfortunately for Gaga, her tweets were no match for Rick Santorum’s pro Chick-fil-a tweets and nobody paid her attention she so desperately wanted and deserved. Being a celebrity with dwindling attention can be a dangerous thing, it leads to bad career moves or even worse …bad personal decisions. Although we have been lead to believe that Mother Monster is incorruptible, the same holds true for her resulting in a misstep know as Lindsay Lohan. Gaga wasted no time taking to the internet to share photos of her Machete Kills co-star at the duo’s sleep over. Oh yeah- apparently she’s in a movie too!
A press release announcing that may have been a good way to go about getting attention, but Gaga knows best.
Unexpectedly Lohan got all the attention from the photos (good attention), sending Gaga into panic mode. With the internet failing her for the first time in her short career she was in dire straits. Being no fool and as usual borrowing for those who have come before her Monster Monster had one last surprise up her scantily clad sleeve. A nude photo released via twitter. Finally for a moment all attention was back on her, all the plants were alighted with Gaga in her rightful center spot. But like before humanity collectively remembered that we’ve all seen her ass before and usually we get some tit action or at least some side boobage, making this photo a thinly veiled cry for attention and the novelty of a the naked songstress wore off.
Has Mother Monsters appeal worn off? Are we finally free to worship at the alter of other gods, revolve around our chosen stars? Or is this just a temporary moment of retrograde for the pop-worlds brightest star?
For those of us who cannot get past her Dark Crystal Lips or overly apathetic stage presence, singer, songwriter and 2012′s reigning internet meme queen , apathetic performer Lana Del Rey is actually quite talented. Not in a talented that you recognize it by listening to her album way but in a “Wow! What a great song- it sounds familiar, oh it’s a cover of that songs that causes me to change the station when it comes on sort of way.” Thats right, it just takes other people covering her songs, rearranging them completely or speeding up the tempo for her real talent to show through. Don’t believe me? Just do a simple Youtube search of her signature song “Videogames” and choose from the dozens of cover versions available. Although not all are gems there are a few ones that easily contend with the original ballad. Most notably Israeli electro-pop duo The Young Professionals (who seem to work wonders with cover songs) disco-fied version released earlier this summer. Exactly how many covers does it take to signify a song will become a classic?
These covers make it evident that Del Rey is without a talented songwriter and what she lacks in showmanship, she makes up for with her raw song writing ability— and honestly that’s not a bad thing. A handful of legendary musicians (Carly Simon and Carol King to name a few) have started out as acclaimed songwriters, same goes for artists like 4 Non Blondes front women Linda Perry who went from having a chart topping single to working behind the scenes, writing and producing for artist such as P!NK, Christina Aguilera and Courtney Love some being praised as the greatest songs of the past decade . Leaving Del Rey with plenty of option for the future of her musical career.
Oh and it doesn’t hurt that she caught the attention of 1980′s pop-legend Boy George, who earlier this week released a version of the song accompanied by a beautiful music video directed by Mike Nicholls, starring beautiful people, doing beautiful things while looking beautifully sad . But really, once you’ve caught Boy Georges attention what else matters?
After two massively successful solo albums, one oddly scheduled “reunion” tour and an underwhelming cameo on Gossip Girl, Gwen and the gang are back with their first original song in over a decade. Having been coasting on the merits of their 90′s rock god status since the release of their 2003 greatest hits album, it was pretty safe to assume that No Doubts newest album was going to be the Chinese Democracy of this millennium.
Fortunately No Doubt has a reputation for being dependable and as promised they delivered their newest single ‘Settle Down’ today. It’s too soon to tell what their upcoming album ‘Push and Shove’ has in store for fans but if ‘Settle Down’ is any indication, it sounds like a rehashing of their fan base polarizing ‘Rock Steady’ days.
At first listen ‘Settle Down’ sounds more like a Santigold B-Side, lacking any hint of their punk rock days but it’s not necessarily disappointing.. just different… wildly different. But what can be expected from a band that has held it today for almost thirty years? Change may not always be welcome but is inevitable.
The XX || Angels
For those of us who have been holding our breath in anticipation of a follow up to the XX’s self-titled first album it’s finally okay to breathe. Coexist, their sophomore release will hit shelves September 11 2012, followed by a North American Tour- giving you just enough time to prefect your autumn goth look. With their newest single ‘Angles’ (demos of which have been floating around the internet for the past 2 years) the indie rock darlings are out to reassure fans that there is no fearing the sophomore slump when it comes them. A seamlessly fitting addition to their catalogue of hauntingly melancholy sounds ’Angles’ proves that these kids know exactly what they are doing and had their formula perfected before the rest of us knew there was one.