Throwback Thursday 12

Hello y’all!

I’m here with the first Throwback Thursday of this year! Today we’re taking a look at the Lutton Memorial Fund for Performance and what Micah Walter ’14 did with the funding for his senior thesis.

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Micah, a music and computer science major, wrote an original vocal composition which was performed by professional singers with the support of the Lutton Fund. The performance, called “Vespers,” was held in Founders Great Hall.

The deadline for this year has already passed, but if you are an artist, performer, filmmaker, etc., and want to learn more about how you can apply for funding, check out the link below!

www.haverford.edu/HCAH/center/programs_and_grants/student_funding.php

I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Anna M.

 

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THE NEW JAMES HOUSE: a tour!

Welcome to a tour of the newly renovated and updated James House! Enjoy the virtual tour by Courtney Lau ’17, a member of the James House board! Don’t forget to turn up the volume.

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“The Spiritual Garden” comes to a close

On the last day of “The Spiritual Garden,” Prof. Hee Sook Kim was kind enough to answer some questions I had about the exhibit.

“Transformations” by hee sook kim

1) What do you feel are the advantages and disadvantages of the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery space, especially pertaining to the display of your work?

I did not feel any disadvantage in the space at all. Perfectly happy.

2) What are the connections between your exhibit in the gallery and the class you teach?

It is a a great tool to have my work at the gallery so that students can see the work in person to learn about the creative process on their own, along with inspirations they can have through my work. Students are the web generation who grew up looking at images online conveniently instead of going to galleries and museums. This convenience and aloof experience are unknown disadvantages for them.

3) How does the experience of having your work exhibited at Haverford compare to its exhibition in numerous other places?

It has the advantage of reaching out to the community and meeting people who otherwise would not encounter my work and get to know me.

“The Spiritual Garden” at the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery closes today after a thoroughly beautiful five-week run.

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(IR)REVERENCE: Interview with Mellon Creative Residents Chika Unigwe and Niq Mhlongo

Mellon Creative Resident Chika Unigwe

Mellon Creative Resident Chika Unigwe

Fifty years ago, Chinua Achebe wrote the landmark novel Arrow of God. Next week, October 6-9, the Tri-Colleges will host the conference (Ir)reverence in celebration of this anniversary, featuring Mellon Creative Residents Chika Unigwe and Niq Mhlongo.

Chika Unigwe is the author of On Black Sisters’ Street, which won Nigeria’s biggest literary prize, the NLNG Prize for Literature. She has written in both English and Dutch. Niq Mhlongo is the author of the novel Dog Eat Dog. The Spanish translation, Perro come perro, won the 2006 Mar de Letras prize.

We caught up with these two writers for a sneak peak on the conference. To hear more, come to their writing workshop and panel discussion.

Mellon Creative Resident Niq Mhlongo

Mellon Creative Resident Niq Mhlongo

Mellon Creative Residencies: Why do you think readers are still attracted to Arrow of God fifty years after publication?

Chika Unigwe: Achebe’s writing is timeless. Arrow of God, like the best of his writing, is written in an elegant, warm tone even while it deals with very serious themes, so it is very easy to draw readers in. The effects of colonization are still with us in Nigeria in many different ways, and so Arrow of God remains relevant.

Niq Mhlongo: In Arrow of God, I think Achebe had effectively showed that literature can be used to tell the African story from an African perspective. He had successfully demonstrated to readers that literature can be used as a weapon to restore or regain people’s lost identity, self-respect, and dignity. He does this by showing readers in human terms what happened to them and what they had lost.

Personally, I subscribe to the notion that a novelist can be a teacher, an idea brought forward by Achebe himself. Like Achebe, I’m of the opinion that no matter what our history has been, our destiny is tied to what we create today. This is the reason I think Arrow of God’s relevance is timeless.

MCR: Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

Niq: No, I didn’t know I was going to be a writer. I grew up wanting to be a rich and successful person. Success then meant that I would be married with kids, driving a beautiful car and having a big house. My role models then were lawyers and doctors in my township of Soweto because they were rich. I envied their lifestyles, the way they talked, and the way they were so very important in the community. For example, during apartheid times, doctors were important figures, as they would heal wounded political activists. Lawyers were also important, as they defended the people that were always wrongfully accused and imprisoned by the apartheid government. I wanted to be like them. That is partly why I studied law at the university. Writing interrupted these dreams by choosing me, and I obeyed. I had to sacrifice law at the end, and I don’t regret not being a lawyer.

MCR: Has your writing been received differently in the different countries that you’ve lived in?

On Black Sisters Street, by Chika Unigwe

On Black Sisters Street, by Chika Unigwe

Chika: I believe that people do not read in a vacuum. Our response to a particular piece is influenced by our environment, culture and background. I notice that while readers in Nigeria are shocked, for example, that my women in On Black Sisters Street knowingly choose the sex trade as a means of breaking out of poverty, my Belgian readers, for example, are more shocked at the fact that I insinuate that Belgian police officers are corrupt enough to collude with pimps to keep victims of the sex trade enslaved.

MCR: Who were some of your most important literary influences?

Niq: I grew up reading everything in the African Writers Series. Actually, I would say I was very biased in terms of what I read. So I read Achebe, Ngugi wa Thiongo, Oyono, Ayi Kwei Armah, Camara Laye, Eskia Mphahlele, Buchi Emecheta, Dambudzo Marechera, Hove, Peter Abrahams, Sembene Ousmane, Mwangi, etc. These were all writers that were published in the African Writers Series, and they were my early influences. Then there were writers like Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, George Orwell, George Lamming, who I also discovered along the way and who also played a role.

MCR: How do you decide which language to write a particular story in?

Chika: English is the more natural language for me to write in. I came to Dutch as a young adult and only began writing in it out of necessity because of where I lived, and because I wanted to get noticed. It was my first short story written in Dutch that got me a Belgian publisher. When I write in Dutch, my sentences are clipped and follow a strict grammatical structure. I cannot (perhaps ‘dare not’ is a better term) play with words; language becomes this solid structure I cannot bend because I am too scared to move away from the ‘straight and narrow path.’  I find it quite frustrating. One can only play with a language when one is at ease in/with it; when one understands all its nuances; when one isn’t second-guessing oneself all the time. It is not a comfortable way to write fiction.

MCR: Are there any themes or questions that you find yourself returning to in your writing?

Dog Eat Dog, by Niq Mhlongo

Dog Eat Dog, by Niq Mhlongo

Niq: I think many people think that the theme of apartheid is the theme of the past. I differ from those people. Apartheid is the theme of the past, present, and future. Whatever themes I’m addressing in my novels, be it HIV/AIDS, xenophobia, homophobia, unemployment, inequality, corruption, teenage pregnancy, drug abuse, and so on, I find these themes linked to apartheid. I find myself returning more often to apartheid, as it is one of those unresolved haunting themes.

MCR: What keeps you writing?

Niq: The urge of sharing stories and making sense of society is what keeps me writing. I feel as if my head is like a traveler’s suitcase. It is full of stories that are weighing me down. The moment I release a story for the world to read, I feel healthier and light again. That is what keeps me writing.

MCR: Do you have any advice for young writers?

Chika: Read widely. Be patient. Learn to accept criticism. Write.

Niq: Write as provocatively and as fearlessly as you can. Read more widely.

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Prof Roy Ben-Shai talks time, movies, and grocery stores

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Professor and Post-Doctoral Fellow Roy Ben-Shai is a busy man: in addition to teaching his class “Time After Time: Temporality in Film and Continental Philosophy,” he is part of the faculty seminar “Revision/How Time Passes” and is leading a Crosslisted event tomorrow, “The Politics of Nihilism”.

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Prof. Ben-Shai has lived in Paris, New York, and Tel Aviv – as well as Iceland and Mexico – and so I was compelled to ask him what he thought about the suburbs, this landscape of the American Dream. He told me about his first encounter with the suburbs, a search for a grocery store on his first day here. He also told me that “Iceland was marvelous,” and that he was there at the time of the financial crisis: “Everything changed. The mood, atmosphere, the price of tomatoes.”

Prof. Ben-Shai’s class here at Haverford is a reflection upon the meaning of time, and an encounter with philosophical texts and films: “We’re not trying to match them, but to put them into dialogue with one another. The final project is to make a short film about time.”

I had to ask Prof. Ben-Shai if he wears a watch, given that he teaches about time. He replied, “I can’t not wear a watch, but I don’t know how much it’s a conscious decision. I have trouble with time. I’m worried that I’m behind on things or late, which I often am. Most philosophers would say clock time is not real time. It’s an abstraction or social substitute for the real experience of time. Not that I care about it, I’m just worried.” I can certainly sympathize. So what is real time, then? “That’s a good question. Real time … for me, it’s mostly the time of thought. The time that I have for myself, do the things that I enjoy doing and that’s kind of quality time, the rest of it is running, chasing after something.”

Next semester, Prof. Ben-Shai will be teaching a class on like, which “seems like a natural thing to follow time.” The class will once again put philosophers in dialogue with films – tentatively, The Tree of Life, Crash, and Fight Club, along with Lucretius, Spinoza, and Nietzsche. Spoiler alert: of the options, Fight Club is his favorite movie, but Lucretius is his favorite philosopher.

If you would like to discuss time, politics, grocery stores, or living in Paris with Prof. Ben-Shai, we hope to see you at tomorrow’s Crosslisted in front of the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery at 1 pm tomorrow!

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Strategies of Vision: Mellon Creative Resident Riva Lehrer

"Zora: How I Understand," self portrait by Riva Lehrer, 2009.

“Zora: How I Understand,” self portrait by Riva Lehrer, 2009.

I walked into a small Stokes classroom and discovered an unexpectedly busy hustle and bustle of students setting up extra chairs around the table. Last week I had the opportunity to sit in on Mellon Creative Resident Riva Lehrer’s talk “Strategies of Vision: Artists, Impairment, and Disability Culture.” Riva is an artist, writer, teacher, and curator, and the recipient of many awards, including the 2009 Critical Fierceness Grant—an award that Riva assured us was real and comes from an organization that mostly does “dance raves.” Riva’s work focuses on the physical identity and the body, and she has been curating images of impairment for over twenty years. The course that I sat in on—Disability, Identity, Culture—taught by Prof. Kristin Lindgren, is part of a 360 program this year titled “Identity Matters.” Last week, past students of the class and other professors joined current members of Prof. Lindgren’s class to hear Riva speak.

Riva speaks directly and with humor, and is unafraid to bring up controversial topics. She prefaced her talk with the warning, “there’s nothing I’m gonna show you that is not problematic, including my own work.” The millennia of negative descriptions of disability weigh heavy on current representations of disability and impairment, so Riva told us all to maintain a “both and” state of mind, in which the negatives and positives of a work do not negate each other. When she first started curating art related to impairment, Riva recalls an almost universally negative reaction. Twenty years ago, there were almost no positive portrayals of disabled people, “unless,” Riva added, “you count Catholic saints, and I don’t actually count them because most of us don’t get an automatic halo in our disability kit.”

"Mirror Shards: Tim / Owl," portrait of artist Tim Lowly by Riva Lehrer, 2011.

“Mirror Shards: Tim / Owl,” portrait of artist Tim Lowly by Riva Lehrer, 2011.

Riva showed us slides from a slew of different artists working with impairment in a wide range of styles, media, and concepts. Among many topics, Riva’s talk touched on the use of fragmentation to represent disabled bodies, the complex relationship between impairment and sexuality, and how disability can affect gender identity. I came away with a richer understanding of the intersection between art and physical differences, plus a huge list of interesting artists to look up. For those of you who weren’t in this class, do not fret! Riva will be back for a public lecture on Thursday, November 20th, so stay tuned.

Find out more about Riva and the other Mellon Creative Residencies here.

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Allow Me to Reintroduce Myself

portrait of the author with nachos

portrait of the author with nachos

My self-summary: I’m Katy and I’m the Hurford Center’s new Digital Media Assistant! I’m a sophomore studying English and Gender and Sexuality Studies. I love cities; I’m from NYC and I love exploring Philadelphia. I’m an enthusiastically bad dancer. I love all forms of art and I believe they are all connected, as well as connected to other disciplines! My biggest celebrity crush is Poussey from Orange is the New Black.

I’m really good at: Reading, writing, figuring out directions, and getting dressed.

Favorite books, movies, shows, music, food: Books: anything by Margaret Atwood, Feminism is For Everybody by bell hooks, The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson, Zami by Audre Lorde, Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow, Sexing The Cherry by Jeanette Winterson Movies: Fantastic Mr. Fox, 20 Feet From Stardom, Pulp Fiction TV: Twin Peaks and Orange is the New Black Music: queer women rappers! And women rappers in general. Women and queer people in general. Missy Elliot, Kelis, Beyonce, Angel Haze, Santigold – stuff I can dance to. I also love Mal Blum. Food: anything made by the residents of ehaus, where I live.

On a typical Friday night I am: dancing!

The most private thing I’m willing to admit: I always skip the duck pond part, but I tell people, “Oh yeah, I just ran the nature trail.”

You should message me if: You want to know more about the Hurford Center! my e-mail is kdfrank@haverford.edu and I can usually be found in ehaus, Lunt, where I work on Thursday nights, and the Women*s Center, where I work on Tuesday nights, or the duck pond fields, where I play frisbee. 

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Everything you have wondered about WAKE

In 2010, the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, spilling 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Four years later, WAKE, a 23-minute documentary, meditates on the continued presence of the oil industry in southern Louisiana. Created during summer 2014 by Haverford’s Interdisciplinary Documentary Media Fellows Hilary Brashear ‘14, Dan Fries ‘15, Gebby Keny ‘14, and Sarah Moses ‘16, in collaboration with Artist-in-Residence Vicky Funari and Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Environmental Studies Helen White.

For those who attended last week’s screening of WAKE, Sarah Moses’ insight will add to experience; and for those who did not attend, her perspective is illuminating. Enjoy!

a still from the film

a still from the film

1) What perspective did you bring to the filmmaking process? How familiar were you with the spill before working on this film?

I remember following the spill when it happened, but in a pretty distanced manner. So I definitely did weeks of research for this film. Coming into the project I initially had a focus on the political consequences of the spill, but working with the other fellows and having hours and hours of discussions led to us all blending our ideas together into something that I think is far superior to what we would have dreamt up individually.

2) Have any of your personal consumer decisions or habits changed because of the film?

I like to think that I’ve been relatively conscious of the widespread effects my decisions can have. Consciousness and awareness are definitely the first steps to any change. Obviously we live in a very energy-dependent world and I have no intentions of going off the grid any time soon. But I believe that thinking about your actions and their consequences, and meditating on how to change them, is an important part of being a citizen of the world.Also, and this is a little embarrassing but, I can’t drive so I guess I have that going for me.

3) Do you think the purpose of the film is indeed to change consumer habits? Or is that secondary to another aim? Is this a film with an agenda at all?

Our main goal from the start of the project was to attempt to approach the subject in as holistic a manner as possible. The debates that were ignited after the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill have never been exclusively about the spill itself, and to present these issues as such an isolated incident would be false. The oil industry influences the lifestyles, economies, and environments of people all over the world, and this is not a new phenomenon. The environmental degradation and socio-political issues along the Gulf have a long history as well. Everything truly is connected, and although we did not have the time nor the resources to portray all of the factors and perspectives involved, our goal was to take the voices we did have and meditate on how they resonate with each other. It’s very easy to say “we need oil” or “we need to switch to renewable energy”, but the truth is it’s always more complicated than that.

4) How did you work with Prof. Helen White? What was the “interdisciplinary” part of being an Interdisciplinary Documentary Media Fellow like?

Working with Helen was such a gift. She is so lively and charming and just lovely to be around, which really kept us going on those early morning trips along the Gulf. And, of course, she has so much knowledge to share. The interdisciplinary aspect of the fellowship was so valuable to the making of the film, and without it a very important perspective (the scientific one) would have been largely lost. With the limited time we had, we could only conduct so much research. But Helen and her chemistry students, Alana Thurston and Chloe Wang, really grounded our understanding of the spill in a scientific perspective that I don’t think we would have had otherwise.

5) How would you like to continue studying film at Haverford? Are there any programs or classes you would recommend to Haverford students interested in film?

I’m majoring in Film and Media studies through Swarthmore’s department, but I’ve had some great opportunities through Bryn Mawr as well. There’s a wide range of course offerings, and looking through the course catalog will give you a good idea of what theory-oriented and production-oriented classes are available. However, nothing can beat the amazing learning experience I had with Vicky Funari, and I would fully endorse any class that she teaches. Even if you don’t think documentaries are your thing, give it a shot. I didn’t think I would ever be focusing on documentary film, but taking a class with Vicky completely transformed my perspective. Bryn Mawr also has a great screenwriting course with Nancy Doyne.

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“The Spiritual Garden” opens at the CFG

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Courtney Lau, HC 2017, reads the introductory wall text

For weeks Haverford students have been running into the powerful red posters for Hee Sook Kim’s exhibit at the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery, “The Spiritual Garden”. The exhibition opening proved to be just as beautiful and impactful as the poster. Wandering through the gallery – sadly, I missed the artist’s talk – I was absorbed and pleasantly overwhelmed by the multitude of colors and textures in the pieces.

Hee Sook Kim teaches printmaking at Haverford. I would love to be able to take her class and hear her insights on contrasting colors and materials. In addition to more “traditional” canvases made with acrylic paint and rhinestones, she also displayed Beosun, Korean traditional socks. The variety of works was wonderful: she displayed paintings, multimedia works, prints, installation, and video. 

The opening was well-attended and festive. “I was the only person wearing sports clothing,” said junior Abby Fullem I spotted Abby browsing a catalogue on the couch. I would encourage everyone pick up one the beautiful catalogues that accompany the exhibit. Visiting the Gallery is a wonderful experience – I will be back many times, in order to try and absorb the colorful, lush beauty of the exhibit.

Find out more: http://exhibits.haverford.edu/thespiritualgarden/

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Ze comiques are ‘ard to translet

As everyone is moving back in to Haverford and gearing up for a new year, it is pretty weird to see it all happening from far, far away, in my little world of panels and speech balloons in Paris. Despite how far away I am, though, I’ve been doing a lot of work recently with English an American publications–and I think I would have to say that the work I’ve been doing in English has been more difficult in most ways than the work I’ve done this summer in French. I’ll start by talking about that.
Science fiction is a weird genre. And it adds a whole new level of weirdness when you read it in another language. There’s nothing like translation to really force you to think about the words that are on the page you’re reading–you can’t just let the meaning of each sentence wash over you and past you, allowing yourself to focus on the coherent whole, the way you do when you read. (At least when you’re reading for your own enjoyment). And when you really dig into science fiction words, you sometimes have to laugh when thinking about how they were come up with.
For instance, in the Star Wars universe there is a rubbery, tentacled species of alien called the “Mon Calamari” from the planet Dac. If you were to put that into a French Star Wars production without any attempt at transforming it, the species name is essentially “My Squid”–or “My Squiddy” if you want to get picky–but they’re both equally silly. And as soon as you realize that, you can just see the writer in the LucasArts studio going “Hmm, this alien I came up with looks like a squid. It’s lunchtime and I said I’d have this file done by 11… Let’s just call it My Squiddy in French, no one will notice.
That’s obviously a slight exaggeration; Mon Calamari is a decent alien name, but it shows how dangerously close to breaking the 4th wall of fiction you can get, if you don’t translate carefully.
So when I was asked to do a correction of the translation of an upcoming English edition of Barbarella, a classic French sci-fi comic series from the ’60s made famous by Jane Fonda, I had was excited. She’s an intergalactic hero who vanquishes her enemies with love and love alone. Lots and lots of love. Enough love that one of the translation issues was wondering how much of what was OK in France in 1968 is OK for a young US audience in 2014…

Barbarella image

www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3-E3xuQtqI
But besides that there’s a whole slurry of weird vocabulary: there’s the “Archivèpre,” ruler of the planet Spectra; there’s Big Bug the Astronef, Barbarella’s (awesome) spaceship; there are the “Bornes,” a bizarre, cultish Spectran species that walks around in army-like ranks and files, staring across the space-time barriers on the surfaces of mirrors, into a parallel universe; there’s “space-time” itself, which is sometimes “espace et temps,” sometimes “temps et espace,” sometimes “espace-temps,” it goes on and on and on.
How it usually goes is I make a pretty liberal correction of the original translation, and send it to our anglophone editors in London and L.A., both of whom are comic-book experts, only one of whom speaks French. Then we have long, detailed Skype conversations going one-by-one over the corrections that we don’t all three of us agree on, which is most of them. At least initially. Often, where I wanted to make a change to erase a French-ism to make Barbella more believable, the London editor wanted to conserve the original because old fans who read the comics in the ’60s will appreciate the authenticity. And I say, “but in the ’60s, they were pumping out a translation every two weeks and they didn’t have the time to spend on quality translations, but we do.” “And then he says to me, “Nick, this is supposed to be sent to the printer today…”
And then the L.A. editor creatively comes up with some new term that conserves elements of both perspectives, and we move on. It’s a constant compromise. I’m not too happy about some of my corrections that were vetoed, but I think that the editorial team we have has probably made for a more holistic, better translation than we would have had if any one of us had done it alone.
This week, I’ve started correcting a translation of a series that is written in French, about a boorish, caveman-like Belgian zombie-hunter and a pimply guy named Carl who has a thing for lady zombies. It takes place in an apocalyptic L.A. in 2064, in which both George W. Bush and Jesus have risen from the dead. It’s filled with French caveman speak, crude Belgian humor, crude L.A. humor, just straight crude humor, lots of post-apocalypse terminology. One of the worst parts: Sean Hannity STILL runs a radio show… In 2064… Wish me luck…

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