The refugee crisis isn’t about refugees. It’s about us | Ai Weiwei

12 hours ago

I was a child refugee. I know how it feels to live in a camp, rob of my humanity, says the artist and activist Ai Weiwei

‘It’s our way of life’: Inuit designers are reclaiming the tarnished sealskin trade

2 days ago

Seal hunting is widely misunderstand, says a new wave of fashion designers, who are currently challenging perceptions with a combination of modern and traditional work


First, she seemed to tradition, immersing herself in the Inuit customs of mitten and parka-making. Next, Victoria Kakuktinniq sought out the contemporary, heading south to train in fashion design before were returned to Nunavut, Canadas northernmost territory.

The result is a style line that marries modern design with tradition captured in a first collection that includes four sealskin wintertime coats and which has established Kakuktinniqs place among the cadre of decorators and seamstresses in Canadas north working to reclaim sealskins place in haute couture.

Its part of my culture, said Kakuktinniq, 27, who launched Victorias Arctic Fashion in 2013. The Inuit are actually trying our very best to promote our culture and indicate our way of life and how our ancestors lived.

It a way of life that has increasingly come under attack in recent decades. Opposition to seal hunting gathered force in the 1960 s and 70 s, with graphic campaigns that featured fluffy seal puppies being bludgeoned by hunters. It soon snowballed into a global, celebrity-studded motion that saw the US and European Union ban the import of virtually all seal products.

But little thought was given to the impact these anti-sealing campaigns would have on Inuit, said the film-maker Alethea Arnaquq-Baril. When you totally erase Inuit from the picture, it can appear as a black and white issue, she said. But were the people of the seal, were hunters.

Starting in the 1950 s, the massacre of hundreds, if not thousands, of sled dogs by the Royal Canadian mounted police left many Inuit with few alternatives but to abandon the semi-nomadic lifestyle of their ancestors and settle into permanent communities.

Other Inuit were forcibly relocated north by a Canadian government keen to claim sovereignty over the high reaches of the Arctic. Some Inuit were also sent away to residential schools, described by a truth commission as a church-run tool of cultural genocide and rife with abuse.

Rannva
Rannva Simonsen, a luxury fur outerwear designer in Iqaluit, models one of her seems. Photo: Ashifa Kassam for the Guardian

Throughout these turbulent years, the seal hunting acted as an anchor, a stable source of food and a reliable income as Inuit struggled to transition from the ways of their ancestors and into sedentary lives in one of the harshest environments on the planet.

Then came the prohibition. The prices of sealskin just crashed, said Arnaquq-Baril, whose film Angry Inuk delves into the devastatingeffects anti-sealing activism has had on the Inuit.

Iniut communities were exempted from the prohibition, but much of the market for sealskin evaporated, making the exemptions meaningless. Community lost 90% of their income, in some cases, said Arnaquq-Baril.

Poverty became the new normal in Nunavut, sending the already high suicide rates soaring and leaving about seven out of 10 Inuit children going hungry to school.

The campaigns demonstrated lucrative for animal rights activists, often raising tremendous amounts of fund for the organisations. But many Inuit felt vilified by the movement, which at times implied that the seal populations hunted by Inuit were threatened.

Its not just an attack on our ability to survive, its an attack on who we are and our worth as people, said Arnaquq-Baril. Its very frustrating when the organisations that are putting us in this position live in some of the richest regions of the world, with the richest farmland in the world, and the easiest temperatures to live in those are the people running the campaigns that affect us.

In 1985, Greenpeace Canada issued an apology to Inuit over its 1976 anti-sealing campaign, which ran global. By some standards, it was a successful campaign, Joanna Kerr, the executive director of Greenpeace Canada, noted in a 2014 blog post . But in one major route, it failed very, very badly.

The campaign, she noted, hurt many, both economically and culturally. The organisation has since made efforts to mend its relationship with indigenous peoples, Kerr added.

Footwear
Footwear by the designer Nicole Camphaug, who adds sealskin to high heels and dress shoes. Photo: Ashifa Kassam for the Guardian

Some who point to the persisting cultural and economic impacts of the campaigns have called for more than an apology. After all the money that was generated by Greenpeace over the years, they[ should] compensate each Inuit$ 1m, Aaju Peter, a sealskin seamstress in Iqaluit, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation last year .

Others are doing all they can to revive the slumping marketplace. The decorator Nicole Camphaug began experimenting with layering sealskin on high heels and dress shoes several years ago, envisioning the combining as another way of showcasing Inuit culture. I always think its so important to get sealskin out there, she said.

Soon afterwards, she launched a small side business out of her Iqaluit home , capitalising on social media to reaching customers across Canada and as far away as Greenland.

So far, the grassroots move by designers does seem to be inducing some change, said Rannva Simonsen, a luxury fur outerwear decorator in Iqaluit , the capital of Nunavut. The posture has changed, she said, pointing to a growing number of orders she had received in recent years from Toronto. Sealskin is actually being more and more accepted by Canadians.

Originally from the Faroe Islands, Simonsen moved to Nunavut in 1997, launching her company shortly afterward. She was quick to embrace sealskin which she calls the local cow describing him as a humane source of food and income in a region with few other options.

Since then, she has watched as Inuit wage a David and Goliath battle against animal rights campaigners in a bid to keep the slumping industry alive a battle whose roots overlook the Inuits deep reverence for the land that surrounds them. I find its cultural bully when people from the bigger society crush the small little culture, she said. Instead they should learn from the Inuits connectedness and respect for nature.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Quentin Tarantino apologizes for Polanski defense: ‘I was ignorant’

3 days ago

The film-maker has said sorry for a 2003 interview in which he justified Roman Polanskis rape of Samantha Geimer

Coachella day one: Kanye and Seal offer unlikely cameos in California sandstorm

4 days ago

Savages bring visceral performance and LCD Soundsystem complete their comeback on a day of guest appearances and anthemic covers

Guest appearances, rising cover-ups and gusty winds were the order of the day for Friday at Coachella where Kanye West and Seal made their way through the sandstorm to provide unlikely cameos.

Seal appeared on stage with LAs R& B curio Gallant to perform Seals made Crazy, and he assisted Gallant with his track Weight in Gold. While that went down well in the Mojave tent, A$ AP Rockys set, which was delayed and nearly canceled because of the high winds and sand blowing around, watched Kanye make a puzzling cameo. At the end of an impressive set by A$ AP Rocky, in which he operated through recent hittings such as Pretty Flacko Jodye and L$ D with the help of a barbershop quartet, Kanye appeared to play The Life of Pablo track Father Stretch My Hands Pt 1. But his vocals were barely audible and the crowd was instead treated to what amounted to a bizarre mime show.

Earlier in the working day on the main stage, Years& Years won over the crowd with their brand of dance-pop featuring defined closer King, while Foalss transformation from skittish indie outliers to full-blown stadium rockers seemed complete with a set that probably belonged further up the bill.

The Last Shadow Puppets set in the Mojave stood out for the theatrics of Alex Turner, who wore a mustard suit and ran about the stage weave in between the groups string section while flailing a tambourine in the air. In between switching from thanking the crowd for its generosity, then imploring them for more applause and informing them what key anthems were written in, the pair presented the songwriting craft that theyve sharpened on their new album Everything Youve Come to Expect. Charm, however, seems to be a quality that they still lack.

Sufjan Stevenss set was part technicolor sensory overload and proportion singer-songwriter masterclass, with dancers and neon decoration that brought a touch of the psychedelic to the desert. With ways including I Want To Be Well and Impossible Soul, “its one” of the days standout performances.

On the other side of the spectrum were Savages, who eschewed subtlety for a visceral and lapel-grabbing situated, with lead singer Jehnny Beth putting paid to the idea that the epoch of the frontperson is over. Walls of noise, feedback and roaring guitars provided the backing for Beth, who switched between performing in the crowd and creating slam poetry on Shut Up. Pummelling and unapologetically bruising, the bands live offering is much more than style and overly serious posturing.

Jack U certainly wasnt serious. While M83 allayed the crowd with their Imax electro pop, Jack Us set was loaded with more drops than a paratrooper regiment, as he remixed and re-jigged anything imaginable( the Imperial March, anyone ?), turning it all into one repetitive EDM showcase that was torturous or joyous, depending on your stance toward endless wobbly basslines.

LCD Soundsystems headline set assured them complete their comeback, picking up where they left off in 2011. Under a giant disco ball, they operated through Us v Them, Daft Punk Is Playing at My home, You Wanted a Hit, Tribulations and a brilliant version of Yeah, which descended into an acid home workout. The effectivenes of ways such as Someone Great was definitely still there, but it was the bands encompas of David Bowies Heroes and segue into Guns N Roses November Rain that defined their situate.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Steve Reich: the composer with his thumb on the heartbeat

5 days ago

Reich indicated the world the hypnotic pleasures of repeat as his music took in religion, politics and New York city life and aged 80, hes still moving forward

For 30 years I walked around Manhattan with earplugs in my ears. Steve Reich, whose music seems to represent the pulsing energy of the metropolis, doesnt enjoy being there that much. Whenever I went out I had to kind of gird myself, you know, he says. I basically dont like New York.

If the city had feelings, it would find that particularly hard to take right now. It is in the midst of feting Reich, who has just turned 80. Hes composer in mansion at Carnegie Hall, which is hurling a birthday concert for him on 1 November. His work is being performed at the Guggenheim, the Juilliard School and NYU. Hes even in the process of moving back to his roots from the leafy upstate suburbium of Pound Ridge, where we satisfy, to the Lower East Side. I entail, I owe a great deal to New York, he says, and all my best friends are there and I am a New Yorker. But theres a part of me that doesnt like noise, doesnt like a million people, doesnt like concrete.

Fans may have misread City Life, a 1995 work that riffs on slamming taxi doors, horns and sirens, then. That was written in resentment, before we left. It was like, I cant stand these car alarms, so Im going to put them in the piece and do what I want to with them. I know how to take care of you. Im just going to devour you in my music and make something that I genuinely want to hear.

In Pound Ridge birdsong is the only noise likely to disturb him. The Frank Lloyd Wright-esque house that Reich shares with his wife, video artist Beryl Korot, sits on a beautiful wooded slope, and warm October sunlight fills the room in which we talk. It might be a wonderful place to compose, but its too isolated. Snow trapped him here one evening when he was supposed to be at a performance of his work in Manhattan. And Korots gallery is on the Lower East Side. So, despite his mistrusts, hes returning to the city in which he made his name half a century ago.

In 1965 Steve Reich arrived back in New York after a spell at Mills College, California, where hed been studying composition. He had begun to experimentation with tape loops-the-loops, playing back snippets of human speech at different rates, letting them phase in and out of sync. Syllables sputter and stretch, zooming from one ear to the other, slowly reforming before deforming again. Its Gonna Rain samples a Pentecostal preacher in Union Square, San Francisco, declaiming the story of the Flood. Come Out, induced once he was home again, uses the voice of one of the Harlem Six, black humen beaten up by police, explaining how hed had to split the skin on a bruise and let the blood come out in order to prove hed been injured. Made to raise money to pay for the Sixs legal squad, the piece was included in a Columbia records compilation of new music a couple of years later. It was singled out in reviews and Reich find himself and his phasing technique in the spotlight.

Not everyone was happy, though. Infantile! Reich hollers, mimicking outrage. Infantile. A critic use that word.

Why? When Reich was a student, serialism, a genre that purposely avoided harmony, melody and rhythm, was the only game in town. Luciano Berio, one of his educators at Mills College, was a resulting exponent, but its inventor was the Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg. It is difficult, highly intellectual music that constructs sense as a stage in the development of the art, but has limited appeal. There have been periods in music called Mannerist, Reich explains. So at the end of Renaissance polyphony, it gets so convoluted, its brilliant but its always going to be off in a corner because its so recherche and so refined. And this always portends some move towards a drastic simplification, a back to basics. Like: hey lets only have a voice singing! Therell has become a story, therell be people acting it out Opera!

And so it was in the middle of the 20 th century. The skill particularly with Boulez and Stockhausen and the innovation is tremendously admirable, enormously well done, and has its place in music history , no question about it. But, it attracted a minuscule audience. And if it werent for the fact that Stockhausen appeared on the covering of Sgt Pepper, it wouldve been ever smaller.

I felt in my gut: I became a composer because I love Bach, because I love Stravinsky, because I love bebop, because I love John Coltrane. Now, I just cant I dont want to spend my life doing this.

Reich did go back to basics and uproar ensued. A 1973 performance of Four Organs, a hypnotically beautiful work in which harmonic chords are played again and again, changing and overlapping, for 15 minutes, became famous for all the wrong reasons. According to Michael Tilson Thomas , now director of the San Francisco Symphony, there were at least three attempts to stop the performance by shouting it down. One woman strolled down the aisle and repeatedly banged her head on the front of the stage cry, Stop, stop, I confess.

With the exception of a few European composers still, as Reich puts it, working in the graveyard, serialism has now largely disappeared. I think we won hands down, he says, referring to the generation of musicians who violated away with him: Terry Riley, Arvo Prt, Philip Glass. But it is a restoration not a revolution. Swallow it: restoration. Of what? Harmony, rhythm and melody.

Its because of this that the pop, EDM and contemporary classical worlds are as close as they now are, he argues. More and more of the young highly skilled conservatory graduates like to hang out with DJs. He mentions Nico Muhly and the Nationals Bryce Dessner, two of the composers who will feature in his Three Generations program at Carnegie Hall in April 2017.

Reichs son, Ezra, is also a pop aficionado, and has helped him appreciate artists like Prince and Giorgio Moroder. At the time, he says: I didnt pay any attention to Donna Summer or any of that, I knew disco existed but I didnt listen to it at all. He laughs and says that his favourite Summer track wasnt the famous one( I Feel Love ). It was and here he bursts into ballad She works hard for her money ba da da da da da DA! … I really liked that a lot.

Pulse, which will be performed for the first time at the Carnegie Hall concert( its European premiere is at the Barbican in London on 5 November) was partly inspired Daft Punks collaboration with Moroder. Anchoring the winds, strings and piano is an electric guitar, which pumps out a repetition bassline in homage to the 70 s synth genius.

Also on the bill at both concerts are his partnerships with Korot, Three Tales. These video pieces, with accompanying ratings by Reich, were designed to mark the turn of the millennium. They dramatise symbolic moments in the history of the 20 th century: the explosion of the Hindenburg, the detonation of the hydrogen bomb at Bikini atoll and the cloning of Dolly the Sheep. As such and like Come Out theyre rare examples of political involvement by Reich.

I am not an activist, never have been, he explains, playing down the resonance between Come Out and the Black Lives Matter movement. I entail I have faiths and if offered the opportunity, I will help out. But, he says in the long run, subject matter doesnt mean crap. Let me give you an example. One of the greatest artists of the last millennium is Pablo Picasso. And one of Picassos greatest masterpieces is Guernica Its extremely topical, its exceedingly passionate, its extremely political. As a work of art, its a towering masterpiece. As an effective political tool, its an absolute waste of time. Pablo, get out of here, youre an moronic.

His point is that, after Guernica, bombing civilians became more common , not less. So people ask me, should composers write political music? I say theres one obligation composers have. And that is to write the very best music they perhaps can. If politics helps musicians get fired up to make good work then its done its task, he reckons.

Religion too. Reich rediscovered Judaism in his 30 s the baseball cap hes ever seen without is actually his version of a yarmulke and it has inspired some of his best-known runs, including Tehillim and the Daniel Variations. On the wall behind him is a bookshelf stacked with weighty Jewish tomes. Theyre basically all centred around Torah, he explains, the first five volumes of Moses in the Christian Bible and in the Hebrew scriptures as well. Theyre read every year in a cycle. You start at the beginning of Genesis, and were now approaching the end of that cycle as we speak.

Theres a very famous commentary in the period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, which we are presently in its called Teshuvah, by Maimonides. Teshuvah means returning, returning in a very broad sense of the word, returning to who you are, to who you really are.

Some of Reichs contemporaries, including Glass, Riley and La Monte Young, were immediately inspired by Buddhism, with its own narrations of rebirth. Is Jewish spirituality the key to his instrumental pieces, as abstract as they sometimes seem? Here i am, after all, repeating, cycling, returning, on every page. The provide answers to your question is: who knows. God knows, I dont. I wouldnt say, Oh no, what are you talking about? Youre talking about something real.

The cyclical is only interesting when its not a cycle but when its a spiral, he continues. If it runs around and around in a circle, youre genuinely a rat in a trap, and merely playing a loop-the-loop is a bear. But if you return above that phase, or in a different posture, you have returned as a different person, you have returned as a different composer, and you have returned to a different musical accomplishment.

I think it was Charles Olson, a poet you may have heard of, who said: People dont change. They only stand more revealed. And that seems about right for this reluctant New Yorker, finally attaining his route home again.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Darth Vader actor ‘not interested’ in Star Wars: The Force Awakens

6 days ago

Dave Prowse, who appeared as the evil Sith Lord in the classic original trilogy, says he has not even seen the trailer for JJ Abramss film

In terms of rampant hype, it is even giving the original space opera trilogy, which helped usher in the Hollywood blockbuster era and sold hundreds of millions of plastic lightsabers, a run for its galactic credits. But the British actor who appeared as Darth Vader in all three movies says he has not even seen the trailer for JJ Abramss Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Dave Prowse, who portrayed the deadly Sith Lord onscreen for Star Wars (1977), The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983), told Yahoo! Movies he wasnt the slightest bit interested in any of Disneys new Star Wars films at least four are currently planned unless he got to play Vader once again.

It depends, he said. It depends if Im playing the part of Darth Vader in it Yes then Id be very interested. But if theyre putting somebody else in Darth Vaders mask, then Im not the slightest bit interested.

Of the latest, apparently final trailer for Abramss film, which has been viewed a staggering 50m times on YouTube, Prowse said: I havent seen it at all. No. Ive seen nothing about it whatsoever. No. No.

He added: The new film, I know absolutely nothing about. I dont really want to talk about it as I know nothing about it whatsoever not being involved in it, I really havent got much interest. You know not a lot, no.

Watch the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer

The 80-year-old actor and former bodybuilder was in the Vader suit for much of the Sith Lords screen time and reputedly even got to speak his lines on set, though his west country tones were dubbed over with those of American actor James Earl Jones in post-production, and many of the fight scenes featured British Olympic fencer Bob Anderson. To add insult to injury, when Vaders face was finally shown to audiences as he lay dying in 1983s Return of the Jedi, producer George Lucas chose to cast the British stage actor Sebastian Shaw instead.

Abrams should perhaps not take the slight on The Force Awakens personally. Prowse has previously signalled his disinterest in Lucass oft-maligned prequel trilogy, which attempted to tell the story of how Jedi Anakin Skywalker was turned to the dark side. I didnt like Star Wars I, II and III at all, he told the Hull Daily Mail in 2013. I think the common opinion now is they were really bad movies. Theres no comparison with the original movies. They had a much more believable story.

Yet intriguingly, Prowse has still been tweeting about The Force Awakens, the latest trailer for which features crossguard lightsaber-wielding Vader fanboy Kylo Ren addressing the ruined helmet once worn by the dead Sith Lord.

Dave Prowse (@isDARTHVADER) October 20, 2015

So, he thinks he can finish what I started does he? #DarthVader pic.twitter.com/83wxvshdtB

Prowse is not the only Star Wars alumnus left nonplussed by the hype surrounding The Force Awakens. Lucas himself said in April that he had not seen the films previous trailer, though the Funny or Die website was quick to imagine him doing so.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Haim: the soft-rock sisters on working hard to sound effortless

One week ago

They have had to endure condescension from men and learn to pee at their urinals but the graft is paying off for the Californian trio. We take it so seriously, they say

Este, Danielle and Alana Haim, the Californian sisters who form perhaps the most adored trio in music right now, make it easy to assume these three minds operate as one. While listening to questions, they are three symmetrical and genetically simpatico faces, attention trained patiently. While answering those questions, theyre a ragged, energising symphony of sentence-finishing, speaking in chorus, and lapsing into song. Theres a distinct, eerie charm to their melded consciousness.

As a band, that charm fires up songs that sound, as one friend put it, as though Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie had killed off all the dudes in Fleetwood Mac and were now cheerily making records about pretending to miss them. Haim (which is their surname, pronounced high-im and, aptly enough, Hebrew for life) write the kind of pop-rock that feels like an orange ice-lolly on the first hot day of the year. Crushing on them their hooks, their personalities, their literal and manifest sisterhood seems like the requisite way to experience them.

They also drum and shred and sing so well that 25-year-old Alana, the youngest, has developed a loathing for the word actually: as she explains, there have been just too many guys backstage whove told them, post-show, that they actually play their many instruments really well. I mean, even to this day, she says, voice thick with exasperation, people are, like: Who writes your songs?

We meet at the very un-rock star hour of 9am, a week before the release of their second album, Something to Tell You. Alana, in jeans and a loose-fitting, well-worn Los Angeles Raiders T-shirt, is like a kid before Christmas: Seven days, guys! Seven days. Seven days! Aggghh! The setting is an immaculate hotel suite in a fancy new hotel on Manhattans Lower East Side. Hastily, they explain that the room isnt theirs. If we were staying here, says Alana, taking the wide, elbows-to-knees repose wed call manspreading if she were a guy, there would be clothes And 31-year-old Este, their bassist, finishes the sentence: everywhere. It would be pure chaos.

Este Haims bass face, as spotted by a reader during our Glastonbury coverage.

Blond, six feet tall and with a face like a sardonic Botticelli, Este once earned her generations approbation for tweeting that she wanted to chisel Andrew Garfields dick with my labia. Her bass faces the uninhibited gurnings of a musician feeling it with all her heart and soul are immortalised in online slideshows. Shes a bawdy foil to 28-year-old frontwoman Danielle, whom she and Alana forever the little sister seem to protectively bookend. On stage, Danielle is hard-edged with a rock star lan redolent of Chrissie Hynde and PJ Harvey. Today, though, sheltering in an oversize oatmeal-coloured jumper, there is a faraway, slightly wonderstruck quality to her; softly-spoken and apologetic..

There can be a special kind of obnoxiousness to people who have had their every dream come true. Haim however, who have now opened for most of their favourite bands (Primal Scream, Vampire Weekend, Florence and the Machine), toured with Taylor Swift, been Grammy-nominated and earned love from Jay-Z, Katy Perry and hundreds of thousands of fans, are women for whom success seems to enhance their appeal. They are daughters who love their parents, and musicians who treat their immeasurable good fortune with a kind of dorky awe. Este, for example, still cant get her head around playing to enthusiastic crowds. Youre looking out like: Oh my God, you know the words to this song? Its so weird. I wrote these songs in my living room in the Valley with my mom making nachos for us! Do you know what I mean?

That living room she mentions has taken its place in pop lore. Its where they wrote 2013s Days Are Gone, a first album they spent almost six years finessing, and a record that debuted at No 1 in the UK album chart. Its also where they returned, after an epic touring schedule, to set about making their second. We just kind of chipped away every day, says Este, for two-and-a-half years. Danielle explains: Its not like every morning I just take a shower and Im like, Oh, I have this great idea for a song. We have to work at it. You have to show up every day. That bit-by-bit effort has yielded songs that sound as effortless and indelible as their first records, albeit more fussily produced this time round. They enlisted wunderkind Ariel Rechtshaid as well as former Vampire Weekend man Rostam Batmanglij and British indie-R&B writer-producer Dev Hynes to be in service to their sound.

Haim began as a family band under the guileless name of Rockinhaim, playing local gigs with their dad, Mordechai (Moti), a former professional footballer, and their mother, Donna, who met in New York. I feel like my parents lived a crazier, funner life than I did, says Alana. All they did was dance and play music. I was, like: This is the most beautiful love story Ive ever heard! You guys just met, and fell in love, and danced all the time? Este picks up the thread I wish I could get in a time machine and all three speak rapturously of the 70s New York of CBGB, Studio 54 and Maxs Kansas City. Back then youd actually have a dance partner to go clubbing with, says Este.

Forlorn but a little self-mocking, Danielle adds: Its hard to find a guy to dance with! I feel like I havent found my dance partner.

Theres a song right there, Este pronounces, with big-sisterly authority.

Record three, Alana suggests, I Havent Found My Dance Partner.

Casting Danielle a look, Este adds, in warning: Your dance card is gonna be pretty full, though, if you put that out there.

Click here to watch the video for Want You Back.

At Glastonbury this year they did just fine without partners; at various points, each sister abandoned her instrument to dance. Alana jumped off stage and bounced down to the crowd . Theyve danced in videos, too, first for If I Could Change Your Mind, whose choreography is a winning combination of kitschiness and sincerity. Their synchronised moves read like a living room homage to Destinys Child. Like them, Haim, who have been courted by high fashion, are not above a co-ordinated red-carpet look.

Their latest video is choreographed, too. For the pounding Want You Back they groove down a deserted Ventura Boulevard at dawn, the same San Fernando Valley street that Tom Petty crooned over in 1989s Free Fallin. Its not so easy to shut down an LA thoroughfare but, as Este says: The Valley gods were shining on us. They like to think there was someone in City Hall, who, as Alana puts it, went, Oh, the Haim girls? Yeah.

It wasnt always thus, of course. We know exactly how it feels to be booed, says Alana. We know exactly how it feels to get shit thrown at you. You have to go through that shit. Thats the thing: to me, that was fun as fuck that I get to tell those stories because we worked so hard for five years. It was so funny when we came up to the UK and it was like, Overnight sensation! Im like: Overnight sensation after five years! Theyve played venues, they say, where there were only mens toilets backstage: We had to figure out how to pee in a urinal, says Alana.

Were really good at it by the way, Este says dryly. I could literally show you, and she yanks a leg in the air. Honestly, were limber as fuck now.

A summer of touring lies ahead and, if we seem excited, says Danielle, with a direct, earnest look, its just because were truly just very excited to go back on tour. We dont take any of this very lightly. We spent the last two-and-a-half years working on these songs every day to make sure that were giving everyone the best thing that we can do. We take it so seriously. Their music yes, but themselves, thankfully, no.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Inside the sprawling, controversial $500 m Museum of the Bible

21 days ago

The museum conceived by the billionaire chairman of Hobby Lobby and set to open next month has attracted scepticism over its ideological mission

It is a museum of biblical proportions- and it is stirring disputes to match.

Opening next month in Washington, the Museum of the Bible expense half a billion dollars to build, spans 430,000 sq ft over eight floors and claims to be the most hi-tech museum in the world. Reading every poster, considering every artifact and experiencing every activity would take an estimated 72 hours.

But while it is not the monument to creationism that some liberals feared, the sprawling museum has attracted scepticism over both its ideological mission and the provenance of its collection. It is the brainchild of evangelical Christian Steve Green, the billionaire chairwoman of Hobby Lobby, an arts and crafts chain that won a supreme court case allowing companies with religion objections to opt out of contraceptive coverage under Barack Obama’s healthcare law.

Green, who since 2009 has amassed a vast collection of biblical texts and artifacts, is making a big statement with the museum’s place: two blocks south of the National Mall, home to the US Capitol and Smithsonian Institution museums- including the National Museum of Natural history, which has exhibits on dinosaurs and human evolution– and could hardly be closer to the centre of power.

The
The US Capitol is seen from the Museum of the Bible in Washington DC on Wednesday. Photograph: Zach Gibson for the Guardian

Gaining a sneak preview the coming week amid workers in hard hats, the Guardian passed through giant bronze “Gutenberg Gates” that framed the entrance withhand-carved letters spelling out a Latin quote from Genesis( the gates even have their own Twitter account ). Inside the main atrium there is the obligatory gift shop, where cuddly animals are already on the shelves- presumably a reference to Noah’s Ark- and a “children’s experience” room where young Samsons can push column and stimulate them collapse.

Visitors- admission is free, though a donation of $15 is suggested- will each be given a digital guide on which new information is triggered each time they approach a gallery or artifact. High above them in the bright, airy atrium of what used to be a refrigerating warehouse and design centre is a 140 ft” digital ceiling” proving biblical images, including church frescos.

Upstairs, there is a floor devoted to the historical and cultural impact of the Bible, including on America, bound to be closely scrutinised for any hints of political bias. Among the Europeans who sailed across the Atlantic, a display panel says, were” many English dissenters trying religion freedom. Each group brought its own version of the Bible, and some professed intentions to convert Native Americans to Christian beliefs “.

The
The main lobby of the Museum of The Bible. Photo: Zach Gibson for the Guardian

There is a scale remake of the Liberty Bell , which is inscribed with scripture, and an account that many settlers seeking independence from Britain described inspiration from the Bible, especially Moses,” who led his people out of bondage to a land of autonomy “.

With independence and the presidency of George Washington, the tradition of swearing the oath of office on a Bible began. A surge of evangelical arrivals in the late 18 th century helped renew devotion to the Bible and ignite a campaign to abolish bondage, the narrative continues.” Southern slaveholders, however- some of them also involved in the revivals- interpreted the Bible as affirming slavery .” Each side in the civil war” espoused the Bible to justify its cause “.

Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt are quoted and Charles Darwin gets a mention.” In 1925, John Scopes, a high school teacher in Tennessee, was charged with infringing a country statute that proscribed teaching Darwin’s theory of evolution ,” an exhibit countries, in a reference to the infamous” Monkey Trial“, which, it tells,” placed the Bible in the center of an intensive national debate between traditional and more progressive interpretings of the Bible and modern science “.

More unexpectedly, a display on the Bible’s influence around the world makes claims for links between science and the Bible and contains statues of Galileo Galilei, whose assert that the earth revolved around the sunlight was challenged by the church, Isaac Newton, a dedicated student of the Bible , and George Washington Carver, who rose from slavery to become a scientist, botanist and discoverer and considered the Bible as a guide to the natural world.

Likely to raise eyebrows, an info panel countries:” Are the Bible and science mutually exclusive? There is broad agreement today among historians that modern science owes a great deal to the biblical worldview. The notion that the natural world is orderly springs from the Bible. As the biochemist and Nobel laureate Melvin Calvin said, the conviction that’ the universe is governed by a single God … seems to be the historical foundation for modern science ‘.”

A full-size jail cell allows visitors to reflect on the biblical roots of the western notion of justice. A heap of blackened and charred Bibles illustrates how the book has been burned, for example in China’s Cultural Revolution . Various multimedia displays depict the influence of the Bible on manner, movies, literature and the visual arts. A room with a giant wraparound screen called ” Bible Now” promises” a spectacular live-feed of global data “.

Upstairs, the floorspace is divided roughly proportionately between Old and New Testament. Merely the latter was available to view the coming week, and most striking was ” The World of Jesus of Nazareth”- an unapologetically Disney-style walk-through recreation of Nazareth two millennia ago, complete with stone walls, trees( each foliage made by hand ), dwellings with period cuisine on dining tables, heaps of grapes and baskets full of olives and even a temple. Three actors in period dres will interact with visitors.

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Text from an architectural recreation of the publish bed of the first page of Genesis from the Gutenberg Bible, near the entrance to the Museum of the Bible. Photograph: Zach Gibson for the Guardian

The” History of the Bible” title is styled in an Indiana Jones typeface and is expected to house wide-ranging objects including Torah scrolls and 14 th-century illuminated manuscripts- but not the Qur’an or Book of Mormon. The museum has a long-term alliance with the Israel Antiquities Authority .

This week’s preview tour also included a ballroom and 472 -seat theatre( about to host the musical Amazing Grace ), two eateries named Manna and Milk and Honey, a glass-enclosed top floor with the opinions of the Mall and a rooftop garden to be given to biblical plants. Another attraction will be the amusement park-style” Washington Revelations” ride, which purportedly tricks a person’s mind into thinking they are flying over sites bearing scripture such as the US Capitol, Lincoln Memorial and supreme court.

But preparations have been far away from smooth. In July this year, Hobby Lobby agreed to pay a$ 3m fine and forfeit thousands of smuggled ancient Iraqi artifacts that the US government alleged were intentionally mislabeled. The artifacts- including up to 300 small clay tablets, bearing inscriptions in the cuneiform script- were reportedly destined for the museum. Green admitted that Hobby Lobby” should have exerted more oversight and carefully questioned how the acquisitions were handled “.

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An exhibit at the Museum of the Bible. Photo: Zach Gibson for the Guardian
Organisers contend that the museum is non-partisan , non-sectarian and educational rather than evangelical, appealing to people of all faiths or no religion.
Cary Summers ,~ ATAGEND its president, told:” We want this museum to be enriching and engaging to all people. To that aim, we have tapped many of the world’s resulting intellectuals with expertise across many topics and faith traditions, including those with Jewish, Protestant and Catholic proficiency and perspectives, to help us craft the storylines and narrative themes of this museum .”

But that is not how it began. According to media reports, its first nonprofit filing in 2010 declared that its mission was ” to bring to life the living word of God, to tell its compelling narrative of preservation, and to inspire confidence in the absolute authority and reliability of the Bible “.

By 2013, this had been watered down to:” We exist to invite all people to engage with the Bible. We invite Biblical exploration through museum exhibits and scholarly pursuits .”

Green, the Washington Post reported , has promoted a public school curriculum based on the Bible as a factual historical text, while Summertimes consulted for the Creation Museum in Kentucky, which teaches creationism as fact, with exhibits depicting dinosaurs and humen living side by side on a 6,000 -year-old Earth.

Hobby Lobby calls itself a” biblically founded business” and is closed on Sundays. The Green family has been criticised for objecting to having to provide employees with contraceptives for the purposes of the Affordable Care Act, AKA Obamacare. In 2014 it was granted an exemption to the mandatory contraceptives by the supreme court, a landmark ruling that widened religious rights to some corporations.

Jacques Berlinerblau , a prof of Jewish civilization at Georgetown University in Washington, said Green” has a view of the role of religion in public life. Maybe people should know that before stepping in. The museum has to be very clear about its objectives. I think there’s a lot of misdirection and even duplicity regarding its goals and theological premises. There is something at the core of this museum that has to enshrine what evangelical Christians do .”

Berlinerblau, author of The Secular Bible: Why Nonbelievers Must Take Religion Seriously, set the museum’s place in the context of the rise of the conservative Christian motion over the past four decades; Vice-President Mike Pence, an evangelical Christian , has been invited to the opening ceremony on 17 November. Nine in 10 members of Congress describe themselves as Christians, compared with seven in 10 American adults who say the same, according to a recent Pew Research Center analysis of congressional data compiled by CQ Roll Call.

” If you are building a $500 bn museum close to the most powerful deliberative body in the world, you have to understand the optics. This edifice could represent the coming out, again, of evangelical America. I can assure you the museum is going to become a convening platform for conservative Christian activism .”

Atheists, he added, would find the museum” laughable and deplorable “.

Nick Fish, national program director of American Atheists , an activist group that promotes the separation of religion from government, told:” With many of these religion’ museums ‘, the tendency is to dress up evangelism and creed with a veneer of academia to lend an undeserved cape of neutrality.

” I don’t want to prematurely pass judgment on the museum without having find it, but based on previous statements by the Green family, it seems clear that there will be at least some editorialising in favour of the backers’ religion views, rather than a serious look at the historic accuracy( and lack thereof) of the Bible .”

Casey Brescia, a spokesman for the Secular Coalition for America, added:” Steve Green perfectly has the right to open a Bible museum. That’s of no fear to us. What we would be worried about, as we’ve seen with the Creation Museum in Kentucky, is that he’ll try to get taxpayer money to pay for it.

” By claiming that the museum is intended to’ train’ rather than evangelise, it’s possible that Green is hoping the museum will become a field trip destination for public schools. That would be unconstitutional. Green was already fined$ 3m after he was caught illegally smuggling artifacts into the country for this museum. Hopefully, he learned his lesson .”

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Lena Dunham talks policies and pantsuits in push for Hillary Clinton

24 days ago

The Girls creator and star repudiates condescending and misogynistic assumption that she is backing the Democratic frontrunner only because she is a woman

Lena Dunham isnt supporting Hillary Clinton for president since they are share the same anatomy. She is, however, a big fan of the Democratic frontrunners pantsuits.

The Girls creator and star to be laid down her support for Clinton at an Iowa City coffee shop on Saturday, while recommending a mob of mostly women to get involved in the sates Iowa caucus on 1 February. Dunham was attending her first event of the day, on a swinging through early voting nations on the candidates behalf.

Nothing gets me angrier than when someone connotes Im voting for Hillary Clinton simply because shes female, Dunham said, to laughter.[ Its] as if I have some feminist version of beer-goggles, lets call it estrogen blindness, and I just kind of walking like a zombie towards the nearest vagina.

This assumption is condescending at best and it is sharply mysogynistic at worst.

Dunham said she was supporting Clinton because of her policies, because of her track record, because of her notions and a little bit because of her pantsuits. But thats my prerogative as a citizen.

Dunham recently interviewed Clinton for the first issue of her email newsletter, Lenny. Seated across from Clinton on a folding chair, she asked the Democratic nominee: Do you consider yourself a feminist?

Yes, Clinton responded. Absolutely.

With a mix of raw integrity and playful self-deprecation, on Saturday Dunham told the crowd how she had not voted until four years after she came of voting age. She encouraged women, especially young women, to make their voices heard in 2016.

Im embarrassed to say this but it took me far too long to start voting, Dunham said. I had been of legal age for more than four years before I cast my first vote in the 2008 general elections.

Its not that I didnt care, but I didnt believe that me caring mattered. It was impossible for me to comprehend that one young woman checking a box after waiting in a long line could matter on a national level.

Dunham said she virtually turned away the opportunity to create a video for President Barack Obamas re-election campaign in 2012. She said deciding to make the innuendo-laced cinema, Your First Time, energized her to engage with politics.

My father has never been prouder of me than when I was called a dirty word on Fox News, Dunham joked about reaction to the video, which she told ran a little bit viral.

On Friday, Dunham traveled around New Hampshire with the World Cup-winning soccer superstar Abby Wambach, pitching Clinton as the best proponent for women. Notably, Dunham has been having fun with her bespoke Hillary Clinton line of gowns and sweaters. In Iowa on Saturday, she wore a white jumper featuring Hillary printed in red.

The audience, equal proportions Dunham fans and Clinton advocates, were very receptive.

Abbie Gould, 24, said she was still choosing between Clinton and her chief contender, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, but was impressed by what Dunham had to say about the former secretary of state.

Listening to Lena, hearing the seriousnes in her voice and listening to how she got involved in the campaign, and that she actually hadnt gotten involved into politics until subsequently in her career, I think thats inspiring for people my age, Gould said.

Allison Poss, who runs a small business, Girls with Ideas, in Iowa City, called Dunham and Clinton the dreaming team. Poss said she was an unabashed Dunham fan she collects clippings of every publication interview she devotes and a longtime Clinton supporter.

Ive always followed[ Clintons] policies, that is what is driving my vote for her, Poss said. However, its like a double-whammy of happiness to me that she just so happens to be a woman as well.

After the Iowa City coffee shop event, Dunham and her team departed without taking any questions, in order to make it to a second event of the day in Des Moines.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Mark Hamill: Carrie Fisher Star Wars Tribute Is ‘Therapy’

28 days ago

( AP) — Mark Hamill says he& apos; s still mourning over Carrie Fisher& apos; s demise, but sharing memories of his late friend and co-star with fans at Star Wars Celebration is “part of the process that I need to move on.”

Hamill led an hourlong tribute to Fisher on Friday evening at the event in Orlando, Florida.

“I& apos; m trying to use you as therapy to get through this together, ” the actor said. He called Fisher “my beloved space twin” and said they were also great friends off-screen.

They even shared a steamy make-out session once, he said.

“As attracted as I was to her, I believed I couldn& apos; t handle her as a girlfriend. She& apos; s too much, ” Hamill said. “Part of me did fall in love with her. I believe every guy … She had you under her spell.”

Hamill told stories of visiting with Fisher and her mom, Debbie Reynolds, in New York and attending incredible parties at their homes in Los Angeles. He also introduced video clips of George Lucas and “The Last Jedi” director Rian Johnson in which they share anecdotes about working with Fisher.

“Wait until you ensure her in& apos; The Last Jedi ,& apos; ” Hamill added. “You& apos; re going to love her.”

His voice cracked as he read a letter he had written shortly after Fisher died in December. He spoke of how he admired her intellect, position and sense of humor. Hamill said his personal and professional life would have been decreased had she not been part of them.

He used to say while he& apos; s still in mourn, he& apos; s focusing on her legacy.

“When I think of her, she& apos; s appearing down from the celestial stratosphere with those big brown eyes, that sly smile on her face, as she lovingly extends me the middle finger, ” Hamill said. “And that& apos; s how I want you to think of her. That was Carrie.”

Read more: www.bloomberg.com

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