The Getty Villa in Malibu mounts a production of the ancient story of the Titan tortured by Zeus.
There is little more ancient in the history of the theater than this recounting of the agonies of Prometheus, the Titan tortured by king-god Zeus for contravening his will and saving us mortals with the gifts of fire and knowledge. Yet in this searing production at the Getty Villa in Malibu, the experience could not be more compellingly contemporary in its emotions and themes. Who cannot relate to the pain of existential abandonment, of anger at arbitrary authority, of pity for suffering caused by sacrifice? Cursed by foresight, Prometheus had aligned himself with the gods against Father Kronos when he realized that his fellow Titans arrogantly assumed their brute strength would perforce vanquish Zeus’ superior guile, only to be punished by his former ally for presuming to rescue the humanity Zeus had sought to destroy. Read More.
At the origin of our world, one lone immortal—the first radical, the first revolutionary, the first savior—dares to defy the king of the gods, risking eternal torture and unending incarceration to rescue humankind from annihilation utter and complete.
That’s a logline that could belong to the next megabudget studio extravaganza or cable fantasy series. Rather, it’s the calling card for Prometheus, the chiseled ab’d Titan in Greek mythology who stole fire from the gods and gifted it to humanity, thereby becoming the Bringer of Light and enlightened civilizer to a benighted species (us!).
Prometheus also serves as the protagonist in Prometheus Bound, the fifth century BCE Greek tragedy, commonly credited to Aeschylus, firing afresh as the eighth annual outdoor theater production at The Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades. A collaboration between The J. Paul Getty Museum and CalArts Center for New Performance (CNP), Prometheus has further managed, somewhat paradoxically in a town that worships the new, to become the most of-the-moment staged event in Los Angeles.
Indie Beat: L.A. Stories -- Seeking Independence In Hollywood
By Ben Umstead
Even from indoors I can sense the sprawl. It is an onslaught. It is an adventure. Its sun-charged heart of concrete beats ceaselessly. The seeming endlessness of a loud city song, a vortex cradled by hills, valleys, and mountains. Even when one arrives at the ocean, the sprawl merely careens into other directions. I live in Los Angeles. I am a film journalist in Los Angeles. It is a town that perplexes and excites me. I am writing today's column in a state of flux, with doubt sidling for a spot in the sun. I won't let it. I've been back for six months. I have an incredible group of friends and many, many smiling acquaintances here. As a journalist I've attended the L.A. Film Festival, been to parties and special screenings, delighted in expanding my tribe. But I don't feel grounded. Granted, it's only been six months, a short time to be anywhere. And yet...
When I attended L.A. Film Fest back in June I was startled to discover that it all took place in South downtown, near the Staples Center, at a complex of high-end franchise restaurants and entertainment destinations called L.A. Live. The fest was being held at a multiplex. Convenient in many respects, the location was somehow lacking a personality that allowed well, the film festival to truly feel like a film festival; to feel like you were gathering a community of like-minded folks. The lounge was on top of a parking garage (somehow decidedly very L.A.); we shared the lobby with audiences for Monster's University and World War Z. Granted, it was festive, but merely in spurts, pockets... Something still felt off. It lacked character, nuance, texture, a uniqueness that said "yes this is the L.A. Film Festival, this is special." This is not an attack on the L.A. Film Fest. This was merely my experience, and a symptom of something larger and seemingly less definable. And that's just it, outside of a few institutions like The Cinefamily, or L.A. Film Fest's parent Film Independent, cinephilia and independent visions seem detached here, or somehow secret and unattainable. But that doesn't make sense. This is Los Angeles. Everything is here. Read More.
Invented Symbols by Alex Katz. Charta/Colby College Museum of Art, 2012.Bad Boy: My Life On And Off The Canvas by Eric Fischl and Michael Stone. Crown, 2012. How do we currently write current art’s history? How, given its elastic chronology and ever-widening geographic reach, its self-consciously elusive look, the multiple urges and identities and media it comprises? How, in the absence of a canon of artists around whom a history might be structured, its sources and development traced, its context established, its achievements described? How, in the face of its censure on quality distinctions, its scapegoating of formalism, its dismissal of originality and artistic intent? How, in other words, do we write art’s history within the broader context of postmodernism’s prevailing hegemony?
Our unwieldy culture and its academic strictures increasingly nudge us to write the history of current art not from the outside in but from the inside out, personally and informally, more often than not via the autobiography and the memoir, genres rooted in direct experience that is unique to the individual writer. In doing so, our voices may be unauthorized by institutional structures, but likewise are they unfettered by those structures and the conventions they embody. In the publications considered here those voices richly inform our understanding not of any classroom theory about art’s making but of its day-to-day studio practice – the actual source material upon which any history of painting during the second half of the 20th Century in New York City must ultimately be based. Read More.
Mario Bros. Rock Opera to Make Its New York Stage Debut
By Devon Maloney
If you know who Jonathan Mann is, it’s probably because at some point you’ve followed the Song A Day experiment he’s been conducting on YouTube since 2009. Or maybe you know him as GameJew, the moniker he adopted in 2006 when he first started posting first-person comedy, music and commentary videos based on his love of old-school video games. Either way, what you need to know now is that, in 2005, before he started churning ‘em out on the regular for millions of subscribers, he wrote his real opus: a rock opera dedicated to one of the loves of his life, Super Mario Bros.
At the time, he was attending the California Institute of the Arts and living in Santa Clarita, California, so its production was relegated to the school stage as seen in the above video; now he’s grown up, living in Brooklyn, and with the help of a couple friends he made after his Song-a-Day campaign blew up, he’s resurrecting The Mario Opera on a New York stage.
“I wrote a theme song for [Instapaper founder Marco Arment's] ‘The Accidental Tech Podcast’ as part of my Song A Day process. They started using it, and not long after, [Mario Opera producer] Steven Tartick contacted me,” writes Mann in an email to WIRED, explaining why the opera is getting a second chance. “He was doing social media for Alan Cummings’ one-man Macbeth on Broadway, and wanted me to write a two-minute Macbeth recap song. At a lunch meeting he [told me] he’s a huge Mario fan and asked me about the opera.” Read More.
Julia Holter is at the center of her own swirl of sound
By Randall Roberts
While working on her well-received 2012 album "Ekstasis," Los Angeles singer-composer Julia Holter crafted a song that was such a departure that she set it aside. The piece, "Maxim's II," was inspired by a famous scene in the 1958 movie musical "Gigi" and is one of the hubs of her striking new album, "Loud City Song."
In the film, as the titular heroine very publicly moves through the fancy Parisian restaurant Maxim's with her scandalous beau, the entire room takes note. "Everyone's staring at her and gossiping about her when she walks in," said Holter while sitting on a park bench near Levitt Pavilion Pasadena. "I don't know why, but I wanted to re-create this scene in a song."
Five-plus minutes of swirling brass, strings, piano and Holter's cool, Chet Baker-suggestive vocal, "Maxim's II" variously suggests an avant-garde classical piece or Phil Spector's famous wall of sound being imploded. Cymbals crash, tenor and alto saxophones battle and, near the end, Holter ties it all together with a chaotic crescendo. Movie musical material it's not. Rather, the piece is a monumental construct and unlike any song you'll hear all year. Read More.
Hollywood Foreign Press Promises To Get Serious About Journalism, Gives $1.6M in Grants
HFPA's annual grant luncheon sets new record for its grants, introduces new president Theo Kingma.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association introduced its new officers and gave out $1.6 million in grants on Tuesday at a ceremony long on congratulations (self and otherwise) but short on any recognition of the rocky recent history the new HFPA president is working to overcome.
Incoming HFPA president Theo Kingma (left) has promised a new
era of transparency and journalistic responsibility after the stormy
tenures of his predecessors, Aida Takla-O’Reilly and Philip Berk. Their
terms were marked by legal disputes with a former publicist who alleged kickbacks and conflicts of interest, and with Dick Clark Productions over TV rights to the Golden Globes ceremonies.
Maija Burnett is the Associate Director of Character Animation at CalArts. She’s worked on several blockbuster Hollywood films and has been teaching on subjects in and around the animated figure for years. You know what else she is? An avid photographer. She’s been chronicling her experience of CalArts by way of her Project 365, a daily observational photo diary she’s been keeping of what life at CalArts looks like.
Her photos are all taken by iPhone and, while they could have easily been done by anyone, they represent a person with a very specific eye removed from the hullaballoo of learning. As an educator, she sees the oddity and eccentricities of student life. She’s aware of things like students’ interaction with architecture, unordinary colorscapes, counter cultural pow-wows, and other strange occurrences that anyone else but a teacher would see. Her photos of the school make it seem like the ideological, artsy playground that it is. There are challenges in school but the community is obviously equivalent to a twenty first century artistic salon (at least that’s what it appears to be in the photos). Read More.
Allan Sekula, photographer and CalArts professor, dies at 62
By David Ng
Allan Sekula, a renowned photographer and longtime professor at the California Institute of the Arts whose artistic output centered on the political consequences of maritime commerce and global trade, died in Los Angeles on Saturday.
He was 62 and had been battling advanced cancer, according to CalArts.
He had been on the faculty of CalArts for close to three decades, teaching classes in photography and media.
As a child, Sekula lived in San Pedro and his proximity to one of the the busiest ports in the nation seemed to have greatly affected his work as a photographer. His photography often focused on the shipping industry, ocean travel and commerce.
A 1996 solo exhibit at the Santa Monica Museum of Art featured Sekula's photographs of famous ports around the world as well as images of the ocean. A Times review called the show "a handsome combination of romance and realism, intimacy and detachment." Read More.
Died Allan Sekula, passionate critic of the documentary image
By Jose Marmeleira
With an activity that spanned an important theoretical work, Allan Sekula questioned the limits and possibilities of the documentary record in photography, video and film. Was an artist-filmmaker who never gave up know the face of the world. Died on Saturday at age 62.
Artist for whom art should be more than art, taking a social and political responsibility, Allan Sekula died last Saturday, aged 62, a victim of cancer. Teacher, theorist, author, filmmaker and critic, left a complex and influential work in the field of photography and documentary film, always guided by a theoretical acutely not spared capitalism, globalization, and most recently, the world of art.
In the 1970s, it was noted in performance and installation, but it was in the 1980s when, alongside Martha Rosler and Fred Lonidier contributed to the reemergence of the photographic image in the context of the neo-avant-gardes, who signed his name in canon of contemporary art. Based on the models of photomontage and political documentary, Sekula distinguished himself by rejecting the alleged neutrality of conceptualism, stressing the importance of political and historical contingencies that determined that current practices.
On the other hand, expressed an interest in the regional cultures of the U.S. and recovering the legacy of the Film and Photo League (collective 1930s that used film and photography as instruments of social transformation) and draft the Farm Security Administration (which took part, among others, Walker Evans and Lange). But his intention was never to pursue the practice of documentary photography as if it were independent of appropriations or unrelated uses. And in his most famous essays, Dismantling Modernism, Reinventing Documentary (1984), states his skepticism: the pretense of photography in achieving any kind of political efficacy always bumps in the conventions of discourse and institutional frameworks. Read More.