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How a chain-link mosque at the Vancouver Biennale became a community hub

Ajlan Gharems installation Paradise Has Many Gates (2015-present)
Hadani Ditmars

As diplomatic tens..

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Ajlan Gharems installation Paradise Has Many Gates (2015-present)
Hadani Ditmars

As diplomatic tensions mount between Canada and Saudi Arabia—with the Canadian ambassador expelled from Riyadh this week over comments made by the Foreign Affairs Minister criticising the Middle Eastern kingdoms human-rights record—a more successful example of cultural exchange between the two countries stands in Vancouver's Vanier Park. The Saudi artist Ajlan Gharems installation Paradise Has Many Gates, a replica of a mosque made of chain link and steel pipe, opened the fourth edition of the Vancouver Biennale, with the aim of serving as a meeting ground for different communities.

The mosque is due to remain in Vancouver long-term, however the first iteration of the work, installed in the Arabian Desert in 2015, was only up for 24 hours before it was dismantled for fear of reprisal from Saudia Arabias powerful clerics. That was long enough for the 33-year-old Riyadh-based artist (and younger brother of Abdulnasser Gharem), to create a video with locals and foreign workers that alludes to tensions between the sacred and the secular, the rural and the urban.

While the 2015 video of the mosque referred explicitly to Guantanamo Bay, with men wearing orange jumpsuits, Gharem had “children in cages” in mind when installing the piece in Vancouver, he said during an interview in July, before the recent diplomatic issues broke out. And as well as responding to both Islamophobia and extremism with his work, Gharem added that he hoped it would be a gathering place for different communities. On the afternoon we interviewed the artist, the installation attracted a wide range of visitors, ranging from a Jewish woman who chatted amiably with Gharem while photographing the mosque's steel mesh minaret, to young children playing, and a locally based Yemeni photographer.

Ajlan Gharem outside of his work in Vancouver
Hadani Ditmars

“A few years ago, it would have been too dangerous for me to do this kind of work, but things have changed,” Gharem said, citing the sheer demographic power of Saudi Arabias youth—50% of the population is under the age of 30, according to a recent government survey—and the explosion of social media. “At first Sheikh Muhammad Munajid condemned my work online,” he explained, referring to the hard line cleric who called for a fatwa against Mickey Mouse in 2008. When Saudi tweeters explained the conceptual aspects, the cleric withdrew his comments, Gharem said. He also attributed the changes to the recently installed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has instituted a number of reforms in Saudi Arabia. But as the deputy prime minister and minister of defence, the Crown Prince is also behind the country's aggressive foreign policy.

Gharem would not comment on the current situation, but the biennial's founder and president Barrie Mowatt says that "the current tensions naturally will/have/can become a part of the work's story". Mowatt adds that Gharem's installation "is representative of how a work's intention and meaning can change with its location and the politics of the time", and is in keeping with the exhibition's mandate of "art as a catalyst for dialogue" and "community engagement and learning". Other works in the biennale, include the Chilean artist Alfredo Jaars digital billboard A Logo For America (1987/2018), and a takeover of the historic Patricia Hotel by the Melbourne-based artist Patricia Piccininis surreal sculptures.

Around the edges of Gharem's work are mandalas made of native rocks and plants by the Indo-Canadian artist Sheniz Janmohamed. Soon, where bright red Saudi carpets are now spread on the grass, some of the First Nations artists who chanted welcome songs at the installations opening in June—each one taking a turn standing at the mihrab, the prayer niche closest to Mecca—will display their weaving. During the day, the installations offers framed views of the surrounding Pacific vista; at night, it becomes a jewel-like steel lantern.

The view from inside Ajlan Gharems installation Paradise Has Many Gates (2015-present)
Hadani Ditmars

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Arts

Afghan artists destroy their work fearing Taliban retribution

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cnn– Residents of Kabul can read the writing on the wall. “Don’t trust the propaganda of the enemy” says one freshly painted sign.
The message replaced a mural of US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar shaking hands, marking the signing of the 2020 agreement to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan — one of dozens of vibrant public artworks that have been erased since the Taliban took power in August.
While some of the murals were overt in their demands for equal rights for women and an end to corruption, other pieces were meant to provoke thought, inspire hope, and spread joy to passersby. Today, they’re obscured by thick layers of paint, as well as Taliban slogans and flags.
The move has been received as a warning shot to the country’s arts and culture scene. “The biggest fear for me, and most of the artists I work with… is not being able to express ourselves, to criticize the power,” said curator Omaid Sharifi over WhatsApp. He is the co-founder of ArtLords, a grassroots arts initiative that has transformed protective blast walls into sites of creative expression for nearly a decade.
“The fear is that this society will become just black and white… (and) that we will not have the beautiful diversity and beautiful colors in this country anymore.”
This is not the first time the Taliban has taken a stand against the arts in Afghanistan. When the Taliban was last in power, from 1996 to 2001, the regime defaced public paintings and destroyed cultural heritage sites around the country. In 1996, members machine-gunned an iconic fountain in the city of Herat, in western Afghanistan; while in 2001, they blew up two colossal statues of the Buddha that had looked over the Bamiyan Valley for 1500 years. Most forms of music were banned, and television was declared un-Islamic.
The hardline group insists their rule will be different this time around. But many artists are skeptical.
Watching the Taliban destroy nearly 100 of the murals he and the ArtLords team produced, Sharifi does not see room for artists to thrive under a Taliban regime. He, along with many of his colleagues, have either fled Kabul or are living in hiding.
Some artists, he added, have made the difficult decision to destroy their own work out of fear of retribution. “The feeling of destroying a piece of art is not very far from losing a child… because it is your own creation. It is something you have memories with… something you’ve dreamt about,” he explained. “Suddenly you are putting fire to it — to all your dreams your aspirations to all your hopes.
“No one should go through this. And we don’t deserve, as artists in Afghanistan, to go through this.”
One artist and gallery owner, who asked to remain anonymous, said that having to destroy his own work is a “wound that will not be healed.” He is also concerned for his livelihood, telling CNN that shutting down the gallery has threatened his income.
“I thought that through my art I might be able to solve my family’s financial problems,” he said. “We spent our youth serving, hoping we may have a better tomorrow, but [it’s] such a pity what type of people decide our future in this country.”
One female artist, who also shared her story on the condition of anonymity, felt the stakes were higher because of her gender. She told CNN that ever since the center where she took art classes was shut down, she no longer has a space to practice her art. She explains it is easier for her male classmates to resume their art than it is for women like herself.
“The boys, they can go to a teacher’s home, and they can continue their work from there. They can gather informally…But for girls, it’s not possible to do that,” she said. For women, she added, meeting at a place that is not a formal center for learning is uncommon. “We are so fearful of what might happen, that we don’t even want to try it”.
She also feels repressed due to her subject matter. Specializing in female portraits, she fears that if her work is viewed by the Taliban, she will face retribution. “Women’s faces are not meant to be uncovered. It is wrong according to the Taliban.”
She wants to continue her practice but says the studio that was once a safe space for her creative expression is now a stationery store. She hopes her drawings can be viewed by the world, but for now she must find a way to continue to make art in Afghanistan.

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Cannes Film Festival 2021: Sean Penn’s Flag Day among line-up

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A new film directed by Sean Penn is among the movies set to premiere at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival.

The event will take place in person next month, but with strict Covid safety measures in place for attendees.

Flag Day, which Penn also stars in alongside Josh Brolin, is an adaptation of the book by Jennifer Vogel.

It tells the story of a father who lives a double life as a counterfeiter, bank robber and conman in order to provide for his daughter.

Penn’s previous directing efforts have included Into The Wild, The Pledge and The Crossing Guard.

Flag Day will also star Miles Teller and Eddie Marsan, alongside Penn’s daughter Dylan.

It’s one of several films organisers announced on Thursday for this year’s festival, which will run from 6 to 17 July.

Other Cannes highlights

  • French director Mia Hansen-Love will premiere Bergman Island, about an American filmmaking couple who retreat to an island for the summer to each write screenplays for their upcoming films. It stars Tim Roth, Mia Wasikowska and Vicky Krieps, who was previously seen in Phantom Thread
  • Tom McCarthy will return with his first dramatic film since winning the best picture Oscar for Spotlight. Still Water will see Matt Damon star as a father trying to exonerate his estranged daughter of a murder she never committed
  • Director Oliver Stone will premiere JFK Revisited: Through The Looking Glass. No further details beyond the title have yet been announced
  • Actress Charlotte Gainsbourg, the daughter of Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg, will make her directorial debut with Jane Par Charlotte
  • Other directors debuting their films include Andrea Arnold, who will premiere Cow, and Todd Haynes, who will unveil The Velvet Underground
  • Previous Palme d’Or winners Jacques Audiard and Apichatpong Weerasethakul will debut their new films Les Olympiades and Memoria respectively
  • Eva Husson’s Mothering Sunday and Red Rocket by The Florida Project’s Sean Baker have also been announced

It was previously confirmed that the opening night film will be Annette from director Leos Carax and starring Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard.

Wes Anderson’s new film The French Dispatch, starring Timothee Chalamet, Elisabeth Moss, Tilda Swinton and Frances McDormand, and Paul Verhoeven’s Benedetta, were also confirmed to be running in competition.

Organisers announced earlier this week that Jodie Foster will receive an honorary Palme d’Or at the 2021 festival.

Spike Lee will head up the jury that hands out the festival’s official awards. The Oscar-winning filmmaker was set to be jury president for the 2020 festival, but that was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Cinema is not dead,” said Cannes artistic director Thierry Frémaux on Thursday. “The return of audiences to movie theatres around the world was the first good news. And the festival will be the second good news.”

The closing night film has not yet been confirmed, however Frémaux indicated that he has a major blockbuster premiere still to reveal.

Four of the 24 films in competition this year have female directors, which Variety said matched the event’s previous record, set in 2019.

They are Hansen-Love, Catherine Corsini, Julia Ducournau and Ildikó Enyedi. Female directors elsewhere in the line-up include Eva Husson, Hafsia Herzi, Gainsbourg and Arnold.

The festival previously announced that it will require attendees to be tested for Covid-19 every 48 hours if they have not been fully vaccinated, or show proof of immunity.

France’s audience limit in cinemas is set to lift on 1 July, which means all films should, in theory, be able to screen to full-capacity crowds.

However, masks will still need to be worn during screenings. It is not yet clear whether they will also be required on the red carpet.

 

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-57346620

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Diane Keaton Dishes on Talk Show Style and Modeling for Gucci

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Diane Keaton is a talk show veteran. Over the course of her impressive career, the actor has sat down with David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel and everyone else in between. Along the way, she’s always served bold fashion, bringing her penchant for strong shapes, dramatic chapeaus, and black-and-white ensembles to our TV screens. Where other Hollywood actors often embrace glitz and glam for press appearances, Keaton has always stayed true to her more quirky, menswear-inspired look no matter the occasion.

It’s no wonder, then, that Gucci has tapped her for a new talk show-inspired campaign for Gucci Beloved. The photo series, directed by Harmony Korine and released today, highlights the label’s four most beloved handbag styles, including the Dionysus and Jackie 1961 bags. To showcase them, creative director Alessandro Michele recreated a late-night talk show set for the shoot (complete with James Corden as host) titled the “Beloved Show.” They enlisted Hollywood stars to guest-star while toting the classic bags. “Very often, these creations are named after influential women,” says Michele. “Now, we twisted with the idea that there were two stars: the bag and the actual talent.”

The campaign features cameos from Keaton, Awkwafina, Dakota Johnson, Harry Styles, Serena Williams, and Sienna Miller, all of whom sport the luxury bags. But Keaton’s cameo undoubtedly stands out. In the photos, she wears a tan suit, red beret, and Gucci’s monogram Horsebit 1955 bag—a very Keaton look. “Not only is Alessandro beyond talented and gorgeous, I love his vision and his gentle nature,” says Keaton of the campaign. “I must also say that working with James Corden was a delight. He is so relaxed and born to be a hilarious host. It’s not fair.”

Starring in Gucci’s faux talk show was an easier task than partaking in the real deal, says Keaton. “I always prepare and I am always anxious. It is my nature,” she says, adding that she’s developed a nervous habit on the talk shows. “No matter what I wear, if you look closely, you will notice I always sit on my leg. It ruins every outfit, but it is something I inherited from my dear father, Jack Hall.”

While Keaton has enjoyed many fashion home runs on the talk shows over the years—please refer to the “dope” cap she wore on Ellen in 2018 for evidence—the star says she does have her favorite moments. Particularly, the frequent fashion talk on Letterman. “David Letterman always wanted to talk about what I wear,” recalls Keaton. “On several trips to his show, he wanted to focus on my outfit that I wore to the Oscars in 1978 [a Giorgio Armani blazer and skirt]. I put together the outfit and I thought I looked good. I got lots of slack for that, but I honestly wear what I like and I thought that ensemble was stylin’!”

And she’s right! What has made Keaton such an indelible style icon is her consistency and personality. But this spring and summer, she’s looking to shake things up… Just a bit. “I think I will give navy blue a try this spring, but I am never letting go of black, camel, and white for the spring and summer. Don’t forget with gloves, plus hats!”

Below, more of the celebrity cameos in Gucci Beloved’s new campaign.

Read from source: https://www.vogue.com/article/diane-keaton-gucci-campaign-star

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