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The Great British Bake Off crowns its 2021 winner

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bbc– Spoiler alert! If you do not want to know the result of the Great British Bake Off final, please look away now…

Giuseppe celebrated victory on Tuesday after what judges on the Channel 4 show described as the closest finale yet.

The 45-year-old Bristol resident pipped this year’s fellow finalists Chigs and Crystelle, who all had to make food for a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.

“There are no words, I am speechless for once,” said the show’s first Italian winner.

In the final episode, he made dough filled with chocolate and hazelnuts, shaped in the form of a giant mushroom. He also produced mango and passion fruit panna cottas, orange and fig heart-shaped muffins, and asparagus and pea-filled choux pastries shaped like a caterpillar.

Series 12 of the show saw a dozen bakers initially enter the Bake Off bubble at the start of the competition in September, before judges Paul Hollywood and Dame Prue Leith turned the heat up on them with a series of knock-out challenges over 10 episodes.

They set the final three bakers three tasks: to make carrot cake, produce Belgian buns and recreate a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, while showing four different baking disciplines.

The victorious Giuseppe dedicated his win to his parents. “All I can think of is the reaction from my mum and dad,” he continued.

“The fact is that everything I have done to deserve this comes from his [my dad’s] heritage, it’s the best thank you note I can possibly send him.

“He is going through a very bad time health-wise, so I think this is going to be a great boost.

“I don’t say often or lightly that I am proud of what I do, but in this case I am really proud of what I have done. It’s unbelievable!”

Italian job

Giuseppe’s achievement arrives in the same year that his compatriots won Euro 2020 and Eurovision. “I feel it’s been a great year for Italy,” he noted on the show.

“I truly can’t believe it or take it in, this has made me so incredibly happy to be a Britalian. Dell’Anno is my surname which translates in English to ‘of the year’ – and I feel this has certainly been my year.”

Hollywood said he had “done an incredible job”.

“The first time I walked into the tent and in the first signature I saw his mini rolls, I thought that looks like our winner, you could see the heart and soul going into his baking,” declared the judge.

Fellow judge, the recently-honoured Dame Prue added: “He is such a classic beautiful baker and he represents a long tradition of classic Italian baking. He has done it brilliantly all the way through.

“I am going home to make much more Italian cakes because they really are good.”

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Provocative art exhibition opens in Italy amid Chinese embassy protests

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cnn– At a museum in Brescia, northern Italy, Shanghai-born artist Badiucao is making final adjustments to an exhibition that has enraged Chinese officials.
Images of President Xi Jinping and Winnie the Pooh — a tongue-in-cheek comparison now widely censored on Chinese social media — hang alongside a tribute to Wuhan whistleblower Li Wenliang and a depiction of riot police pursuing a protestor. Mock posters for the forthcoming Winter Olympics show a snowboarder sliding across a CCTV camera and a biathlete pointing a rifle towards a blindfolded Uighur prisoner.
Badiucao’s provocative new works will be unveiled to the public on Saturday, despite protests from Chinese diplomats. In a letter to Brescia’s mayor, the country’s embassy in Rome said the artworks are “full of anti-Chinese lies,” and that they “distort the facts, spread false information, mislead the understanding of the Italian people and seriously injure the feelings of the Chinese people,” according to local newspaper Giornale di Brescia.
For the dissident artist, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Australia since 2009, the spat comes as little surprise.
“It’s almost impossible (to) avoid offending the Chinese government these days,” he says, showing CNN around the exhibition ahead of its opening. “Anything could be sensitive; anything could be problematic.”
Since the embassy lodged its complaint last month, museum officials and local politicians have framed the show — titled “La Cina (non) è Vicina,” or “China is (not) near” — as a symbol of free speech.
“I have to say, I had to read the letter twice because it surprised me,” Brescia’s deputy mayor, Laura Castelletti, recounts, calling it “an intrusion on a city’s artistic, cultural decision.” The request to cancel the show, she adds, has only “attracted more attention.”
The Brescia Museum Foundation’s president, Francesca Bazoli, meanwhile says that going ahead with the exhibition “was a matter of freedom of artistic expression.”
The Chinese embassy in Rome has not responded to CNN’s repeated requests for comment.

Ongoing censorship

A thorn in the Chinese Communist Party’s side for more than a decade, Badiucao has established a reputation for poking fun at politicians and prodding at sensitive topics, from the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre to the treatment of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo.
Last month, outspoken basketball star Enes Kanter — who has called out the Chinese government for alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang and Tibet — was pictured wearing several pairs of custom sneakers designed by the artist. The shoes, controversially worn on court during various NBA games, carried messages including “Free Tibet” and “Made with Slave Labor.”
The once-anonymous Badiucao came to prominence in 2011, when he began posting cartoons about China’s handling of Wenzhou high-speed train crash to the microblogging site Sina Weibo. The images were repeatedly censored, and even though he is now an Australian citizen, the country’s authorities have clamped down on his work ever since.
In 2018, a planned exhibition of his art in Hong Kong was canceled due to “safety concerns.” Organizers attributed the decision to “threats made by the Chinese authorities,” and the artist later revealed that members of his family in China had been contacted by officials ahead of the show. Admitting that his cover “had been compromised,” he unveiled his identity in 2019 after years of anonymity,
Badiucao says he is regularly harassed — and occasionally threatened — online, where he posts a regular stream of searing cartoons to Twitter and Instagram. “It’s like a battleground and that’s how you can use visual language and internet memes and that’s how you can dissolve the authority of censorship,” he says.
Given the political and commercial pressures facing his collaborators, the decision to proceed with the show makes Brescia “a role model for the rest of the world,” he adds.
“As an artist I have experienced censorship so many times, for so many years and in so many places — not just in China or Hong Kong, but also in Australia and in many other countries,” he says. “I rarely have an opportunity like this, to show (my work at an exhibition), because all the galleries, curators and museums worry that if they showcase my art … then they’re jeopardizing their Chinese market.
“China is very good at using its capital and money to control, manipulate and silence people’s criticism — and this is how it’s reflected in our world, the art market.”

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‘A trippy tale of hallucinogens and human sacrifice’: Peru: A Journey in Time – Review | Art

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j99news– Llike a llama chewing his dribble, Peru begins calmly: there is an exhibition of pots. You may be forgiven for feeling a little overwhelmed. But the calm, steady pace and cool layout of this exhibit provide essential grounding as you try to get your head around 2,000 years of ritual warfare, human sacrifice, and first-class hallucinogens.

This is not really an exhibition about Peru, the modern country, but the civilizations of the Andes that long preceded its existence. It traces the cultures of this mountain region from antiquity up to 1534, when Francisco Pizarro and a group of Spanish conquistadors defeated the Inca Empire. The ancient Peruvian people, from the Chavín culture, dating back to around 800 BC. through the great art of Nasca and Moche art to the emergence of the Incas, is presented clearly. Once you get used to all the clay and the incredibly preserved textiles, you are in a lost world of addictive acting and mystery.

Lots of people have lost their heads over ancient Peru. I first read about the Nasca Lines, giant ground drawings up to 2 km across the desert plain between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean when I was a child. Unfortunately, my source was Erich Von Däniken’s book Freight Wagons? who claimed they were UFO landing strips. So the Nasca got alien help? No. However, they used a lot of drugs.

A gripping exhibition of Nasca art at the heart of this show proves that these giant images of animals are far from a random cosmic mystery, the pinnacle of an amazing visual culture. One of the most beautiful geoglyphs portrays a stylized hummingbird with thin elongated shafts representing feathers: In front of a drone video of it is a 2,000-year-old textile embroidered with the same hummingbird designs. You could not have clearer evidence that the Nasca lines are rooted in human culture, not extraterrestrial activity.

When the Nasca people made their enormous art, the Roman Empire rose and fell. But there was no connection between people in America and Europe, Asia or Africa. The civilizations we meet here rose and fell to their own beat. There are clay pipes here made by Nasca – but they were not for entertainment. A painted vase depicts a shaman in a monstrous mask and a snake-like headdress – or does he have real snakes on his head? – holds his forehead pipes among an assembly of fellow musicians while he goes into a trance and communicates with animal spirits. Next to him is a San Pedro cactus whose hallucinogenic flesh he has ingested to open the doors of perception.

Maybe Nasca went out into the desert high on cacti to draw their totem animals. Even the rock, they had an amazing eye for nature. Killer whales, monkeys, snakes and cats are depicted with sharp, strong lines and colors. A vase takes the form of a tall, wavy corn stalk, the agricultural crop that sustained civilization in the Andes.

What does the word “civilization” mean? Technically just a society with cities, agriculture and an organized culture. But we fill it with moral values. The civilizations of pre-colonial America combined urban ambition with beliefs where human blood was essential to keep the universe in balance. The reality of human sacrifices hits you in front of one of the most incredible artifacts here, an embroidered cloth to wrap a dead body in, made by Nasca around the time of Christ. It is covered with happy dancing figures in animal masks, each of which dangles a severed head in the hair.

Nasca shared these sacrificial beliefs with the Moche culture, which flourished in northern Peru from about 100 to 800 AD. Warriors participated in ritualized battles – but the aftermath was not friendly. Moche sculptures portray the defeated, bound to await sacrifice. Their faces are studied with tragic precision. A bound prisoner on a model boat retains his dignity as the threatening god of death rowes him to the place of sacrifice. He throws his body back as in acceptance.

This exhibition takes you outside of yourself, if you let it, into a world of predatory gods and magical music. The most amazing object is a giant clay drum, from the Nasca civilization, painted with images of ritual war and sacrifice. Defeated, gnawing gods hold the heads of the defeated. Monkey-like zombies hang in the trees. Trophy heads are transformed into the spirits of ancestors. The scene is held together by twisting shapes that are half snake, half cactus. It’s like a manic masterpiece of street art.

Even when they were not consuming psychedelic cacti, these ancient people regularly chewed coca leaves. Imagery on pots shows how lime was mixed with coca to amplify its effect by specialized coca officials – whose bureaucratic job title shows how complex these societies were.

The last native rulers of the Andes, the Incas, built a network of roads with runners stationed at intervals to carry messages and gifts: a clay model of a muscular leg celebrating their running power. The Incas took power late, as it turned out, in the history of pre-colonial America. Originating around Cusco, their capital, from the early 15th century they conquered a large area that spread to modern-day Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia and Chile, as well as Peru. The exhibition shows how they used elaborate knotted strings to record crucial information. And a ceramic model of a hoe documents their agricultural revolution, where they terraced the Andes to grow corn at ever-higher altitudes.

They also had coca. An embroidered incapose still has fragments of centuries-old coca leaves inside. They also refined the art of sacrificing people. Selected children were taken to high mountain reserves to be killed. They were buried with small doll-like figures. The doll-sized clothes from the graves of these victims are in sight.

What would have happened in the Andes now? A film by the legendary Inca city Machu Picchu dwells on astonishing details in its architecture and technique. Even the conquistadors admitted that the cities they saw competed with those of Europe. If the Spaniards had never arrived, it is entirely possible to imagine the Inca Empire advancing technologically and moving towards a different version of a modern world.

In fact, this show downplays the Incas because it wants us to discover the people who came before them. What amazes in the art of Nasca and Moche is a combination of factual probability with amazing and shocking content, dry clay and wet veil. Peru is a lime-sharp cocktail of the real and visionary.

 

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The witch isn’t dead: New book explores witchcraft’s rebellious history — and modern transformation

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cnn– Look up “witches” and you might see any of a number of depictions: ugly old ladies and young, sensual temptresses; antiheroes and aspiring role models; evil creatures mixing deadly potions and righteous sorceresses helping girls find their way (a la Glinda the Good Witch in “The Wizard of Oz”).
A new title from Taschen’s Library of Esoterica aims to explore this wealth of complex identities in a visually vibrant volume that isn’t so much a book as it is a spellbinding tribute to a figure and a practice that are as old as time.
“Witchcraft” offers a deep dive into the many facets of a centuries-old tradition in the Western world, weaving more than 400 classic and contemporary artworks with essays and interviews by what editor Jessica Hundley describes as “a diverse coven of writers, scholars and modern-day practitioners, each embracing the practice in their own individual ways.”
“I wanted to present witchcraft through symbolism and art but also fresh, personal perspectives,” Hundley explained in a phone interview. “So much of the esoteric is often shrouded in secrecy and weighed down by stigma. With ‘Witchcraft,’ we worked collaboratively on introducing the subject in a way that felt inclusive and less intimidating.”
Clocking in at 500-plus pages, the compendium spans the history of witchcraft and the representation of witches in literature and fairy tales; the tools of the craft and the rituals that have long been part of it. There are also sections dedicated to fashion, creative media and the witch in films and pop culture.

A history of feminine energy and rebellion

While the word “witch” has its etymological roots (wicce) in Old English, the lineage of the ‘Western witch’ can be traced back to Greek mythology and the earliest folk traditions of Egypt, northern Europe and the Celts.
Each culture represented the mystical figure differently, yet some of her traits recurred across geographically widespread countries: a witch was a powerful goddess, often associated with home and love, but also death and magic. Above all, she was a signifier of complex femininity.
“The iconography of the witch, while shifting over the centuries, has always revolved around the idea of feminine power, and reflected society’s changing attitudes towards it,” said the book’s co-editor, Pam Grossman, in a phone interview.
In the 11th century, as male-centered Christianity spread across Europe, perceptions of femininity changed.
So-called witches (often any woman who strayed from the prescriptions of monotheistic religion) began to be considered outliers within their communities, feared and isolated for their supposed connection with the devil.
By the 14th century, the collective imagination had recast witches into heretical outcasts. For the next three centuries, witch hunts and executions — including the Salem trials of 1692 — would sweep both the Old and New Worlds.
“The image of the witch that’s been crystallized in our minds — that of a diabolical, frightening woman — was born out of this exact period,” said Grossman, who is also a writer, curator and teacher of magical practice. “The advent of the printing press, in particular, really helped popularize it. What she really was, of course, was even scarier: a threatening woman.”
Indeed, what emerges from “Witchcraft” is that witches and their practice have long been a metaphor for women who want authority over their own lives (the coven, essentially a female-run community, is part of this metaphor, too). Browsing the book, which features works by names as diverse as Auguste Rodin, Paul Klee and Kiki Smith, it’s hard not to notice how so many of them represented witches as fierce, powerful creatures even as they were being shunned by society.
Whether aging hags or hypersexual young beauties, they’re the embodiment of a rebellious spirit that “wants to subvert the status quo,” Grossman said.

A resurgence of witches

In the 18th and early 19th century, as the persecution of witches ended (at least in the Western world) and witchcraft started to be recognized as the last vestige of pagan worship, the magical figure was recast once again. This time, she was made into a fantastical subject as well as a symbol of female rage, independence, freedom and feminism.
Behind the latter “rebranding” was the suffragette movement, which used the archetype of the witch as the persecuted “other,” an example of patriarchal oppression.
Witchcraft gained popularity again in the 1960s as second-wave feminism saw witches and their covens as expressions of feminine power and matriarchy (on the activism side, there was even a group of women who, in 1968, founded an organization called W.I.T.C.H).
The practice made another comeback during the 1990s, following the Anita Hill hearings and the rise of third-wave feminism; and then again in the wake of Donald Trump’s 2016 election and the #MeToo movement.
Over the past four years, the practice has gone mainstream, spurring articles, podcasts and Instagram accounts.
“I think that for a lot of women and, increasingly, queer and nonbinary people, the witch has come to represent an alternative to institutional power, as well as a way to tap into their spirituality in a way that isn’t mediated by someone else,” Grossman said.
“Witchcraft is a means by which you can feel like you have some agency in the world. And because so much of it is about creating your own rituals, it allows individuals from different backgrounds to take part in it on their own terms.”
The witchy narrative has evolved on screen, too, and “Witchcraft” dedicates its last pages to that.
From the scary Wicked Witch of the West in “The Wizard of Oz” to the beautiful Samantha of “Bewitched” and the tenacious Sabrina of the “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” (which couldn’t be more far removed from the original show starring Melissa Joan Hart), the witch has shifted from villain to protagonist, and from someone you would be afraid of to someone you might aspire to be.
“Whether they instill fear, seduce, use violence or act for the greater good, the way visual arts portray witches is always reflective of the cultural moment they’re part of,” Hundley said. What has remained unchanged through the centuries, she noted, is that the very nature of the witch is to contain all of these archetypes within her at all times.
“The witch is in a state of constant evolution,” she said. “She’s a shapeshifter.”
“Witchcraft” is available in Europe now and will be released next month in the US.

Add to queue: Empowering witches

READ: “The Once and Future Witches” (2020)
Witchcraft and activism are woven together in this Gothic fantasy novel by Alix E. Harrow, set in an alternate America where witches once existed but no longer do The year is 1893, and the estranged Eastwood sisters — James Juniper, Agnes Amaranth and Beatrice Belladonna — join the suffragists of New Salem while beginning to awaken their own magic, transforming the women’s movement into the witches’ movement.
BROWSE: “Major Arcana: Portraits of Witches in America” (2020)
Frances F. Denny’s photographic project “Major Arcana: Witches in America” is an ambitious visual document of the modern face of witchcraft. Denny spent three years meeting and photographing a diverse group of witches around the US, capturing the various ways “witch-ness” expresses itself.
WATCH: “Motherland: Fort Salem” (2020)
Witches become superheroes in this action-packed series, currently in its second season. Three young sorceresses conscripted into the US Army — Raelle Collar, Abigail Bellweather and Tally Craven — use their supernatural tactics and spells to defend the country against a terrorist organization known as the Spree, a witch resistance group.
LISTEN: “Between the Worlds” (2018-present)
Host Amanda Yates Garcia discusses tarot, psychology, mythology, pop culture, witchcraft, magic, art and history alongside a series of special guests, in a podcast that aims to explore the many expressions of the practice.
WATCH: “American Horror Story: Coven” (2013)
Set in post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans, the third season of the FX horror anthology series “American Horror Story” centers on a coven of witches descended from the survivors of the Salem trials as they fight for survival against the outside world. The show deals with femininity and race, as well as issues around modern feminist theories and practice.
Top image: Titled “Ritual,” this 2019 work by photographer Psyché Ophiuchus shows a ceremonial circle taking place in Fairy Glen on the Isle of Skye at dusk.

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