Category archives: Visual Arts

  • Pedro, welcome to AFP, we are pleased to have you here. Please tell us when you started playing and producing electronic music? Tell us about your first project.I started experimenting with audio edition software when I was 16. At first, my intention was only pure distraction and fun. Before, I used to listen to lot of music, not only electronic music but also good rare versions of everything that you can imagine. I have a brother who is a music lover. I was also an amateur guitar player in a band.It's my understanding that you've produced music under different artistic names and musical projects in the past? This was before your personal projects, correct?When I was 22, I started to mix music using the name Pettre and was using it for many years. I published a track on Hivern Discs with John Talabot and Pional. Afterwards, with my project duo called Aster, I have worked for years at Hivern Discs and also at the famous label Mathematic Recordings, based in Chicago. With my recent project Pedro Vian and also with the Aster duo, I've had a presence in important festivals such as Sonar and Primavera Sound.How do you define your style?It is impossible to me to categorize it in a single style, because it is a mixture of many. Basically, I don't know how to define it. The experimentation is predominant; many times I feel myself with a foot on the dance floor while the other foot is in the spiritual and ambient side.https://soundcloud.com/pedro-vian[...]
  • Like a good short story, a well crafted short film can really pack a punch. Unlike features, which often have the luxury of a couple of hours to set the scene, establish a tone, animate characters and tell a story, a short film must get the job done in (generally) less than 40 minutes. With his trio of debut shorts, British journalist-turned-director Neville Pierce skillfully manages to do it all in under 11 minutes each.In Bricks, the scene is the basement of posh rich-boy William (Blake Ritson), who gets a bricklaying lesson from the earthy Clive (Jason Flemyng), hired to renovate the wine cellar.  Clive is clearly dismissive of his effete employer, who doesn’t know one type of trowel from another. “You people and your money,” he sneers at one point. They seem to bond over a nice glass of Rioja, but things soon turn horrific. Great acting (especially from Ritson, creepy as hell); understated, unsettling music and quiet direction make for a chilling update of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado.”Ghosted, a charming, offbeat, black-and-white film, has quite a different vibe, though it too has a slightly surreal quality. Widowed artist Rebecca (Alice Lowe) suffers through a series of lackluster first dates, as the charismatic ghost of her late husband Nigel (Christian Anholt) looks on, wisecracking and generally getting in the way. Though he seems to be trying to help, we learn that he was far from an ideal mate, and in fact expired while cheating on his[...]
  • Savina Tarsitano is a visual artist born in Calabria, Italy. She enjoys traveling around the world, but her main interest is experiencing new cultures and countries while sharing her ideas and art across the world. Thanks to her artistic research, she obtained several fellowships and artist residencies. Her work has been selected for the Biennal of Venice, and exhibited in many countries.  Savina's work has also been published in several books and catalogues. She is a member of the European Cultural Parliament and Ambassador for the Rebirth project of Michelangelo Pistoletto and Cittadellarte.Savina, nice to meet you and welcome to Art for Progress. Please, tell us about your art.My art is focused on the idea of the landing, after different sojourns in theme- places like islands, abbeys, castles, military fortresses and so on. My works are made with different languages that represent embodied visions from the relationship with space, which in my representation is not only a real, but also an imaginary territory. During the period I, I developed three main projects: The Icons of the Chaos, Emotional Architecture and Creativity in Motion for Social Integration through Art and The Island You Want.  Through The Island You Want, I was investigating the character and the specific difference of island spaces and landscapes through which I developed an artistic theme.  This hermetic operation touches upon both nature, history and culture.My stays on the island of [...]
  • Maysaloun Hamoud’s debut feature In Between is not only entertaining and engrossing, but a cinematic rarity. The film is partially set in Tel Aviv’s Palestinian underground club scene, a hip mini-society that isn’t generally represented on film (or anywhere). Hamoud’s three main characters are young Arab-Israeli women, seemingly very different from one another on the surface, but each facing major challenges in a rigidly patriarchal society and, to a lesser degree—at least in this movie—as an unwelcome minority. The multi-layered narrative is buoyed by the charismatic performances of its stars: Mouna Hawa as droll lawyer/party girl Leila, Sana Jammelieh as soulful DJ Salma, and Shaden Kanboura as strictly observant Muslim college student Nour. Though Hamoud’s direction has a casual, verité-like vibe, the unfolding plights of each woman, especially Nour, add growing tension to the film. There are also flashes of levity in the drily humorous dialogue, especially on the part of the free-wheeling Leila.Leila and Salma, roommates in the bustling Yemenite Quarter of the city, are denizens of a hard-partying club scene featuring pounding Palestinian hip hop and a variety of drugs. A successful lawyer by day, Leila lets loose at night with a cadre of male friends, while aspiring DJ Salma humors her strict Christian parents by attending arranged dinners they’ve planned in hopes of marrying her off. A lesbian, she clearly has no intention of acquiescing to their wishes. One[...]
  • Around a decade ago, Jonathan Olshefski began taking photographs of a basement music studio in North Philadelphia, a hangout for local hip hop artists. The planned photo essay would reflect working life vs. creative life, specifically that of music promoter/producer Christopher “Quest" Rainey, owner of the studio. But Olshefski got so caught up in Rainey’s life and that of his family, that he wound up switching to film and shooting for almost a decade.The result is Quest, an intimate documentary about a working-class African-American family struggling — and ultimately coping — with crime, poverty and illness. For those who aren’t familiar with rough neighborhoods like North Philly, the film also offers a glimpse into an impoverished but tight-knit community that is both frustrated and hopeful about its prospects. Neither glibly upbeat nor utterly despairing, the film achieves a believable balance that seems to reflect the current situation of so many Americans.Quest, which opens with the 2008 presidential election as backdrop and closes with Trump soundbites from the 2016 debates, includes various events as time markers, including Obama's second win in 2012. Though Quest, who exhorts his community to vote, is clearly thrilled with those victories and is suspicious of Trump’s promises to African-Americans, it becomes pretty obvious that the national political scene doesn’t really have much of an effect on the day-to-day realities of his neighborhood.At the [...]
  • On Wednesday 17th November, Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece Salvator Mundi, became the most expensive artwork ever sold, after being purchased for £450M during an historic event celebrated at Christie’s auction in New York.The two hour auction took place at Christie’s with a total of sold artwork in the amount of $692 million ($785.9 million with fees), on 58 lots. The sale unexpectedly turned into a historic show.Since the auctioneer Jussi Pylkkänen announced lot nine: Leonardo Da Vinci's Salvator Mundi (circa 1500), it took 19 minutes to sell the artwork for $400 million ($450 million with fees). People clapped and laughed during the unbelievable show. The sale of Davinci’s painting resulted in the most expensive piece ever purchased at an auction and broke all the previous records in the history of art, including the $179.4 million for a Pablo Picasso painting at Les Femmes d'Alger in 2015.The crowd came to Christie’s expecting a show, and in the end they finally got history.Salvator Mundi represents a secular image of a a serene-looking Christ dressed in blue and holding an orb. It also shows an ambiguous gender aspect about his appearance that makes it very mysterious and special.The picture is one of fewer than 20 works by Leonardo still in existence. It's hilarious that the painting was sold by London's Sotheby's auction house in 1958 for less than 50£ when experts refused to believe Da Vinci painted it. For many years it was considered as t[...]
  • It’s a great time of year for New York's documentary lovers, as the nation’s largest nonfiction film festival comes to town. The eighth edition of DOC NYC runs November 9 –16 with screenings and panels taking place at the IFC Center, SVA Theater and Cinepolis Chelsea. Among the fest’s 250 films and events are 11 feature-length works, from already released films such as Agnès Varda’s acclaimed Faces, Places to films making their world premieres, including Sam Pollard’s Maynard, a portrait of Atlanta’s first black mayor, and Julia Bacha’s Naila and The Uprising, about a Palestinian woman in Gaza who must make an impossible choice between love, family and freedom.Among the festival’s 18 categories are two competition sections: Viewfinders, for distinct directorial visions, and Metropolis, dedicated to stories set in NYC. More than 350 filmmakers and special guests (often film subjects) will be in attendance for Q&As after most screenings and for DOC NYC PRO panels, including Steve Madden (for Maddman), Dan Rather (for Fail State) and Susan Sarandon (for Soufra).Opening the festival is Greg Barker’s The Final Year, which follows key members of outgoing President Barack Obama’s administration; closing it is Lili Fini Zanuck’s Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars, about the life and career of the legendary guitarist. In between are docs of all sizes and shapes including centerpiece film Far from the Tree, Rachel Dretzin’s world premiere adaptation of Andrew Solomon’s book,[...]
  • Ballet Rotoscope is an experimental short film made in 2011 that connects ballet with technology. By empowering the natural beauty of ballet and utilizing physical computing, the concept adds value to the real-time action and performance.The artists and researchers involved in the project, have created a relationship between geometric shapes with an animation technique known as rotoscope which was invented in 1905 by Max Fleischer. The object’s contours are traced and controlled by an algorithm that brings a mathematical layer to the natural movements of a ballerina.The awesome result is the ballerina dances while she draws perfect geometry.  The joints on her body are traced with a computer –generated rotoscope animation technique created by mathematical methods.In the process, each of the steps of the ballerina were tracked with accuracy to translate and synthesize it with a vectorial animation.Rotoscope technique is normally used in motion pictures to make realistic cartoons, but artists use it to generate an abstract animation of shapes that follow the movements of a ballerina. Therefore, this project makes sense in how to bridge the gap between arts and technology and create new concepts of beauty.This great artwork was created in Keio University of Japan, and the proposal intends to be an interaction between live performance and animation and new ways of expression. This was developed by the EUPHRATES Group, founded by the students of[...]
  • The subject of Lana Wilson’s documentary The Departure, Ittetsu Nemoto is a fascinating individual. The former rebel-turned-Buddhist priest has made it his life’s work to personally help people who want to kill themselves. Because he cannot turn anyone down when they call or text him—and because suicide is rampant in Japan—the 44-year old’s own health has been terribly compromised. This impressionistic portrait of a heroic yet flawed character is meditative and often quite beautiful, as befitting its extraordinary subject and his environment.At the monastery where he lives with his wife and young children, we see Nemoto welcome visitors to the Departure, a retreat specifically geared to help people who are contemplating suicide. He does this by having them “experience” death; we see a small part of the process, which involves writing down things they’re leaving behind and crumpling up these pieces of paper one by one until nothing is left. The idea is to find something worth living for. Later in group discussions, the participants discuss their feelings. It's interesting that so many utterly despondent people have allowed themselves to be filmed. On the other hand, suicide has a long tradition of honor (kamikaze pilots, the ritual of seppuku) in Japan, so there’s probably less shame attached to it.  This may make people more open about their feelings, but also guarantees that Nemoto is seriously overworked.The film shows him riding his motorcycle to meet with [...]
  • The first Dominican film to screen at Sundance (and recently announced as the Dominican Republic’s Academy Award submission for Best Foreign Language Film), Woodpeckers (Carpinteros) is not your typical prison drama. Sure, writer/director José Maria Cabral includes some familiar elements: the new guy initiated into the brutal, dehumanizing ways of the institution; an uneasy alliance formed with the cell block’s bully/fixer. But Woodpeckers, which was filmed on location in the notorious Najayo prison outside of Santo Domingo, is also a love story with a spectacular ending that is Shakespearean in its resolution. With its raw, authentic setting, which includes throngs of actual Najayo inmates, the film has a gritty, documentary feel that really gets under the skin. It’s easy to get caught up in its slowly intensifying narrative.When petty thief Julián (Haitian actor/director Jean Jean, quietly riveting) is incarcerated, he notices his fellow inmates crowded around the prison windows, executing elaborate hand signals. Turns out they’re communicating with inhabitants of the neighboring women’s penitentiary, who signal back from their yard. Through this detailed language, known as “woodpecking,” romantic relationships are formed, as are jealousies and resentments as rivals fight over love interests. (The practice is completely true to life; Cabral spent ninth months visiting Najayo and other prisons, where he got to know the inmates.)When the volatile Manaury (Ramó[...]
  • Co-directed by Valérie Müller and renowned dancer/choreographer Angelin Preljocaj (who are married), Polina is the story of a budding Russian ballerina who forsakes a coveted job with the Bolshoi Ballet to pursue the freedom of contemporary dance. Based on the graphic novel by Bastien Vivès, Polina stars soulful young Russian dancer and first-time actress Anastasia Shevtsova as a girl from a humble background who is chosen to train for a career in ballet. Inspired by contemporary dance, she moves first to France, then Belgium—enduring a series of physical, artistic and romantic setbacks, before finding her true passion in creating her own dances. We can almost feel her physical and psychological release when she finally experiences that fulfillment.Early in the film we see a serious, young Polina (Veronika Zhovnytska) struggling in ballet class under the glowering eye of the demanding Bojinski (Aleksey Guskov), a classic cinematic ballet master. The stifling mood of these vignettes are juxtaposed with scenes of the girl joyfully losing herself in wild improvised dance while walking home from the academy. Later the teenage Polina endures grueling rehearsals under Bojinsky, who harangues her for her inability to express feeling behind the movement, a theme that runs throughout the film. Somehow, though, she perseveres and manages to ace an audition for the Bolshoi in a terrific scene that's shot from overhead. (Another enthralling scene follows Polina’s expressive feet [...]
  • Nise: The Heart of Madness, directed by Roberto Berliner, tells the story of Dr. Nise da Silveira (Gloria Pires), a Brazilian psychiatrist who pioneered the treatment of schizophrenic patients with kindness and art therapy, resulting in both medical and artistic breakthroughs. Though a conventional film, Nise is fascinating and poignant. Not only is da Silveira a heroine well worth rooting for, but these outsider artists and their creative processes are portrayed with great respect. (And, unlike some depictions of psychiatric patients, the actors playing Nise's charges seem believably afflicted.)The film opens in 1940s Rio de Janeiro. A small woman knocks repeatedly at a metal door unless it finally opens. This is a fitting introduction to da Silveira, who has come to work at the National Psychiatric Center, the only female doctor on the staff. In a meeting, lobotomy is discussed dispassionately as miracle cure, while a demonstration of a patient forced to undergo electroconvulsive treatment is looked upon equally casually by everyone but da Silveira, who can barely contain her horror. Refusing to take part in these conventional methods, she is relegated to supervising the Occupational Therapy Sector, previously run by a nurse and an orderly.Despite the fact that several of the hospital’s inmates have violent tendencies, Nise is compassionate and patient, unlike most of the staff, who treat them with cruelty and ridicule. Under her care, the previously filthy OC w[...]