Tag Archive: media

Propagandist Art, China

Art is a process of discovering hidden meanings, or hiding meanings that are prohibited from being declared.

When art and politics merge, it becomes a loud voice. It is a strong message, a way of dealing with issues, or a way out of contortion, oppression, a way to find individuality, to declare oneself.

This was the case of communist regime of Mao Zedong in China, during which time the artists had to rely on their creative power and the use of covert schemes to come to grips with, indirectly through their work, the social values that shape their culture.

Their coveted portfolios, containing consumerism, politics and mass media subjected the local art market to a trend reversal, unveiling a promise of a new world with unique techniques and styles, an unfamiliar and bewildering fascination with commercial tendencies, only insofar as it derived from democracy.

In the 90s the art world harboured deep suspicions about ‘meaning’ being accorded a sacred place in art, and power became the deciding factor in producing meaning and achieving influence.

It was confrontational, provoking, deliberate, with clear indications of how art related to and impacted the surroundings, or vice-versa: the artists used their creativity to indicate and portray their feelings about what they experienced on the outside.

Art enabled the public to escape the iron-clad enforcement on their nation, to experience the profound lightness of lawlessness, a visionary sensation of anarchy. An altered sense of space and location, it made them feel like they were travelling, being away and apart from the repression, authority and uniformity.


When you can’t get away, how do you get away?

but some world music into your step!

One of my favourite worldly music ensembles is Gotan Project. Their sound is very unique and a blend of some genres, predominantly a spin on classical tango, with nu jazz, electornica, new age.. The sounds are very moving, yet complex and tranquil.

have a taste:

una musica brutal

la revancha del tango


Moving along the same lines: Ojos de Brujo is a Spanish group, also with a distinctive style and sound, tastefully merging elements of flamenco with rap, electronica, and rhythm & blues.

They’re very energetic and remarkably passionate.

Sample, hope you have sangria on hand:

piedras vs. tanques

todos mortales

nueva vida

. . . .

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summer literature

Well, I suppose I should start with a guide of the true traveller’s mentality, in my opinion: Bruce Chatwin’s The Anatomy of Restlessness (1997). I’m lost and found.

Next up is Le Petit Prince (1943) by Antoine de Saint-Exuperty, who wasn’t a travel writer per se, but a true explorer. Supposedly a children’s book, it is actually a philosophical work about life, human nature and growth. Brilliant, and by no means naive.

The list is not complete without the one that never disappoints: able to transmit dreams and transport into the world that is beyond words and beyond pages: Sommerset Maugham. His Ashenden is incredibly witty and mischievous!

ah, the written word

Not long ago, by recommendation, I got this book and after reading it in 5 days, I was hooked: not travel literature per se, but having been with the UN for some time I’m familiar with its functions and the general mindset: Cain, Postlewait, Thomson (2006) – Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures: True Stories from a War ZoneWritten from distinctive perspectives of three UN workers in different professions – a doctor, a lawyer and a secretary, in faraway war-torn places they were alternately stationed, detailing cultural and geographic wonders, it is sentient, raw, bittersweet, intense, and exquisite.

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Home (2009) – by Yann Arthus-Bertrand

official synopsis:

Humanity has barely ten years to become aware of the full extent of its spoliation of the Earth’s riches and change the patterns of consumption.

Official collaborators on the project include UNEP, WWF, actioncarnone.org and goodplanet.org, and for some reason a crowd of fashion designer houses…

Overall, the documentary is very informative and insightful, the imagery hypnotically beautiful, although the accompanying monologue makes it feel like a geography class. And the narrator seems to be selling the idea.


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