Sampira on Britain’s Art(ifact) Problem

Sammy Willbourne aka Sampira wrote about the various issues with British museums exhibiting stolen artifacts from countries around the world including the Kingdom of Benin (now modern-day Nigeria, not to be mistaken with Benin), Greece, Easter Island, and Egypt:

When you look at a mummy encased in a glass prison, you must wonder, did they ever make it to the afterlife? Or is this their fate, to be trapped behind a glass case of voyeurism, looked upon by people that do not understand them or the life and culture they lived in, whilst their soul becomes weary of never crossing over?

These artifacts are astonishing. They give us a portal into new worlds. More than this, they give us a portal into the very ground we stand on. We were born on. An empire built on spoils from murder and a spiteful tendency to destroy any cultural, historical, or intellectual significance these spectacular civilizations gave us in art, science, maths, literature, and everything else. As long as they are on our soil, they stand as a testament to a psychosis that people still haven’t woken up from. There is no reason they can not go home. There’s no reason they can not be toured collaboratively and respectfully with the countries that do own them. If the countries say no, we must accept this as an apparent tolerant and respectable country. It is the rightful respect and appreciation for other cultures and customs that we are told we have.

Did the Ancient Greeks not have a word for 'blue'? Or is it a myth?

Blue is a cool colour (badum-tish!). But apparently, the Ancient Greeks didn’t know about it—at least, they didn’t have a name for it, so claims AsapSCIENCE in its video entitled Why The Ancient Greeks Couldn’t See Blue. I found it via Open Culture who also blogged about it in June under the title Why Most Ancient Civilizations Had No Word for the Color Blue and thought “wow, interesting!” But it appears it might not be strictly true.

The first red flag was this line:

“[…] blue doesn’t appear much in nature,”

Have you looked up lately? Or seen any of the blue flowers available on the planet? Then the comments took hold and critiqued the video a bit more. This from “Tom Neff”:

The Greeks had several words for blue: Kyaneos was dark blue and glaukos was light blue.

This article appears to have been substantially copied from a 2015 Australian Business Insider article.

Uh oh. A quick Wiktionary search throws up etymologies for the words “kyaneos” and “glaukos“:

kyaneos (κυάνεος), from κῠ́ᾰνος (kúanos, “dark-blue enamel”) +‎ -εος (-eos). According to Beekes, probably from Hittite (kuwannan-, “precious stone, copper, blue”), likely from Proto-Indo-European *ḱwey– (“to shine, white, light”) (compare *ḱweytós (“white”)).

glaukós (γλαυκός, “blue-green, blue-grey”). Uncertain origin. Barber reconstructs Proto-Indo-European *gleh₂w-ko-, noting that the root only appears in Greek (Homer, Aeschylus), but Beekes finds an Indo-European origin unlikely.

The more you read, the more you see that blue had lots of names and was very prestigious in ancient civilizations. I’d have expected Open Culture to do a bit more fact-checking and the video shouldn’t have been made in the first place.

Really hoping I’ve not been a hypocrite and spewed nonsense here so please correct me if any of this or the referenced links are wrong because I like to learn!

Brasilândia: a platform for Black and LGBTQIA+ communities in São Paulo

METAL PRETO / Brasilândia

Ayla Angelos wrote about Brasilândia, a new multidisciplinary platform that showcases the work and communities of Black and LGBTQIA+ people.

Founded by Kelton Campos Fausto and Iama Martinho, Brasilândia was launched to provide content for the people in their neighbourhood. Kelton, a multidisciplinary artist, produces works in the video, painting and performance sphere. “They’re currently interested in the plastic construction of spiritual and cosmological scenes that propose living spaces and possibilities of health,” says Iama, “based on other ways of apprehending reality and the body.” Iama, on the other hand, is a stylist, creative, thinker and fashion producer whom within the Brasilandia space contributes to the production, styling and creation of content in all formats. She graduated in technical garment design and has since been centring her work on the production of fashion in conjunction with the “re-signification” of textile waste, as well as combining her experience as a trans woman living in a country where “transgender people are treated as garbage”.

I really like the tagline: “uma plataforma não uma objetificação” (a platform, not an objectification)

(via It’s Nice That)

Artsy explored the objects that defined 80s youth culture

I was born in November 1989 so I missed all but a month of the 80s and everything about its culture so this was cool to read from Artsy:

At the moment, our pop culture finds itself at peak ’80s nostalgia, as news outlets rush to publish their own guides to the decade’s easter eggs hidden in the third season of Stranger Things (2016–present). Those who came of age in the 1980s are now in their mid-forties, so perhaps it just makes sense that the kids who grew up are now showrunners, casting viewers in the nostalgic glow of their own youth.

One could also argue that ’80s nostalgia is on the rise due to some meritocracy of the decades—the eighties were just a cooler, quirkier, and kitschier time to be alive. My own recollections of the time are a murky haze of fleeting passions, both joyous and totally embarrassing. There are, for instance, the Garbage Pail Kids cards, which hit young male culture hard in 1985—pimply teens sneakily trading Boozin’ Bruce for Adam Bomb or Smelly Sally. I’ll never fully wash off the trauma of the humanoid animals residing in Zoobilee Zoo (1986–87). I’ll never live down listening to the Christian hair-metal albums by Stryper that my mom gently forced on me as an antidote to the more “satanic” alternatives. I’ll never forget the uncomfortable prominence of David Bowie’s codpiece in Labyrinth (1986).

Black Archives: a multimedia showcase of the Black experience

Archiving is so important in an information era that favours the new and quickly discards the old when it’s deemed surplus to requirements (read: it’s not making profit). This is especially true for Black cultures and Black Archives works to change that.

[…] Through an evolving visual exploration, Black Archives provides a dynamic accessibility to a Black past, present, and future.

Going beyond the norm, its lens examines the nuance of Black life: alive and ever-vibrant to both the everyday and iconic — providing insight and inspiration to those seeking to understand the legacies that preceded their own.

Besides archiving, Black Archives also offers:

  • Content creation and visual curation
  • Archival research and licensing
  • Social strategy and creative direction

For more, check out the Black Archives website.

Every day is Kids Day!

Yesterday was Father’s Day. Upon reminding my son (he made me a lovely card on the Friday), he asked “why isn’t there a kids day?” to which I replied, “every day is Kids Day!” I’ll let you debate the validity of that statement but it rings true for me.

Then today, one of my Twitter mutuals told me that there was a Kids Day (Dia das Criancas) in Brazil on 12th October. This reminded me of Japan’s Children’s Day (こどもの日, Kodomo no Hi) from an old Pokémon episode. So, how many Kids Days are there? According to Wikipedia, there are ~51 Children’s Days observed by countries around the world. While that’s not every day, that’s still nearly 14% of the Gregorian calendar. Most of us only get one birthday!

The official International Children’s Day is on 20th November so kids could get at least two Kids Days a year. In Chile, Children’s Day is officially recognized as the first Wednesday of October but it is actually observed on the second Sunday of August where children are bought toys. Different countries have different traditions, ranging from remembrance (Paraguay) to honour and relaxation (New Zealand’s Children’s Day pays tribute to children as a taonga, the Māori word for treasure)

And that’s why every day is Kids Day for me because children should be honoured and loved every single day. The world can be a horrible place and it can be challenging to nurture children in that kind of environment and explain why bad things happen. It’s important to show love, patience, gratitude, and compassion so they can know what those feelings are and keep them in their hearts. Amongst all the hugs and presents!

Maro Itoje presented an exhibition on Black histories missing from the UK curriculum

Speaking at the opening of the exhibition earlier this month, Itoje, who was educated at the private boarding school Harrow, says one of the constants in his schooling was “the lack of Black and African history that I was taught”. Moreover, when African history was on the syllabus, it was “a single story or narrative that was told”. He adds: “That story was often depressing, and quite often a saviour/survivor narrative. I want to try and show a fuller picture.”

Good on you, Maro!

(via The Art Newspaper)

Fumi Ishino's 'Index of Fillers' chronicles Japanese culture in the 80s and 90s

someone making stir fry in a wok

Index of Fillers is the artist’s second monograph following his acclaimed publication rowing a tetrapod (MACK, 2017) and is the first artist book published by Assembly. Composed of found images of Japanese culture from the late 1980s and 1990s along with Ishino’s own photographs, Index of Fillers is a recreation of the artist’s elusive memory of growing up during this era in Japan.

I like the Japanese comic strip panelling he uses for his images. There’s nothing dramatised or embellished about the subject matter; it’s literally an index of cultural fillers and while that may seem mundane to some, it’ll be refreshing to others.

Buy it on the Assembly Art website.

Solange turns Saint Heron into a multidisciplinary creative agency

Exciting news for Black and Brown creativity:

Originally launched in 2013 as a digital hub for cultural conversations, Saint Heron’s mission has been to preserve, collect, and uplift stories, works, and archives that amplify Black and brown voices. Now, in its next phase, it will release a dossier of literary and visual retrospectives of Black family and artist lineages through a series of temporary digital exhibitions, viewable on the Saint Heron website. Available for seven to 10 days, they will offer an in-depth look at emerging talent across art, sculpture, photography, design, and artisanship. 

Cultrface is 6 years old today

As I write this, there are only 34 minutes left of the site’s birthday left but better late than never.

The site has changed a fair bit since my last birthday post back in 2019 and so has my output. This site has been my most enjoyable to update and research for and I’m happy with the direction it’s going in. Thanks to everyone who has read my posts, linked to them, and shared them, it means a lot.

Here’s to another year of culture!

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Room Rodeo: a Chicago student’s film about Black cowboys

Bill Pickett

I watched Concrete Cowboy a few weeks ago and while I liked it and found it interesting, I felt like it was missing something. It’s by no means the first movie about Black cowboys (see: The Black Cowboy, Harlem Rides the Range, and Black Rodeo) it’s the most high-profile, mixing Hollywood actors with IRL cowboys.

But next week, there’ll be a new film putting its hat into the ring so to speak and it’s called Room Rodeo.

The film is about Jamil, a Chicago boy trying to prove he is a descendant of Bill Pickett, a Black cowboy, rodeo, actor, and ProRodeo Hall of Famer. It stars D’Andre Davis as Jamil, and mixes drama with documentary interviews and footage of Black cowboys and historians.

His dad stands him up. He acts out. Now Jamil is on punishment in his room. He’s also finally reached the fifth grade and has a history project due.

If only his dad would tell him about his great grandpa, rodeo star Billie P – like he promised. But just when Jamil’s dad calls and things begin to look up, the cool kid from class calls with a humiliating declaration: Black cowboys aren’t real. Now, Jamil must drum up the courage to embark on a quest to discover the truth on his own – all from the comfort of his room. With some help from a dubious heirloom, Jamil puts aside whispers of doubt to venture into a fantasy dreamscape where he claims authorship of his own story.

Room Rodeo will be screened online for 24 hours as part of the creator’s thesis requirements, starting on 12th May at 7 pm. A virtual Q&A session will follow on 13th May, also at 7pm.

The Klingon language and its influence on modern culture #

Like any story worth telling, the history of the Klingon language begins with improvisation. Some reports—including the DVD commentary for Star Trek: The Motion Picture Director’s Cut—maintain the genesis of the language rests with James Doohan (who played Montgomery “Scotty” Scott on the original show) and the film’s associate producer Jon Povill. The two had a meeting where they established a few basic words the aliens would utter throughout the movie. Doohan recorded the words for veteran Trek actor Mark Lenard, who portrayed a Klingon captain in the film. Lenard transcribed the words phonetically and practiced them to nail the delivery of his lines in the film. Doohan and Povill didn’t develop the language further. That honorable duty befell another man who wouldn’t enter the picture until Wrath of Khan’s editing phase.

Enter legendary linguist Marc Okrand, the creator of the Klingon language.

(via Tedium)

See also: Triqqa Pli’c: a Pizza Hut advert for Klingons

Islamic tartan of Scotland

The Islamic Tartan Concept weaves together the different strands of Scottish and Muslim heritage creating the fabric of the future.

The theological explanation of the design is as follows:

– Blue to represent the Scottish Flag
– Green to represent the colour of Islam
– Five white lines running through the pattern to represent the five pillars of Islam
– Six gold lines to represent the six articles of faith
– Black square to represent the Holy Kabah

The lost golden city of Luxor, Egypt

Archaeologists have unearthed a 3,000-year-old city in Luxor, Egypt.

The “lost golden city” dates back to the 18th-dynasty of King Amenhotep III (1391 to 1353 BC). Experts believe the city may have been used by Tutankhamun.

Dr Zahi Hawass, a former antiquities minister who lead the mission, said:

“Many foreign missions searched for this city and never found it. […] Within weeks, to the team’s great surprise, formations of mud bricks began to appear in all directions. What they unearthed was the site of a large city in a good condition of preservation, with almost complete walls, and with rooms filled with tools of daily life.”

via The Guardian

Amongst the discoveries were items of jewellery, pottery, scarab beetle amulets and mud bricks “bearing the seals of Amenhotep III”. Let’s hope none of this finds its way into the British Museum as they have enough stolen artefacts as it is.