Cultrface is a blog about culture and how it can enrich our lives.

Johnson Eziefula on his art and his relationship with identity

“Gloria’s Trip to Paris” – Mixed-media on Canvas. (2021)

Johnson Eziefula is a Nigerian artist who uses mixed-media to display the various elements of life and identity:

“I find my major inspiration as an artist in a mix of my environment and its components,” he adds, citing people and their social, behavioural and cultural characteristics as key drivers to his creations. “Environment in this case goes beyond my immediate physical environment. But as far as a totally different region or space, the world as of today has grown smaller and we’re much more interconnected than ever before.” Johnson is also inspired by his own emotions and imagination, along with his daily observations and encounters, plus the “endless conflict between one’s understanding of what is and the unending curiosities, amongst other things. It’s an endless list.”

via It’s Nice That

Eziefula calls himself a “Biographer of the unnoticed” on Instagram, using materials like charcoal, acrylic, pastels, and fabric to create his pieces.

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.

Prince's shoe collection exhibited at Paisley Park

The Beautiful Collection opened on 9th July 2021 for fans to view over 300 pairs of Prince’s shoes and the stories behind them. The exhibition will be on for a limited time as part of the Paisley Park tour and will also include video interviews from Prince’s design partners and content about Prince’s influence on fashion and gender.

25 of the worst branding fails from 1995-2020

Fast Company looked at some of the worst commercial mistakes of the last quarter-century. Microsoft Vista made it in which, in retrospect, seems a bit harsh. But Calvin Klein’s controversial jeans commercial showing questionably-aged models rightly appears (I’m not gonna say outright what it appears to depict because I don’t want those words on the site). And who remembers Flooz? Or that Folgers commercial? Or the Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad?

What are some of your worst branding fails since 1995? Let me know in the comments.

An oral history of the weird Folgers "incest" commercial

Folgers Coffee Brother & Sister Home For Christmas 2009 Christmas TV Commercial HD

Living in the UK, I never got to see this controversial Folgers coffee commercial. But I found out about it through this oral history by GQ:

“Coming Home” opens with a taxi dropping a young man off outside a snow-covered house bedecked in Christmas decorations early one morning. A young woman excitedly opens the door and establishes that she’s his sister by pointing at herself and saying “sister!” He’s weary, having just returned from volunteering in “West Africa,” and the two share a cup of freshly-brewed Folgers coffee while their parents are still asleep. (In some versions he even says “ah, real coffee,” as if he didn’t just come from where some of the best coffee in the world is produced.) He hands her a small present, but instead of opening it, she peels off the red bow and sticks it on his shirt. “What are you doing?” he asks. “You’re my present this year,” she responds. The camera zooms in on her shy glance, then cuts to his furtive, flirty smile. Those three seconds sealed its fate forever.

When I first saw the ad, I thought: wait, are they fucking? (Then, every time after that: okay, they’re definitely fucking.) As I would come to learn, I was hardly alone. The reaction to the ad was an example of the internet at its most fun—the phenomenon of collectively realizing that the specific thing that you believed you’ve singularly noticed is actually a widely-held opinion. Memes, articles, and parody videos abounded. It even inspired a genre of vividly-rendered fan fiction known as “Folgerscest.”

It is weird and does give off incestuous vibes. But the people behind the commercial didn’t feel that way:

Jerry Boyle (SVP and executive producer at Saatchi & Saatchi): You kind of get sucked into the story, which is nice. It was all very, very innocent. Obviously what’s happened since then has been a real … something that nobody imagined happening. And our client is so wholesome. It was, we thought, emotional.

What people read into it—once that took off—was just insane.

This was my favourite reaction, and the first one to notice the strange vibe between the brother and sister:

Alexa Marinos (corporate communications manager): I’m a marketer by trade so I always pay attention to commercials and ads, particularly holiday ones because I’m always curious to see how brands flex and adapt their marketing for the holiday season. I used to do all my writing in front of the television. So when, I’ll call it, “Peter Comes Home for Christmas 2.0” aired I was sitting in front of my laptop. And I just remember immediately critiquing the spot in my head as a marketer. Particularly the casting, the casting seemed off to me. I was like “why is Peter’s little sister 22 instead of four? And why is Peter, like, vibing on his little sister?”

I hope nobody ever puts a gift bow on me.

Non-creept commercial related: Commercial Break: a YouTube channel for archiving commercials

Famous people solving Rubik's cubes

Sonya Clark's Black hair art

Sonya Clark, “Afro Abe II” (2010), five-dollar bill and thread, 4 x 6 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Heather and Tony Podesta Collection (Photo © Sonya Clark; Photo by Lee Stalsworth)

For Hyperallergic, Lowery Stokes Sims reviewed Sonya Clark’s exhibition “Sonya Clark: Tatter, Bristle and Mend which featured at the National Museum of Women in Arts between 3rd March to 27th June this year.

Renowned for her explorations of the cultural and political aspects of hair — specifically Black hair — Clark does not disappoint in this dizzying survey of 100 works executed over the last 25 years. Essays in the catalogue adroitly outline the polemics of black hair in its natural state in our current societal context, complement Clark’s seeming endless hirsute permutations.

The pieces are remarkable in their depictions of the US and their uses of Black hair, something heavily weaponised and abused in that same country. My favourite is “Afro Abe II” (above), a five-dollar bill but Abraham Lincoln has an Afro. I love it so much.

What knives does Salt Bae use?

Folks wanted to know what salt Salt Bae used and now they want to know what knives he uses. So here’s the what I found during my research (read: Google searches):

Tools for The Discriminating Chef wrote a piece called Salt Bae and His Knife that claimed the Turkish restaurateur used breaking knives:

The talented chef cuts through his beef with ease using a 10″ breaking knife. While everyone is talking about his chiseled good looks, viral fame and his delicious cuts of beef; we want to focus on the knife and why it smoothly cuts through beef.

[…]

The knife is used to “break” through skin, light cartilage, and small bones. It is also pretty good at slicing and carving fat (As we have seen Mr. Gökçe do multiple times through his videos).

To be more specific, it appears Salt Bae uses F Dick breaking knives but if you can’t afford those, you can always try Dalstrong or Pirge (for UK readers).

Restoring a Tissot 1853 watch found on the ground

TISSOT 1853 Restoration old watch | Restoring

I initially found this video on Twitter and it’s the most intricate restoration I’ve ever seen. Normally, I watch Game Boy restorations but watching this Tissot 1853 watch come back to life was beautiful. Professional watchmakers, or horologists, often have to obtain watchmaking degrees at technical schools to ply their trade with watch companies. So this kind of repair is no mean feat.

Star Trek + Design: a site dedicated to collected Star Trek memorabilia

Garak, Captain Janeway, and Chakotay holding a MGMug designed by Michael Graves for Alessi.

We have quarantine to thank for this awesome Star Trek fan site from “long-time Trekkie and new-time collector” Eno.

Star Trek + Design began as a personal quarantine project in March of 2020, a little over a year since buying my first Bodum Bistro (Picard Cup) set. I’d just been laid off from my job due to the pandemic, and found myself spending far more time watching Star Trek than I had when I was employed. Being drawn to the aesthetics of Trek, especially of The Next Generation, made me curious about the specific objects that set designers used to create the visual embodiment of what living and working on a starship would look like in a technologically-advanced, post-scarcity future. I’d already known about the contributions of Carsten Jorgensen (Bistro Cup), Maurice Burke (TOS Tulip Chair), and Joe Colombo (Boby Cart), and decided to research the other designers whose work may have been used.

Argentinian capybaras reclaim their land; are called 'invaders'; memes ensue

There’s a gated community of rich people in Argentina called Nordelta. It was founded in 1999 and lies in the north of Buenos Aires, home to luxury homes, sports facilities, even a shopping mall. However, Nordelta also encroaches upon the Paraná wetlands, which is already under pressure from overfarming, and the extraction of natural resources. And capybaras live in those areas.

So what happens when humans build on or around animal habitats? The animals fight back and a group of plucky capybaras (known as carpinchos in Argentina) has been tearing through Nordelta, destroyed lawns and infrastructure, causing traffic jams, and even attacking pets.

So what happens when animals try to reclaim their homes that humans built on? They fight back with guns. According to The Guardian, some residents have brought out their hunting rifles to defend themselves and their property.

[…] But many other Argentinians have taken to social media to defend the rodents – known locally as carpinchos.

In politically polarized Argentina, progressive Peronists see Nordelta as the enclave of an upper class eager to exclude common people – and with tongue only partly in cheek, some have portrayed the capybaras as a rodent vanguard of the class struggle.

And that’s where the memes come in. I found these on a Tumblr post that brought the whole capybara story to my attention:

They’re magnificent and they warm my heart. As for the plight of the communist capybaras, it remains precarious but campaigners are still trying to pass legislation that will protect the wetlands from further development:

“Wealthy real-estate developers with government backing have to destroy nature in order to sell clients the dream of living in the wild – because the people who buy those homes want nature, but without the mosquitoes, snakes or carpinchos,” he [Enrique Viale] said.

Here at Cultrface, we are in full support of the capybaras. Solidarity with the rodents!

Related to animals in South America: Are Pablo Escobar’s hippos good for Colombia’s ecosystem?

Kashmiri chai

Kashmiri chai
credit: jslander, via CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

While Kashmiri chai is a green tea, it’s actually pink in colour.

Originally a Himalayan drink, pink tea goes by many names across South Asia, some which reference its unusual color and flavor, from nun chai (salt tea) to gulabi chai (rose-hued tea). Salt and baking soda are key ingredients. Salt acts as an electrolyte to prevent dehydration at high altitudes, and baking soda is the catalyst that turns it pink. Infused with spices such as star anise and topped with crushed nuts, the tea is tailor-made for cold weather. In Kashmir, nun chai is drunk piping hot several times a day, accompanied by an array of breads: crispy kulcha, dimpled girda, or bagel-like tsochwor.

via Atlas Obscura

There are plenty of recipes online (some more authentic, some quicker and easier) but the key to its pinkness is getting in the right reaction between the baking soda and your green tea leaves and how long you brew it for.