Tag Archives: contemporary

Imperfectionism — why the cult of Jennifer Lawrence matters

Man, I wish this article was around when I was writing my thesis, “Contemporary Post-postmodernism: Transfiguring the Imperfect Human Body.” It would have perfectly encapsulated the popular culture aspect of my argument. 
 
Jennifer Lawrence has a real moment at the Oscars. ( Chris Pizzello/Invision/Associated Press).
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jennifer Lawrence has a real moment at the Oscars. ( Chris Pizzello/Invision/Associated Press).

 

Posted by Alexandra Petri on March 11, 2013 at 12:28 pm

“Imperfectionism is something of a cult these days.

I noticed this when I was in my pajamas, perched atop the washing machine in my apartment building’s laundry room, waving my laptop vaguely in the direction of the only unlocked WiFi signal, and instead of being mortified, I was overcome by the urge to tweet about it. “The Internet will understand,” I thought.

The story of the Internet has always been the search for an echo.

It is where you seek refuge after you have been stuck flailing in the mirror while the entire rest of the room of yoga students flawlessly executes a series of pirouettes. “That’s not even a yoga move!” you muttered. “What are you doing?”

The Internet gets it. The Internet is where you go because you suspect that no one else on the earth feels the same way about something. And then it turns out that Everybody does.

If you believe the accounts of our lives, we are always posting online, Everything Is The Worst. We cook like Phyllis Diller. We look like Phyllis Diller. In the morning we resemble damp bathmats. Until we’ve had coffee, we shamble around grunting and hissing like volcanic rocks on a bad day.

If you glance at the popular tumblrs that seek to express how we are feeling, we are all complete messes at all times, shambling from disaster to disaster. All the behaviors that in romantic comedies indicate that the main character has hit rock bottom, comprise our morning routines. We lie on the couch eating found cereals and muttering to ourselves.

Incompetence is the new competence.

We love bacon. We love drinking. We love sleeping. We are the people in the mirror at exercise sessions who look like fools. Everyone else in the class is neat and coordinated and comes twice a week, and we stagger in five minutes late, feeling scrambled and keep falling out of tree position.

If we are to be judged by our memes, from“What People Think I Do… What I Really Do…” (no matter how often we hope it has perished, it never seems to die) to What Should We Call Me, incompetence emerges as the one unifying theme of Everybody on the Internet. The flabby underbelly is what binds us.

You go to the grocery intending to buy food for a week and somehow you come home with a jar of marshmallow fluff, six containers of canned pumpkin and a paperback entitled “The Russian Billionaire’s Virgin Bride.” Yet you were dimly conscious, as you shopped, of people around you with actual lists, corralling their toddlers with Correct Educational Toys and chatting amiably (but not too loudly) on the phone with their spouses. It was exhausting!

Thank God for the Internet, where there were People Like Us. We read gleefully the accounts of the Mommy Bloggers who had turned their back for a few minutes to check Facebook, only to find that Little Timmy had swallowed a live coal. Everyone online is Seamy Side Out. If you want to alert us to something you did, you try to make it a humblebrag. “I just spilled red wine all over my entire body! How can I accept my Nobel Peace Prize like this? I’m not a real person.” “I just tripped in the most embarrassing place possible — on the way to accept my Academy Award.” No wonder Jennifer Lawrence is such a cult figure.

What made an old media darling is what makes Anne Hathaway. She is polished. She is classy. She rehearses her speeches and has impeccable hair and all these qualities that we used to find admirable. She speaks in thoughtful, complete sentences. She is the person at the gym who seems to know what she is doing. She smiles encouragingly at us in the mirror and we fall over.

Jennifer Lawrence is the rightful hero of the whole new I’m-Not-A-Real-Person-What-Am-I-Doing-Who-Are-These-People movement. She makes faces. She faceplants. She talks about her bodily functions. We feel that we could get along with her.

“A vice in common can be the ground of a friendship,” W. H. Auden once noted, “but not a virtue in common. X and Y may be friends because they are both drunkards or womanizers but, if they are both sober and chaste, they are friends for some other reason.” That’s the Internet in a nutshell.

I mention this because the last time I went out for drinks with my proverbial GirlFriends, we spent a full hour talking about how much we loved Jennifer Lawrence. We have never met her. We have only glimpsed her on television and in GIFsets and in interviews, which we have taken hours out of our days to seek out and watch.

There used to be a bifurcation between our lives and the places we went to become fonts of rambling insecurity. We would squirrel away our fears in diaries under lock and key. Now we post them where everyone can see. Online life bleeds into real life this way. It turns out that instead of Reading About Foreign Policy and Thinking Deeply About the Future of the Economy, we are watching videos of cats hitting walls. Our Googles, ourselves. And so all the things that everyone used to pretend to do and like are quickly falling victim to the blunt statistics. Why pretend to be classy and put-together? We live online so much that it’s difficult to create the illusion that anyone knows what she’s doing. Except the Anne Hathaways of this world. Everyone knows that one girl whose life looks perfect on Pinterest.  But we can’t stand her.

What’s sad is how much we need her. The ideal has to exist out there somewhere. Someone has to say the Right Thing and wear the Right Ensemble and Effortlessly Frost Dozens of Minicupcakes. She has to exist to give us something to aspire to — and fail, and laugh about. But it’s a thankless position. For everything else, there’s Jennifer Lawrence.

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March 12, 2013 · 4:50 pm

Auto Portrait Pending

Installation at Centre d'Arte Santa Monica, Barcelona 2007

On view at the Independent Art Fair over the weekend was the above work by artist Jill Magid, titled Auto Portrait Pending. According to the artist’s statement;

Jill Magid signs a contract with a company to become a diamond when she dies. The contract specifies the agreement for her transformation and the details of her eventual diamond. Upon her death, the diamond will be created from the carbon of her cremated remains. It will have a round cut, weigh one carat, and be set in a gold ring setting. Until the diamond′s creation, the empty ring setting, the corporate contract, the artist’s preamble, and the Beneficiary Contract constitute the artwork. Auto Portrait Pending awaits a Beneficiary.

This work challenges the traditional notion that artworks exist as a finished product, since it exists in the form of an idea and a set of placeholders until the “eventual diamond” is created.

In this way, the work speaks to many of the themes that our current series, “Art in the Long View at Lunchtime” explores. For example, at yesterday’s talk, “Temporality: Lived, Constructed, and Imagined,” we discussed Alighiero Boetti’s piece 11 Luglio 2023 (1966-1975), a piece in which the artist commissions craftswomen to embroider the date he projects for his own death. This piece is also a placeholder in some ways; the recorded date is only a guess or a suggestion of potential significance, which stands in for a factual commemoration.

In both cases, the artists focus on their own anticipated deaths as the source material for poetic investigations of the long-term significance and evolution of artworks. By working in this way, perhaps the artists offer not only a new way to consider artworks, but also even a new lens through which to view such a challenging topic as death.

Join us for our “Art in the Long View at Lunchtime” programs on select Mondays and Thursday to think more about artworks and concepts such as these!

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March 12, 2013 · 3:55 pm

Humana Festival College Days

March 22-24, 2013

PACKAGES ON SALE NOW!

College Days weekend is a three-day immersion into the world-renowned Humana Festival of New American Plays. College students and faculty are invited to explore the Festival and connect with people at the forefront of the field.

College Days attendees:

  • See astonishing world premiere plays
  • Participate in career development workshops
  • Meet Actors Theatre staff and Humana Festival creative teams
  • Audition for Acting Apprentice Company
  • Interview for Professional Internships
  • Rub elbows with the best in the field!

PACKAGES ON SALE NOW!
Only $125 per package.  Groups of 11 or more receive a FREE package valued at $125.
College Days packages include tickets to four productions, workshop participation, networking events and an opportunity to auditon for Actors Theatre’s Apprentice Company or interview for professional internships.
Contact Sarah Peters at 502-585-1210 or SPeters@ActorsTheatre.org for details.

To view the full College Days schedule, click here! 

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January 22, 2013 · 4:26 pm

Colorado Business Committee for the Arts Study: Investing in arts in Boulder County, Denver Area Boosts Economy

 

Yes! Thank you! Someone finally understands why the decrease in funding for the arts is inherently detrimental to society as whole, not only socially but economically and politically too.

 

The Boulder Daily Camera  |  By Aimee Heckel Posted: 11/01/2012 3:51 pm EDT

“ART MEANS BUSINESS — more than $1.7 billion of business for Colorado in 2011, according to a study released Wednesday by the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts.

The study indicates that investing money in arts and cultural programs has brought the Denver-metro area more than just education, entertainment and expression over the past decade. It has sparked economy activity — and helped the arts community rise above the recession, with across-the-board increases in employment, volunteerism, youth involvement, audience reach and programming.

Total economic activity was up 18.4 percent from 2009.

Boulder County arts and cultural groups contributed to this trend. Many of those groups report substantial growth in volunteers, donations and audience — not to mention eTown’s new $7 million concert hall, recording studio and community center that opened a few months ago in downtown Boulder.

“I wish I could tell you some dark tale about how the recession was really horrible for us and now it’s better, but the reality is, it’s been fairly stable,” said Nick Forster, founder of eTown.

That’s not to say it’s been easy, Boulder County art organizations say; eTown had to raise money for a capital campaign during tough economic times. Other organizations say they’ve kept strong by keeping overhead costs skinny and by ramping up fundraising efforts.

It’s more a reflection of the Front Range’s values, Forster said.

“We’re surrounded by people who have a history of exposure to culture. This is a well-traveled community, a well-educated community, a community that has maintained lifelong curiosity. So there’s a desire, very widespread, to keep that going,” he said. “It’s about having culture be part of our, well, culture.”

The CBCA study, titled the “2012 Economic Activity Study of Metro Denver,” tracked data provided by more than 300 arts and cultural organizations in a seven-county Denver-metro area that receive funding from the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD). This district includes Boulder County.

In the past decade, a voter-approved sales and use tax has brought in $424 million to the SCFD.

A significant portion of the Colorado Music Festival and Rocky Mountain Center for Musical Arts’ budget — about $150,000 — comes from the district, according to executive director Catherine Underhill.

The funding allows the Lafayette-based center to provide tickets to isolated seniors involved with the Circle of Care. It contributes to the tuition-assistance program at the music school and helps the center stock its musical instrument bank, with 250 instruments to rent on a sliding scale for as little as $5 a month.

“It makes sure the entire community is able to benefit from our programming,” Underhill said.

In fact, the Economic Activity Study reported that arts and cultural groups are reaching an increasingly wider audience.

Attendance at local art events was up — by 30 percent since 2009, thanks in part to a variety of big-scale events, such as King Tut at the Denver Art Museum and new buildings, such as the Lone Tree Arts Center, according to the report, which listed eTown Hall as a significant project in the “construction phase” in 2011.

Attendance at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (BMoCA) grew from about 18,000 in 2009 to more than 29,700 in 2011.

The Colorado Music Festival in Boulder said its audience has been growing 4 to 7 percent every year in the past decade, although this summer was a little off, because of weather; it was 103 degrees on opening night, according to Underhill.

“We’ve basically doubled our festival attendance over the last decade,” she said.

The six-week summer festival now sells about 22,000 tickets.

Boulder’s eTown’s reach also has widened. The national nonprofit and syndicated radio program started in 1991 with 40 radio stations. Today, eTown boasts 300 stations. Tickets to live recordings regularly sell out, with about 20,000-30,000 attendees per year, Forster said.

However, he said, eTown’s real, recent expansion was in scope.

The eTown facility will be open to many new groups. For example, in the past week the building has been home to one performer, a KUNC listener-appreciation event, a 24-hour film shoot-out and a University of Colorado opera students’ recital.

eTown is now producing video, too. It recently launched a new iPhone app, featuring 300 short videos and multiple free podcasts.

The youngest generation

With growing social networks, Forster said, eTown is better poised to reach youth. It plans to soon launch a songwriting contest among area high schools.

The Colorado Music Festival and Rocky Mountain Center for Musical Arts also reports better connection to kids. A decade ago, the only children’s programming was a youth concert at the beginning of the festival season. Today, the center serves 550-600 children of all ages every week, via a year-round music school, Family Fun Concerts and the Classically Kids program, to name a few of the programs.

The local scene also echoes the larger trend, according to the Economic Activity Study. The metro-area’s arts scene has served more than 142 million people — including twice as many children, in the past decade, the report shows.

This year, funding ($32,342) from the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District has also enabled BMoCA to expand an after-school and summer arts-education program for youth ages 5 to 14. The museum plans to expand services into Adams, Broomfield and Jefferson counties.

More Denver-area increases:

Visitors: The biggest increase between 2009 and 2011 was in “new money,” or money that otherwise wouldn’t be spent in the area, such as visitors. This surged 36 percent, to $527 million in 2011– the biggest impact ever recorded, according to the study.

Similarly, BMoCA is attracting more tourists, officials say. In 2011, it drew 670 international visitors and more than 7,200 visitors from out of state.

Jobs: The report noted that employment increased by 7 percent between 2009 and 2011, with 9,354 new jobs in the arts, cultural and scientific scene. In the past decade, jobs are up 22 percent.

Some local organizations have been growing, too. Take BMoCA, which increased from one full-time employee and five part-time staffers in 2009 to six full-time employees and six part-time staffers in 2011.

Buildings: Capital spending rose by 25 percent, with the opening of multiple new arts, cultural and events centers. A dozen new arts and cultural facilities opened in the past decade. BmoCA also is wrapping up a significant renovation of its offices.

Volunteers: District-wide, the number of people volunteering at arts and cultural facilities (50,460 people) also rose by 19 percent in the past two years. Over the decade, that number has skyrocketed 75 percent.

Locally, BMoCA relies on more than 570 volunteers who donated 8,400 hours of work in 2011.

Businesses: District-wide, more than $100 million was donated by corporations in 2011. ___

(c)2012 the Daily Camera (Boulder, Colo.)

Visit the Daily Camera (Boulder, Colo.) at www.dailycamera.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services”

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January 3, 2013 · 5:22 pm

The Good Girls Revolt: The Untold Story of the 1970 Lawsuit That Changed the Modern Workplace

by 

“…In The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued their Bosses and Changed the Workplace (public library), Lynn Povich, one of the originalNewsweek staffers who helmed the watershed lawsuit, tells its previously untold story, building — or, perhaps, deconstructing — around it a larger narrative about the tectonic shifts in gender politics in the past four decades and where this leaves us today. Not unlike Mad Men, it exposes the many social, cultural, and legal limits for women at the time, but also tells what Povich calls a “coming-of-age story about a generation of ‘good girls’ who found [themselves] in the revolutionary ’60s.” Perhaps most jarring of all, however, is that even as we read on as modern people who take pride in the progress of the past half-century, we become increasingly aware of the subtler but no less damaging sexist undercurrents that, forty years later, still permeate many social structures and cultural institutions…”

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December 5, 2012 · 8:42 pm

Being Held In High Esteem By People Who Aren’t Your Parents…

Being Held In High Esteem By People Who Aren't Your Parents...

Remember this comic? You asked for it, you can now buy it as an autographed print in the Explosm Store! Available here: http://store.explosm.net/products/copy-of-life-lessons-print-autographed

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December 5, 2012 · 7:28 pm

Very fascinating article, very fascinating writer (who I’m excited about meeting, total geek-out)

The Art of Being Still

December 1, 2012, 3:11 pm

By SILAS HOUSE

“Many of the aspiring writers I know talk about writing more than they actually write. Instead of setting free the novel or short story or essay that is sizzling at the ends of their fingers, desperate to set fire to the world, they fret about writer’s block or about never having the time to write.

Yet as they complain, they spend a whole lot of that precious time posting cartoons about writing on Facebook or putting up statuses about how if they only had more free time they just know they could get their novels written. They read books about writing and attend conferences, workshops and classes where they talk ad nauseam about writing. However, they spend very little time alone, thinking, much less hunkering down somewhere and actually putting words on the page.

The problem is, too many writers today are afraid to be still.

“Discover something new every day,” he said. That advice changed me as a writer and as a person…”

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December 4, 2012 · 5:29 pm