Friday, October 24, 2014

The Sleuk Rith Institute: Zaha Hadid's Soft Hymn to Genocide in Cambodia

The institute library exterior and reflecting pool
CAMBODIA---Looking like a futuristic descendant of Angkor Wat, with a cluster of chiselled forms poking up above the trees, Cambodia is to receive a new genocide museum and research institute, designed by London-based Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid. Unveiled 35 years after the end of the Khmer Rouge’s brutal reign, the Sleuk Rith Institute will incorporate a museum, research centre, graduate school, document archives and research library, set in an expansive new park south of the centre of the capital, Phnom Penh. The project is the vision of human-rights activist Youk Chhang, 53, who has directed the Documentation Centre of Cambodia (DC-Cam) since 1995. He amassed a vast archive detailing the atrocities of the regime led by Pol Pot from 1975 to 1979, when two million Cambodians were slaughtered. [link]

Hindus Welcome Lord Shiva Statue in Prestigious Louvre Abu Dhabi


Dancing Shiva statue
FRANCE---Upcoming $630 million Louvre Abu Dhabi (LAD) museum will reportedly have Hindu Dancing Shiva statue in its permanent collection. This tenth century lost-wax bronze from Tamil Nadu (India) of Chola period, 86 centimeters high, has been in the collection of National Gallery of Australia in Canberra till 2009. A video posted on the LAD website explains the meaning behind various parts of the statue. [link]

The Jewish Beggars of Lakewood, New Jersey

By Mark Oppenheimer
Elimelech Ehrlich (seated), a beggar who travels each year from Jerusalem, talking with
students outside Beth Medrash Govoha. Credit Peter van Agtmael/Magnum, for The New York Times
NEW JERSEY---Once a year, Elimelech Ehrlich travels from Jerusalem to Lakewood, N.J., with a cash box and a wireless credit-card machine. Throughout town, he greets old friends, asking after marriages made since his last visit and new babies. And at every stop along the way, he asks for money. Ehrlich is a full-time beggar. For years, Ehrlich has made a circuit of yeshivas in Israel’s religious cities, like Jerusalem and Bnei Brak, offering his Yinglish patter to pious students in exchange for a few shekels. The yeshiva students may not give much, but nearly all of them give — and there are so many of them. About a mile from Beth Medrash Govoha’s campus, in a second-floor walk-up in a small, nondescript commercial building, there is a rather unusual organization called Tomchei Tzedakah. (The name means “supporters of charity.”) The organization issues between 950 and 1,100 ishurs a year, all to religious Jews.[link]

‘Death of Klinghoffer’: Standing Ovations for Great Art or Anti-Jewish Pornography?

By Anne Midgette
The chorus of exiled Palestinians sings in John Adams’s “The Death of Klinghoffer.” The general critical consensus: you may like the opera or not, but it isn’t anti-Semitic. (credit: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera)
NEW YORK---Banning “Klinghoffer” from the stage is not the right answer. Neither is celebrating it as a perfect work. Alas, neither side has emerged with much understanding of the other, and the martyrdom of Klinghoffer has blurred into the martyrdom of “Klinghoffer,” the opera. Which means that either you celebrate the Met or castigate the Met for putting it on, and that the company, despite putting its best foot forward, once again provides a polarizing example of opera’s distance from the city it hoped, with this production, to engage. [link]

At Last, a Peek at Doris Duke's Amazing 'Arabian Nights' Palace

By Rachel B. Doyle
All photos via the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art
HAWAII---During her lifetime, tobacco heiress Doris Duke's grand passion was her 14,000-square-foot palace in Honolulu, which she called Shangri La and filled with priceless pieces of Islamic art and design. The palace, now the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, is nothing short of a wonder. This month the fantastical Mughal Suite, which includes Duke's bedroom, private garden, dressing room and bath, opened to the public for the first time after a five-year, multimillion-dollar restoration. [link]

Takashi Murakami's Upcoming New York Show Foregrounds Faith in the Face of Disaster

By Matthew Israel
To be titled, 2014, acrylic and platinum leaf on canvas mounted on board, 118 1/8 x 118 1/8 inches
(300 x 300 cm) © 2014 Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co., Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
NEW YORK---In retrospect we may consider the 2011 Great Tōhoku Earthquake and tsunami the major career-altering event for Takashi Murakami. Murakami's upcoming exhibition at Gagosian Gallery, titled "In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow," continues to take the earthquake and tsunami as its departure-point. According to the gallery, the show will feature an immersive installation of sculptures and paintings, which will investigate "the role of faith amid the inexorable transience and trauma of existence." More specifically, the works will merge "earlier faiths, myths, and images into a syncretic spirituality of the artist's imagination." [link]

'Vodou: Sacred Powers of Haiti' at the Field Museum Looks Beyond Myths and Manufactured Images

When you hear the word Vodou, what comes to mind? Zombies, evil spells, or dolls stuck with pins? 
ILLINOIS---A remarkable exhibition of over 300 authentic Vodou objects from Haiti will open at The Field Museum on Oct. 24, 2014 and run through April 26, 2015. "Vodou: Sacred Powers of Haiti" looks beyond myths and manufactured Hollywood images – exhibition visitors will see no dolls with pins stuck into them. Instead, the exhibition explores the underground history and true nature of a living religion, and reveals Vodou as a vital spiritual and social force that remains an important part of daily life in Haiti. In the exhibition, the story of Vodou is told from the viewpoints of people who practice the religion. Through text and videos, Vodouists express their points of view about various aspects of their symbols, rituals, and spiritual beliefs. [link]

Field Museum: "Vodou: Sacred Powers of Haiti" (Oct. 24-April 26, 2015); 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL; (312) 922-9410;