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Posts tagged ‘Culture’

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The art of protest

Port, 18 April 2011

Can art change the world? Ekow Eshun on the total politics of Ai Weiwei

Politics has been a desperately unfashionable subject in art for the past decade or more. That’s roughly the length of time of the last art boom and it’s telling that the big hitters of that era – among them Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami and Damien Hirst – produce art that is glossy and expensively finished but which raises few questions or hackles. In its absence of dissonance, a Koons giant inflatable bunny or a Hirst spin painting has become a perfect status symbol for moneyed classes around the world from investment bankers and hedge fund guys to Russian oligarchs and Gulf state sheiks. more

Self-expression

Port, March 2011

Ekow Eshun explains how social networking offers everyone with an Internet connection a curated form of self-expression, and argues that Twitter might one day become our voice of public – and private – record

What does it take to write the perfect tweet? I ask this question in the knowledge that Twitter is hardly short of contributions from the witty, the satirical and the compendiously well informed. But far less is it a repository for the polished, economical prose that’s part of the language of, say good journalism or non-fiction writing. Why? When I raised the subject on Twitter itself recently I largely drew a blank. Most people wanted to tell me that a 140-character limit is the enemy of good writing – as if Hemmingway or Carver or a centuries of Japanese haikus hadn’t made the case for literary concision. On reflection I think the question probably came across as an odd one to ask. Twitter is primarily used for voicing opinion and exchanging information. Worrying about style or form must seem irrelevant or even antique in comparison to addressing the nature of the content itself. more

Black students deserve better from Oxbridge

London Evening Standard, 8 December 2011

Last year, only one Afro-Caribbean British student was accepted at any of Oxford‘s 38 colleges to study as an undergraduate. Only 27 British students from any origin defining themselves as black were admitted as undergraduates.

This, along with other similarly disquieting information, has been uncovered by David Lammy MP through a series of freedom of information requests.

Through him, we now know that more than 20 Oxbridge colleges made no undergraduate offers to black British candidates of Afro-Caribbean descent last year and that Merton College has not admitted a black student for the past five years — and just three in the past decade.

The colleges have their own rationale for the figures. Black students apply disproportionately for the three most oversubscribed undergraduate courses — economics and management, medicine and maths — which, says a spokesperson, “goes a very long way” to explaining the stats. This is staggeringly complacent. more

The Diary: Ekow Eshun

Financial Times, August 14 2010

I’ve noticed a steady contraction in my weekend leisure options since becoming a father for the first time three years ago. Where once I’d spend Saturdays shopping, browsing East End galleries or just having a drink on the roof of Shoreditch House, now I’m limited to the parks and open spaces of north London. On clement days, a hike across Hampstead Heath or a stroll through Highgate Wood beckons, my three-year-old son beside me teetering along fallen trees and searching the undergrowth for badgers. Often, though, we just settle for the proximity of the local playgrounds at Highbury Fields or Clissold Park.

As a consequence of these outings, rather than any deliberate effort on my part, I have become a member of what I’ve taken to calling the Clissold Park Fathers’ Club. We are an informal – and occasionally reluctant – network of dads, thrust from our homes on weekend mornings by the twin imperatives of spending more time with our children and giving our partners a lie-in. Entry requirements are not stringent. Just turn up with a kid of your own and you’re in. Dress code is informal. Hair is worn tousled. Clothes rumpled. Chins bestubbled. You will find similar gatherings at parks all over London.

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Shock and awe: The art of Chris Ofili

The Independent Friday, 22 January 2010

A major retrospective of Chris Ofili’s work opens at Tate Britain next week. Ekow Eshun talks to Ofili about his new-found ‘sense of freedom’

Ekow Eshun: We’re in your studio in Trinidad, so what brought you here and what took you away from London?

Chris Ofili: I felt in some way things had closed down. London was an exciting place to work at one point, because socially it was very progressive – a catalyst. There were very interesting artists making all types of work, but it got to a point where the social aspect became claustrophobic. The fact it was all happening in London became counter-productive, and highlighted the fact that there’s a big world out there, and places where there isn’t so much vanity about the cultural scene. It also got to a point where I felt the work was really known in a public sense, that the division between public and private was like a thin membrane. And I didn’t feel that gave me a greater sense of freedom. The public is not within my control, but the work is, and I wanted to make changes within the work. That couldn’t happen in an arena that was familiar to me. more