Culture

Dinh Q le: The Colony

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Thirteen miles off the coast of Peru lie the Chincha Islands, three small islands inhabited by large numbers of seabirds. These birds produce what became an incredibly valuable and sought after natural resource among competing imperialist powers during the mid-19th century. Large deposits of bird excrement, known as guano, built up over the islands. This guano is rich in nitrogen, phosphate and potassium and therefore makes a great fertiliser.

Hieronymus Bosch: visionary of change

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Hieronymus Bosch was known as “the devil maker”. In honour of the 500th anniversary of his death the exhibition Hieronymus Bosch: Visions of Genius is taking place at his birthplace in the Netherlands.

His paintings are inhabited by all kinds of wretched creatures and monsters. People sometimes assume the artist was on some kind of medieval acid because of his overwhelming web of illusions and hallucinations. Yet his works are filled with a deeper meaning. Bosch presents a piercing vision of society for everyone to see.

Songs for Our Mothers

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If you haven’t yet been exposed to Fat White Family, they are a South London six-piece that have gained prominence in the last two or three years, mainly through their energetic (and very, very messy) live shows.

Known for their low-fi, dirgy sound, they seem to aspire to the filthy style, shocking lyrics and chaotic atmosphere of bands such as The Fall, Nick Cave’s The Birthday Party, Butthole Surfers and certainly Industrial pioneers Throbbing Gristle. If that’s what you’re into, they do it pretty well.

Taxi Tehran

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Jafar Panahi, the Iranian director, has made many films, challenging class, gender and ethnicity inequalities in Iran. He has been threatened with imprisonment and has been banned from travelling abroad and making films.

But he has continued his work unofficially. His latest film, Taxi Tehran, won the Golden Bear at last year’s Berlin Festival. He also acts in this film, playing an unofficial communal taxi driver in Tehran. These taxi drivers are one example of a large informal workforce.

Mavis!

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Mavis! is an enjoyable, feel-good documentary that depicts the successful and ongoing career of soul and gospel singer Mavis Staples. The documentary follows Staples as she tours and reminisces about her remarkable career. It includes archival footage of her family group The Staple Singers performing in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

Although the film’s main focus is on the musical career of Mavis rather than the political activism of the Civil Rights era in which she and her family were centrally involved, it does touch on the friendship between Mavis’s father and Martin Luther King.

Welcome to Leith

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Welcome to Leith is a feature-length documentary which chronicles the struggle of the residents of Leith, North Dakota, to rid the town of a white supremacist.

Leith is a tiny, quiet town of just 24 people. Everything changes in May 2012 when Craig Cobb, described as one of the top five white supremacists in the US, moves into town.

He begins to acquire plots of land as part of his surreptitious plan to turn Leith into a whites-only community to preserve the Aryan race.

Monuments Should Not Be Trusted

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This exhibition of work by artists in former Yugoslavia has been curated by Lina Džuverović.

It brings together over 30 leading artists and groups from the “golden years” of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia — the period between the early 1960s and the mid-1980s.

There is a striking collage by Avgust Černigoj from 1972 of anti Vietnam War protesters and a cartoonish, ghoulish face wearing a Stars and Stripes bandana with the name “Nixon”.

Trumbo

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If you trace the so-called principles of the Labour MPs who voted to bomb Iraq — and who will no doubt soon vote to renew Trident — their slug-trail invariably leads to Washington. Right-wing Labour MPs are brand ambassadors for US imperialism. They simply take it for granted that in any situation America will be the good guys. The Labour right really does believe that America is the “land of the free”.

This month a new movie and newly published book help to remind us just what total piffle this view of America is.

HITNRUN Phase Two

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Unlike September’s poorly-received Phase One this surprise end-of-year release is a step away from digital production and back to the classic funky analogue sounds that Prince does so well.

This is not an entirely new album. Some of the tracks have been released already and can be found for free online, some have been performed in recent live shows and some are from Prince’s archive of thousands of songs he has previously recorded — but it doesn’t suffer for all that.

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