Painter Frida Kahlo and saxophonist Melissa Aldana


This 2017 video is called Frida Kahlo: A collection of 100 paintings (HD).

By Chris Searle in Britain:

Monday, June 24, 2019

Interview: Connecting with Kahlo

Jazz saxophonist MELISSA ALDANA talks to Chris Searle about the influence of the Mexican artist on her new album

BORN in the Chilean capital Santiago in 1988, Melissa Aldana has saxophone music in her blood.

Both her father and grandfather were eminent Chilean saxophonists and Aldana grew up listening to the records of Sonny Rollins,
Charlie Parker and Cannonball Adderley. She took up the horn aged six and by her early teens was already a working musician as a tenor saxophonist.

By 2009, having moved to the US and graduated from top jazz academy Berklee, she won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Award at the age of just 24.

“I just knew at some point I was ready to leave Chile and come to New York,” she tells me. “If I wanted to be the best as a musician and keep learning, New York is the city that pushes you to do that.

“It’s a hard place to live but it keeps you moving and growing. I have the freedom to be myself and do what I love and, thankfully, I get recognition for that — which doesn’t happen to everyone.”

Her quintet now plays around the world but her new album Visions takes her back to her young days in Chile when she was deeply affected by the communist Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.

“Frida to me was an artist who embraced who she was through her art. She talks about beauty, ugliness, being a female, religion, politics, love affairs and sexuality but mostly accepting herself as an individual. This is a big part of how she engendered me to write this music,” she explains.

Her record, she says, reflects Kahlo’s struggles: “The album became a path for my own identity and expression, experimenting both harmonically and rhythmically with moments of frantic movement interspersed with order and structure.

“This is how I conjure the messiness, struggles and heartbreaking contradictions present in those visions of identity and self-worth.”
Her horn sounds create new elements, based on Kahlo’s own visions, which respond to the challenging questions which bubbled up while she was immersed in her paintings. “I felt connected to her personal struggles on an intuitive level — opposing forces in Kahlo’s life that have had a direct impact on my own music, my own self-identity.”

As soon as her album begins, with Sam Harris’s rolling piano, Pablo Menares’s bass, Tommy Crane’s sprinkling drums and Joel Ross’s vibes, you can sense that deep connection with Kahlo in a charged empathy with the Americas.

The track La Madrina is Aldana’s sonic reincarnation of Kahlo’s choice of “either living with inescapable pain due to childhood polio and a horrific bus accident, gangrene and miscarriages or dying and finding peace,” she says.

“To capture the complexity of our life choices, I’ve written layers of tension and resolution into the music. There are tightly arranged sections but also extended improvisation.”

It’s a unique musical excursion into the mind of a sister artist, with Aldana’s beautifully fluid sound sometimes floating, elsewhere delving into the Mexican artist’s consciousness with a keening insight and intimacy.

And it’s an album which shows that Aldana, despite her global achievements, has never artistically left Latin America.

“I usually go back to Chile every year,” she says. “People there are very supportive and proud of me. I have always felt that since day one.”

Visions is released on Motema. Melissa Aldana plays Pizza Express Jazz Club in London on July 9.

This video, recorded in the USA, says about itself:

Visions for Frida Kahlo (2018) Melissa Aldana
orch. Alan Baylock

I. Frida
II. Diego
III. Godmother

Melissa Aldana, saxophone
UNT One O’Clock Lab Band
Recorded live November 20, 2018 Winspear Hall, College of Music University of North Texas

Soloists: Drew Kilpela, Melissa Aldana, Michael Clement Sam Cousineau, Ethan Ditthardt, Michael Clement Gregory Newman, Alex Souris
Guest Instrumentalists: Eugen Kim, violin & Destin Wernicke, vibraphone

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German secret police spying on punk rockers


This live music video, recorded on 28 February 2015 in Hamburg, Germany, shows a concert by punk rock band Dr. Ulrich Undeutsch.

The word ‘Undeutsch’ in the name of the band, meaning ‘un-German’ was what nazis during the Hitler era called opponents of nazism.

By Martin Nowak in Germany:

Punk band files lawsuit against surveillance by German intelligence agency

20 June 2019

Last week, the German punk band Dr. Ulrich Undeutsch filed a lawsuit against the Saxony State Office for the Protection of the Constitution (the German domestic intelligence agency at the state level, LfV). The injunction seeks to ensure that the 2018 intelligence agency report, which lists the band in the category “left-wing extremist music scene”, “can no longer be published in this form.”

The band, based in the eastern German state of Saxony, justified its lawsuit by arguing that it was not clear “how our music infringed on the freedom of art and made us enemies of democracy.” The band also states in its press release: “What is obvious, however, is that this classification criminalises us and will be used by the authorities to make it harder for us to obtain venues, hosts and concert promoters.”

The press release refers to the disproportionate deployment of police at the band’s concerts and the fact that organisers are pressured on a regular basis to cancel concerts by Dr. Ulrich Undeutsch, or concerts are cancelled for no good reason. This took place most recently in Leubsdorf, near where the band is based in Grünhainichen, when the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) mayor canceled an entire Alternative Rock Night concert.

The LfV has included the “left-wing extremist music scene” in its reports since 2015. In the current report, eleven bands are named. Dr. Ulrich Undeutsch was first mentioned in 2017. The LfV in Bavaria also listed the band for the first time in its 2017 report, although it has only played two concerts in the south German state.

The Saxon “constitution protection” report for 2018 had already hit the headlines prior to the punk band’s lawsuit, after it accused the organisers of an anti-Nazi concert, attended by 70,000 people in Chemnitz following riots by far rightists, of giving left-wing “extremists” a platform to spread “their extremist ideology to non-extremists.” The report cited as proof for its claims shouts by the crowd of “Alerta, alerta Antifascista.”

In a similar manner, the report indicts Dr. Ulrich Undeutsch for its anti-fascist stance, its opposition to repression and its alleged “rejection of the democratic constitutional state.” The report offers as evidence lyrics from the song “Punk” from 2017 (no longer on the market) which ended: “I hate the system. I hate this state.”

“Upon closer examination of the individual who is president of the Saxon State Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Mr. Gordian Meyer-Plath”, the band writes, “it quickly becomes clear why above all in Saxony, there is alleged to have been an above-average growth of left-wing extremist music. The former undercover agent in charge of the NSU [neo-fascist National Socialist Underground]
Carsten Szczepanski, alias Piatto, remains up until today one reason why a thorough and proper review of the NSU murder series seems almost impossible.” Between 2000–2007 the National Socialist Underground carried out a series of ten murders and numerous bank robberies under the noses of and possibly in collaboration with German intelligence agencies.

The fact that the LfV president Meyer-Plath is also a member of the Marchia fraternity, which until 2011 was affiliated to the far-right umbrella organisation, German Fraternity, the band points out, demonstrates that he “is not exactly a democratic role model.”

The public prosecutor in Potsdam is currently examining whether to take action against the Saxon LfV president for making false statements. Meyer-Plath, who had previously worked for the Brandenburg state intelligence agency, was interviewed in April 2018 by the NSU investigation committee of the Brandenburg state parliament regarding his role in the case of neo-Nazi and undercover agent Szczepanski.

The Left Party chairman of the investigation committee, Volkmar Schöneburg, accuses Meyer-Plath of having helped the neo-Nazi, who has been convicted of attempted murder, to produce a magazine for the militant Nazi scene while in prison. Meyer-Plath denied the claim that he had exchanged mail with relaxed safety rules with “Piatto”. Schöneburg told the Tagesspiegel newspaper that Meyer-Plath’s version of events had been refuted by documents and statements by prison staff.

Szczepanski, a former functionary of the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party (NPD), also participated in establishing the Ku Klux Klan in Germany. Meyer Plath is alleged to have passed on information to Szczepanski relating to weapons procurement and raids planned by the NSU terror gang. In order to protect his undercover agent, Meyer Plath allegedly did not forward this same information to the police.

The action undertaken by the state office of constitution protection against Dr. Ulrich Undeutsch is an attack on basic democratic rights and, above all, on the freedom of expression and art. The band’s lawsuit should be supported.

The Socialist Equality Party (SGP) is suing the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, which illegally classified the party in its 2017 report as “left-wing extremist” and therefore subject to surveillance. The criminalisation of antifascism, criticism of capitalism and state repression, as the SGP writes, is “a component of government policy that is increasingly based on authoritarian forms of rule and the reliance on right-wing extremist forces so as to enforce militarist policies, the strengthening of the repressive state apparatus and attacks on social spending, and to suppress all opposition that emerges.”

Rembrandt, other painting exhibitions in Dutch Leiden


This 14 June 2019 Dutch video with English subtitles says about itself:

An eye for detail

[Art historian] Wieteke van Zeil gives tips to see more during your visit to Museum De Lakenhal.

From the site of Museum De Lakenhal in Leiden, the Netherlands:

Museum De Lakenhal presents: Rembrandt & the Dutch Golden Age

20 June 2019 – 3 October 2019

The galleries of Museum De Lakenhal exhibit leading works from the Golden Age of Leiden’s masters such as Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, Jan van Goyen, Jan Steen and the Leiden Fijnschilders (literally ‘fine painters’). This exhibition tells the story of Leiden and the flourishing artists who made it the birthplace of the Dutch Golden Age.

Leiden as birthplace of the Dutch Golden Age

Early 17th century Leiden was the workplace of diverse painters, each of which would prove to be of crucial significance to Dutch Golden Age art. The young Rembrandt and Jan Lievens worked closely together in their formative years as artists and during the time they spent in Leiden, they laid the foundations for an oeuvre that would be of global significance. From the outset, they presented themselves through their paintings and etchings as experimental and inquisitive artists. At the same time, Jan van Goyen and the maritime artist Jan Porcellis were developing as pioneers of Dutch landscape painting. Leiden also gained prominence through painters such as Jan Davidsz de Heem and David Bailly who focused on vanitas still lifes, which dealt with the concept of transience. The masterpieces of these great artists can be admired at the exhibition.

Rembrandt & Leiden’s Fijnschilders

Gerrit Dou was Rembrandt’s most important student. After leaving his mentor for Amsterdam in 1632, he concentrated on extremely finely detailed cabinet paintings. He was inspired by Rembrandt and developed into the founder of the Leidse Fijnschilders movement of artists, who, unlike Rembrandt and Vermeer, managed to acquire international renown during their lifetime. No collection of royal standing was complete without works by Fijnschilders such as Frans van Mieris, Pieter van Slingelandt or Godfried Schalcken. The collection of Fijnschilders at Museum De Lakenhal has recently grown into one of the most important of its kind.

Earliest known works of Rembrandt in the spotlight

The earliest known works of Rembrandt, including A Peddler Selling Spectacles (ca. 1624) and History Painting (1626) are at the heart of the exhibition. A Peddler Selling Spectacles is part of a series portraying the five senses which Rembrandt painted when he was about seventeen. Although Rembrandt is clearly experimenting with technique and perspective, this painting is a sign of the attention to the chiaroscuro and virtuosity of brushstrokes that we would see in Rembrandt’s later works for which he would become famous. History Painting (1626) is an early example of how Rembrandt portrays himself in a painting. In collaboration with the Rijksmuseum, the History Painting has been restored in the Amsterdam museum’s studio, bringing Rembrandt’s colour palette back to its original glory.

Late Golden Age

Leiden paintings of the late Golden Age are characterised by their expressive realism in conjunction with their classical dignity. The most significant representatives of the incipient movement are the Leiden-based painter Jan Steen and the sculptor Pieter Xavery. Their work, which is full of playful humour and folksy caricature, still enjoys huge popularity among a wide public. Like Rembrandt, Jan Steen had the habit of including self-portraits in his paintings. Presumably inspired by Rembrandt. The exhibition shows of Jan Steen’s works in which he incorporates his self-portrait: a self-portrait of the painter with his wife entitled Couple Reading the Bible (ca. 1650) and The robbed violonist (ca. 1670-72). Jan Steen was never shied away from portraying himself as a salt-of-the-earth caricature, as shown here as a violin player who is being robbed.

Year Of Rembrandt & the Dutch Golden Age

In 2019 the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt van Rijn’s death will be honoured with numerous events which will be held in The Hague, Leiden, Leeuwarden, Amsterdam and other places. Experience the Netherlands in the era of Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age through the special exhibitions being held at venues such as Museum De Lakenhal, the Fries Museum, The Mauritshuis, The Rembrandt House Museum, Amsterdam City Archives (Stadsarchief Amsterdam) and the Rijksmuseum.

Painter Frida Kahlo, first voice recording discovered?


This 13 June 2019 video says about itself:

Frida Kahlo‘s only known voice recording possibly found in Mexico

The National Sound Library of Mexico has unearthed what they believe could be the first known voice recording of Frida Kahlo, taken from a pilot episode of 1955 radio show El Bachiller, which aired after her death in 1954. The episode featured a profile of Kahlo‘s artist husband Diego Rivera. In it, she reads from her essay Portrait of Diego.

Mexican fireflies’ mating dance, video


This 10 June 2019 video says about itself:

Every year, hundreds of thousands of fireflies begin their mating dance in the pine forests of Mexico. Filmmaker Blake Congdon captured this incredible phenomenon as never before seen.

German art students protest against neo-fascism


This video from the USA says about itself:

Degenerate Art – 1993, The Nazis vs. Expressionism

This is a documentary from 1993 by David Grubin (written, produced, and directed) about the art exhibit under the Nazi regime of what they considered to be the most corrupting and corrosive examples of what they called ‘Entartete Kunst’ or ‘Degenerate Art‘.

The exhibit, which opened in July of 1937, was meant to be laughed at and despised.

I ran across it in a class on Modernism and Post-Modernism. The film is not generally available at the time of this writing (other than on VHS). Personally, I could think of no better backdrop for the ideas and pathos of expressionist art than Nazi Germany, shown by a great deal of actual footage (most provided by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art — they had an exhibit of their own based on the event that same year).

The music is similarly striking, including Schoenberg, Hindemith, and Wagner. All of the art shown, by the way, is referenced by name in the end credits, which I include.

By Martin Nowak in Germany:

Students at Dresden School of Art protest against the far-right AfD

8 June 2019

Students at the Dresden School of Art (Hochschule für bildende Künste, HfBK) protested last week against the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD). The students expressed their opposition to “the creeping acceptance of right-wing content” and demanded that the university management make clear its adherence to the principle of artistic freedom and its opposition to right-wing extremism.

The HfBK, founded in 1764, is one of the oldest and most renowned universities in Germany. Its reputation is inextricably linked to outstanding artists such as Otto Dix, George Grosz, Oskar Kokoschka, Conrad Felixmüller, and other socially committed, antimilitarist, and socialist artists of the early 20th century.

The trigger for the protests was the candidacy of the library director Barbara Lenk for the AfD in a local election in nearby Meissen. Students occupied the library for a day on May 29 and put up banners pointing out the incompatibility of freedom of art and education with the program of the AfD. “HfBK or AfD—you cannot have both,” read one banner hanging from the window of the university.

Other banners drew attention to the long-standing hostility of the AfD and its affiliated Pegida movement towards artists. One of the AfD’s recent election posters demanded: “Not a penny for politically motivated art,” and its state election program makes clear that this refers to all art that does not promote the nationalist, racist, homophobic and other reactionary views of the neofascist party.

The draft of the AfD program states: “Culture must not be a playground for sociocultural clientele politics.” The program draft accuses theatres in the state of Saxony of practicing “a one-sided politically oriented, educational music and speech theatre.” Against this background, the fears of students and the demands they raised are absolutely justified. As it itself proclaims, the AfD is motivated by the fact that many artists and cultural institutions in Dresden have expressed support for cultural tolerance in general and immigrants and refugees specifically, as well as opposition to racism and nationalism.

The protest is not only directed against the far-right views of the AfD. University students fear for their own safety. Dresden student representative Madlyn Sauer told German radio (Deutschlandfunk Kultur) that the library director has “access to the sensitive data of students and employees, via addresses, e-mail addresses, mobile phones. And given that there are a number of politically active students, as well as students from a different cultural background whom the AfD regard as their enemies, we are of course very worried as to whether she can be really trusted with the data.”

After calling a general meeting, 300 students voted to occupy the library. Following discussions with the university management, the occupation ended on the same afternoon. The university management agreed to the demand by students to publicise a declaration by the student council on the HfBK website.

The declaration expressed concern about “movements and opinions which have been developed and promoted in particular in the Free State of Saxony… We cannot leave uncommented events such as those which took place in Chemnitz and the continuous slogans of the (far-right) PEGIDA.” The statement continues, “As more and more links are revealed between the ruling executive in the state and the legislature, we fear restrictions on our freedom and work in this election year.” Elections in Saxony are to be held later this year.

Further talks between the university leadership and students have been agreed. In the meantime, the students have announced further actions, such as flash mobs, video projects, and research into the history of the university during the period of the Nazis, which, much like AfD, attacked what Hitler called “degenerate art”.

Comments expressed by the university rector, Matthias Flügge, make clear, however, that the students at the HfBK face an uphill struggle. The press release by the university leadership stresses its supposed “political neutrality”. Party political commitment on the part of employees is not the concern of the university management unless “it is certain that the party in question is anti-constitutional.” According to Flügge, the head of the university library is “an outstanding employee. On this basis, I stand behind her and will not tolerate bullying.” The fact that Flügge “as a person takes a very different political path is a completely different matter.”

Chancellor Jochen Beißert told Deutschlandfunk that he had made clear in an interview with Barbara Lenk that her candidacy for the AfD candidacy was her right, but that she had to assure her office’s “neutrality and, of course, defend the liberal-democratic constitution.”

In other words, the university administration considers the AfD to be legitimate up until the point that Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, the BfV, classifies it as “anti-constitutional”. But the BfV is itself closely involved with far-right networks. This is confirmed by a glimpse at the recently published intelligence agency report for the state of Saxony. The report fails to identify either the AfD or Pegida as far-right organisations. They are only mentioned in the report as the victims of left-wing extremists.

On the other hand, the antifascist punk band Feine Sahne Fischfilet, which played at the “Rock against the Right Wing” concert, following a neo-Nazi march in Chemnitz, is branded in the report as “left-wing extremist”. The secret service report goes so far as to denounce the concert for providing a platform to left-wing extremists.

The right-wing extremist blog Tichy’s Insight, which claims to be directed towards the country’s “liberal-conservative elite” celebrated the stance taken by the leadership of the HfBK. “The rector, the chancellor, and the library commissioner, regardless of their personal political beliefs, all stood behind Lenk,” the fascist publication boasted. The blog then accused students of promoting “ideological terror” and declared that their criticism of the AfD candidacy by the head of the library amounted to “slander, coercion, extortion and, ultimately, defamation.”

The events at the HfBK in Dresden confirm that the AfD and right-wing extremist ideologies are being protected at German universities. The events in Dresden resemble the response to the Trotskyist youth and student organisation, the IYSSE, at Berlin’s Humboldt University after it criticised the right-wing extremist historian Jörg Baberowski. Baberowski, who seeks to relative the crimes of Hitler and the Third Reich and promotes German imperialism, has been sheltered by Humboldt, while the IYSSE has been censured.

Women’s football World Cup, with brass band


This music video shows Dutch brass band ‘t Spul(t) from Zutphen city playing during the 2017 women’s football European championship in the Netherlands, won by the Dutch team. They wear orange shirts, like the national team football players.

The Dutch NOS TV reports today that they will also be present at the women’s football World Cup in France at the Dutch team’s matches. The first one will be this Tuesday afternoon, against New Zealand, in Le Havre.

Among the songs they play are Happy by Pharrell Williams and Sweet Child O’Mine by Guns ‘N Roses.

Brass band 't Spult, photo Eline de Zeeuw/NOS