week 14: Maya Lin – A Strong Clear Vision

The last blog post for this semester…
Unknown.jpeg

This week we watch a documentary biography about architect and artist Maya Lin. She is the creator of the Vietnam Veteran Memorial, Civil Rights movement fountain memorial and Women’s table at Yale university.  Her life seemed to have been an incredible journey, from winning the contest to create the vietnam veteran memorial at the age of only 20, and then having to fight for her idea and vision for it.
I think her struggle for her vision was that some people wanted something else not only because she was born from Asian parents but because there had been 1441 contestant I believe and so of course people will want to have a say and try to change things because they don’t like it. I however believe that art will always provoke, not every one but some. But I also believe that that is what art is suppose to do, because we all have different opinions based on our different experiences.
The-Vietnam-Veterans-Memorial-002.jpg

When I was watching the documentary I of course started crying, Im too emotional, but seeing how much this monument really meant for the veterans as they cried on the spot and personally thanked her I couldn’t hold my own tears back.
I liked that her creations were made so that people could interact with it and in that way become part of the art. Her choice of use of water and its representation was also brilliant and it then got people involved just like she wanted.
I think Maya Lin is a great architect and sculptor, with a genuine heart and passion for her believes and respect for others. I hope I’ll be able to see some of her work in real life on day.

 

week 13: Ai Weiwei – Never Sorry

Wow Weiwei!!
Ai-Wei-Wei-Never-Sorry-DI.jpg

This Chinese artist is incredible, maybe one of my favorites from the artists we been looking at throughout the semester. It was not just his amazing large scale artwork that i liked, although the one show he had with the exhibition of the backpacks representing the children who lost their lives in the earthquake was awesome, I loved his role as an activist. His constant work to preserve free speech and bringing democracy to china. I really like how he used his art work to take a stand. To really commit to a cause. It is almost scary how little we (or at least I) know about china and their government and the country in general,.. it is so big and it has such influence yet we don’t give it much attention. I’m not surprised over the police brutality, every American should be pretty familiar with that. Its sad that it is such a thing that we have in common.
ai-weiwei-remembering-haus-der-kunst-muenchen-2009.jpg

Throughout the movie and the more we got to know Ai Weiwei, the more I felt that he is this really passionated artist with no limitations. He said in the end of the movie that he thinks there is a responsibility for any artist to protect freedom of expression, and I could not agree more. Our governments should hide things from the people and we shouldn’t have to be afraid of them, but if they do (and they do) thats when we need people like Weiwei, that can show us the secrets. This movie also emphasizes on how powerful social media ( in this case Twitter & his blog) is in our society, what impact it has on us, and what changes it can bring. Which is why the Chinese government shut down his blog.

I liked that Ai Weiwei didn’t call himself fearless but rather more fearful than others, and because of that he acts more brave then others, he then said that he knows the danger is and if we don’t act the danger becomes stronger, I thought that was powerful. Because if the danger increases, so will the fear in people, and people who is afraid are much much easier to control. Hence, government want frighten people because they won’t resist.

I really really liked this documentary about Ai Weiwei, so much so that I’m about to watch a second film about him that is also on Netflix, called Ai Weiwei; The fake case.

week 12: Te Ata

On Thursday night I attended California’s American Indian & Indigenous Film Festival. I decided to go and watch the movie Te Ata.
IMG_4491.jpg

Yet another movie that is based on a true story.. this time the story of an native American woman Mary Francis Thompson, also called Te Ata, after needing a better stage name. As a Indian name Te Ata of course has a meaning; barer of the morning. I liked that the movie had historical accuracy such as the Chickasaw nation where Te Ata was from, were unwillingly forced in to becoming part of Oklahoma state. Te Ata travelled America with a performance group, telling the stories of several different native tribes. The life as an artist opened her eyes to a life of meaning, spreading knowledge about the Indian culture, performing in front of both the presidents and royalties.

The more i learn about the native American culture the more interested I’ve become.. the injustice that that people have had to go through is disgraceful. We often forget about them due to all the other hatred that is going on both in this country and in the world. The white man has always seem to go wherever and taking whatever, with no thought of the people that will end up suffering. Because of that a lot of culture has been lost.
What i like best about indigenous people is the way they interact with nature, the way they make use of the naturally resources we got instead of the “man created” resources. I guess we could all learn a little something, caring for our nature is vital for our survival. Too bad not everyone believes in global warming and climate change.
IMG_4496.jpg

A couple of quotes from the movie followed me back home…
“People are afraid of what they don’t know” – Douglas Johnston (governor at the Indian territory).  This quote bares nothing but truth… the human race has always been afraid of what they don’t know, and that is why we’ve gotten divided because we chose not to listen to each other, we are to afraid of what the other one might say,… especially if that person looks or acting different from ourselves.

“being Indian is not a crutch, its an advantage” – Mrs Davis (also later said by Te Ata). I’m a little unsure if I got the quote completely right but it went something like that. I liked it because its so motivational, we shouldn’t see our differences as something bad, but instead use the advantage of knowing something someone else might not and being able to spread that knowledge..We are all different and we shouldn’t be ashamed of who we are.

“Make the unknown, known” – Dr. Clyde Fisher (i believe it was him who said it…) this one ties back to my first quote… and I keep liking these sayings because they are about spreading knowledge.. and it is so important that we do, because we need to fight ignorance, we need to stop fearing one another.

I also came to realize that the native American culture seem to have had very strong and confident women, something we really don’t see in a lot of cultures.. it was inspiring to see how devoted and determined Te Ata were in her life journey, she was a female figure we should highlight and let other girls be inspired by.
IMG_4494.jpg
(required selfie.. really need a new phone.. my front camera is taking way to blurry photos)

A world free from hate may be far off, but a world a little less mean is a goal we should all work for.. our future generations depend on it.

week 11: The Sapphires

Based on a true story, doesn’t that sentence always make you a little more intrigued?

The Sapphires is a film that shows a lot of mixed cultures. I’ve enjoyed most of the movies we’ve watched so far and this one is no exception. I really like soul and jazz music. Sad fact tho that the aboriginal girls had to sing that genre because of their skin color. Even sadder fact that we still have such strong racism going on in our world. (of course keeping the u.s election in mind).
Back to the movie,  I liked the history part, you got to see part of the war or troops that you don’t normally see in all these war movies that has been made on the Vietnam war. The performance part, and the non fighting part I mean. The happy times in those violent times, kind of give it a nice contrast. Although I rather see a world without any war anywhere. What else.. love love love the accent of the Aussie aboriginals, just as Whale Rider it brought me back to when I lived down under. Crazy how the aboriginals got treated too, with the light skinned ones being taken from their families and raised as “white”, like what does that even mean? How can people have been so cruel, how is it that some have it so hard to accept people who doesn’t act or look like themselves. I just don’t get it. And that so much hatred is put on the people who originated on those lands makes it all more crazy… Another thing I liked was all the love stories in the movie, like the one between Dave Lovelace and Gail.. don’t want to spoil too much there so I’ll leave it at that. Last but not least is that I actually liked that they sang white western music first, I thought it was a cool contrast, sad that our stereotypes are the way they are. sapphires-movie-review_05212012_103139.jpg

week 10: Whale Rider

First of all I can’t even imagine how many different tribes and individual cultures there is around the world… most of them we won’t ever hear of… How crazy is that? I had no idea that New Zealand had their own tribes.. I mean I never thought about it… Im not surprised tho as different ways of practice life and/or religion is inevitable in our huge world.

vs2228spp.jpg
(Photo from the movie, Paikea the Whale Rider)

This movie pays a lot of attention to the fact that the chosen one is a girl… at first glance it is like its no surprise that the gender is the topic.. cultures as many as there is it seem to always have a problem with the females. So it must be cultural that the girl could not be the savior/prophet.
I found it sad that the grandfather or “Paka” couldn’t see that all that he wanted in the first born boy was right there in front of him, the whole time.. in the first born girl… and then blame all the things that went wrong on the poor girl.

With the grandpa’s intense connection to his tribe and his beliefs I think he should have noticed her abilities earlier… I find it a bit strange that he didn’t see it or feel it as he was the chief. It almost felt like the grandma and uncle could see Paikea for what she was, way before she swam down to catch the whale tooth. Maybe they choose to not say anything to “Paka” because everyone needs to find their answers in their own way, and in their own phase. We can’t rush epiphanies.  And sometimes we push to hard on what we believe in that we forget to open our eyes to what is right in front of us… and in this case that is what “Paka” did, he believed so strongly in the male leader version that he got blinded towards the potential of a female chief.

still-of-keisha-castle-hughes-in-whale-rider-2002-large-picture.jpg
(Photo from movie, Paikea)

I learned through this movie that our native tribes are everywhere, even if we don’t hear about them, even if they are not widespread or turned in to movies there is so much going on in our world that we do not know about, that we to be honest have not a single clue about.
That is what makes this world interesting and scary all at the same time.

46_69730546.jpg
(My photo from Aussie 2009, Manly Beach in Sydney)

On the end note… How nice isnt the New Zealand english language? I love their accent, and couldn’t help but wanting to move back to Australia where I lived 7 years ago, with the very similar accent. And not to mention the scenery… I loved the nature!
Now I gonna spend some time reminiscing my 7 months Down under.

12_84758242_thumb.jpg
(Myself posing with the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the background)

week 9: Smoke Signals

A movie about native American Indians based on a story by an actual native American Indian; Sherman Alexie.

By watching Alexie’s interview by Bill Moyers first I got a better understanding about the Indian culture, and traits that Alexie then added in the movie, such as alcoholism.

The movie was cosy and must have been low budget based as its very simply done, even if it was back and forth scenes between the past and present.
Taken place mainly on the reservation we again see a beautiful nature…reminds me of how sad it is that our culture & society neglects it, its sad that we don’t appreciate the nature around us.

hqdefault.jpg
(f.l Thomas & Victor, screenshot from movie)

Victor and Thomas is the main characters in the movie, childhood friends with inconveniences here and there.
Victor may have had the slightly bigger role, however I paid more attention to Thomas, I love that he was true to himself & his culture/heritage. It may sound stereotypical but he was portrayed as how I expected an Indian to be. In a good way (!!) 
I do not mean to stereotype anyone or negatively call someone out, the complete opposite… I love the humans differences and I believe it something we should embrace and learn from… Its a good thing that we’re not all the same because how boring would our lives be?
We need to question our beliefs and get other point of views to become better people ourselves.

maxresdefault.jpg
(Sherman Alexie – picture from Bill Moyers interview)

Back to the interview between Alexie & Moyers, I could really relate to certain aspects of Alexie’s life, as he mention fitting in and not fitting in… born an Indian but looking like a mixed “race” (yes quote marks as we all are of the human “race”).  I myself is of mixed heritage and although I am consider white in America back in Sweden with my dark features I was often asked where I came from… I like Alexie can also make conversations from both sides of the table so to speak.. however being able to “fit in” here and there have had an opposite effect on me, i don’t feel like I fit in… anywhere…

One usually fit in with people with same culture, values&beliefs, religion and or other similarities.. I’m considering myself an atheist white/latina woman..I like to have a “hippie” mindset where peace is the main focus. Free spirit people are a rare breed in a capitalistic world and maybe that why I feel so lonely?

week 8: Billy Elliot

The award winning movie about a boy overcoming his own and his families prejudices towards males dancing ballet. A touching movie which ironically enough didn’t touch me. I have chosen not to watch this movie before because I got a sense that I wouldn’t like it… and now that I had to watch it I found myself having a hard time paying attention, it just didn’t get me caught up in it…

However, yes I can see the cultural aspect of the movie, it takes place in a 1984 English countryside, at the same time as the miner’s strike (where Billy’s dad & brother works), this pushing on the gender roles and their “right” ways of being, as no mines has female workers. Yes the main theme of the movie might very well be gender and what one should and should not do according to “gender rules”.
Being 11 might not be as much of a struggle as being a teenager, but having to deal with the loss of a parent is not a child’s task, I think that when Billy discovered ballet and dancing he finds a way to deal with his loss, it gives him a way to express his sorrows, anger and joy. Expressing oneself in any form of art has a healing effect, at least in my own experience, I mean I agree with Billy when he describes how dancing makes him feel and that it easier to let go of things and not think about it.
Unfortunately like with everything hobbies takes time and my own dancing has been put on hold whilst I still try to keep up with photography and drawing.

billy-elliot_web.jpg

Its ironic that the movie contains few female actresses as gender differences seem to be so important to them (writers/directors). This movie came out in 2000, and as I said takes place in 1984, our society looks at things differently now, thankfully. We have done some progress, but far from enough, as long as blue will be seen as a “boy” color and pink as a “girl” color we are gonna have to work for gender equality. No one should have to hide who they really are, and whatever our interests are shouldn’t matter.
Pursuing our own dreams should be everyones life goal, not our parents dream, nor teachers or other.. because its yourself who has to live with the decisions.
I didn’t like the movie as much as many others, maybe because I think this topic should be a given, because it is to me, I don’t care what you like as long as you don’t force me in to it. At the same time I won’t stop you from doing what you like. with the exception that it doesn’t hurt anyone else..

We should all learn to just accept, respect and believe in ourselves, just like Billy ended up doing!
My favorite scene is when he’s dancing on the rooftops & streets and billy-elliot_06.jpg…just exploding in electricity..

week 7: Songcatcher

I don’t think i would ever have watched the Songcatcher if it wasn’t for this class, but I’m glad I did because I kinda liked it. It was a pretty movie.. beautiful might be a better word? It was almost all nature through out the movie and i liked it.

I enjoyed the movie for many reasons not only the nature scenery. I liked that there was a lot of music in it, even if it was old scots-irish folk songs and ballads. The sound was soothing, and seeing Dr. Penleric  and the apparatus she has to use to record songs, it reminds me on how far the progress of technology has come. How easy it is for almost anyone to just press play on ones phone and then record whatever one want. And if we don’t like what we  record we can always erase and re-do it. The dedication, energy and tolerance for such work back then. songcatcher-2.jpg

I also like that they decided to have a lesbian couple in a movie taking place in the early 1900’s. Another reminder of our progress and the struggle for people to be able to be with whom ever they like. I mean there is still people out there committing the same sort of hate crime as some of the men did in the movie. Kind of make you think how we can be so far along in technology advancement and still have so far to go in human knowledge and common sense.
Anyway, I liked everyones accent it really added to their characters and the setting of the movie, it enjoyed the movie so much i actually cried towards the end. 11.jpg

week 6: Mi Familia/La Mission

We had to watch two movies this week, both about mexican-american families, both which confirmed or supported some of my prejudices about the meximerican culture.

I watched La Mission first, and for a movie being that long (1h55min) I was expecting another or better ending. Im not gonna spoil the movie as I did like it for the most part and for anyone interested in watching it should. Both the mural art and car art symbolized a lot of culture, family and religion confirming the prejudices about mexican-american catholics. Also supporting that is the fathers reaction when he finds out the truth about his son.  The son who in my opinion portrayed the most masculine role, which is no surprise as a homosexual male in a catholic environment has to come across as strong to not lose face.
Unknown.jpeg MV5BMTk1Mzc3NzY3Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTQxNDU4Mw@@._V1_UY268_CR4,0,182,268_AL_.jpg
In Mi Familia a movie I must say I liked better we get a whole life story told to us and I really enjoyed the history part in the movie. I loved how the house was the meeting point, the center of the movie, it made it easier to understand the family value and connection they all had. It again is confirming the meximerican culture but also helps in understanding their values and beliefs. I also enjoyed that each room in the house had a different strong color, it was suited with the way the movie was shown, time periodically. In both movies the message is the importance of family, and that the struggle is part of life, we get through it, we fight and we survive with the help and understanding from the people around us. Our family.

These movies are both being portrayed to take place no later than the 80s-90s, (yes Mi familia start out way earlier) and what I notice is that there is still people living like they do, there is still these division between people, culture and class, 20-30 years later and we still struggle with this… makes you question if it will ever change..

week 5: Buena Vista Social Club

Overall a nice little movie about a musician (Ry Cooder) who travelled to Cuba to meet people who are still in touch with there culture & music. He wanted a view of Cuba that didn’t focus on their politics but on their music.

Unfortunately I didn’t get capture in it, the intro with jumping back and forth between looking for the location where the Social club had been and the set up of the concert mad it hard for me to follow and pay attention.
Latino music in my opinion is always beautiful, and having a mom with her roots in Peru latino music has always been a part of my life, so the music they played in this movie really reminded me of home and made me reminisce back to my childhood. All in all it made me miss my mom a little more than before.. ( she’s all fine and that its just that my family is all the way in Sweden when I’m writing this, and distance is always a bummer)

What I liked and appreciated with this movie was the footage of it, the pictures of Havana and Cuba overall, I would love to travel over there. Cuba has always seemed like a country with a lot of culture, and is so different from the society I’ve been growing up with and know of. The old architect and history makes me think about what I think Ibrahim Planes said “we have learned to resist both the good and the bad” which I understood as while a lot of other countries accepted the “good” of commercialized & mainstream consumption Cuba and the cubans  didn’t. They still have their culture & their companionship for each other. I think that is really beautiful.  It was also great to see these old men (and woman) with such energy & joy, I hope I at least got half of that when Im in my 90’s.