Nuri Bilge Ceylan wins the Palme d’Or Prize at Cannes for his film Kış Uykusu (Winter Sleep)

Nuri Bilge Ceylan just won the Palme d’Or at Cannes for his film Kış Uykusu (Winter Sleep)making him the second Turkish director to receive a Palme d’Or after Yilmaz Günay and Serif Gören, who won with the film Yol (Road) at the Cannes Film Festival in 1982. 

Acknowledging the 2013-14 protests which swept across Turkey and led to the deaths of 11 people, the director said, “I want to dedicate the prize to all the young people of Turkey, including those who lost their lives.”

The film is about a crumbling marriage in a mountaintop hotel on the Anatolian steppe, and the footage I have seen is meditative and rich, filled with slow, lingering shots and the beautiful and eerie landscapes of central Anatolia. Robbie Collin of The Telegraph described the film as “fiendishly intelligent stuff from the director, nudging back the limits of what we expect of cinema and also what it expects of us: a mighty tale of what becomes of a man when his heart goes into hibernation.”

Here is the French trailer for the film:

Ceylan’s work is well worth following: he is a director who has all the psychological rigor and depth of Ingmar Bergman or Andrei Tarkovsky, and usually works on a very low budget, often with nonprofessional actors. His his stories are complex, philosophical, highly literate and poetic, built around long circuitous conversations and inner dialogs. 

I haven’t seen this newest film yet (when will it come to the United States?) but I was riveted the director’s last film, Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, 2011), a story about a group of men who search for a dead body on the Anatolian steppe, which had some of the best writing I have encountered in a long time. I am told that one tremendous late scene in Winter Sleep features a drunken Shakespeare quote-off, and that it’s no coincidence that the hotel in the film is called Ev Othello. I cannot wait to see this. 

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Temporary Journey

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I choose artworks that are ephemeral because, well, life is that. It’s such a temporary journey. (David Hammons)

David Hammons has been making art and challenging the conditions of artmaking with his acerbic performative presence for nearly forty years, and to celebrate the winter solstice, I present you with his iconic Bliz-aard Ball Sale (1983), a performance piece in which the artist stood among street vendors in Cooper Square in order to sell a collection of snowballs, priced according to size (photo courtesy of Frieze Magazine.)

I love the radical ephemerality in Hammons’s work – what could be more fleeting than a snowball? Especially at this time of year, when consumerism swirls about us, his vigorous stab at the commodity exchange and our overly materialist culture is refreshing, exciting, and real. It brings us back to life.

If you really know who you are then it is easy to make art. Most people are really concerned about their image. Artists have allowed themselves to be boxed in by saying “yes” all the time, and they should be saying “no.” I do my street art mainly to keep rooted in that “who I am.” Because the only thing that is really going on is in the street; that’s where something is really happening. It isn’t happening in these galleries. (David Hammons)

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More on David Hammons:

At The New Museum’s Digital Archive

Can You Remove The Rainbow from Happening? (Article by Thomas Büsch for InEnArt)

Wreaking Havoc on the Signified (Article by Coco Fusco and Christian Haye for Frieze Magazine)

Quotes by David Hammons (Brown University)

 

Pussy Riot to Be Freed

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It was just announced that Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina, members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot currently imprisoned in a hard labor camp in Russia, could be released under an amnesty bill being submitted by the Kremlin.

Let’s hope this is true and happens as quickly as possible so that these women, who have committed no violent crimes and both of whom have small children, can return to their loved ones, have their lives back, and continue to fight for justice.

Meanwhile, check out this video interview with Maxim Pozdorovkin and Mike Lerner, co-directors of the Pussy Riot documentary Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer on why the group is being persecuted by the Russian Orthodox church, and this video interview with three other members of the punk band on what Pussy Riot means to them and the empowering effect of anonymity.

Remembering Walter de Maria

American sculptor Walter De Maria is deadWalter de Maria died this past year, and this post is my moment of saying goodbye to an artist I loved.

His life’s work is associated with minimal, conceptual, and land art and is profoundly exploratory: In addition to being a visual artist, he composed music (including Cricket Music, 1964, which was a recording of himself accompanying the sounds of crickets on the drums), produced films (Three Circles and Two Lines in the Desert and Hardcore, both in 1969), and was the drummer in the NewYork rock group The Primitives, as well as an artist/musician in the collaborative group The Druds, which was a precursor to The Velvet Underground. It’s a lively and expansive oeuvre.

His most notable works are Land Art pieces and include The Broken Kilometer (1979), located in NYC and curated by the DIA Center, a the companion piece to Vertical Earth Kilometer (1977) located in Kassel, Germany, Seen/Unseen Known/Unknown (2000) at Naoshima,Kagawa, an island off the southern Japan coast on the Seto Inland Sea, and The Earth Room (1977), my favorite, a serene knee-high pile of dirt that fills the floor of a SoHo loft, which is the third Earth Room sculpture executed by de Maria, the first being in Munich, Germany in 1968, and the second at the Hessisches Landesmuseum in Darmstadt, Germany in 1974. (The first two Earth Room sculptures no longer exist; the third is curated and maintained by the DIA Center).

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