Currently on view at the Johnson Museum, Daniel Nadler’s ’54 photographs of Theyyam Rituals of Kerala offer an extraordinary view into the local religious traditions of the south Indian state of Kerala. These performances, in which a male performer is used a vehicle for the spirit of a god, were captured by chance by Nadler while he and his wife travelled through India in 2004.
When considering artwork from Japan, one often thinks of the traditional ukiyo-e woodblock prints that made their way to Europe to inspire the Impressionists. After Hiroshige: A Century of Modern Japanese Prints demonstrates the growing influence in the other direction during the twentieth century — that of West on East. This exhibition at the Johnson Museum emphasizes the push during the Meiji period in Japan for modernization and industrialization, a move reflected in the shin hanga (new prints) and sosaku hanga (creative prints) that became popular during this time. With this new modernization, artists reflected a nostalgia for the past, as well as the growing influence of the West.
Upon entering the Tjaden Experimental Gallery last week, one was greeted with an overwhelming sight: the formerly bare white walls were covered in lines upon unevenly spaced lines of blue tape, to a somewhat dizzying effect. Attempting to focus on a wall would be like viewing a Magic-Eye, while everything in the room appeared to be in constant movement. There were several disruptions to help one catch her bearings, however — a bare space on the wall where the tape diminishes around a corner, a clustered shape in an alcove or a gathering around an electrical socket. Remnants of the artist at work were left for the visitor to ponder, as well — a ladder, empty rolls of tape.
Listening to Alight of Night is like lying on the beach listening to sun-drenched pop music — except it’s nighttime and raining and the sound in your headphones is fuzzy. You probably aren’t very happy, and neither are Crystal Stilts. However, the album’s jangly guitars and ever-present tambourine would have you believe otherwise, if it weren’t for the haunting echoes and previously mentioned hazy quality to their sound.
Bloc Party’s rush-release follow up to Weekend in the City was announced just three days before it was available, a quick turnaround from its predecessor. Despite the quick release, however, Intimacy is a marked improvement, demonstrating growth in the band’s sound. As a newcomer to Bloc Party’s post-punk dance rock (the little that I had heard of the wildly popular Silent Alarm never really hooked me), Intimacy’s appeal lies in its combination of the general aims of the last two albums: the raw, fast-paced drums and guitar of Silent Alarm with the somewhat slow-going emotion of Weekend in the City. Added to that is a new emphasis on electronic sounds, giving Intimacy a good balance between jaw-dropping dance tracks and slower but equally enjoyable breathers.
While The Virgins self-titled debut LP (released over the summer) offers a few fairly danceable and catchy tracks that provided the entire soundtrack for that one Gossip Girl episode, in substance the album as a whole mirrors our favorite Monday night guilty pleasure — it’s fun on the outside, but when you get down to the meat and bones of it, there isn’t a lot there.