Wednesday, September 9, 2009

More on Cold War

Jack Masey sent me his book (co-authored with Conway Lloyd Morgan) “Cold War Confrontations. US Exhibitions and their Role in the Cultural Cold War”. Jack, as Director of Design at US Information Agency, was in charge of putting together the 1959 American Exhibition in Moscow. The 400+ page book is a goldmine of information on the Cold War era, including stunning (some in color) photos of Moscow in 1959.

In the book, Jack Masey mentions my “poisonous blankets” theory – a reference to a short presentation at the Second Festival of Russian Culture in Las Vegas in 2000 where I said the following: “According to James Shenton of Columbia University, one of the weapons in the war with native Americans was sending them blankets infected with deadly diseases. Abstract canvasses became a new kind of poisonous blankets. Instead of smallpox or cholera, they were infected with poisonous ideology. Jackson Pollock, Jack Masey, Charles and Ray Eames, George Nelson, Buckminster Fuller, as well as the young Russian artists trying to jump the fence at the exhibition, perhaps had no idea of the war that was going on above their heads. But it was. And once again, the poisonous blankets worked brilliantly.”

I believe that it was precisely the Abstract Expressionist canvasses at the show that poisoned and eventually killed the USSR – by wrecking havoc in the minds of young Muscovites, from which they never recovered.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Aristophanes in Malibu

Chicano performance troupe Culture Clash is doing its version of Aristophanes’ Peace at the Getty Villa in Malibu. "Culture Clash," says the program, "collages their performances to bring history, geography, urban excavation, forensic poetry and storytelling together in a contemporary, moveable theater narrative through Chicano point of view".

Take Aristophanes’ outhouse humor (slightly sanitized by Culture Clash but still offensive), add hetaera singing trio, mariachi band, jokes about Barak Obama, illegal emigration, financial crisis, pot smoking, etc., and you’ll get two hours of pure carnivalesque fun (in Bakhtin’s sense).

Low-quality photos were taken by iPhone.