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Arantza de Areilza, Dean of Humanities, interviews Tom Burns, journalist, essayist and Managing Partner of Eurocofin, on different aspects of nationalism in Europe.


The Eyes of a Beholder of Hardship

Written on December 29, 2014 by Administrador de IE Blogs in Film

the-salt-of-the-earth“The Salt of the Earth,” Wim Wenders’s new documentary about the life and work of the Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado, elegantly inhabits a moral and aesthetic paradox. Mr. Salgado’s photographs illuminate some of the worst horrors of the modern world: starvation, war, poverty, displacement. They are also beautiful, dramatic visual artifacts, and their power has a double effect. We are drawn into the contemplation of terrible realities, but at the same time our attention turns to the person bearing witness.

That is not a fault, either in Mr. Salgado’s lifelong project or in Mr. Wenders’s consideration of it. It’s just a fact of their common vocation. The filmmaker brings his mellow humanism and globe-trotting curiosity into an appreciative, easygoing dialogue with the photographer’s single-minded vision. They are a well-matched pair. Though Mr. Wenders does not appear on camera, he is present as a narrator and a sensibility, recounting his early meetings with Mr. Salgado and his collaboration with the photographer’s son Juliano, who is the co-director of “The Salt of the Earth.”

The elder Mr. Salgado, for his part, occupies the screen with quiet charisma. Speaking in French and Portuguese — he left Brazil during the military dictatorship and lived for many years in Paris — he modestly tells the story of an adventurous life. Raised in a rural part of central Brazil, he was trained as an economist before turning to photography, a career change he undertook with the support of his wife, Lelia, a frustratingly peripheral figure in the film until its final section.

Leaving her and the young Juliano for months at a time, Mr. Salgado set out to document unexplored aspects of human life, often focusing on remote areas and vulnerable or exploited people. “The Salt of the Earth” begins with the contemplation of pictures taken in and around an enormous, open gold mine, a crowded, infernal place in which Mr. Salgado’s camera discovers humanity in its raw, desperate essence.

Those images were part of “Workers: Archaeology of the Industrial Age,” a collection published in 1993. Subsequent projects included “Migrations” (2000) and “Sahel: The End of the Road” (2004), whose images of famine and war in Africa are made more wrenching by the photographer’s calm, heartbroken narration of the circumstances in which they were taken.

Continue reading in The New York Times


Prado Museum unravels Goya’s neglected tapestry sketches

Written on December 22, 2014 by Administrador de IE Blogs in Arts & Cultures & Societies

bfd20a25c1In 1774, at the age of 28, having already made a name for himself in his native Zaragoza and traveled throughout Italy, Francisco Goya moved to Madrid at the invitation of German painter Anton Raphael Mengs. There he would spend the next five years working mainly for the Royal Tapestry Factory, producing huge sketches, or cartoons: preliminary paintings for tapestries that would hang on the walls of two royal residences, the Escorial monastery and the Pardo palace. Goya would continue working with the Royal Tapestry Factory on and off for the next two decades, producing around 63 cartoons at the same time as establishing his position as painter to the Spanish court.

Taking advantage of refurbishment work in the second-floor galleries of the Prado Museum’s south wing that house Goya’s cartoons and part of its collection of 18th-century Spanish paintings, the Prado has organized Goya in Madrid, an exhibition of the cartoons scheduled to run in its temporary exhibition galleries until May 3.

Miguel Zugaza, the Prado’s director, says the exhibition shows the cartoons as works of art: “These are not simply templates for tapestries, but complex masterpieces in their own right,” he says.

The exhibition’s curators, Manuela Mena and Gudrun Maurer, have brought together the series – which is not complete: El pelele (The straw mannequin) and El alabañil (The laborer) are on loan – across 15 rooms. The works explore a number of themes: hunting, dreams, the four seasons, music and dance, childhood, and the open air, which is underscored in the final gallery by a background recording of the wind.

The freshness, realism, and imagination of Goya’s work is illustrated by the inclusion in the exhibition of pieces by his contemporaries at the Royal Tapestry Factory, including Mariano Salvador Maella, Luis Paret, Matías Téllez, and the Bayeu brothers, Francisco and Ramón, to whose sister, Josefa, Goya was married.

The exhibition also highlights some of the influences Goya took from the great masters. The use of mythological figures in La gallina ciega (The blind hen) from 1778 draws on Rubens’ Dance of Italian Villagers, which is placed next to it, while the posture of the figure in the foreground of Partida de caza (The hunt begins) from 1775, has echoes of Jacques Saly’s 1751 sculptureFaun Holding a Goat. Goya’s figure of a young man smoking in El juego de pelota a pala (Bat and ball game) was possibly inspired by one of Michelangelo’s portraits of Lorenzo de Medici, says Mena.

Continue reading in El Pais


IE wishes you Happy Holidays – Winter break 2014/15

Written on December 19, 2014 by Administrador de IE Blogs in Video

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