Tuesday 22 December 2009

The Truth (if there's any...)

"In DRAMA, as in LIFE, we are NOT what we SAY we are. We ARE what we DO."

(from "So You Want To be a Playwright?" by Tim Fountain, capitals mine.)



Monday 21 December 2009

Her Name Was Gilda!

In fact, her name was Gilda de Abreu. Born in Paris, France in 1904, during her parents' trip to Europe - her mother, Nicia da Silva was the most popular classical singer in Brazil at the time, and was often invited to perform in Europe.

Gilda's mother taught her lyrical singing. Gilda started performing to audiences, and eventually even writing her own operettas. During her singing career she met the love of her life, the singer Vicente Celestino, whom also was at the top of his filed, being known as 'The Voice of Brasil'.

It did not take long for Gilda, based on the very songs she wrote, to start writing scripts for films she would eventually act on (along with Celestino)and direct.

This woman seemed to be nothing less than a phenomenon, and how anyone in Brasil can grow up without knowing about her (as it was my case) is proof of how Brasil suffers of a very short cultural memory!

Gilda de Abreu films were the biggest box offices (as they call it these days) of her time; they were "Pinguinho de Gente", "Coracao Materno" (in which her husband starred), as well as "Chico Viola Nao Morreu", based on the life of legendary singer Francisco Alves, and "Cancao de Amor", film which was dedicated to her husband.

She died in 1979.

This remarkable woman must be remembered by us all.

I will be back, probably before NYE 2010, to bring in more women who ought to be remembered and celebrated for their creations!

Feliz Natal! (Merry Christmas) x LS

Tuesday 15 December 2009

Kathryn Bigelow nominated for Best Film Director

North American Film Director Kathryn Bigelow has been nominated for an Academy Award on the upcoming ceremonies to be presented in 2010 for her film "The Hurt Locker".

The director of films like "Point Break" (with Keanu Reeves as an FBI agent who infiltrates a gang of bank robbers lead by a surfer played by Patrick Swayze) and the futuristc, dystopian thriller "Strange Days" (with Ralph Fiennes, Angela Bassett and Juliette Lewis), started with the dreams of becoming a painter in San Francisco before dedicationg herself to the Cinema.

"The Hurt Locker" is her first film after a cinematic hiatus of seven-years, and has gathered raving reviews for chalenging a still persistently misconceived notion that a woman would be an unlikely choice to direct action/ war movies.

"The Hurt Locker" is set in Iraq, in its current war, and portrays a group of soldiers led by its "brash, reckless Sargent" with he mission of dismantle explosives in life-threatening situations.

For more info on the film and for an interview with Bigelow, click on the link that is this post's title, and fingers crossed for Bigelow next year.

source: avclub.com

Sunday 13 December 2009

Watch this Space!

Watch "Mistresses of the Universe" for further additions on our very special Hall of Honours!

The next entries will continue to be dedicated to the Ladies of Cinema - and these addtions should undoubtly enrich us all!

Thanks for looking!


Friday 4 December 2009

Sally Potter (from The Guardian today)

Sally Potter: 'There was no such thing as an easy ride'More familiar with life on the fringes of British cinema, director Sally Potter finds herself the subject of a BFI retrospective. But she has no interest in looking back

By Ryan Gilbey

Thursday 3 December 2009 21.50 GMT Article history
'When it's time to let go of my films, I really let go' … Sally Potter.

Photograph: Felix Clay

In the late 1980s, Sally Potter was scratching around for funding to make Orlando, the Virginia Woolf adaptation widely considered her finest film, as well as a formative moment in the career of its star, Tilda Swinton. Potter's friend, the visionary director Michael Powell, had secured her a 10-minute meeting with Martin Scorsese, in which she hoped to convince him to extend a helping hand to a fellow maverick.

The Gold Diggers Production year: 1983 Country: UK Cert (UK): U Runtime: 89 mins Directors: Sally Potter Cast: Colette Laffont, Julie Christie, Thom Osborn More on this film "Tilda and I went with our producer to meet Scorsese in New York," says the 60-year-old Potter, seated at a table in her east London office. "We walked into his place and nearly fainted with admiration. He then proceeded to spend the entire 10 minutes talking about how incredibly difficult life was for him as an independent film-maker because the critics had just 'killed' him over The Last Temptation of Christ." The slender, softly spoken Potter grimaces at the memory before whooping loudly, throwing her head back in a gesture that disturbs her long, red mane.

Although she didn't come away from chez Scorsese with a fat cheque in her fist, she did leave with something of greater long-term value. "It was fascinating to observe that somebody who was the very definition of a loved and respected film-maker should himself be carrying real wounds from criticism he'd received, and could still be struggling. It was bizarrely reassuring. I realised I was part of a spectrum. There was no such thing as an easy ride – just different kinds of difficulties."

What has occasioned these reflections is a season of Potter's work at BFI Southbank, ranging from avant-garde shorts that were in the can before she was out of her teens, to Rage, the 2009 murder-mystery set in the fashion industry and comprised entirely of talking heads, including Jude Law, Judi Dench and Steve Buscemi. Potter is indisputably an arthouse film-maker, but if there's one thing she can do, it's reel in the stars: Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Joan Allen and Julie Christie are among past collaborators.

She is, she says, largely averse to revisiting the past. "I'm completely absorbed in my films until the moment of letting go. Then I really do let go. I barely even remember them." What's most striking about the retrospective is the continuity between films made over a 40-year-span. The split-screen short Play, filmed in 1971 from the window of Potter's bedsit using two cameras running at different speeds, is a perfect example, foreshadowing some of the same ideas about the untrust-worthy image that are explored in Rage.

Potter is essentially a product of late-60s London, when the capital was a hive of underground creativity: you could scarcely throw a dissertation on Derrida without hitting a leftist collective or an arts laboratory. Potter had already whiled away many long days at the Drury Lane Arts Lab, where audiences would lounge around on mattresses for screenings of, say, Andy Warhol's eight-hour Empire. Having harboured dreams of film-making since before she left school, and high on Eisenstein and Vertov, Potter pitched up at the London Film-Makers' Co-Op. "The deal was that you just walked in and lurked about," she explains, "and if you were lucky you got to use something. My memory is of standing in the background, blushing and feeling terribly shy, trying to get a foothold. When I did get to use the editing equipment, I remember unwinding the film all over the floor, and just crying."

Play brought the young director the recognition from her LFMC colleagues that she wanted, but she still felt like an outsider. "There simply weren't a lot of women making films. It was just on the cusp of the women's movement. I went on marches, but I always wondered if the real movement was somewhere else. When people ask me if I was part of the women's movement, I tend to think, 'I dunno.'"

Potter then enrolled at the London School of Contemporary Dance, and devoted much of the 1970s to choreographing and performing. Her return to film-making proper came in 1979 with Thriller, a playful short in which Mimi, the seamstress who expires at the end of Puccini's La Bohème, unpicks the manner of her own demise. "I was on my own with Thriller, not really having any reference points to guide me. But also in the physical sense of editing the film alone at night, with the lights off and a thermos of coffee, using borrowed equipment out of hours while the rest of the city slept." Told largely through still images in the manner of La Jetée, but bristling with erudite wit, the film was a labour of love that became a calling-card. It can only have raised expectations for her 1983 feature debut, The Gold Diggers.

Watching the picture now, it's extra–ordinary to think that this cheerfully adventurous piece analysing the role of women in cinema and society – starring Julie Christie – could have attracted the opprobrium it did. "It was supposed to be a comedy," she shrugs. "I couldn't understand why no one was laughing." Maybe Britain simply wasn't ready for a socio-political screwball-feminist discourse on gender, with added tap-dancing. Potter had employed an all-female crew, the better to reflect the film's feminist thrust – a clear instance of positive discrimination before that term was coined. "Many of the women weren't very experienced. And there were all the tensions and mutinies that come with that kind of idealistic project. But the idea was that the behind-the-scenes situation needed to reflect some of what was going on in the story itself. You couldn't believe what an issue it was then. The flak we got! We were called anti-male. We were derided and ridiculed."

With The Gold Diggers savaged by all but a handful of critics, Potter was back to being an outsider again. I had always pictured her, rather sentimentally, as an established part of that British arthouse scene funded by the BFI in the 1970s and early 1980s – Jarman, Peter Greenaway, Terence Davies, Bill Douglas. But she sets me straight on that. "I was on the margins," she says brightly, in the manner of someone putting a jolly spin on bad news. "The idea of us as any kind of group is a product of hindsight." So you weren't hanging out in Soho pubs, arm-wrestling Terence Davies? "Hugging Terence Davies, certainly," she says. "Though not very often. I love Terence, and Derek was a good friend too. But film-makers work very much in isolation. We only ever see each other every three or four years when we come out of the dark to attend festivals."

Being an outsider meant there was no kind of support network to cushion the blow of The Gold Diggers' commercial failure. "It was dreadful. I felt really cast out. I thought there was a very real chance that I'd blown my one opportunity. It was a long haul back." But while Orlando took Potter the best part of eight years to realise, it feels like the film she was born to make. The storytelling is breezy and dextrous, spanning 400 years in the life of a time-travelling nobleman (Swinton) who jumps genders. The casting alone is manna from gay heaven: Ned Sherrin, Jimmy Somerville, even Quentin Crisp as Queen Elizabeth I. It was also one of the first films to straddle the divide, rigid in those days, between arthouse and mainstream, looking back to the muscular conundrums of Greenaway's The Draughtsman's Contract or Rivette's Céline and Julie Go Boating, but also forward to the period-piece irreverence of Shakespeare in Love.

Potter isn't short of explanations for Orlando's popularity. It's snappy (she hired the editor of Delicatessen to give it some punch) and, she says, better made all-round than The Gold Diggers. But her precarious prospects at the time must have forced her to be all the more driven. "I can assure you I was very determined with The Gold Diggers," she points out. "But with Orlando it felt like life or death. If I didn't make a film that worked in the eyes of the world, rather than just a few diehard supporters, I knew I wasn't going to be able to do what I perceived as my life's work."

Tilda Swinton as Orlando

Did she ever feel like giving up? "Sure. I got close many times. Especially financially – you have to learn to live in debt constantly. But once you discover that you don't actually starve, every obstacle becomes an opportunity to redefine what you're doing, a vehicle for transformation. That's perfect for taking the fear out of things. It's like Gertrude Stein said: 'Considering how dangerous everything is, nothing is really very frightening.'"

Tuesday 1 December 2009

Kelly Reichardt

There seems to be almost no information at all about Kelly Reichardt on the web. I found some interesting interviews though, and I selected the following extract - the interview is made by maverick film director GUS VAN SANT (Drugstore Cowboy, My Own Private Idaho, Elephant amonsgt others). Enjoy!

Director Kelly Reichardt first gained widespread notice with her 2006 film Old Joy, a paean to post–9/11 political and personal miasma played out in the campfire conversations and road-trip recollections of two longtime friends in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon. Together they drive into the wilderness, get lost, find the hot spring they’ve been looking for, and return to Portland. What this threadbare narrative really underscores is the unspoken impossibility of their reconnection. Wendy and Lucy, Reichardt’s latest, debuts on December 10 at Film Forum in New York. Centered around the escalating hardships of Wendy (played by Michelle Williams; Lucy is her dog) whose car breaks down in a rural Oregon town en route to a well-paying summer job, the film shows how seemingly minor setbacks can lead to devastation. Reichardt’s other films include her 1994 debut River of Grass and several short films: Ode, Then a Year, and Travis. Currently a visiting assistant professor at Bard College, she lives in New York City. Revered auteur Gus Van Sant met with Reichardt this July in Portland to discuss the joys and hardships of filming on the cheap, local hot springs, and Wendy and Lucy.

Gus Van Sant So, your last two films have been in Oregon.

Kelly Reichardt My last three films. Before Old Joy there was a short called Then A Year. Mostly I’m shooting in Oregon because I’m working from Jon Raymond’s stories and they’re set here. Wendy and Lucy is not supposed to be Portland per se, but small-town Oregon. Old Joy was written specifically about the Bagby Hot Springs.

GVS I’ve never been there. I’ve always heard about it. I’ve been to hot springs in the Northwest but they’re not necessarily built. They’re natural hot springs.

KR I went to a built one last week in Fields, Oregon. It sits at the foot of the playa out in the middle of the desert.

GVS There’s something about the springs that have an enzyme, or something in them that can be bad for you.

KR I never heard that, but on Old Joy we had a ranger with us who told us about all the things he’d found in the tubs—including a dead body—which actually wasn’t the worst of it. He said the temperatures are just hot enough to keep all the bacteria alive.

GVS Those rangers see a lot.

KR A ll kinds of things, I’m sure.

GVS They have to be responsible for busting meth labs and such.

KR With Wendy and Lucy, I was thinking of not shooting in Portland again. I scouted all over. I went to like 20 states. Then I was sitting in this Safeway parking lot in the middle of February in Butte, Montana, thinking, What the hell am I doing? What are we going to spend bringing a Portland crew out to Butte to shoot in a parking lot that looks so much like the one in Portland that Jon wrote about? So Jon ended up getting his way. We shot at the Walgreen’s right down the street from his house.

GVS In the same place he was thinking of?

KR Yeah. Jon ends up getting his way every time with the locations. Like right now we’re working on this Western; the story takes place out near Fields—there’s nothing out there. At first glance it seems super impractical to shoot there. But I’m sure somehow that’s where we’ll end up. It’s cool though; scouting other places and driving around the country helps me figure out the movie, so even if I end up back in Portland it’s a worthwhile process.


GVS I’m usually not that concerned with literal hope. Although I have had really hopeful endings, to the point where it’s, like, ridiculous. I don’t know about your own history, but it seems to follow the presence of hope. Like, when times are good, you’re going to be making a certain kind of film. And when times are not good, you’re going to be making another kind of film. Without any sort of plan. It’s just your reaction to your environment.

KR During the “good years” I couldn’t get a film made to save my life. There were 12 years between my first film River of Grass and Old Joy. I made smaller films, like Ode. But even that has a downer ending.

GVS I’m into downers. As a storyteller, I feel that it’s a valid point of view.

KR This summer I’ve been watching all the Kitchen Sink films from the ’60s. The heroes of those films are all stuck in lower economic classes and resentful of their lack of options. Your films have some of that.

GVS Lack of options?

KR People who are aware that people are living another way but they can’t get to it—whatever the restraints are; it might not be class.

GVS Right. I think in my sense, it’s the audience that’s aware. Probably more than the characters. It depends on which film. In certain films that can be the theme. Or there’s indication that maybe the characters are aware but you’re not sure. I’m usually not committing to that.

KR I guess your characters aren’t so interested in being part of the majority or whatever the idea of the American dream is.

GVS In Wendy and Lucy there was a feeling that I don’t think I’ve ever actually had, and it did relate to certain situations, especially with Italian neorealist films, now that you mention that you actually were watching them.

KR In those films there’s the theme of certain people not being of any use to society—maybe they’re too old or poor so they’re a blight—they’re like stray dogs.

source: bombsite.com

Safi Faye (b.1943)

This is part of the research I am doing for Film Directing 4 Women.

I have discovered many, many women filmmakers from various countries, with the most varied journeys. Women who have made sure their visions are materialized in celluloid, that their cinematic voices are heard.

It has been difficult to pick one of them to represent the many filmmakers I found, especially because I myself have never heard of them until now. So I am sharing this as I learn about them.

To start this research, I have chosen Safi Faye from Senegal. Faye is also an ethnologist, making the very interesting crossing from documentaries to fiction. I personally find the line in between both to be quite blurred. For me, the research of daily life and how people live (socially, culturally, and economically) is the base for all fiction. I can't, and I do not intend to, tear them apart.

Faye was born in 1943 in Dakar. She obtained her teaching certificate at the age of 19 and continuing teaching for the next six years. During the Dakar Festival of Negro Art in 1966, Faye met the renowned French ethnologist and filmmaker Jean Rouch. Rouch encouraged Faye’s interest in Cinema as well as its use as an ethnological tool.

Faye acted in Rouch’s film “Petit à petit ou Les Lettres Persanes 1968 (Little by Little or the 1968 Persian Letters)” which
allowed her to become acquainted with Rouch's technique of cinéma-vérité (an unobtrusive camera eye, spontaneous shooting, improvised nonprofessional acting, and mostly single takes), which was to influence her greatly in the course of her future career as a filmmaker. (Francoise Pfaff, 1988)

In 1969 Faye moved to Paris and enrolled at “the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes to study ethnology and at the Louis Lumière Film School in 1972”, and supported herself working as a model, actress and film dubbing.
Her first film, La Passante (The Passerby) derives from Faye’s experience of estrangement in Paris. After making a collective film with other students from the Ecole (Revanche, The Revenge), Faye went back home to Dakar to work on the research for her next film, “her first feature length docudrama, Kaddu beykat (Letter from My Village), with a crew of three, including a French cameraman and her uncle, who worked briefly as a soundman.”

The film was actually financed with a $20.000 grant given to Faye by the French Ministry of Cooperation and was released in 1975. It went to be shown at the Cannes Film Festival and “ won an award at the Festival International du Film de l'Ensemble Francophone (FIFEF) held in Geneva. ln 1975-1976 this film obtained the Georges Sadoul Prize in France and a special award at the Fifth Pan-African Film Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO) in Burkina Faso, and won the International Film Critics Award at the Berlin Film Festival (FIPRESCI).
Whilst pursuing her cinematic ambitions, Faye received her diploma in ethnology from Sorbonne, concluding her PhD in 1979 at the University of Paris.

to be continued.

scene from Mossane (1996) by Safi Faye

Source: Francoise Pfaff, "From twenty-Five African Filmmakers", Greenwood Press 1988

Monday 26 October 2009

The Mistress Bookshelf: MEDUSA by Sylvia Plath

Off that landspit of stony mouth-plugs,
Eyes rolled by white sticks,
Ears cupping the sea's incoherences,
You house your unnerving head -- God-ball,
Lens of mercies,
Your stooges
Plying their wild cells in my keel's shadow,
Pushing by like hearts,
Red stigmata at the very center,
Riding the rip tide to the nearest point of

Dragging their Jesus hair.
Did I escape, I wonder?
My mind winds to you
Old barnacled umbilicus, Atlantic cable,
Keeping itself, it seems, in a state of miraculous

In any case, you are always there,
Tremulous breath at the end of my line,
Curve of water upleaping
To my water rod, dazzling and grateful,
Touching and sucking.
I didn't call you.
I didn't call you at all.
Nevertheless, nevertheless
You steamed to me over the sea,
Fat and red, a placenta

Paralyzing the kicking lovers.
Cobra light
Squeezing the breath from the blood bells
Of the fuchsia. I could draw no breath,
Dead and moneyless,

Overexposed, like an X-ray.
Who do you think you are?
A Communion wafer? Blubbery Mary?
I shall take no bite of your body,
Bottle in which I live,

Ghastly Vatican.
I am sick to death of hot salt.
Green as eunuchs, your wishes
Hiss at my sins.
Off, off, eely tentacle!

There is nothing between us.

painting of medusa by Arnold Böcklin (1827 - 1901)

Friday 23 October 2009

The Mistress Bookshelf: Clarice Lispector (1920 - 1977)

What it would be like to read Clarice Lispector in English? As with Fernando Pessoa, I do not want to know. I do not want to swim away from the, at times loose, at times tight, tides of this woman's writing. In the same way as I am jealous of those who can read Tolstoy in his original Russian, or Proust in French, I do savour the fact that I can read her writing in its original form. I can enter this labyrinth and not watch it being projected on a white canvas on the wall.

Macabeia in English would make no sense to me, although I did understand her fully only when I moved away from Sao Paulo, to London. Saudade do Futuro indeed.

Transplanted, us, back and forth, Clarice and the millions into and out of Brazil. In these 500 years, the original language become that which we learn how to write and then, to speak.

Her intelligence, her inexhaustible inquisitiviness, her inward hunger, the umbilical chord leading all the way into an uncertain yet palpable infinity.

To Clarice, I humbly dedicate this post. The equivalent of a sphinx, the riddled oracle, the keeper of the labyrinth, our foreign Brasilianess.

"The word is my forth dimension" - CL

“Estou sentindo uma clareza tão grande que me anula como pessoa atual e comum: é uma lucidez vazia, como explicar? assim como um cálculo matemático perfeito do qual, no entanto, não se precise. Estou por assim dizer vendo claramente o vazio. E nem entendo aquilo que entendo: pois estou infinitamente maior do que eu mesma, e não me alcanço. Além do quê: que faço dessa lucidez? Sei também que esta minha lucidez pode-se tornar o inferno humano — já me aconteceu antes. Pois sei que — em termos de nossa diária e permanente acomodação resignada à irrealidade — essa clareza de realidade é um risco. Apagai, pois, minha flama, Deus, porque ela não me serve para viver os dias. Ajudai-me a de novo consistir dos modos possíveis. Eu consisto, eu consisto, amém.”.

Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923)

Katherine Mansfield, nee Kathleen Mansfield Beauchamp, was born on 14th October, 1888at 11 (now 25) Tinakori Road, Thorndon, Wellington. The house of her birth had newly been built for her parents, Annie and Harold Beauchamp. Harold Beauchamp was a clerk (later a partner) in the importing firm of Bannatyne and Co. Eventually he became chairman of the Bank of New Zealand and was knighted for his services to the business community.

Mansfield lived here with her parents, her three surviving sisters, Vera, Charlotte (Chaddie) and Jeanne, and her grandmother and her two teenage aunts until 1893, when the family left “ …that dark little cubby hole...” as she remembered her birthplace, to live in the country at Chesney Wold, in what is now the Wellington suburb of Karori. This is when her beloved only brother, Leslie, was born and where the happiest years of her childhood were spent. The move and subsequent events are described in the story Prelude. This new home and the local primary school are the settings for her most universally read story The Doll’s House.
The family returned to town in 1898. They lived in a grander house at 75 Tinakori Road which was to become was the setting of the story The Garden Party. Mansfield attended Wellington Girls’ College and then the recently opened Miss Swainson’s private school in Fitzherbert Terrace. In 1903 the three oldest girls were taken to England where they attended Queen’s College, London to finish their education.

Here Mansfield continued with her cello playing and, as at her Wellington schools, contributed to the literary life of the college. She decided on the professional name “Katherine Mansfield” and began Juliet, a novel that was never finished. During this time she made visits to Europe and met fellow pupil, the South African, Ida Baker, who was to become a life-long friend.

The three Beauchamp girls returned to Wellington in 1906, to an even larger home, at 75 Tinakori Road. The family now also owned a holiday cottage at Day’s Bay where Katherine spent a good deal of her time writing and which was later to become part of the setting for the story, At the Bay.

Mansfield found life in Wellington boring, complained that people in New Zealand “…do not know their alphabet” and expressed a wish to return to Europe to be a writer. After she had published some vignettes in the Melbourne magazine the Native Companion, her father assented. Before she left, however, she went on a camping trip to the Central North Island, an experience she was to draw on for her stories, Millie and The Woman at the Store.

Leaving New Zealand
With her father’s financial support of one hundred pounds a year (increased several times over the years when she needed medical care), Mansfield returned to England. She was never to see the land of her birth again.

During her first year in London, she embarked on various relationships and published very little - only one poem and one story. Pregnant to Garnet Trowell, the son of her childhood music teacher in New Zealand, she married George Bowden, a singing teacher considerably older than herself, whom she left almost immediately. Her mother responded to the news of this marriage by going to London and taking Mansfield for “treatment” to Bad Worishofen in Bavaria before returning to Wellington for the society wedding of her eldest daughter. Mansfield miscarried and was not to have any other children. This unhappy period of her life in Bad Worishofen produced the satirical, In a German Pension, stories that were published in the literary magazine, New Age, between 1910 and 1912. Despite the popularity of these stories, Mansfield expressed her dissatisfaction with them and refused to allow them to be republished.

Katherine Mansfield and John Middleton Murry
© Alexander Turnbull Library
more about this image

Meeting John Middleton Murry
Having returned to London, Mansfield met John Middleton Murry, the Oxford scholar and editor of Rhythm, in 1911. They became lovers and were later to marry in 1918. Mansfield became a co-editor of Rhythm, later the short lived Blue Review, in which more of her works were published. She and Murry lived in various houses in England and briefly in Paris. The Blue Review folded, Murry was declared a bankrupt and they returned to London where Murry worked on the New Statesman.

By the outbreak of the First World War, Murry and Mansfield had been estranged for a short time. Mansfield returned to France in 1915 to visit her friend, the journalist, Francis Carco, in the war zone. On her return to London she spent time with her brother, Leslie, who was in England to train as an officer. Their recollections of their Wellington childhood inspired some of her Wellington stories.

Tragically Leslie Beauchamp was killed in October, 1915. Grief at his death, her own ill health and the desire to write prompted a return to France. Mansfield eventually settled at the “Villa Pauline” at Bandol, where she began to write The Aloe. She and Murry returned to England to live next door to Frieda and DH Lawrence at Zennor in Cornwall in a short lived experiment in “the brotherhood of man” . They moved from there to Mylor and continued to meet the Bloomsbury group at Garsington under the patronage of Lady Ottoline Morrell. It was here that Mansfield was introduced to artists and writers of the time such as Bertrand Russell, Bernard Shaw, the Huxleys and Dora Carrington. In 1916 Lytton Strachey arranged for her to meet Virginia Woolf who had Prelude, a reworking of The Aloe, published on the Woolfs’ new Hoggarth Press in 1917.

Failing health forced Mansfield to Bandol again where she wrote Je ne parle pas francais, and began Bliss. It was the publication of Bliss and Other Stories by Constable in 1920 that was to consolidate her reputation as a writer. In April 1918 Mansfield and Ida Baker returned to London. Mansfield married Murry in May and, after a brief time in Looe in Cornwall, they moved to their own house in Hampstead, London, referred to as “The Elephant”. However, by October Mansfield had been diagnosed with tuberculosis, and advised to enter a sanatorium. She could no longer spend winters in London.

In 1919 Murry was appointed editor of The Atheneum and Mansfield began reviewing novels for it. However, by the autumn she was so ill that she decided to go to Ospedaletti in Italy. She was accompanied by Ida Baker and visited there by her father, recently widowed, who was accompanied by his cousin, Miss Connie Beauchamp. From there Mansfield moved to Menton and, after a brief stay in London, returned as Miss Beauchamp’s tenant in the “The Villa Isola Bella”. Here she wrote eight stories including Miss Brill and The Daughters of the Late Colonel, the latter of which she pronounced to be “ ….the only story that satisfies me to any extent”.

Having offended her father’s cousin by not becoming a Roman Catholic, Mansfield and Ida Baker moved to Switzerland, first to Sierre and then to the “Chalet des Sapins” at Montana-sur-Sierre. Here in 1921 and 1922, Mansfield, nostalgically recollecting the country of her birth that she had despised as a teenager, wrote some of her last and best loved stories: At the Bay, The Garden Party and The Doll’s House. These stories vividly evoke the colonial Victorian world of her New Zealand childhood.

Mansfield left Montana for Paris in 1922, seeking, unsuccessfully, new treatment for her tuberculosis. In March she wrote to her father: “ ...the longer I live, the more I return to New Zealand. A young country is a real heritage, though it takes one time to remember it. But New Zealand is in my very bones”.

During this time in Paris she wrote The Fly and her last story, The Canary. She then left for London where she heard about Gurdjieff’s Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man at Avon near Fontainebleau which she entered on October 16, 1922, seeking both a physical cure and spiritual enlightenment that would aid her recovery.

While she found a certain peace there, and seemed happy when Murry visited her on 9th January, 1923, she died of a haemorrhage that evening and is buried at the nearby cemetery at Avon. The epitaph on her grave is one of her favourite quotations from Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part I which she had chosen for the title page of Bliss and Other Stories: “...but I tell you, my lord fool, out of this nettle danger, we pluck the flower, safety”.

Mansfield’s letters, journals, notebooks, dramatic sketches and some of her poems and short stories were published posthumously. These works have been received with acclaim equal to that bestowed on her earlier work. The short stories, now translated into many languages, continue to have universal appeal.

source: katherinemansfield.com (Katherine Mansfield Society)

Please click on the link that is this post's title to read "The Garden Party" in full.

Tuesday 20 October 2009

Tina Modotti (1896 - 1942)

Modotti was born Assunta Adelaide Luigia Modotti Mondini in Udine, Friuli, Italy. In 1913, at the age of 16, she immigrated to the United States to join her father in San Francisco, California.Attracted to the performing arts supported by the Italian emigre community in the Bay Area, Modotti experimented with acting. She appeared in several plays, operas and silent movies in the late 1910s and early 1920s, and also worked as an artist’s model. In 1918, she married Roubaix “Robo” de l’Abrie Richey and moved with him to Los Angeles in order to pursue a career in the motion picture industry. There she met the photographer Edward Weston and his assistant Margrethe Mather.

By 1921, Modotti was Weston’s favorite model and, by October of that year, his lover. Modotti’s husband Robo seems to have responded to this by moving to Mexico in 1921. Following him to Mexico City, Modotti arrived two days after his death from smallpox on February 9, 1922. In 1923, Modotti returned to Mexico City with Weston and his son Chandler, leaving behind Weston’s wife and remaining three children. Modotti and Weston quickly gravitated toward the capital’s bohemian scene, and used their connections to create an expanding portrait business. It was also during this time that Modotti met several political radicals and Communists, including three Mexican Communist Party leaders who would all eventually become romantically linked with Modotti: Xavier Guerrero, Julio Antonio Mella, and Vittorio Vidali.

By 1927, a much more politically active Modotti (she joined the Mexican Communist Party that year) found her focus shifting and more of her work becoming politically motivated. Around that period, her photographs began appearing in publications such as Mexican Folkways, Forma, and the more radically motivated El Machete.

In Mexico, Modotti found a community of cultural and political avant guardists. She became the photographer of choice for the blossoming Mexican mural movement, documenting the works of José Clemente Orozco and Diego Rivera. Her visual vocabulary matured during this period, such as her formal experiments with architectural interiors, flowers and urban landscapes, and especially in her many lyrical images of peasants and workers. Indeed, her one-woman retrospective exhibition at the National Library in December 1929 was advertised as “The First Revolutionary Photographic Exhibition In Mexico.” She had reached a high point in her career as a photographer, but within the next year she was forced to set her camera aside in favor of more pressing concerns.

During this same period, economic and political contradictions within Mexico and indeed much of Central and South America were intensifying and this included increased repression of political dissidents. On January 10, 1929, Modotti’s comrade and companion Julio Antonio Mella was assassinated, ostensibly by agents of the Cuban government. Shortly thereafter an attempt was made on the Mexican President Pascual Ortiz Rubio. Modotti — who was a target of both the Mexican and Italian political police — was questioned about both crimes amidst a concerted anti-communist, anti-immigrant press campaign, which depicted “the fierce and bloody Tina Modotti” as the perpetrator. (A Catholic zealot, Daniel Luis Flores, was later charged with shooting Rubio. José Magriñat was arrested for Mella’s murder.)

As a result of the anti-communist campaign by the Mexican government, Modotti was expelled from Mexico in February, 1930, and placed under guard on a ship bound for Rotterdam. The Italian government made concerted efforts to extradite her as a subversive national, but with the assistance of International Red Aid activists, she evaded detention by the fascist police. Traveling on a restricted visa that mandated her final destination as Italy, Modotti initially stopped in Berlin and from there visited Switzerland. She apparently intended to make her way into Italy and to join the anti-fascist resistance there. However, in response to the deteriorating political situation in Germany and her own exhausted resources, she followed the advice of Vittorio Vidali and moved to Moscow in 1931.

During the next few years she engaged in various missions on behalf of the International Workers’ Relief organizations and the Comintern in Europe. When the Spanish Civil War erupted in 1936, Vidali (then known as “Comandante Carlos”) and Modotti (using the pseudonym “Maria”) left Moscow for Spain, where they stayed and worked until 1939. She worked with the famed Canadian Dr. Norman BethuneMálaga in 1937. In April 1939, following the collapse of the Republican movement in Spain, Modotti left Spain with Vidali and returned to Mexico under a pseudonym.

Modotti died from heart failure in Mexico City in 1942 under what is viewed by some as suspicious circumstances. After hearing about her death, Diego Rivera suggested that Vidali had orchestrated it. Modotti may have ‘known too much’ about Vidali’s activities in Spain, which included a rumoured 400 executions. Her grave is located within the vast Panteón de Dolores in Mexico City. Poet Pablo Neruda composed Tina Modotti’s epitaph, part of which can also be found on her tombstone, which also includes a relief portrait of Modotti by engraver Leopoldo Méndez:

Pure your gentle name, pure your fragile life,
bees, shadows, fire, snow, silence and foam,
combined with steel and wire and
pollen to make up your firm
and delicate being.

source: modotti.com

Susan Rothenberg - b. 1945

Good Dog Stay

Susan Rothenberg was born in Buffalo, New York in 1945. She received a BFA from Cornell University. Her early work—large acrylic, figurative paintings—came to prominence in the 1970s New York art world, a time and place almost completely dominated and defined by Minimalist aesthetics and theories. The first body of work for which she became known centered on life-sized images of horses. Glyph-like and iconic, these images are not so much abstracted as pared down to their most essential elements. The horses, along with fragmented body parts (heads, eyes, and hands) are almost totemic, like primitive symbols, and serve as formal elements through which Rothenberg investigated the meaning, mechanics, and essence of painting.

Rothenberg portrait by Mapplethorpe

Rothenberg’s paintings since the 1990s reflect her move from New York to New Mexico, her adoption of oil painting, and her new-found interest in using the memory of observed and experienced events (a riding accident, a near-fatal bee sting, walking the dog, a game of poker or dominoes) as an armature for creating a painting. These scenes excerpted from daily life, whether highlighting an untoward event or a moment of remembrance, come to life through Rothenberg’s thickly layered and nervous brushwork. A distinctive characteristic of these paintings is a tilted perspective in which the vantage point is located high above the ground. A common experience in the New Mexico landscape, this unexpected perspective invests the work with an eerily objective psychological edge. Susan Rothenberg received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Skowhegan Medal for Painting.


She has had one-person exhibitions at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Dallas Museum of Art; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and the Tate Gallery, London, among others.

source: pbs.org (Art:21)

Sunday 18 October 2009

Susan Glaspell (1876 -1948)

To most readers, Susan Glaspell (1876-1948) is still known primarily as the author of Trifles, the frequently anthologized, classic feminist play about two women's secret discovery of a wife's murder of her husband, or the short-story "A Jury of Her Peers,"a re-writing of that piece. But Glaspell wrote over fifty short stories, nine novels, eleven plays, and one biography. Many of her novels reached the best-seller lists, and one, Brook Evans (1928), was made into a movie. Her plays received better reviews than those of Eugene O'Neill, and her novels were positively reviewed through the 1930s. In 1931, Glaspell was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her play Alison's House. Her 1939 novel, The Morning is Near Us, was the Literary Guild Book of the Month choice for April 1940, and sold more than 100,000 copies.

But there is yet more: Glaspell was the co-founder with her husband George Cram Cook of the Provincetown Players (1916-1922), the Little Theatre that did most to promote American dramatists, and her diplomacy and energy held the group together for seven years. It was largely thanks to Glaspell's intervention that O'Neill's first plays were performed, and she played a major role in stimulating and encouraging his writing in the following years.

Susan Glaspell had never liked to feel controlled or delimited; born in Davenport, Iowa, in 1876, she rebelled against society's expectations and, rather than passively wait for a husband to appear, went to Drake University in Des Moines, graduating in June of 1899, and then worked as a reporter for the Des Moines Daily News. She gave up her newspaper job in 1901 and returned to Davenport in order to write; she had already published a number of short stories in Youth's Companion, and was to see her stories accepted by more sophisticated magazines, such as Harpers, Leslie's, The American and others. Her story For Love of the Hills received the Black Cat prize in 1904; her first novel, The Glory of the Conquered, would come out in 1909, followed by The Visioning in 1911.

Back in her hometown, her status of published and respected author opened the doors of Davenport social and intellectual life and led to repeated meetings with George Cram Cook, whom she married in 1914. Cook was, by then, a twice-divorced father of two; he had given up a promising university career to try his hand at truck farming and socialism. The scandal and gossip provoked by his second divorce was the impulse that Glaspell and Cook needed to move East; they settled in Greenwich Village where the rents were cheap, and where they found other free-thinking liberals and radicals in both politics and art: the ideal breeding-ground for their experiments in theatre. At Cook's instigation Glaspell began writing plays, but she also published her third and most successful novel thusfar, Fidelity, in 1915.

With the support of Jack Reed and the still unacclaimed Eugene O'Neill, Glaspell and Cook founded the Provincetown Players in Provincetown, Cape Cod, at the end of the summer of 1916. This Little Theatre, which in the fall of that year moved to New York, produced innovative plays by American playwrights, such as Glaspell's The Verge (1921), and refused to consider commercial success to be of any significance until ONeills The Emperor Jones gave them a taste of Broadway. By 1922, Glaspell and Cook were so disappointed in the back-fighting and ambitious scheming that was dividing the Players that they decided to close the theatre and go to Greece. Cooks dream had always been to explore the sites of antiquity, and Glaspell was convinced that they needed time together, away from theatrical squabbles. They settled in Delphi, on the slopes of Mt. Parnassus, where they attempted to live the simple life of the shepherds, and became engrossed in an archaic lifestyle that fired Glaspell's imagination and inspired what many consider to be her greatest novel, Fugitive's Return (1929).

Glaspell returned to the United States in 1924, after Cook's death in Greece, and settled in Provincetown, where she wrote two of her best novels, Brook Evans (1928) and Fugitive's Return. Brook Evans appeared first in England, where, in the bold yellow covers that distinguished Victor Gollancz's imprint, it inaugurated his venture into independent publishing. In New York, Brook Evans reached second place on the Herald Tribune best-seller list, and the excellent sales led Paramount Pictures to film the novel, with screenplay by Zoe Akins, under the title The Right to Love. Fugitive's Return, in which Glaspell captured the flavor of her Greek adventure, traces a woman's growth from abject despair to independence and recognition of self; it ranked fourth on the best-seller charts, topped by Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms.

The Federal Theatre gave Glaspell another opportunity to devote herself to American drama in the 1930s. With Cook and the Provincetown Players she had shown that America, given a stage, could supply its own dramatists; as director of the Midwest Play Bureau in Chicago she sought out Midwestern talent and, although her contribution is rarely recognized, was instrumental in the development of the Living Newspapers. However, the red tape involved got the better of her and, resigning from her position with the Federal Theatre, she returned to spend her remaining years in Provincetown and gave all her energies to fiction, producing four more complex novels: Ambrose Holt and Family (1931). The Morning is Near Us (1939), Norma Ashe (1942), and Judd Rankin's Daughter (1945).

Glaspell's oeuvre is unparalleled in American letters in its major achievements in two genres, drama and fiction. Writing for the theatre made Glaspell more aware of innovations in structure and style, and her later novels benefited from her intense involvement in the development of the American drama. Taken together, her plays, stories, and novels, all explore themes that continue to be vital and challenging to readers and scholars today: themes of American identity, individuality vs. social conformity, the idealism of youth, the compromises of marriage, and the disillusionments and hopes of aging. Both her plays and novels explore feminist issues such as women's struggle for expression in a patriarchal culture that binds them in oppressive gender binarisms, the loving yet fraught relationships between daughters and mothers, and women's need for female friendship as a defining part of their growth toward autonomy and selfhood.

Barbara Ozieblo, author of Susan Glaspell: A Critical Biography. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000.

source: The Susan Glaspell Society

Louise Bourgeois (1911 - 2010)

Louise Bourgeois was born on December 25, 1911, in Paris. As a teenager, Bourgeois assisted her parents in their tapestry-restoration business, making drawings that indicated to the weavers the repairs to be made. In 1932, she entered the Sorbonne to study mathematics, but abandoned that discipline for art. In the mid- to late 1930s, she studied at the École des Beaux-Arts, Académie de la Grande-Chaumière, École du Louvre, Atelier Fernand Léger, and other Parisian schools. In 1938, Bourgeois married an American, the art historian Robert Goldwater, and moved to New York. There, she studied for two years at the Art Students League and was soon participating in print exhibitions.

After moving to a new apartment in 1941, Bourgeois began to make large wood sculptures on the roof of her building. In 1945, her first solo show, comprised of twelve paintings, was held at the Bertha Schaefer Gallery in New York and her work was first included in the Whitney Annual (later the Whitney Biennial). In the mid- to late 1940s, she worked at Stanley William Hayter's printshop, Atelier 17, where she met Le Corbusier, Joan Miró, and other Europeans exiled by World War II. In 1949, she exhibited works from her Personage series in the first show of her sculpture, at Peridot Gallery in New York.

In 1951, Bourgeois became an American citizen. Continuing her mode of abstracted figuration instilled with psychological and symbolic content, she remained stylistically distinct from New York School developments. She did, however, join American Abstract Artists in 1954. In the 1960s, she taught in public schools and at Brooklyn College and Pratt Institute in New York. She would continue to teach at colleges and universities during the following decade. In the late 1960s, Bourgeois's imagery became more explicitly sexual as she explored the relationship between men and women and the emotional impact of her troubled childhood (her father had had a ten-year affair with her governess). From 1967 until 1972, she made trips to Pietrasanta, Italy, to work in marble.

With the rise of feminism and the art world's new pluralism, her work found a wider audience. In the 1970s, she began to do Performance [more] pieces—among them A Banquet/A Fashion Show of Body Parts (1978), in which she wrapped art historians and students in white drapery with sewn-in anatomical forms—and expanded the scale of her three-dimensional work to large environments.

The first retrospective of Bourgeois's work was organized by the Museum of Modern Art in New York (1982–83), and her first European retrospective was assembled by the Frankfurter Kunstverein (1989). Bourgeois was selected to be the American representative to the 1993 Venice Biennale. Her collected writings were published in 1998. In 2000, three thirty-foot-high towers by Bourgeois, commissioned by the Tate Modern in London—I Do, I Undo, and I Redo—were featured in that museum's inaugural exhibition. Many of her large-scale works have been exhibited as public art, including three spider sculptures installed at Rockefeller Center in New York in 2001 under the aegis of the Public Art Fund.

Bourgeois's achievements have been recognized with, among other honors, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (1973), membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1981), a grand prize in sculpture from the French Ministry of Culture (1991), and the National Medal of Arts (1997). Bourgeois lives and works in Manhattan.

source: guggeinheimcollection.org

Sara Wheeler - Writer, Explorer

source: The Independent, Sunday 18th of October 2009.

Life in a cold climate: How Sara Wheeler is shaking up Arctic exploration

The polar explorer Sara Wheeler is unimpressed by the 'frozen-beard' brigade. Instead, her interest lies in the harsh reality of those who make their home in the Arctic

By Emily Dugan

Adjusting a daringly short black velvet dress and looking down at the girlie pink socks she has folded over her black boots, Sara Wheeler pronounces, "I don't do any sledge-pulling and I'm not interested in sledge-pulling." For the glamorous polar travel writer, whose grey pixie hair, kohled eyes and shocking-pink lipstick make her look a million miles from her Gore-Tex-clad contemporaries, sledge-pulling is a distraction from the real business of describing the world's extremities. "I think that to a certain extent we've got used to using the Arctic and the Antarctic as testing grounds," she explains. "Once upon a time, they had to be, because we didn't know what was there, but now those times have gone and we've got to look for something else. I find most of today's frozen-beard endeavours quite stunt-ish."

The "frozen beards", as she has dubbed those male contemporaries who pit themselves against the elements before publishing a book whose cover shows them staring out with ice flecks in their facial fuzz, have been unsurprisingly huffy in their reception of this female interloper in their predominantly male club. But Wheeler is unperturbed. "In the exploration community, there's a great sense that places such as the Antarctic are private territory, and they don't want me going in and making it seem as if anyone can do it. There is a certain group of people who are never going to like what I do, but that's OK, it's a free country. They don't own it and nor do I."

Lighting a gas fire in her already hot north London home on a warm autumn morning, Wheeler has no desire to prove how tough she is. Researching her sixth and latest book, The Magnetic North, a tale of the people and landscapes contained within the Arctic Circle, she frequently camped in sub-zero temperatures and "shared her bathroom with a seal", but she says that for that to be the purpose to her trips would miss the point. "I want to say other things about those regions, because I think there are plenty of other things to be said. It's a pity if it's only about losing half your body weight and seeing how dead you can get. I want to write about the places, or people, or the universal experience, not about myself."

Every Christmas, the shelves of bookshops heave with accounts of authors' extreme polar journeys, but Wheeler has chosen to do something different. Part reportage, part investigative journalism and part biography of a land, her book takes in every aspect of life within the Arctic Circle, presenting it as a home, not a playground. From investigating pollution crimes in Chukotka – a post-Communist outpost of Russia the size of Turkey – and travelling with reindeer herders in Lapp country, to uncovering the tragic history of a monastery in the middle of the White Sea, Wheeler's interest lies in the communities which make their lives there.

It was Chukotka – whose inhabitants were ill-treated first by Communism and then by capitalism, and are living in a place that often resembles a nuclear wasteland – that most captured her imagination. "Chukotka is this region of a quarter-of-a-million square miles where there's no road and nothing grows. The indigenous people have been abandoned there and I saw some pretty grim sights. Nuclear waste is just dotted around all over the place. There were nuclear submarine carcasses lolling around like whales."

Wheeler's first experience of writing in the ice caps was at the opposite end of the globe. In 1995, she wrote her first and most successful book to date, Terra Incognita, about her seven-month stay in Antarctica as a writer-in-residence with the US National Science Foundation. She returned several times to the far south, but the more polluted and developed Arctic had not appealed until now. "I was attracted to the Antarctic because it was an un-owned continent, undefined and pure. It was a symbol of the world as it might be, so it fitted a youthful vision of purity and idealism.

"In contrast, I was very unnattracted to the Arctic because it was everything the Antarctic wasn't. It was owned, it was polluted, there was lots of oil and all sorts of miserable people, it was just not something that interested me. Years went by and I went to other places; I went to Africa and did this and that, and then I became middle aged – I'm almost 50 – and I started thinking about the Arctic. Of course, it is all those things, and that more suits the elegiac melancholy of middle age, where everything is fragmented. I'm not interested in idealism any more, I'm interested in reality."

Reality is what you get in The Magnetic North. Whether it is scenes of alcoholic fathers pushing buggies with holsters, where beer cans have replaced milk bottles, or seeing the sharp end of climate change while camping with scientists on the Greenland ice sheet, Wheeler never shirks from the ugly truth of the region. Many of these truths were discovered with her children in tow. Reggie, now aged six, and Wilf, 12, both accompanied her on various legs of the trip. Reggie, at the time an un-weaned baby, was enthroned in pelts and taken reindeer herding with the Lapps, while Wilf, at the age of 10, was introduced to some colourful Slavic vocabulary after being taken under the wing of the Russian crew of an ice-breaker.

Now, after years of combining travelling with bringing up her two sons, Wheeler is ready for some time at home with them and her partner. "I haven't had any time off for 25 years and I feel writers need a fallow time," she says. Just don't expect her to embrace domestic life. "People always say to me it must be a challenge when I take my children with me to strange places, but I always think it's more of a challenge being here. I'm not domestic; I feel more of an imposter at the school gate."

The extract

The Magnetic North, By Sara Wheeler (Cape £20)

'... Every nation devastates native cultures ... Russians did it with bureaucracy, Americans with money, Canadians (in the end) with kindness. And everyone did it with booze and syphilis.

Acculturation is a theme of "The Magnetic North". It's a grim story, but I was not looking for a pretty picture. I was looking to see beneath both beauty and ugliness; to see the boredom and the horror ...'

Thursday 15 October 2009

Elinor Ostrom, First Woman to Win the Nobel Economics Prize

The award announced on the 12th of Ocotber 2009 was shared with Oliver Williamson.

Economic governance: the organization of cooperation

Elinor Ostrom has demonstrated how common property can be successfully managed by user associations. Oliver Williamson has developed a theory where business firms serve as structures for conflict resolution. Over the last three decades these seminal contributions have advanced economic governance research from the fringe to the forefront of scientific attention.

Economic transactions take place not only in markets, but also within firms, associations, households, and agencies. Whereas economic theory has comprehensively illuminated the virtues and limitations of markets, it has traditionally paid less attention to other institutional arrangements. The research of Elinor Ostrom and Oliver Williamson demonstrates that economic analysis can shed light on most forms of social organization.

Elinor Ostrom has challenged the conventional wisdom that common property is poorly managed and should be either regulated by central authorities or privatized. Based on numerous studies of user-managed fish stocks, pastures, woods, lakes, and groundwater basins, Ostrom concludes that the outcomes are, more often than not, better than predicted by standard theories. She observes that resource users frequently develop sophisticated mechanisms for decision-making and rule enforcement to handle conflicts of interest, and she characterizes the rules that promote successful outcomes.

Oliver Williamson has argued that markets and hierarchical organizations, such as firms, represent alternative governance structures which differ in their approaches to resolving conflicts of interest. The drawback of markets is that they often entail haggling and disagreement. The drawback of firms is that authority, which mitigates contention, can be abused. Competitive markets work relatively well because buyers and sellers can turn to other trading partners in case of dissent. But when market competition is limited, firms are better suited for conflict resolution than markets. A key prediction of Williamson's theory, which has also been supported empirically, is therefore that the propensity of economic agents to conduct their transactions inside the boundaries of a firm increases along with the relationship-specific features of their assets.


Elinor Ostrom, US citizen. Born in 1933 in Los Angeles, CA, USA. Ph.D. in Political Science in 1965 from the University of California, Los Angeles, USA. Arthur F. Bentley Professor of Political Science and Professor at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, both at Indiana University, Bloomington, USA. Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Institutional Diversity, Arizona State University, Tempe, USA.

Ostrom with students in 1977

source: nobelprize.org

Wednesday 14 October 2009


pass it on, sisters.
Saw it first on www.avidanamonstropolis.blogspot.com

Friday 28 August 2009

Nietzsche! Heidegger! Sartre! But where are the women?

It is never too late to brush up on the name dropping during for your next conversation over tea or coffee (or wine or...). If a philosopher or major thinker happens to be mentioned, even if it is just by surname, it is very likely that the name will be that of a man. And why? Are there no women philosophers? Actually, there are.

What there is not, it's their mention in any course work, or reading list from either introductory or especialised study on the matter. So MOTU comes at your service, sharing a sample on the lives of these incredible women, their thoughts and careers.

Now you know, next time philosophy or existentialism, or structuralism or... pops up in a conversation (even if it does not, why not bring it up yourself?) you can mention one of the extraordinary ladies below!

from The Independent online (article originally published in 2005)

Hannah Arendt: 1906-1975
German-born Jewish philosopher who studied under Heidegger (with whom she also had a brief relationship) before being imprisoned by the Gestapo in 1933 for her work on anti-Semitic propaganda.

She escaped and fled to Paris; seven years later, following the fall of France, she moved to the US. Initial interests in existentialism and in the thought of St Augustine gave place to a more political awareness. She is best known for The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951), as well as for her coverage of Adolf Eichmann's trial (published first in The New Yorker and then in her 1963 book, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil). Her justification for capital punishment in Eichmann's case was that, as Eichmann had not wanted to share the earth with the Jews, the Jewish state had no reason to share the earth with him. The first two volumes of her projected three-volume Life of the Mind were published posthumously, as was her Reflections on Kant's Political Philosophy.

Hypatia of Alexandria: C370-415AD

Follower of Plotinius who developed neo-Platonism at Alexandria from about 400 to her death in 415. She was so well-known, apparently, that correspondence addressed only to "The Philosopher" is said to have reached her.

Also a leading mathematician and astronomer, she is thought to have taught ideas relating to different levels of reality and humanity's ability to understand them. She seems to have believed that everything in the natural world emanates from "the one" - and that human beings lack the mental capacity fully to comprehend ult imate reality.

Her subsequent obscurity probably reflects the fact that none of her work survives (although letters from a pupil do). It appears, however, that her influence made the city's Christian community feel threatened - perhaps partly because of her emphasis on the value of science. She was torn to death by a Christian mob (including monks armed with oyster shells). Admirers revere her as a philosophical martyr comparable to Socrates.

Simone de Beauvoir: 1908-1986
Undeservedly overshadowed by her lover, Jean-Paul Sartre, Beauvoir developed an education in traditional philosophy (she wrote a thesis on Leibniz) into more radical explorations of feminism and existentialism.

Some of her ideas - about human freedom, for example, and about "being-for-itself" and "being-in-itself" - overlapped with Sartre's, but her best philosophical work, such as The Ethics of Ambiguity (1948), was important in its own right, as was her towering work of feminist ideology, The Second Sex (1949). In The Second Sex, Beauvoir argues that women have been held back throughout history by the perception that they are a "deviation" from the male norm - an assumption that must be broken if feminism is to succeed.

Elizabeth Anscombe: 1919-2001
Oxbridge-rooted academic principally concerned with defining the actual nature of phenomena such as mind and morality, Gertrude Elizabeth Margaret Anscombe has been described as the pre-eminent British philosopher of the 20th century. She had intellectual roots not only in classical philosophy but also in Roman Catholicism and in the modern philosophy of Wittgenstein and Frege. A friend of Wittgenstein, she produced the definitive (and still unrevised) translation of his Philosophical Investigations in 1953, as well theIntroduction to Wittgenstein's Tractatus in 1959. Her Intention (1957) is considered to be the founding document of modern "action theory". An analytical philosopher of exceptional rigour, she allegedly once said to A J Ayer: "If you didn't talk so quickly, people wouldn't think you were so clever"; to which the philosopher replied: "If you didn't talk so slowly, people wouldn't think you were so profound."

Anne, Lady Conway: 1631-1679
An English follower of Descartes with an interest in the kabbala and, later, Quakerism.

Born Anne Finch, she studied philosophy secondhand - via her brother - under Henry More at Cambridge. Her sex debarred her from studying the subject herself, but she corresponded with More for most of her relatively short life - she died at the age of 47.

Preoccupied with the question of substance - she doubted the existence of inert matter - she developed a God-based theory of nature as an integrated mental and material order ("life and figure are distinct attributes of one substance"), made up of individual "monads".

In this, she anticipated Leibniz, who acknowledged her as an influence. Her one surviving work, Principles of the Most Ancient and Modern Philosophy, was published posthumously (and anonymously) in 1690.

Anne Conway suffered from severe migraines and is said to have considered the operation known as trepanning as a possible cure.

Sarah Margaret Fuller: 1810-1850
US-born feminist and champion of transcendental idealism, whose Woman of the Nineteenth Century was America's first major feminist manifesto. A pupil of Emerson, she taught in Rhode Island and Boston before moving to Europe in 1846 and marrying an Italian aristocrat. Together with her husband and son, she drowned off Fire Island, New York, after fleeing the Italian revolution.

Susan Haack: 1945-
British-born professor of philosophy and law at the University of Miami. Inhabits the difficult end of the spectrum, propounding an epistemological theory called foundherentism, a kind of Third Way between foundationalism and coherentism. (If you need to ask, you wouldn't understand.) Works include: Deviant Logic (1974), Philosophy of Logics (1978), and Defending Science - Within Reason Between Scientism and Cynicism (2003).

Mary Wollstonecraft: 1759-1797
English feminist and egalitarian, associated with Thomas Paine and William Godwin (her husband). A Vindication of the Rights of Men (1790) argued against the slave trade; A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792) did what it said on the jacket. Described marriage as "legal prostitution". Opposed monarchy, church and military. Died after giving birth to the future Mary Shelley.

Ayn Rand: 1905-1982
Controversial Russian novelist and philosopher, a "radical capitalist" whose works are popular with young Tories (and Camille Paglia). Moved to US in 1924 and developed a philosophy of individualism she called Objectivism ("a philosophy for living on earth"). Best-known works: The Fountainhead (1935) and Atlas Shrugged (1957). Appeared in a Tobias Wolff memoir, and was played by Helen Mirren in a 1999 film about her life.

Dame Mary Warnock: 1924-
Mary Warnock has significantly more influence on the way British society thinks of itself than any living male philosopher. She is a champion of a woman's right to philosophise. A veteran of royal commissions and committees of inquiry, she has published (among much else) The Uses of Philosophy (1992), and Women Philosophers (1996).

Profiles by Ellie Levenson

Tuesday 4 August 2009

Carmen Herrera

I am ashamed to admit I never heard of Herrera before. This incredible lady who is 94 years old, is having her first solos show in the UK (in Birmingham) this month until the 13th of September at IKON Gallery. (source The Observer)

Apparently Herrera, like many female artists who have settled in NYC in the 1950s, was "at the wrong place at the worng time", since the decade was ruled by "male abstract Impressionists" like De Kooning, Pollock, Rothko etc.

But here she is, standing strong, and painting too. An absolutely remarkbale woman!

Tuesday 30 June 2009

Monday 29 June 2009

Chquinha Gonzaga (1847-1935)

video taken from youtube shows Rio de Janeiro at the turn of the 20th century. Chiquinha was the first popular composer in Brasil.

Leila Diniz (1945-1972)


In this blog I intend to do some historical justice to the many, many women who have contributed with their genius, creativity, adventurous spirit, nurturing - amongst other qualities - to the apparent linear and male dominated prescribed notion of History. This is just the beggining.